Open source sites losing free resource
April 16, 2009
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.
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 bixby.org 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.
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.
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