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GPL Code Found In OpenBSD Wireless Driver 671

NormalVisual writes "The mailing lists were buzzing recently when Michael Buesch, one of the maintainers for the GPL'd bc43xx Broadcom wireless chip driver project, called the OpenBSD folks to task for apparently including code without permission from his project in the OpenBSD bcw project, which aims to provide functionality with Broadcom wireless chips under that OS. It seems that the problem has been resolved for now with the BSD driver author totally giving up on the project and Theo De Raadt taking the position that Buesch's posts on the subject were 'inhuman.'" More commentary from the BSD community is over at
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GPL Code Found In OpenBSD Wireless Driver

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  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:43PM (#18647783) Homepage Journal
    This was discussed on Technocrat a few days ago. Apparently the Linux kernel developer did not wish Broadcom to take advantage of his work in proprietary products. Given Broadcom's record of having a number of undocumented, closed-driver-only products that we have to reverse-engineer, and having some proprietary drivers that IMO violate the GPL on the kernel, I can see why he'd feel that way. The BSD developer was an accomplished BSD committer and should have known better. The Linux developer offered to relicense some of his code under BSD. Theo decided to turn it into a human-rights issue with great flamag. The BSD developer walked off in a huff.

    The whole thing lasted two days, much less than the blog and news coverage. Someone will come along and write this driver for BSD, and the BSD developer will have some well-deserved cooling-off time.


    • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:48PM (#18647825) Homepage Journal
      One should never expect him to see the other side of an issue.
      • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:53PM (#18647877) Homepage Journal
        Theo is a real sharp programmer, and an eloquent writer when he wants to be. I met him once. I went to shake his hand. I swear, he did not notice. This left me to think that when Theo commits social gaffes, it is not his fault and he can't help himself. We all have our lacks, issues, and strengths.


        • by n6mod ( 17734 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:30PM (#18648257) Homepage
          This left me to think that when Theo commits social gaffes, it is not his fault and he can't help himself.

          Though, it is important to know your limitations. In particular, you'd think that he should remain silent on the social gaffes of others.

          It's pretty hard to take criticism of interpersonal skills from Theo seriously.
        • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:43PM (#18648377) Journal
          Some people don't give a fuck. That's a decision.

          To make it out to be some psychological issue or some such nonsense dismisses the choices of those who made the decision to give a shit about other people and not be an asshole.

          Skip the third party apologies, call it what it is and accept it or don't accept it.

          • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @12:22AM (#18652761) Homepage
            You know, the funny thing is, right now, you're the one making a decision to be an asshole rather than giving a shit about other people.

            As one of the people who doesn't notice when people are trying to shake my hand sometimes, I can assure you, it's not that I don't care about people; it's that I don't have the same raw inputs to my decision-making that some people do. So far as I'm concerned, you people all have telepathy. I know it's not technically telepathy, but it might as well be; I have no access to the medium through which you pick up on things like that.

            So, I put in serious time and effort doing my best to read people, and people like you bitch me out because I don't do it perfectly, because it's effortless for you.

            The irony is that it's your empathy that is leading you to a lack of empathy in this situation.
        • by jZnat ( 793348 ) * on Saturday April 07, 2007 @03:04PM (#18648633) Homepage Journal
          Perhaps he's genuinely autistic? That would explain a lot.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) *
            Perhaps he's genuinely autistic? That would explain a lot.

            Well, where's my DSM? Oh, that's right, I'm not qualified to use one.

            There is a lot of speculation that a number of people we know are somewhere on the Asperger spectrum of disorders.


            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ScrewMaster ( 602015 )
              A more interesting question would be whether a certain type of work selects for Asperger's Syndrome or a similar disorder. Bram Cohen claims to have it, and in spite of the problems it has caused him says that it aids his concentration, his ability to focus on his work. Many great programmers I've known over the years (not all by any means, but a significant number) almost seem to lack social skills in direct proportion to their technical abilities. I'm not trying to infer cause and effect, but from a purel
        • This left me to think that when Theo commits social gaffes, it is not his fault and he can't help himself. We all have our lacks, issues, and strengths.

