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Thread: Concerns about Mir and its license

  1. #1
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    Concerns about Mir and its license

    I have a concern about the license for Mir. While it is released under a free license, it seems that the license agreement to Canonical for Mir grants some unfair rights to the company. So if they want to, they can release the software under a proprietary license.

    First of all, I don't really like this idea, but it does also sound fairly unfair for other parts of the community that involves in the development for Mir. I get the feeling that it sounds like a BSD-license, only that no other that Canonical themselves (except the owners of the code contributed) can change the license to the code.

    I do believe many in the community want to contribute to project that follows the ideology of free software to always remain free, and I do believe many might feel that work they put in to the project might be used on premises they won't like in the future. And is it any reason for other distributions to use a solution and contribute to this when another company has these possibilities?

    Also, could this also be one of the reasons Intel decided not so support Mir officially.

    I also wonder what this will mean for projects like Steam for Linux, application support, and driver support over Mir and Wayland.


    This is the part I feel is a little iffy (from Wikipedia: Mir (software)):

    Longtime Linux kernel developer Matthew Garrett criticized choice of licensing for Canonical's software projects, particularly Mir. Unlike X.Org Server and Wayland, both under MIT License, Mir is licensed under GPLv3 – "an odd one" for "GPLv3-hostile markets" – but contributors are required to sign an agreement that "grants Canonical the right to relicense your contribution under their choice of license. This means that, despite not being the sole copyright holder, Canonical are free to relicense your code under a proprietary license". He concludes that this creates asymmetry where "you end up with a situation that looks awfully like Canonical wanting to squash competition by making it impossible for anyone else to sell modified versions of Canonical's software in the same market". Garrett’s concerns were echoed by Bradley M. Kuhn, Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy.
    I would only like to know if this is the case or not. I don't think I would like to use a distribution that grants these rights to one company.
    Last edited by TamarinNOR; October 10th, 2013 at 08:34 AM. Reason: Adding text from Wikipedia

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    Re: Concerns about Mir and its license

    And this is the reason you joined the forum? To put these "concerns" to us? Have you written to Canonical about this? Are you a developer? Do you wish to contribute to the development of Mir? Your "concerns" are nothing to do with Mir. This contributor's agreement is not something new. It applies to developers wishing to add code to any Canonical project. And these "concerns" have been raised before.

    Get the facts from the source

    http://www.canonical.com/contributors

    http://www.harmonyagreements.org/docs/ha-cla-i.html

    http://harmonyagreements.org/

    If you have not read those easily found pages, then I will consider this post to be an attempt at FUD.

    Do you not finding it interesting that Canonical is being attacked on the choice of license, which is, by the way, a the latest version of the GPL. This version of the GPL caused a lot of controversy when it was released. It seemed that one little bit of GPLv3 code would force all the rest of the code to become GPLv3 code whatever the license it was originally given. It seems that some have still not come to terms with GPLv3. That is typical FOSS - disputes and arguments!
    Last edited by grahammechanical; October 10th, 2013 at 01:38 PM.
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    Re: Concerns about Mir and its license

    The copyright assignment don't really make much difference to anyone outside canonical/ubuntu. If anyone out side wanted to they could make a branch of the code with their own patches and improvements. Canonical wont allow those patches back into the official repo, but anyone else can use them. Only Ubuntu users would loose out.

    The GNU project also demand copyright assignment for their projects.

    (People outside ubuntu are more likely to want to use wayland than mir. They both do the same thing, but wayland aims to be a more general solution, where mir is predominately designed to work with unity).

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    Re: Concerns about Mir and its license

    @grahammechanical:
    Just my personal. I don't really care if you find my reasoning for choosing one distribution over another for weird, but there was a reason for moving away from Windows, and it was not because I wasn't satisfied with the user experience. Nevertheless, I feel I have had much better experience with Linux as I have gotten to know it.

    But is this part of the regular GPLv3: "contributors are required to sign an agreement that grants Canonical the right to relicense your contribution under their choice of license."?

    And what you say about FUD, it is what I got from these two pages:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mir_%28software%29
    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...tem&px=MTM5MjI

    I don't really see how it can be much of a problem to discuss these things here, this would probably be the best place to ask about this. And if it is not the case, it it is nothing more then FUD, then I should just overlook these statements. But still, if it is FUD, it still does not make Ubuntu look good.

