Free Jazz utilities en route to new resource
Migration good for Ecometry's economy

Open source sites losing free resource

One of the few Web sites hosting genuine freeware for the HP 3000 removed its open source software this spring. After discussion with Speedware's product manager Nicolas Fortin, Mark Bixby decided to remove the copies of programs such as the Apache Web server that he'd ported to the 3000. Bixby, who also worked on HP 3000 Internet and networking software at HP, said that neither Speedware or HP asked him to thin out his versions of the open source software.

The thinning out was of my own accord. Mostly I pruned away everything that was either on Jazz or in the 3000's FOS. I did this cleanup after Nick Fortin contacted me about their takeover of the Jazz content. I felt it was confusing for me to still be providing outdated/duplicate versions of stuff. So the conspiracy theories can put be away. There was absolutely zero HP involvement in this decision.

Speedware's Fortin said he e-mailed Bixby "to ask if he was interested in having us host some of his files, as a backup to his own site, or even just point a link to his site. I never would have asked him to remove his content; that, surprisingly, was his suggestion."

Removing the open source software is only an issue for anyone in the 3000 community who wants unrestricted use of it. The programs on were not controlled by the HP rehosting legal agreement which regulates access to such software. Bixby created and released his ports under the industry's GNU Public License (GPL), which permit alteration, updates and unrestricted redistribution.

These 3000 open source programs are coming online this spring at Speedware's new 3000 software resource site, and are already hosted at former HP 3000 distributor Client Systems. A 3,000-word HP End User License Agreement has been applied to all the Jazz software being re-hosted, including the open source programs. One open source expert has doubts the HP agreement is in line with GPL freeware licenses.

Brian Edminster, an expert on open source solutions for HP 3000s, has been working on an open source repository, free to the 3000 community. Edminster took note of the removals on Bixby's site and said the HP license might violate public license terms — but only a lawyer could be sure.

I'm of the opinion that HP may be in violation of the license agreements covering the Free/Open Source (F/OSS) packages that are part of the Jazz collection. In order to be absolutely sure, I'll have to verify the license under which each was originally written. Then I'll likely have to engage the services of one or more Intellectual Property lawyers that have done F/OSS work before. Unfortunately, there's enough confusion  - and this is a new enough area of the law - that it's as easy to get two differing answers to the same question about F/OSS as it is to get differing answers to tax questions, even when posed to the IRS!

Considering that the 3000 community is made up of companies with legal departments, the dense HP agreement applied to open source could have a chilling effect on how much the software might be used. Edminster said it appears to his eye that HP may be countermanding the redistribution rights of the software.

Early in that [HP license] is a restriction specifying that anything you use from the collection is 'only for your own use, no further redistribution is allowed'. That clause, when applied to the source-code of the F/OSS content, would be in direct violation of the 'free and unencumbered source code' clause in all F/OSS agreements that I'm aware of.

But while HP had no hand in Bixby's decision, the result is that HP's agreement now covers even more of the 3000 open source spectrum. Speeware, for its part, had to accept the HP license terms in order to be able to rehost other software from Jazz such as HP-written free programs. The EULA covers everything, however, with an "Ancillary Software" provision for public freeware. Of this, Edminster said

In the sections referencing the open source content, there might be exceptions noted in the fine print that my glazed-over eyes missed. That's part of the reason for having a legal professional look at it before even considering taking HP to task.