          I'm sorry, but I cannot agree with you on this. The way Mr. de Raadt treats other human beings is simply abusive, and there is no external factor than can explain his behavior in any fashion that would justify coddling it. Unless you are seriously willing to argue that the man is not, in a legal sense, mentally competent, then it is most certainly a proble
        • by ( 321932 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @07:35PM (#18651081) Homepage Journal
          Theo is a real sharp programmer, and an eloquent writer when he wants to be. I met him once. I went to shake his hand. I swear, he did not notice. This left me to think that when Theo commits social gaffes, it is not his fault and he can't help himself. We all have our lacks, issues, and strengths.

          What Theo did was a classic case of blame shifting. Trivialize the problems on your side whilst (trying to) change the subject to a problem on the other side. I don't understand why no-one brought this up in the discussion earlier, it's very transparent. All the -public- name calling demonstrates it nicely because it's basically committing the same 'crime'. Eye for an eye I don't think is considered terribly humane.

          Now the interesting thing to me is the way they tried to trivialize the copyright infringement. Supposedly the code should have never made it into CVS, it was a mistake. However, it was being used to develop the driver for BSD (and to be licensed under the BSD license).

          When corporations do stuff like this, they generally use clean-room reverse-engineering. I wonder what the legality is of the approach they used, copyright-wise. Consider a more extreme case. Let's say I take the Linux kernel source tree, and one by one I start 'rewriting' every bit of source (while most certainly glancing at the original), could I then license the 'new' kernel under whatever terms I want?

          I could be wrong, but wasn't the copyright violation being made when the code is copied from the GPL code into the local development version of the developer? And the CVS commit is just a wider spread distribution after that? I've wondered about this for a while because 'tainting' is practically only being talked about in the context of closed-source corporations, not in the context of someone having seen Open Source software.
    • Typo, and more data. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:50PM (#18647839) Homepage Journal
      That's "flamage", not "flamag". Sorry.

      And by the way, first post :-) . OK, I'm a subscriber, I guess that's cheating.

      Here is the discussion [] of the same issue.


    • by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:51PM (#18647849) Homepage
      Bruce, you can't keep coming in here and providing reasoned commentary. I mean, how will all us slashbots have a good old fashioned flamewar circa 1999? ;)
      • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:59PM (#18647947) Homepage Journal
        Just don't flame on . Or do flame, and I'll have no problem using that "delete" button in a way that Tio Paco :-) doesn't do here.

        Actually, there is a time and place for flame wars. Justified anger is better than sitting aside while bad stuff happens. But this particular encounter did not justify the anger Theo displayed.


        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rho ( 6063 )

          Having read the thread--was Michael's *very* public outing of the violation justified? Or would it have been solved easier and with less drama with a simple email to Marcus alone?

          'Cause that was Theo's point.

      • by baryon351 ( 626717 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @04:16PM (#18649317)
        I feel saddened by some of this, the community fighting, but then I wonder if perhaps I'm just emotional, being both a GPL and BSD license supporter. Sometimes I like to move things around, to see how it works.

        Below are two edits to the piece here [].

        The first. Let's pretend this was GPL code taken by Microsoft, not OpenBSD, for inclusion in Windows.

        From: Michael Buesch <mb>
        Subject: Microsoft bcw: Possible GPL license violation issues
        Newsgroups: gmane.linux.kernel.wireless.general,
        To: Marcus Glocker <mglocker>,
                Jon Simola <jsimola>,
                Theo de Raadt <deraadt>,
                Stefano Brivio <stefano.brivio>,
                Martin Langer <martin>,
                Danny van Dyk <kugelfang>,
                Andreas Jaggi <andreas.jaggi>,
                Larry Finger <larry.finger>,
        Cc: Johannes Berg <johannes>,
                Joseph Jezak <josejx>,
                John Linville <linville>,
                Greg kh <greg>,
                bcm43xx <list>,
                linux-wireless <list>,
                license-violation <list>
        Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2007 22:08:13 +0200
        User-Agent: Outlook Express
        I, Michael Buesch, am one of the maintainers of the GPL'd Linux
        wireless LAN driver for the Broadcom chip (bcm43xx).
        The Copyright holders of bcm43xx (which includes me) want to talk
        to you, developers of Microsoft Windows, about possible GPL license and therefore
        Copyright violations in your bcw driver.
        To me, that looks like Mr Buesch is being decent.

