Today Canonical published an update to their IP Policy by adding in a “trump clause” paragraph saying that “where any other licence grants rights, this policy does not modify or reduce those rights under those licences”.
I’ve been going on about this IP Policy (which is Canonical’s but confusingly appears on the Ubuntu website) and how it was incompatible with the Ubuntu policy for years. I’ve been given a lot of grief for querying it having been called a fucking idiot, aggressive, swearer of oaths and disingenuous, dishonest, untrustworthy and unappreciative. It really shows Ubuntu at its worst, and is really amazing that such insults should come from the body which should be there to prevent them. And I’ve heard from numerous other people who have left the project over the years because of similar treatment. So it’s nice to see both the FSF and the SFC put out statements today saying there were indeed problems, but sad to see they say there still are.
“Canonical, Ltd.’s original policy required that redistributors
needed to recompile the source code to create [their] own binaries” says SFC, and “the FSF, after receiving numerous complaints from the free software community, brought serious problems with the policy to Canonical’s attention“. Adding the trump clause makes any danger of outright violation go away.
But as they both say there’s still dangers of it being non free by restricting non-GPL code and using patents and trademarks. The good news is that doesn’t happen, the Ubuntu policy forbids it and there’s a team of crack archive admins to make sure everything in the archive can be freely shared, copied and modified. But the worry still exists for people who trust corporate sayings over community policy. It’s why the SFC still says “Therefore, Conservancy encourages Canonical, Ltd. to make the many changes and improvements to their policy recommended during the FSF-led negotiations with them” and the FSF say “we hope they will further revise the policy so that users, to the greatest extent possible, know their rights in advance rather than having to inquire about them or negotiate them“. Well we can but hope but if it took two years and a lot of insults to get a simple clarifying paragraph added and stuff like this happen “After a few months working on this matter, Conservancy discovered that the FSF was also working on the issue” (did nobody think to tell them?), I don’t see much progress happening in future.
Meanwhile the Ubuntu Developer Membership Board wonders why nobody wants to become a developer any more and refuses to put two and two together. I hope Ubuntu can re-find it’s community focus again, but from today’s announcement all I can take from it is that the issues I spoke about were real concerns, even if no more than that, and they haven’t gone away.by
Joel Leclerc’s recent post The importance of freedom in software reminds us that the reason we contribute to projects like Ubuntu is that they it is made for sharing. Use it, modify it, improve it, share it. Anywhere, any time and with any number of people all over the world. No licence required. Take that away and you take away the reason for people to contribute.
Recent comments by a CC member that our ability to modify, improve and share it might be restricted by compilation copyright are a dangerous threat to our community. It’s the sort of thing the Community Council should be there do take a stand against, but alas no.
Compilation copyright is an idea exclusive to the US (or North America anyway). It restricts collections of items which otherwise have unrelated copyright restrictions. A classic example is a book collection of poetry where the poems are all out of copyright but the selection and ordering of poems is new and has copyright owned by whoever did it.
It’s completely irrelevant outside the US where most of the world is located but we like to look after everyone so what’s the situation for people in the US?
Kubuntu images are made from lists of packages in seed files which get made into meta packages. You could indeed argue that this meta package is subject to compilation copyright, I couldn’t find any case law on it so I suspect it’s entirely undefined. The good news is the meta package has always been GPL 2 licenced so voila, no copyright restrictions beyond the norms of free software.
The seed respoitory has curiously lacked a licence until I added the GPL the other day. It has a number of copyright holders primarily me (from before and after I worked for Canonical) and Canonical (from when I did). Anything on Launchpad has to be free software so we could say the same applies here but more reliably the seed isn’t what’s distributed on the images, the meta package is.
And of course it’s easy to replicate, the list of packages is just those that come from KDE for the most part so you can argue any compilation copyright is KDE’s, which in the case of Plasma is me again as release dude. And I pick GPL.
And in case anyone is getting confused, this has nothing to do with GCC style compilers, running some code through a compiler makes no difference whatsoever to what copyrights apply to it and nobody has ever seriously said anything different unless they’re trying to muddy the waters. I recently had Mark Shuttleworth say that of course you could copy individual binaries from Ubuntu.
But but… you’re not a lawyer
It’s too complex for you…you’re too small and too wee and you need those weapons of mass destruction to prevent terrorism… was the self-deprecating argument the unionist politicians came up with for voting no to Scottish independence. It worked too, for now, amazing.
Similarly I’m amazed at how otherwise very intelligent free software geeks look down on their ability to understand copyright and other laws. If we took this attitude to coding I’d never have started contributing to KDE and I’d never learn what real coding is like. If you want to know about an area of law it’s the same as coding, you read some textbooks, read some acts of parliament, read some EU directives, read some case law and come up with a decision. It’s exactly what judges do when they make a decision, no different.
