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HR20 seems to be running Linux...possible GPL violations?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by mateom199, Mar 16, 2007.

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  1. Mar 16, 2007 #1 of 267
    mateom199

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    This post seems to confirm that the HR20 is running some linux variant:
    DealDatabase Post

    If it is indeed running linux, which it very likely is, where are the kernel sources?
    Why are there no copies of the GPL included with the HR20, or any sort of mention of the GPL that the GPL requires.

    Earl, maybe you can confirm if the HR20 is running linux from your contacts?
     
  2. Mar 17, 2007 #2 of 267
    bigviking

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    GPL only requires source code for sources files that are modified. It's possible that the HR20 is basically running a stock kernel, with some new (built from scratch) kernel modules. If this is the case, I believe they haven't violated the GPL terms. But, my understanding is that they are still required to have copyright notices, and disclaimers of warranty.
     
  3. Mar 17, 2007 #3 of 267
    Spanky_Partain

    Spanky_Partain New Member

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  4. Mar 17, 2007 #4 of 267
    mateom199

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    Well, actually, there is good reason to bring it up. That thread never resulted in any definitive answers except for that fact that Earl believes the source will never see the light of day.

    It still doesn't answer the question of whether or not DTV is required to release any source, or even acknowledge using GPL'd code. That thread only established that most people a) think it will never be released and b) its ok, because DirecTV needs to protect itself.
     
  5. Mar 17, 2007 #5 of 267
    macEarl

    macEarl Godfather

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    That's not the only thread hereabouts on the subject. GPL requires that, upon request, you provide a free distribution of the open source content of your works. This amounts to maintaining an archive of the package distribution and providing it upon request to users, for a nominal charge only. If public archives are still available, you can suggest going to the original source you got it from, but it's on you to give things out upon request.

    But no work product of your own need be given out. Nothing requires that. Use of gcc built code distributed for public use directs that binaries cannot be stripped (a form of post-build compression, so to speak, and an option when you build). You can charge for your own code. You can charge a reasonable and nominal sum for the distribution. You can not exploit the open distribution. You can keep your own source private, patent it, charge for it, and get cat-called at slashdot for doing that - but what's yours is yours.

    As we used to quote RMS in the old days, it's free as in speech, not free as in beer.

    I only know these things for a certain fact because my company distributes a single open source component with our commercial software, have done so for a decade+ and because I personally handled licensing issues with that and have personally corresponded with Richard Stallman so as to ensure my company's compliance, and later to discuss other issues associated with open source licensing.

    But, unless something has drastically changed, and I **think** not, distribution of the unit without a GPL Copyright(left) notice is - how shall I put it? - a reprehensible no-no.

    I am patiently waiting for news that D* will be correcting this oversight in the next revision of their HR20 manual. That is the issue.

    hth
     
  6. Mar 17, 2007 #6 of 267
    CousCous

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    That's true. My Panasonic tv uses Linux and they had to make a special place for the GPL in the menu screen. All GPL'd software must come with a copy of the license agreement.
     
  7. Mar 17, 2007 #7 of 267
    mtnagel

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    Wow. What could a tv need Linux for?
     
  8. Mar 17, 2007 #8 of 267
    Doug Brott

    Doug Brott Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    There are other companies that provide Linux for the Broadcom Processors in the HR20. It is possible that DirecTV simply licenses that product rather than doing kernel work themselves.

    http://www.windriver.com/linux/technology.html

    Don't know if DirecTV goes through these guys or not. I'm not sure whose requirement it would be for the GPL license statement in that case. Certainly, no source code would be necessary, though.
     
  9. Mar 17, 2007 #9 of 267
    mateom199

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    Any release of the linux kernel requires a copy of the GPL license, and at least an offer to produce the source upon request. Not doing so is a violation of the GPL. This does not mean that any type of proprietary DirecTV code must be released, only the linux kernel sources, modified or "stock."
     
  10. Mar 17, 2007 #10 of 267
    Spanky_Partain

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    Do you really think D* has not already looked at what needed to be done legally to use the linux 2.4.29-uclibc-brcm?