        Now let's switch to the opposite - Mr Buesch as a Windows developer, finding Microsoft code in OpenBSD

        From: Michael Buesch <mb>
        Subject: OpenBSD bcw: Possible MS Windows license violation issues
        Newsgroups: windows.kernel.wireless.general,
        To: Marcus Glocker <mglocker>,
                Jon Simola <jsimola>,
                Theo de Raadt <deraadt>,
                Stefano Brivio <stefano.brivio>,
                Martin Langer <martin>,
                Danny van Dyk <kugelfang>,
                Andreas Jaggi <andreas.jaggi>,
                Larry Finger <larry.finger>,
        Cc: Johannes Berg <johannes>,
                Joseph Jezak <josejx>,
                John Linville <linville>,
                Greg kh <greg>,
                bcm43xx <list>,
                windows-wireless <list>,
                license-violation <list>
        Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2007 22:08:13 +0200
        User-Agent: KMail/1.9.5
        I, Michael Buesch, am one of the Managers of the Microsoft Windows
        wireless LAN driver team for the Broadcom chip (bcm43xx).
        The Copyright holder of bcm43xx (Microsoft) wants to talk
        to you, OpenBSD bcw developers, about possible Microsoft Windows license and therefore
        Copyright violations in your bcw driver.
        Again, a response like that if it were from Microsoft to the OpenBSD team would be considered highly decent.

        I think Michael Buesch did well
    • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:53PM (#18647869)
      His position is completely rational for those of us who have worked with Broadcom. Even their closed source stuff is often junk and requires tremendous effort to work around, with poor support and impossible management. Even after signing NDAs and GETTING chip specs or sample code, you're still left out in the dark.

      Anything that manages to get out in the free world needs to stay there, and any reasonable person will do his best to ensure it does. Further, using the GPL as a weapon against Broadcom, forcing them to open up their specs is really to the collective advantage of everyone.
      • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:34PM (#18648299) Homepage Journal
        You know, it's OK to use a GPL driver in BSD code. It causes a phenomenon that the BSD folks really hate, though, which is that the GPL applies to the entire product. But that would have been fine for temporary development. The real problem was the lack of proper attribution of the copyright and license. I see no way for the Linux developer to have rectified that lack other than through a public notice, because it would not have been proper for anyone to be left thinking his code was under the BSD license. It was his right to say publicly that it was not. Perhaps he could have contacted Theo privately and gotten him to do so. But given people who react the way Theo sometimes does, I think the best protection one can have is to do everything in the open where others can see.


    • by hildi ( 868839 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:56PM (#18647919)
      Fast on the heels of Ballmer's tantrums and chair throwing, the BSD community was today wracked again by the borderline personality disorders and rageaholics that permeate the open source movement. Theo De Raadt, founder of the Open BSD Brigade, in an apparent fit of anger, threw his fist through a wall as he was cussing out an acolyte of Chairman Richard Stallman, leader of the competing marxist organization, the Free Stalin Foundation.

      Hans Reiser, an open source maven who murdered his wife in cold blood, commented from prison that open source programmers had no abnormal personality problems, and were all "very smart people, very intelligent." Eric Raymon, fresh from a trip to the Paul Revere Institute Convention and Bondage Festival in Las Vegas, echoed these comments: "What the world doesn't understand, is that we are geniuses. There is nothing wrong with using strong language to intimidate idiotarians and freedom hating anti-gun liberazis".