    I have used Ubuntu since first version of Ubuntu was available, even though I have always tested other distributions now and then. I am no programmer. I had another account for an email I do not use anymore a long time ago, but that was mainly for launchpad to use the Ubuntu store, so made a new one, and yes, this is what I wanted to know.
    Last edited by TamarinNOR; October 10th, 2013 at 02:24 PM.

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    Re: Concerns about Mir and its license

    There is a long thread here http://phoronix.com/forums/showthrea...ising-Concerns

    You may find some comments informative.

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    Re: Concerns about Mir and its license

    @monkeybrain20122:
    Read most of them now. They seem to pretty much confirm what I got in mind from reading the page on Wikipedia, but there are some justifications to it pointed out there. As well as it is written in the agreement, so it is not like they are trying to hide it from anyone.

    It still leads to more fragmentation in the Linux community, and would be a mess if everyone ended up doing things like this.

    Also, if distribution X decides to join in on the development of Mir, and also wants to make their proprietary license for mobile phone use or other uses, how would that be possible? I don't see why developers would want to give someone this right, without being able to do the same thing themselves. It really looks like Canonical wants to do a lot by themselves and it seems to distance them more and more from the rest of the community.

    @ssam:
    Since it is released under GPLv3, it could always come a fork of it if needed for some reason, that is a given possibility. But if people added to the project without signing the agreement, would this end up in more fragmentation and incompatibility between the two versions over time?

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    Re: Concerns about Mir and its license

    Quote Originally Posted by TamarinNOR View Post

    Also, if distribution X decides to join in on the development of Mir, and also wants to make their proprietary license for mobile phone use or other uses, how would that be possible? I don't see why developers would want to give someone this right, without being able to do the same thing themselves. It really looks like Canonical wants to do a lot by themselves and it seems to distance them more and more from the rest of the community.
    But that is not possible with Wayland under MIT license anyway. In that case the mobile vendors can simply lock everything without having to pay a dime, I am not sure how it would be better in terms of openness.

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    Re: Concerns about Mir and its license

    So with one Canonical is the only one who can, with MIT, everyone can. True, MIT might not lead to more openess, but it feels more fair to everyone that contributes that no one gets extra benefits. Canonical might but themselves a little on the side with the rest of the community with this license, and for doing their own thing, but they might have had in mind that this will be developed within Canonical and its own community.

    What will this mean for developers for hardware drivers, applications and games? Will this cause more work and could end up in difference in compatibility and performances due to lack of focus to either of the graphical servers? And how much extra work/effort will be needed to support both solutions?

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    Re: Concerns about Mir and its license

    Quote Originally Posted by TamarinNOR View Post
    So with one Canonical is the only one who can, with MIT, everyone can. True, MIT might not lead to more openess, but it feels more fair to everyone that contributes that no one gets extra benefits. Canonical might but themselves a little on the side with the rest of the community with this license, and for doing their own thing, but they might have had in mind that this will be developed within Canonical and its own community.

    Maybe I misunderstood, but my understanding is that under the MIT license NO ONE in the community has control if vendors choose to lock down their devices, but in Canonical's scheme if vendors choose to lock down their devices they have to buy the right from Canonical. "The community" has no control and won't be benefited financially under either scheme. So "everyone can" is a wrong characterisation, under MIT the vendors don't need to ask the community for permission for locking down.

    Basically, my understanding is that the licensing terms grant Canonical the right to sell exceptions but under MIT "exceptions" are "free",--technically not even exceptions under MIT,-- it is more freedom for vendors and manufacturers but not for the community.
    Last edited by monkeybrain20122; October 11th, 2013 at 02:17 PM.

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    Re: Concerns about Mir and its license

    Quote Originally Posted by TamarinNOR View Post
    I have a concern about the license for Mir. While it is released under a free license, it seems that the license agreement to Canonical for Mir grants some unfair rights to the company. So if they want to, they can release the software under a proprietary license.
    ...
    Also, could this also be one of the reasons Intel decided not so support Mir officially.
    I have found that the unity-system-compositor works best on Intel Graphics.. so it's news to me.
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