    Not likely!

    The kernel is most likely handed to them as is.
     
  11. Mar 17, 2007 #11 of 267
    macEarl

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    Look at this way - if I have an application that runs on GNU/Linux, links GNU libraries - ie, basically everyone's code - I have to provide a copy of the GPL.

    Suppose, however, that I somehow managed to get past that and my application is truly on its own, it simply runs on GNU/Linux and I distribute my package only - I don't have to provide a copy of the GPL. (It would be wise of me to provide a system requirements page for pre-install, identifying what distributions my package works with - RedHat, Ubuntu, etc. It would be great from the FSF's point of view if I were to say GNU/Linux when referring to those distributions . (And, if you want to get into a flame war, ask the Linux kernel guys about this - they think it's just Linux as if the FSF were lucky to have them; I stopped talking to them years ago over this very subject.))

    Now, suppose I re-distribute GNU/Linux along with my application. I need to provide a copy of the GPL.

    Now, suppose I only use the Linux kernel - no GNU components whatsoever - and I re-distribute that only along with my majickal software requiring no GNU components to work. Ta da! The one case where the GPL is not required.

    Except.... how is networking performed with a Linux kernel if not by GNU components(netwib, libsocketcpp)? How are files being managed between an esata drive and a Linux kernel if not by GNU components (fileutils at least)? And if the answer to that is that BSD-based components were used, great! Uh... Where's the BSD copyright notice?

    Conceptually, it's possible that they somehow built a combination of: rolled their own, purchased rolled-their-own, and public domain (which GNU and BSD are not, btw). (Yes, I'm imagining them re-inventing *nix based libraries at high cost right now. :nono: ) It's entirely possible, in which case, this subject is closed.

    However....


    We're dealing with a company that wants to squeal like a stuck pig if the idea of removing their holy content digitally off of an HR20 comes up. Their first foray into media sharing is a beta based on Viiv, itself chock full of DRM (digital rights management). D* would be mistaken if they were to think that they could take this approach while stepping on the rights of others as if they were not being watched.

    Very mistaken.

    (EDIT - But no source code from D*. It's free as in speech, not free as in beer, when it comes to open software. If you modify open software, you only need provide the original open sources. You want source? Start at www.fsf.org, www.linuxhq.com, www.bsd.org, www.sourceforge.net - knock yourself out.)
     
  12. Mar 17, 2007 #12 of 267
    paulman182

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    Since I think software and computers are just about as exciting as my toaster, I'm not really up on the world of computing.

    So forgive me for asking, why does this matter?

    EDIT: I guess this was answered in the post just before mine, so thank you!
     
  13. Mar 17, 2007 #13 of 267
    macEarl

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    If that's true, something changed in the years since I gave up talking to the kernel kids. Takes away the one out I gave in my previous post for not including the GPL. Looking into that today.....
     
  14. Mar 17, 2007 #14 of 267
    mateom199

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    macEarl seems to know a lot more about the issue than I, but I believe even just the linux kernel, without any GNU code, still requires a copy of the GPL. The linux kernel is also GPL'd, so I don't see why it would not be required....
     
  15. Mar 17, 2007 #15 of 267
    macEarl

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    Maybe it happened - this one slipped by and was not given proper legal review at all. We acquired a company that did that (clowns!) and had to correct after the fact.

    Or maybe, their lawyers made a mistake.

    Let's look at uclibc. At the opening paragraph of their website it says:

    "To use uClibc, you need to have a toolchain. A toolchain consists of GNU binutils..."

    So, let's just skip over what's required for GNU binutils and go to http://uclibc.org/FAQ.html#licensing where they identify they use the Lesser GPL, http://www.gnu.org/licenses/lgpl.txt.

    Refer to paragraph 4, binary distribution and it's dependency on paragraphs 1 and 2 - requiring that you keep intact all notices of the License.

    A vendor gave it to D*? OK, no problem, the vendor had to pass the license and its terms to them. D* gave it to us? OK, no problem, they have to pass the license and its terms to us.

    They have not done so. It's my opinion that they are aware of this.
     