      Steve Jobs, emerging from a meditation chamber in his northern california home, opined that "he would fire half his open source staff" that night, as they had failed to properly implement a bitwise portrait of the mona lisa on the back of the motherboard for the new Apple Yojimbo motherboard family, slated to debut this fall.

      The BeOS developers, currently washing dishes at a Sacramento Olive Garden, had the following comments: "Yeah, we are kinda bummed that we lost all that money. But frankly, I'm kind of glad to be done with those freaks. Apple, Microsoft, Lunix, what a bunch of creeps and sociopaths."

      Echoed his boss "Johnny called in sick so I need you to work late tonight, is that OK?"


      (parts of this story were contributed by James Gandalfini)
    • by rben ( 542324 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:30PM (#18648251) Homepage
      I think this might have been handled better, but mostly on the BSD side. If they'd "borrowed" code from a corporation, their first notification might have been a lawsuit, not a widely distributed posting.

      It's no surprise that stuff like this gets blown up out of proportion. Quite a few people who work in software, myself included, aren't the most diplomatic types. Still, maturity is ignoring other peoples bad behavior and trying to work out your differences amicably. I think Marcus showed a great deal of restraint. I would have been incredibly angry if I'd been in his situation and I'm not sure I'd have been nearly so forgiving.

      While it maybe a tempest in a teapot, it's a lesson for all of us. We all look like doofuses (how do you spell the plural of doofus?) when we air our grievances in public.

      Take a breath, relax, go have a beer. Then find a way to work together.

      My 1.9888888 cents worth.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by lysdexia ( 897 ) *
        The plural of "doofus" is "doofusis" (pronounced Doo-Fah-SEE-z). A group of doofasis ruled by a single doofus is a "Doofusate".

        As in: "The prime Doofus among Doofusis in this Doofusate is Lysdexia, since his indoofation was initiated in doofanum 1999."

        It's simple, really.

    • by theunixman ( 538211 ) <> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:43PM (#18648379) Homepage
      I managed to catch front-row seats to the whole battle myself. Buesch (the Linux bcm43xx developer) posted a formal but not in any way harsh question to the BSD developer on the public bcm43xx list and to the BSD list. In any language, when communicating in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people, using more formal dialects is almost always the rule. Some people find the higher dialects offensive, but almost everyone appreciates the attempts to not sound like one of the local street punks hanging out around the corner at the strip mall trolling for some action.

      Apparently the OpenBSD people were put off by this, which is unfortunate. And apparently they were so focused on making it yet another OpenBSD vs The World incident that they completely lost sight of the goal of both projects, which is to create Free and Open drivers for other people to use, despite the hardware specifications not being available. It's an unfortunate situation, of course.

      Hopefully after everyone has a chance to reflect on the situation, the OpenBSD developers will realize that even though many other situations are actually OpenBSD vs The World, this is not one of them, and the Linux bcm-43xx team was not only willing to work with them on relicensing code, they also published the results of an incredible reverse engineering effort for anyone, including the OpenBSD team, to use in order to achieve this goal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      That wasn't going "over the top", that was an out and out psychotic event. I mean, I know it's not news that Theo has a few social limitations, but -- wow. If someone ever wants to demonstrate what Theo is all about, just point them over to that thread. It's never been so clear that Theo is mentally unbalanced.

      And I'm not saying this to be "mean", only that I hope someone in his life eventually convinces him to get him help.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What's really funny about all this is that Slashdot is all about advocating piracy under the guise of some anti-RIAA movement (when it's really just fucking over artists), but heaven forbid someone use GPL code. I mean, EULA aren't legally binding, but a GPL text header is? The double standards seem rather self-serving.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        An EULA is not legally binding because it is (illegally) forced on you after the sale of a product, restricting your legal rights. The GPL is not forced on you; if you choose to reject it, normal copyright kicks in. If you choose to accept the GPL you receive additional rights not normally given to you under normal copyright.