Based on the above I have maintained the KDE licence policy and reviewed thousands of packages into the Ubuntu archives. So I feel equally competent to make the obvious declaration that compilation copyright has no relevant to Kubuntu because we freely licence the meta package. Remember geeks you are strong and free, don’t let anyone talk you down with unspecified scaremongering like “things get even more complicated” if they can’t say what makes it complicated then you can safely ignore it.
Totally gnarly waves dudesby
I’d like to thank all the Kubuntu members who just voted to re-affirm me on the Kubuntu Council.
Scott Kitterman’s blog post has a juicy details of the unprecedented and astonishing move by the Ubuntu Community Council asking me to step down as Kubuntu leader. I’ve never claimed to be a leader and never used or been given any such title so it’s a strange request without foundation and without following the normal channels documented of consultation or Code of Conduct reference.
I hope and expect Kubuntu will continue and plan to keep working on the 15.10 release along with the rest of the community who I love dearly.
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at Protocols Plugfest Europe 2015. It was really good to get out of the bubble of free software desktops where the community love makes it tempting to think we’re the most important thing in the world and experience the wider industry where of course we are only a small player.
This conferences, and its namesakes in the US, are sponsored by Microsoft among others and there’s obviously a decent amount of money in it, the venue is a professional conference venue and there’s a team of people making sure small but important details are taken care of like printed signposts to the venue.
What’s it all About?
In 2008 Microsoft lost an EU antitrust case because they had abused their monopoly position in operating systems. This required them to document their file formats such as MS Office and protocols such as SMB. This conference is part of that EU requirement meaning they have to work with anyone who wants to use their formats and protocols. They have a website where you can file a request for information on any of their documents and protocols and everyone said they were very responsive in assigning engineers getting answers.
Since 2008 Microsoft have lost a lot of ground in new areas in the industry such as mobile and cloud. Because they’re not the dominant player here they realise they have to use formats and protocols others can use too otherwise they lock themselves out.
I spoke about Interoperability on the Linux Desktop which seemed well received, the reason Linux desktop hasn’t taken off is there are many other systems we need to interoperate with and many of them don’t want to interoperate with us. (Of course there are financial reasons too.) It was well received with many people thanking me for a good talk.
I went to talks by people working on Samba, LibreOffice and Kolab which all gave pleasing insight into how these project work and what they have to do to workaround complex proprietary protocols and formats. LibreOffice explained how they work with OpenDocument, they add feature and for any feature added they submit a request for it to be added to the standard. It’s a realistic best practice alternative.
I went to a bunch of Microsoft talks too about changes in their file formats, protocols and use of their cloud service Azure.
It was great meeting some people from the free software and MS worlds at the conference. I spoke to Christopher about how he had been hired to document SMB for MS, to Dan about taking over the world, to Miklos about LibreOffice and many others. On the MS side I spoke to Tom about file formats, Darryl about working with Linux, to Jingyu about developing in MS.
I hope I won’t offend anyone to say that there’s a notable culture difference between the open source and the MS sides. Open Source people really do dress scruffy and act socially awkward. MS people reminded me of the bosses in Walter Mitty, strong handshakes, strong smiles and neat dress.
One part of the culture that depressingly wasn’t difference was the gender ratio, there was only half a dozen women there and half of those were organising staff.
The Microsoft people seemed pretty pleased at how they were open and documented their protocols and formats, but it never occurred to them to use existing standards. When I asked why they invented OOXML instread of using OpenDocument I was told it was “MS Office’s standard”. When I asked if Skype protocols were open they seemed not to know. It probably doesn’t come under the EU court requirements so it doesn’t interest them, but then all their talk of openness is for nothing. When I suggested Skype should talk XMPP so we can use it with Telepathy I was given largely blank faces in return.
Talking to Samba people and OpenChange people about my opinion that their products should be stop gaps until a better open protocol can be used was met with the reasonable argument that in many cases there are no better open protocols. Which is a shame.
I went into the MS testing lab to test some basic file sharing with Samba and reminded myself about the problems in Kubuntu and discovered some problems in Windows. They had to turn off firewalls and twiddle permissions just to be able to share files, which was something I always thought Windows was very good at. Even then it only worked with IP address and not browsing. They had no idea why but the Samba dudes knew straight away that name browsing had been disabled a while ago and a DNS server was needed for that. Interesting the MS interoperability staff aren’t great at their own protocols.
I had a great time in Zaragoza, only spoiled by travellers flu on the last day meaning I couldn’t go to the closing drinks. It’s on the site of a 2008 world fair expo which feels like one of those legacy projects that get left to rot, 2008 wasn’t a great year to be trying to initiate legacy I think. But the tapas was special and the vermut sweet. The conference timetable was genius, first day starts at 9:00 next at 10:00 and final at 11:00. The Zentyal staff who organised it was very friendly and they are doing incredible stuff reimplementing exchange. It’s lovely to see MS want to talk to all of us but they’ve a way to go yet before they learn that interoperability should be about an even playing field not only on their terms.
