Date: Thu, Jun 29, 2000 9:54 AM
Subject: High-Tech Warranty Project -- Comment, P994413
(1.1) Source Code - Human understandable instructions that are fed to a computer then translateed in to machine readable format.(1.2) Compile - to turn source code into binary computer instructions.
(1.3) Compiler - a program which compiles
(1.4) Compiled code/Executable [file]- A computer file containing binary computer instructions that is stored for later retrieval and invocation.
(1.5) Bugfix/patch- a fragment of source code to fix an unintented result.
(1.6) Open Source [software/programs]- programs whose source code are freely availible to all persons. Along with the source code comes the right for all persons to modify, re-compile, and use the source code, at no charge.
(1.7) Open Source Community - the user, writers, supporters of Open Source software.
(1.8) Linux - an Open Source operating system
(1.9) Apache - an Open Source web server
(1.10) Redhat - a [specific] company providing linux and linux services
(2) Comments on UCITA:
(2.1) It is my understanding that warrenties would be required on open source software. It is my belief that this law does not respect the home hobbyist or corperations supporting open source. I, a computer hobbist would be required to put warrenties on code and software that I released. This is not advisable because it is too burdensome for the hobbyist and would discourage generosity.
(2.2) Furthermore, companies like Redhat would have to provide warrenties for the open source software that they support, but do not themsleves write. (Although they have contributed to portions of the linux source code) But sine they do not write the complete code (not even close to the majority of the code.) This is not a conflict of instrest due to the open source nature of linux individual users are able to change the code themselves and have that change, improvement, or bugfix incorperated into the official program.
(2.3) Apache, another example of an open source program, runs on over 50% of all websites. If the maintainers were required to provide a warrenty, with that kind of market share, they would be swamped with providing the support that would be required. Developement would slow, or even stop.
(2.4) Many cooks donot spoil the broth. Another problem with open source warrenties is that who is in charge of providing the warrenty? Authors can be many (100's in the case of linux.) Who would provide the support? The person who wrote one bugfix? Would the developer who wrote 51% of the code (assuming there is such a person, and that thier contribution is measurable) be required to support a patch that he did not write?
(3) Open Source Licenses:
(3.1) While Open Source follows the same general principals, there are a variety of licences that it may be released under. The most popular is GNU Public License (GPL) availible from www.gnu.org. It is the most unrestrictive license. Another is Sun Microsystems' Community License. Companies often craft a tailored license to suit thier own opensource goals. That is why a particular cannot license cannot be exempted without encouraging one over another.
(3.2) Personally, if the law were to expempt GPL only, this would be a good thing. It is the 'best' license in my opinion, and woudl ecourage people to release thier code under it. But the GPL has not yet been tested in court and holds value only in thoery. The GPL should be proven before it can be named explicitly. If it were to be named, would that help to prove the license's validity?
(4.1) It is my humble opinion that programs released under an open source style license (as defined in 1.6) be exempt from having to provide warrenties even if there is a guarian or supporting origanization/company providing or supporting the software because the people can support themselves. Not so much as individually, but as a group.