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6 Things You Didn't Know About Linux

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Barney T.    2,335

A read mostly for beginners..... but it has some good links and interesting facts..

You can read it HERE.

Barney

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KC    0

They make it sound like MP3 support almost doesn't exist.

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Ruti    78

i got support for media really easy using automatix,i switched to ubuntu 2 days ago i really like it!

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dyn    1

They make it sound like MP3 support almost doesn't exist.

That's true for a clean install. MP3 is a closed format that isn't compatible with the GPLv2 and therefor cannot be integrated into a distribution. If a user wants MP3 support the user has to install it manually (mostly it can be done by enable some repository and by using the repository tools like apt and yum).

So they are right about MP3 support with a clean installation but it isn't really unsupported because you can install it afterwards yourself. It's how you look at it.

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markjensen    98

^^^ Not sure if you are correct on it being a GPL "violation". There are free, open source MP3 encoders/decoders (LAME).

It is more of an issue with potential patent infringement with Freunhoff (sp?), who owns a patent on the compression method. They license it at no charge for personal, private use, so there is no (current) legal issue with an individual installing an MP3 codec on his Linux box. Distributing it my encroach upon potential commercial/business use, so that is why you don't see MP3 support freely included.

Linspire, by the way, does include MP3 out of the box. I assume that they negotiated a license for this, which is why they seem to have no issues distributing it without attracting the attention of the legions of lawyers.

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RaisinCain    0

Barneyt. Where you @ in VA? I'm in Lexington.

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gadean    0

Good read. Thanks for the link.

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dyn    1

^^^ Not sure if you are correct on it being a GPL "violation". There are free, open source MP3 encoders/decoders (LAME).

It is more of an issue with potential patent infringement with Freunhoff (sp?), who owns a patent on the compression method. They license it at no charge for personal, private use, so there is no (current) legal issue with an individual installing an MP3 codec on his Linux box. Distributing it my encroach upon potential commercial/business use, so that is why you don't see MP3 support freely included.

Linspire, by the way, does include MP3 out of the box. I assume that they negotiated a license for this, which is why they seem to have no issues distributing it without attracting the attention of the legions of lawyers.

The problem mostly is that there really isn't very clear information about it. The Kororaa project ran into something similar and the discussion that followed didn't clear things up, in fact, everyone was right.

The GPLv2 is a very difficult license if you look at it and that's the biggest problem. That's one of the reasons why they are working on version 3. Version 2 points at the law of a certain country when it comes down to copyrights and patents and that makes it even more difficult. For that reason most distributions skip some software and codecs from their base install because they might infringe copyright/patentlaw in a certain country. Take a look at what Ubuntu has to say about restricted formats like MP3 and DivX: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RestrictedFormats

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markjensen    98

Kororaa's problem was two-fold, if I recall correctly.

1) They included pre-linked binaries in the kernel, causing the binaries to be leveraging kernel code, and therefore subject to GPL rules when distributed. (again, individual users are granted freedom to do whatever they want, but cannot distribute 'violations').

2) They supplied code for only their modifications. The GPL requires them to also distribute/offer source for all sources to the binaries they distribute.

MP3 encoding isn't a GPL issues at all. It is a Fraunhofer license issue. The GPL allows LAME to be distributed. Fraunhofer does not allow commercial distribution of their "patented" technology. Even free implementations of it, like LAME.

Please don't claim it is a GPL issue when it most certainly is not. Even Microsoft cannot distribute MP3 without licensing with Fraunhofer.

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Barney T.    2,335

Barneyt. Where you @ in VA? I'm in Lexington.

Lexington, eh? Home of VMI.... and I am a Citadel grad...... :laugh:

I live in Williamsburg. Nice place except when Ernesto came through! :wacko:

Barney

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dyn    1

Kororaa's problem was two-fold, if I recall correctly.

1) They included pre-linked binaries in the kernel, causing the binaries to be leveraging kernel code, and therefore subject to GPL rules when distributed. (again, individual users are granted freedom to do whatever they want, but cannot distribute 'violations').