My postal vote has been sent off for the UK general election which is on Thursday.
What’s going on?
The UK parliament and the government it forms is up for election.
What happened to independence?
In the last week of the referendum on Scottish independence last year the UK government threw everything it could think of. Scare stories were all around about how it would destroy the economy, the English would keep our shared currency, the banks would move out of Scotland and the supermarkets would raise prices. A back bench opposition MP called Gordon Brown gave a Vow about giving more powers to Scotland.
The day after the no vote the prime minister instead of doing as he promised to work with Scotland instead promised to withdraw Scottish MPs voting rights at Westminster on English only matters. Fair enough you might think but the Scottish budget is defined by these English matters so there are no English only laws. The promised new powers for Scotland were consulted on and nothing very interesting or useful was promised in the end.
So there’s a feeling of annoyance at the lack of respect for Scots. With the population suddenly very interested in politics (85% turnout compared to 65% for a UK election) people have noticed. The membership of the nationalist parties has quadrupled and the current UK election has many people wondering what’s in it for Scotland.
What’s in it for Scotland?
There are 3 major London based parties and they are showing none of the optimism shown by the Yes side in the referendum campaign. Almost exclusively they talk down Scotland continuing to say it’s too small and too poor to manage its own affairs. So the opinion polls have shown people prefer an optimistic message as the SNP gives and they have been forecast to go from 6 seats in Scotland to every single of the 59 seats.
With England equally split between the Tory and Labour parties it seems likely the deciding vote for approval of government business will be from the SNP. The English media have gone a bit nuts at this and started querying if this is legitimate and a valid part of the constitutional setup. Which makes Scottish voters wonder what happened to all those promises of wanting to work together during the referendum.
My vote is for an MP from Edinburgh. The current guy is Ian Murray from Labout. He didn’t bother to turn up to a vote on bombing Iraq. He accepts donations from the Arab Emirates and PriceWaterhouseCoopers which are straight bribery for his votes, these governments/companies have no interest in Edinburgh’s people. He calls SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon “Miss Sturgeon” despite her being married for years, an example of everyday sexism.
Reviewing the leaflets and watching the video interviews none of the candidates stand out as great parliamentarians so I’ve voted mostly on party and go with the SNP. The candidate is Neil Hay who’s been criticised for having a Twitter account where it posted to a satirical article, a non-issue as far as I can see. It’ll be interesting to see who chooses to work with them to be a UK government and who continues to claim that Scottish political wishes are irrelevant.
See you on Friday.
We had a voluntary poll here and of course the no voters stayed at home so it was 80% yes. The Catalan government now says it resign in September and the election resulting will be a referendum on independence. If more than 50% vote for independence parties they’ll unilaterally declare independence. At which point I expect Spain to send in the troops.
We live in interesting times.by
I just closed the Plasma 5.4 kickoff meeting. It was well attended with lots of Plasma devs and VDG members there. Here’s the minutes.
If you’re looking for a way to join the team of beautiful desktop developers (you can read that both ways and be correct) there’s plenty to do now. For example the VDG have written a nice design document on System Settings which they need someone to help implement.
Plasma 5.4 is scheduled for August, it’ll be a great addition to Kubuntu 15.10.
Kubuntu Vivid Beta 2 is out. This is the first major distro to ship with Plasma 5 so it’ll be the first time many people get to see our lovely new desktop. Scary.
We have 24 bugs I’ve milestoned and 1 month to go until release, let’s see how low we can go. Many of the bugs are easy enough to fix and just need twiddling the bits in the packaging. Some are more complex. If you want to help out come and join us in #kubuntu-devel we’d appreciate just testing the ISOs for sanity.
Alas upgrade from 14.10 is currently broken due to a bug which is probably in apt , fix soon I hope.by
Kubuntu 15.04 development is in full swing and it’s looking like our 10th anniversary edition will be a classic. We’re the first distribution to ship a stable version with Plasma 5, the desktop which is getting tech journalists excited. My new favourite desktop they say. A masterpiece in the making they’re calling it. The most exciting release in a long time they exclaim.
Kubuntu 15.04 Beta 1 is out and is working well for people wanting to try out Plasma 5. We’ve deprecated the 14.10 Kubuntu-plasma5 packages, they were only ever tech preview and I’m afraid we don’t have the person-power to keep them updated, if you want Plasma 5 use the 15.04 Beta 1 for released versions or use Kubuntu CI images for Git versions.