        The GPL has been out there for a great number of years. I hope your comment is based on little knowledge on the difference between EULAs and the GPL, and not on intentional putting dow

  • Theo is an idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:53PM (#18647873)
    His team were caught red-handed, and had the gall to blame the people who got ripped. He doesn't even seem to get copyright, saying there was no infringement because the driver wasn't yet ready for general use is beyond moronic.
  • Overreactions... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rthille ( 8526 ) <web-slashdot@ranga[ ]rg ['t.o' in gap]> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:58PM (#18647933) Homepage Journal

    Deanna (I think it was Deanna anyway, based on the contributed by) overreacted to the email. The only thing unreasonable about the email that I saw was the wide distribution. The initial email from Michael Buesch, IMHO, should have gone to the comitter and the OpenBSD core team...
    • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:11PM (#18648065)
      Yes, and you could tell from Theo's initial response that it was that wide distribution that really torqued him into a pretzel. Nobody likes having their dirty laundry aired in public (it immediately alienates the very people with which you are trying to communicate: as a tactic it should be a last resort) and it is that massive CC list that makes me ponder what Mr. Buesch's real motive could have been. From a practical standpoint, if he'd just wanted to resolve the issue he should have done what you said. Instead, he managed to turn a simple request into a two-day running conflict.

      Maybe this is just an example of two developers with limited social skills stepping on each others toes. I don't know, it sure looks that way to me. Wouldn't be the first time I've seen something like this, that's for sure. Programmers are people too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xenocide2 ( 231786 )
        While it's probably more socially graceful to email Marcus directly, in this case I don't think it would have been productive. Marcus was aware of the GPL'd code, and had informed Theo of it. They both knew what was going on and decided it wasn't important. I haven't had the opportunity to deal with Theo directly (knock on wood!), but I've never seen Theo interact nicely with Linux or other GPL communities, and it seems like every one ends with some innuendo blackmail over OpenSSH. But perhaps I'm just draw
  • by mg2 ( 823681 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:04PM (#18648001) how you can scroll down past the cascade of de Raadt nonsense and find an actual reasonable response from the bcw maintainer himself!

    Unfortunately, with so much noise coming from de Raadt, the only thing most people are going to see are his ridiculous responses.

    I'm sure someone else has drawn this line before, but he reminds me of the OpenBSD mascot. Like a blowfish, he fills up with (hot) air when threatened and is very defensive.

    • by Tim Browse ( 9263 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @03:07PM (#18648657)

      Having read some of the responses, and apart from Theo's arguments being dumb (like repeatedly insisting on calling use of the code a 'mistake', like Marcus fell into a well or something, when Marcus already admitted what he did), it made me wonder how he gets any real work done. I mean he left tons of responses on that thread. I got bored scrolling past them, let alone reading them.

      Doesn't he have a home to go to?

      Mind you, it's probably not a fun home to be in.

      "Evening, dear. You're home late."
      "That's because you're INHUMAN!!!"
      "Let me get a dictionary for you...DEMON!!!"

  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:05PM (#18648007)

    If you read through the email conversation, you'll see a VERY diplomatic initial message from Michael, a straw-man attack from Theo ("Do you feel that Marcus should give up his efforts?"), a VERY reasonable response ("No, he should _not_ give up. The opposite is true. He should start to contact us to get relicensing permission from us to speed up bcw development and stay legal") and then profanity and rage from Theo.

    The slashdot post, the weblog entry, and Theo's comments are all ad hominem, and baseless ad hominem at that- the core issue here is that GPL code was taken in violation of its license. The owner of the code contacted and admittedly large number of people, publicly, about it. It is hardly out of line given Theo's well-known grandstanding full of rhetoric (hardware drivers for OpenBSD come to mind.)

