LUGM meetup, Software Licensing

Many times on LUGM facebook group we had fierce debates over GPL and BSD-license. Flame-wars sprouted very often, some times even from an innocent status we might have put. Therefore a few weeks ago it was decided that we have a meetup that will ensure clarifying misconceptions regarding software licenses. The date was announced to be 15th March 2014 at the convenience of everybody. Selven & Logan were to talk about Lesser Restrictive Licenses in particular the BSD-license and Ajay volunteered to share his knowledge about the General Public License (GPL), in particular GPLv2.

The day comes and I reach Ebène around 11h45. While the meetup itself should start at 13h00, I had enough of time ahead to have lunch & chat with UoM Computer Club folks I happened to meet at Ebène InterMart Foodcourt. Around 12h45 I went to Ebène Accelerator where the meetup was hosted. Ronny had reached by that time too, having a cigarette puff in the parking lot. He greeted me & asked about my phone as it seemed Ajay was calling me and I didn’t answer. I checked and yes, I could see the missed-calls from Nadim, Ajay and Ronny. We went inside the Orange Tower. Nitin had reached too. I explained Ronny a little bit about the concept of Ebène Accelerator as a business incubator. We then went to get the meeting room ready. A short while later others came.

Who showed up?

Nitin Mutkawoa, Ronny Reddi, Ajay Ramjatan, Avinash Meetoo, Pravesh Gaonjur, Selven Cheenaramen, Nalinee Rengenchetty, Sherven Chinamoothoo, Yunus Aumeeruddy, Ibraahim Atchia, Saamiyah Peerun, Ubeid Jamal Ahmad, Nadim Attari Bundhoo, Kishan Bhugul, Loganaden Velvindron, A. Jodarsen (Chelon), Pritvi Jheengut and me.

Since we didn’t have a projector, which I assumed we would as there always is one at Ebène Accelerator, Selven & Logan tried to arrange for the same. In the meantime Ajay opened discussion about Corsair Hackers Reboot. He went through the tasklist I published on the 1-week brainstorming event I created on facebook. We described the event’s structure & aim, especially to those who didn’t attend earlier meetups and wanted clarifications. Corsair Hackers Reboot was initially proposed by Pritvi while I suggested we have a Linux Installfest beginning 2014. We then blended both and kept the name Corsair Hackers Reboot. The idea behind the event is to introduce hacking (as in White Hat), that’s why the term Corsair is used. Secondly, with support ending for Windows XP we aimed to propose Linux distros and BSD as alternatives, therefore the term reboot is used.

We finalised the date of the event to be 19th April 2014 and divided tasks in four categories :

  • Hacking competition
  • Installation festival
  • Demos
  • Mini talks

I will draft the same and share on the 1-week brainstorming event page.

After this first dicussion, Selven & Logan brought the projector. They set up everything. Unfortunately some folks had to leave early. The rest of us were eager for the licensing talk. It started with Selven’s presentation on Lesser Restrictive Licenses. He went through his slides and gave us an overview of the MIT, Apache and BSD licenses. He laid emphasis mostly on the different versions of BSD licenses, explained the clauses in simple terms and elaborated on the use and inclusion in our code. While going through each license, Selven listed software that are released under those licenses. He stressed much on the simplicity and clarity of the BSD license, to which most of us agreed.

Logan on the other hand presented the Legal Risks of FSF Licenses. His presentation was mainly on the ambiguity of FSF licenses, in particular GPLv3. He quoted the words of various developers and cited cases that involved different interpretations of the GPL clauses.

At this moment everyone in the audience was involved with questions and especially Ajay with GPL clarifications. We agreed on the fact that GPLv3 is complicated and might not be suitable to a real world. However, GPLv2 seems to be fine so far. No wonder why many stayed on GPLv2. At some point it came to my mind that the Free Software Foundation tried addressing too much through one license, ending up making it complicated. Weeks ago when the discussions started, that was when I peeked into a few clauses of GPLv3 and wrote about Tivoization.

While meetup seemed like never-to-end we had to stop the discussion some time after 16h30. Nadim had done a great job shooting the whole discussion. I copied the video files on my laptop.

I thank everyone for attending the meetup and participating in the discussions. Thanks to Ronny for some of the snaps and Nadim for video-shooting.

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