Last week Ubuntu switched over to Systemd for boot system. It’s complex and faffy but at least we have the same complex and faffy as the rest of the world. There was a strange issue during the switchover where login manager SDDM suddenly disabled itself from starting. If you get that just run:
systemctl enable sddm
With a new desktop comes the pleasingly satisfying work of integrating it, it’s not unlike when I first uploaded KDE 3 to Ubuntu. This time though I’m better placed to put all the fixes upstream directly. For example I’ve just setup gtkbreeze, a helper tool to set up GTK 2 and 3 themeing to mostly match Breeze. But the icons don’t work, any help with that welcome.
Scarlett has updated Applications to 14.12.3. Aaron H has updated the docs and the ubiquity slideshow. I’ve nudged the people and pulled the leavers to get KScreen released and print-manager KF5 happy (mostly thanks to Red Hat that one) and telepathy working nicely with Plasma 5 (Martin K gets bonus points there for the legacy presence applet). Package manager Muon now fits in so well with Plasma 5 it gets released with it thanks to Aleix. User Manager gets an update courtesy of Vishesh. And Harald took time out from making all of KDE continuously integrate to port About Distro, you just can’t live without that one.
We’re still stuck on getting the new BlueDevil in, something in Ubuntu Touch needs ported to Bluez5 apparently. Libreoffice is looking nice with Qt 4 Breeze theme but I’ve failed to get the breeze icons properly integrated, hopefully I’ll have a spare day soon for that.
There’s still plenty on the bugs list many of them probably quite easy to fix if you fancy helping out. Our To Do list has plenty to be done including several that could be classes as junior jobs if you’re wanting to get into free software such as making some new recommended applications for the Muon Discover banner or reviewing the ISO contents to see if anything can be removed and get the size down a little. We’re in #kubuntu-devel on freenode if you want to say hi.
Season KDE is KDE’s annual project to give helpers a more structured way to take part in KDE. It’s inspired by Summer of Code of course.
Today I had the pleasure of launching the new Planet KDE website theme done by Ranveer Aggarwal. It looks very lovely and importantly makes the site a pleasure to browse on your phone. Everyone hug him and do report any bugs to bugzilla.
Kubuntu Wire seems to be down due to a server move so here's a Wire post on my blog written by Ilya Kowalewski as part of Google Code in...
Hey there, we’ve got some news for you, here in Kubuntu. Recently, we released Kubuntu 15.04 Alpha 1 (Vivid Vervet) with brand new Plasma 5 onboard and got some essential stuff updated.
Plasma 5, the next generation of KDE Software is still a work in progress, but is stable enough for everyday use and it keeps getting better as new versions drop frequently. The KDE Applications 14.12 includes a bunch of bugfixes and migrations to KDE Frameworks 5.
IT World Covers the 5 distros you need to consider and uses the classic photo above for Kubuntu with Billy Piper.
This edition of Kubuntu features one of the biggest visual changes in the Ubuntu ecosystem. The change of desktop is a major one and there will probably be some opposition to it. The new KDE Plasma 5 follows the same overall design, but it’s very different from what we were used to seeing.
It is, undoubtedly, a solid and stable desktop environment
We’ve recently got an email from Kubuntu user saying:
Please pardon the interruption but, KUDOS to the whole Kubuntu family.
Unbelievable, running ALL favourite apps off flash card (in USB 2.0 adaptor) on fairly mundane (‘dated’) desktop. So happy from smooth zsync upgrade.
Next, HD install. Stable, and now hooked on Kubuntu’s KDE plasma. Christmas gift, and Happy Holidays, New Year 2015 and beyond to you and yours.
Linux Veda covers things to do after installing Kubuntu, so you might be interested in this, in case if you plan to install Kubuntu.
We also released a new version of KDE Frameworks 5.5.0. KDE Applications 14.12 are arriving in Vivid Vervet, with backports, as soon as we can. For now, we wish you a Happy New Year and recommend you to meet it with new Kubuntu on your PC.
Good luck y Feliz Navidad! Remember, you know how to get off the naughty list..
Here’s a nice project if you’re bored and wanting to help make a very visual difference to KDE, port the Breeze icon theme to LibreOffice.
All help welcome
Open, Save and PDF icons are breeze, all the rest still to go
New seasonal KDE marketing campaign. Use Kubuntu to get off the naughty list.
Welcome to my blog on the updated jriddell.org, now featuring my personal blog (which has existed for about 15 years or at least before the word blog existed) together with my developer blog previously on blogs.kde.org.
I’m at the Bug Squashing Party in Munich, the home of KDE and Plasma and Kubuntu rollouts in the public sector. There’s a bunch of Kubuntu people here too as well as folks from Debian, KDE PIM and LibreOffice.
So far Christian and Aaron (yes that Aaron) have presented their idea for re-writing Akonadi.
And I’ve sat down with the guys from LibreOffice and worked out why Qt4 themeing isn’t working under Plasma 5, I’m about to submit my first bugfix to Libreoffice! Next step Breeze icon theme then Qt 5 support, scary.by