    Michael pointed out the violation and asked the developer/OpenBSD people to contact him to work out relicensing the code. Instead, Theo attacked him relentlessly and repeatedly. After the first 6 posts between Theo and Michael, I felt sick and stopped reading.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aztektum ( 170569 )
      It's this kind of social ineptitude that hurts F/OSS. I have talked to network administrators, mostly at small businesses, that have a hard time finding the money for MS and others during upgrade cycles, but they still find it less risky than using F/OSS because of things like this that they have read about. Politics dictates business, yes, but after you paid for something you usually have an expectation that the company won't walk away from it on you. Personal politics in F/OSS projects leads to this joke.
  • As the World Turns (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:09PM (#18648043)
    I have read all the threads on the OBSD lists.

    Without question, the Linux developer did not need to cc the whole word when first making his inquiry -- he should have contacted them in private. I would also suspect that the BSD developer was just using the Linux code as a drop-in replacement for the time being until he rewrote it with a BSD license. I do not believe the BSD developer was trying to steal anything or take credit for something he did not develop. He made a mistake, for sure, but I do not believe there was any ill will on his part.

    However, the biggest story in all of this is just how freaking childish Theo is. I cannot for the life of me figure this guy out. He kills his own cause and make OBSD look like a playground for schoolyard bullies. Imagine how much better he and OBSD would have looked if they had responded to the initial mailing list post with something like: "Hey, we would have appreciated it if you had contacted us privately. In any event, we are quite confident there was no intent to take GPL code in violation of the license. However, we will discuss this, decide the appropriate remedy, and respond to you privately. Thank you for bringing this to our attention."

    Matter solved, no drama. But Theo has to open his big fat mouth. Theo: it's called taking the high road, even if you didn't start it. Try it sometime.

    Besides, Theo himself cross-posts to other lists all the time to incite flame wars. Just look at last month's FreeBSD-advocacy list -- he cross posted during a thread about the use of his dear Puffy on an anti-blob poster. Pot, meet kettle.
  • Silly (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:10PM (#18648053)

    The crux of Theo's complaint seems to be that they "went public" by emailing too many people. When some of the people in on the email pointed out that they were the ones that actually did the hard work of reverse-engineering, Theo said:

    And how exactly does seeing this public flogging involve you?

    Wow. Just, wow. I often agree with Theo even when he's being a knob because he's usually got a point. But in this case, he's been embarrassed, and he is using whatever he can think of as an incredibly flimsy excuse to attack the people whom the OpenBSD developer plagiarised. What a childish, unproductive attitude. Pulling the code and giving up on the driver instead of taking them up on their offer to relicense the code is cutting off your nose to spite your face, and worse for your users. Just take your ball and go home, Theo.

  • by defile ( 1059 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:18PM (#18648131) Homepage Journal

    Copying code without permission is the worst possible offense in open source land. His righteous indignation is absolutely justified. The appropriate response is "Our deepest and most sincere apologies. The code has been removed. Thank you for deciding not to seek any further retribution."

    Arguing over not being nice about calling out this offense is cowardly and sociopathic. e.g. playing politics.

  • by t35t0r ( 751958 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:19PM (#18648147)
    I've been using ndiswrapper with my BCM4306 802.11b/g device since before bcm43xx was useable on linux. Getting the bcm43xx driver to work involves firmware cutting and some other low level tricks I'd rather not do. I've never used a BSD and would never touch Theo's distro with a 99ft pole but I recommend using ndiswrapper for users who would like to use BSD and have a BCM wireless device.
  • by wrook ( 134116 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @02:35PM (#18648307) Homepage
    Wah... What the hell? The author of some code contacts the OpenBSD to communicate that copyright was infringed upon. The OpenBSD guys explode in a series of "zealot" name calling. I guess I can see some sense in privately contacting the OpenBSD dev. But on the other hand, it's in the OpenBSD development tree. Probably it's a good idea to tell people that it shouldn't be there.

    Reading the initial email, I can't find any hint of malice. Just expressing the facts and offering to provide a license for the code. If this mailing list blows up because of something so unbelievably trivial, it doesn't seem like a fun place to hang out in. It's just weird.