  16. Mar 17, 2007 #16 of 267
    mateom199

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    From the FSF GPL FAQ

    and

     
  17. Mar 17, 2007 #17 of 267
    macEarl

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    I appreciate you squaring me away on this. I'll look into that (our posts crossed in time, see above), but you're prolly right. In any case, uclibc is a smoking gun.

    That's just my opinion.

    Probably, it's all an oversight. Nothing would make me happier than a letter of apology to the FSF, a copy of that letter to all current HR20 owners, by mail and by email for those that don't seem to get D* mail anymore, along with a statement of the copyright per the license itself, and a statement referring to either the new user's guide or the new addendum that will be put into every HR20 box from now on containing the copyright per the license, regardless of new or refurbished.

    That is all that I want. It won't take their HR20 development staff any time at all. It'll give their lawyers and customer outreach staff something useful and good to do.

    The initial point of view is to assume a mistake, not stupidity, not malfeasance.
     
  18. Mar 17, 2007 #18 of 267
    macEarl

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    Who is to say if they modified any protected binaries? They need not have modified the kernel itself. It's modular. There are ways to add things without modifying the kernel itself or modifying supporting code.

    But are they distributing binaries openly? That might be argued against as they have an embedded system. But even if they do fall under that clause, the food chain is: End-user has GPL notice making him/her aware that open source was used in the product; end-user requests open source; vendor passes it up to appropriate contracting vendor or handles it themselves; vendor responds to the user as follows: 1) We will gladly provide you the source code on media type X (CD or DVD rom or other reasonable media - free download is in no way required), 2) we are allowed under the terms of the license to charge reasonably for the distribution only (media cost, labor cost to xfer source to media, labor cost to ensure end-user is getting the source, postage), and 3) the cost to you $XXX (prolly under a hundred or under fifty bucks is ok). On the other hand, the acceptable alternative is for the vendor to say that they certify that they are using distro X or revision X of something, and would the user like to download it for free from the sponsoring organization? (See my links, above, and by the way, the first time that happens, the sponsoring organization would gladly accept a voluntary donation from that vendor for the server bandwidth additions.)

    That's how that all works. Before broadband, vendor archiving mattered a lot - today, prolly less so.

    To your original point - they modified source, so they must provide it. OK. But where do we believe that they did that or necessarily had to do it? Think Oracle. Think Wolfram. They can run on GNU/Linux till the hurd ;) of cows comes home, and they are not going to give you proprietary source. And even if D* or its supplier modified the kernel, you will get zero of the code using that modification, even if you swim upstream far enough to get the kernel.

    It's free as in speech, not free as in beer.

    But embedded system or not, if they're handing GPL'd or LGPL'd code - and it seems that they are - copyright notices should be respected. It's the law.

    (PS - This all simply elaborates on bigviking's response.)
     
  19. Mar 17, 2007 #19 of 267
    Spanky_Partain

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    OK

    So maybe if you lay out the $700+ money to buy and actually own your HR20,for that extra money you will get a link to the 2.4 kernel that is being used and a piece of paper that you have to sign saying you received the GPL license.

    Otherwise, this is leased. It is their equipment. There is NO reason why they have to give you anything like this for the use of the HR20.

    I have a GPL released program. It is shell script. The license for it is inside the program. Our lawyers said, "Good enough!". These lawyers deal with this type of stuff all the time. Believe me, D* is NOT going to open themselves up to a possible lawsuit over something so simple to take care of.

    If you noticed in my last post, the kernel mentioned has brcm in it. This is most likely a Broadcom kernel. D* may have license agreements that say anything and D* probably is not responsible to supply what is being discussed in this thread.

    All of the real stuff that would matter to this Forum is not in the kernel. The kernel is only the heart of the system and user space. The real work running the HR20 are the arms, legs, head, etc. I think you get my point here.

    With that said, I bid you good afternoon!
     
  20. Mar 17, 2007 #20 of 267
    macEarl

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    There's a school of thought that says anything with a CPU needs Linux. Were it not for BSD, Mach or GNU, they'd be right. :D
     
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