2) They supplied code for only their modifications. The GPL requires them to also distribute/offer source for all sources to the binaries they distribute.

Erm, the GPL people were asked the question to bring up some proof of the above. Nobody was able to comply.

Not the people that claimed it was a GPL violation and not the people who said it wasn't a GPL violation.

The GPL has an awful lot of holes in it and therefor is a very difficult license. The main reason why companies don't like to use GPL'd software.

MP3 encoding isn't a GPL issues at all. It is a Fraunhofer license issue. The GPL allows LAME to be distributed. Fraunhofer does not allow commercial distribution of their "patented" technology. Even free implementations of it, like LAME.

Please don't claim it is a GPL issue when it most certainly is not. Even Microsoft cannot distribute MP3 without licensing with Fraunhofer.

Some distro's say they don't put MP3 and NTFS support in their distro because they are closed source which is incompatible with the GPL. The problem with the GPL is that it's a very fague license, it has an awful lot of holes. There isn't anybody who can profide proof that it's allowed or that's it forbidden by the GPL. It all comes down on how someone reads the GPL. The problem with MP3 is the same as with PDF: there is an open standard part (ISO) and there is a closed standard part (Adobe PDF/Fraunhofer/etc.).

About the patent: it only counts in countries that recognize it, meaning the USA & Japan. The patent and licensing is very unclear, they may be invalid. The patentsoffice in the USA has a very bad reputation when it comes to appointing patents (they simply appoint a patent even when it's clear that there is something like prior art). A lot of patents where ruled invalid by a judge.

You need a license if you want to use it commercially (you want to make money with broadcasting MP3's or with selling an MP3 encoder/decoder like an MP3 player). A project like LAME is not commercial, it does not generate revenue so they don't need a license. The person who uses LAME might need one so does the person who distributes LAME with a Linux distro for which you have to pay. If you do not have this license en you deliver it with your distribution it can be a copyright/patent violation (depending on the country since the GPL revers to the copyrgith/patent law of a country) and that also means it is a violation of the GPL since you are not allowed to use any copyrighted/patented software for which you don't have a license. This is one of the GPL holes since the GPL point to copyright and patent law (if there is any) of a country, it's not in the GPL itself. If you are a distro builder then this is quite a legal risk. Copyrights and patents are a very difficult subject certainly when it comes down to legal issues. The GPL leaves all of that to the country and it simply doesn't say whether it is the country of the GPL software or if it's the country of the user of the GPL software or if it's both.

In short: the problem is that the GPL points to the countries law on copyright/patents (if there is any) and that is what creates the MP3 problem. The same thing applies for encryption technologies.

Since they both might violate the GPL because it might violate the copyright/patent law most distro builders don't include MP3 support besides the fact that some of them only want open source software and open standards in their distro. Simply stating that the GPL allows something like LAME to be distributed and that it's most certainly not a GPL violation are completely wrong. They can be, it all depends on a countries copyright/patent law, if that law forbids it then so does the GPL. This is actually the root cause of most GPL problems: copyrights and patents. It's also the biggest change in GPL version 3.

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MrA    6

Some distro's say they don't put MP3 and NTFS support in their distro because they are closed source which is incompatible with the GPL.

No, the reason distros don't include MP3 or NTFS support is patent infringment. It has nothing to do with source-code licencing. The source code is written from scratch and the copyright holder of that code is free to licence it as they wish. These authors chose to licence their code under the GPL and there's nothing Thompson, Fraunhofer IIS or MS can do about it.

One problem with the GPL is that it doesn't address patents at all. Patents and the GPL are two, completely different issues. Don't get them confused. Also, don't get patents and copyrights confused (you seem to be mixing the two in your post above). They are also two completely different issues.

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markjensen    98
Some distro's say they don't put MP3 and NTFS support in their distro because they are closed source which is incompatible with the GPL.
Purely 100% incorrect.

It is a PATENT issue with those. Pure and simple.

There is LAME, which is 100% GPL. There is the NTFS kernel module, which is also GPL.

It is so totally not a "GPL" thing.

Listen, look, and learn.