    But something else bothers me about the response too. It seems like the people there are *upset* that the original person informed them of the copyright infringement. I mean, nobody denied it. Everyone seems to agree there was an infringement. It just seems that some of the OpenBSD people think that the Linux people are assholes for choosing to license their code under the GPL... And apparently it's even worse to ask people not to infringe on that license.

    That's just bizarre... It kind of makes you wonder who the zealots are... Personally, I'm kind of neutral on the subject. I like the GPL in some instances, I like other licenses in other instances. But, I just can't quite wrap my head around BSD guys (of all people) taking such a strange stance...

  • by WaZiX ( 766733 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @03:30PM (#18648893)
    The bcm43xx driver doesn't even work!

  • by lewp ( 95638 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @03:51PM (#18649111) Journal
    Theo telling somebody else to watch what they say and to whom they say it? Maybe when he learns to take his own advice he'll be less of a joke.
  • Irrelevant . . . (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dausha ( 546002 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @04:12PM (#18649293) Homepage
    This is a problem of the FOSS community turning on itself. If there was a GPL violation, the proper thing to do is own up to it and seek a re-license, which is what the owner of the GPL'd code wanted.

    I am still reading the whole Gmain thread, and am quite shocked by Theo's comments. I agree with another fellow who said that FOSS wireless driver development teams should work closely together to ensure the proprietary world doesn't overwhelm the effort. But, I digress . . .

    The core issue is whether the BCW developer copied GPL'd code, which the holder of the GPL copyright asserts. Plenty of clean examples were given, and the ability to investigate the entire tree for both sets of code makes it a quick search issue. Much better than the SCO/M$ v. IBM suit. Theo's response to the allegation is immature at least:

    1. Ad hominem attacks: calling Mike inhuman and attacking him for making the issue public.
    2. Irrelevant: saying that the bcw code does not work so there's no copyright issue. Copyright speaks to content, not functionality.
    3. It was an accident: Claiming the bcw "accidentally" copied GPL'd code. How can you accidentally copy entire blocks of code?
    4. That the code copy was temporary scaffolding: which counters #3, above. You can't claim the code copy was an accident or unintentional then say the copy was intentional for a short period of time. Theo says the code was copied to get other parts of the bcw driver to work, then would be re-written. The problem here is twofold. First, the code was copied and checked into the repository under BSD licensing, which is a violation in-and-of-itself. Second, putting the code there pending re-write means the re-write would be a derivative of the original GPL'd code---which is still a copyright violation.

    Above all, the entire line of discussion is not relevant. There's a claim of copyright violation. If the code is there, then it is a violation, whether or not it was "accidental." This extends beyond issues of header calls which are so ordinary as to not be copyrightable. (At least, under U.S. law, if there are only a few ways to convey an idea, then it cannot be copyrighted.) Whether the accusation was public is not relevant; was there a violation? The responsible action would be to investigate when the GPL'd author made the accusation.

  • by mattr ( 78516 ) <> on Saturday April 07, 2007 @04:58PM (#18649757) Homepage Journal
    Listening from far away, it seems that asking about this on the mailing list is fair. Maybe some people wished it was done person to person, but that judgement cannot except in some insane person's head (like Mr. De Radt) equate to being inhuman, which we usually reserve for someone who does much worse things.

    In fact Buesch was quite level-headed about it even when De Radt threw all kinds of crap at him and then other people on the mailing list jumped on board too. Considering that BSD is the key channel for the GPL work to find its way into manufacturer's machinery, I'd say the authors (who by the way deserve that title quite a lot more than the guy who went off in a huff) could stand to have been a little angrier in tone and still be within their rights.

    It looks in fact like it was Theo de Radt's fault alone for blowing it up into a huge problem and he is solely responsible for the BSD guy to quit his attempt to import the GPL code.

    Theo should have said the very first time, "OMG I'm sorry we'll pull the code, and I'll contact the developer and get right on it with you. Thanks for being understanding."

    This is clear proof to the world not that anyone is inhuman. It does suggest that De Radt is unfit for whatever leadership position he has, and should resign, or at least get someone else to be in charge of similar issues in the future.

    Perhaps someone could write some guidelines to BSD people concerning what is appropriate in terms of "paraphrasing" other code or making use of someone else's reverse engineering. It seems other people could fall into a similar problem and they better hope De Radt is not online that day.
  • The Human Ego (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Plutonite ( 999141 ) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @05:08PM (#18649865)
    95% of the conflicts between human beings - supposedly civilised ones - would not exist if not for the overly inflated ego of the participants. There is no issue here. Either the usage of the code was wrong or right according to strict licensing definitions. Since it appears everybody agreed to the fact it was wrong, the next step is clear. Why the fuss, and the emotions, and the name calling? Mistakes happen.. just fix them and move on.
  • Trolls on both sides (Score:5, Informative)

    by stsp ( 979375 ) on Sunday April 08, 2007 @08:16AM (#18654497) Homepage

    First, let me say that I am totally shattered and disappointed. I am doing work in both the Linux and BSD communities, and this is by far one of the most destructive flamewar I have ever witnessed. It will be hard to repair the damage done... This is very sad.

    More commentary from the BSD community is over at

    It's only fair to note that while there has been lots of stupid flaming on the OpenBSD side as usual, the linux bcw developers, while trying to appear rather nice and careful on the public mailing lists, where laughing their asses off about the whole thing behind the scenes in their IRC channel. They didn't exactly try hard to keep things peaceful either. cs.2007-04-03 [] cs.2007-04-04 [] cs.2007-04-05 [] cs.2007-04-06 []

    Some quotes, the first one actually shows the igniting spark. Others show how people enjoyed watching the flames.I find it disgusting that some people seemed to enjoy watching an already brittle relationship between two deeply related communities fall into pieces. Do they also throw stones at public demonstrations and then go home to watch the riots on telly?

    [20:55] <nbd> when you complain about the license violation, please make it publicly :)<br>
    [20:55] <mb_> I think I should contact them. That's crossing a border. Copying magic register writes is one thing, but copying algorithms is another<br>
    [20:55] Action: nbd thinks this is very blatant<br>
    [20:55] <johill> mail the authors, Cc Theo de Raadt, and bcm43xx and jon (lwn)<br>
    [20:55] <st3> i'dd cc lkml too<br>
    [20:55] <johill> watch the outcry<br>
    [20:55] <st3> for the sake of fun<br>
    [20:55] <mb_> no, not lkml<br> [20:56] <mb_> I don't like stupid replies from retards in my inbox :)
    [20:56] <johill> heh
    [20:56] <mb_> Too many of them subscribed there

    [20:44] <st3> It's too late. He has given up, because of your first mail.
    [20:44] <st3> He has already deleted his work from our tree.
    [20:44] <st3> everybody is crying
    [20:47] <st3> "Too late."
    [20:48] <st3> rotfl
    [20:48] <st3> well, i'm a bit sorry anyway

    [01:40] <johill> nothing
    [01:40] <johill> fluff
    [01:40] <johill> he needs to fill his email with long paragraphs
    [01:41] <johill> (I think he's trying to say that the developer who stole all the code shouldn't really be blamed because he might be too much of a wimp)
    [01:41] <johill> ;)

    [01:51] Action: Newsome laughs at theo complaining about someone being "mean"

    [23:46] <Kaloz> theo is emotional and sensitive guy
    [23:46] <Kaloz> and you are all bastards
    [23:46] <Kaloz> he's now crying in a dark corner :(
    [23:46] <Kaloz> :P
    [23:47] <Kaloz> hey, theo is an emo? :D
    [23:53] <mb_> :D

    [13:33] <Kaloz> I know the bsd morons quite enough.. what always make me laugh that they simply claim whatever software it is, if it's gpl, it's crap and badly coded

We all like praise, but a hike in our pay is the best kind of ways.