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dyn    1

No, the reason distros don't include MP3 or NTFS support is patent infringment. It has nothing to do with source-code licencing. The source code is written from scratch and the copyright holder of that code is free to licence it as they wish. These authors chose to licence their code under the GPL and there's nothing Thompson, Fraunhofer IIS or MS can do about it.

One problem with the GPL is that it doesn't address patents at all. Patents and the GPL are two, completely different issues. Don't get them confused. Also, don't get patents and copyrights confused (you seem to be mixing the two in your post above). They are also two completely different issues.

For MP3 you also need a license and this is what the GPL has to say about a license:

7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other circumstances.

It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the integrity of the free software distribution system, which is implemented by public license practices. Many people have made generous contributions to the wide range of software distributed through that system in reliance on consistent application of that system; it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute software through any other system and a licensee cannot impose that choice.

This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be a consequence of the rest of this License.

Section 2B has something similar.

The problem is that most distro's are put under the GPL. The above is a copy-paste from the GPL version 2.

The same thing goes for patents. If the law in a certain country says you need a license because of copyrights or patents or both and you don't have those then it's illegal to use it by that countries law. The GPL is very simple: if it's illegal in a country then it's illegal with the GPL.

Also it is clear that a copyright holder just can't do everything with the program, it needs to be in line with the l aw and the GPL. If it's not, the copyright holder is not allowed to use the GPL.

@ markjensen @ MrA: you might want to buy some glasses because somehow you don't seem to read things properly. If you take a look at the sentence you quote: "Some distro's say they don't put MP3 and NTFS support in their distro because they are closed source which is incompatible with the GPL.". Maybe it's just me but I see "some distro's say", it's most definitely not something I said !

I also don't mix patents, copyrights, etc. Some countries have 1 law which regulates both copyrights and patents. The GPL does the same thing, it says that both patents and copyrights are regulated by country law and not by the GPL itself. In case of copyright there are some parts the GPL does regulate itself.

Not every country recognizes the patents. If Fraunhofer & Thomson would ask Europeans a License fee because of the patent they most certainly are breaking the law. It's like paying protection money to the mob. In the countries which do recognize them you have the problem that you need to pay a license fee if you use MP3 commercially. In that case you have to satisfy the GPL and Fraunhofer/Thomson and the above quote says that you cannot use such software.

For NTFS there is another problem: reverse engineering and copyrights. Not every country allows reverse engineering and not every country that allows reverse engineering has the same rules. In some countries reverse engineering is only allowed for educational purposes. It's the exact same problem ReactOS has too.

Start thinking globally and not just inside the USA. The GPL is designed with the USA in mind and not with other countries in mind. Take a look at encryption: certain encryption technologies are not allowed in certain countries so they are optional. Same goes for MP3: it's not there by default as are the Nvidia and ATI drivers but you can (as an individual) install them if you wish. It's optional.

Please read my posts and the GPL correctly and think globally and not just the USA. When it comes down to things like copyrights, patents, licenses and law it becomes a very complex story, so don't pretend things are very simple and easy because they are not.

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markjensen    98

dyn,

I respectfully request that you re-read that section 7 you posted.

If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent

infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),

conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or

otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not

excuse you from the conditions of this License.

It is talking about where legal (or other) actions are taken that contradict the GPL license.

None of these have happened. You are reading the "then" clause without meeting the conditions of the "if" statement.

Section 7 is dealing with the possibility of action against the GPL, and delcaring that the GPL still valid, and to exlcude the offending piece. Close, but no cigar.

You didn't address NTFS in your post, and focused on MP3/Fraunhofer instead. Let me reply within that context. You clearly stated that

MP3 is a closed format that isn't compatible with the GPLv2 and therefor cannot be integrated into a distribution.
The LAME project is LGPL. That is a GPL license.

If you have any issues with this, perhaps you should contact the FSF directly and explain your interpretation of the GPL to them, as you seem to have a different point of view.

I am done discussing this topic, as your initial premise has been proven invalid based on the LAME license already being a full L/GPL license.

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