The Saga with Sony, POSE and the GPL Continues…

Thursday, May 10th, 2001 at 12:00 am | 454 views | trackback url
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The Saga Continues…

    After the debacle with Sony and the GPL, I’ve been barraged with emails and many queries from reporters and other people who are apparently questioning Sony’s actions in other areas. I won’t reveal any names here, but it’s clear POSE is not the only place where this is happening. Apparently a commercial product developer on their PS2 Linux team (separate very well-known IDE development company) has patches he’s made to the gdb and gcc sources and was not allowed to put them back into their respective trees, back to the community from whence they came.

    Let’s be clear though. I am not attacking Sony or their partners. I’ve already tried to clear that up over here.

    I decided to seek out another hardware vendor to support the JogDial functionality and memory expansion slots. I find Handera and of course, Handspring.

    So I’ve been trying to find the sources for the Handera modifications to POSE, as well as those from Handspring, and come up with some interesting results. I managed to find the Handera Windows binary of the emulator over here, and upon extraction, I see a ‘Handera Readme.txt’ (spaces in filenames, gar!) that states:

    “..This is based on the Palm OS Emulator 3.1 sources and is also compatible with all ROMS the 3.1 Emulator from Palm is compatible with. The changes will be sent to Palm to be merged into their sources in a week or two…”

    The original announcement of this Handera POSE release is here (May 2, 2001).

    I asked for the sources over here (follow the thread from there, May 8, 2001).

    Interesting points from Keith over here (May 8, 2001). Most important of which is:

    “..So I couldn’t say when Palm will post a version of Poser with HandEra support. But it will be in the range of several months from now…”

    I then tried a different approach since we can’t wait months to begin testing these applications, by emailing Handera from their Comments form on their website:

    “..Comments: I’m looking for the sources to the Handera port of the PalmOS Emulator. I did not find a link on your website to download the sources. As I don’t run Windows, I need to build this under linux. Can you please let me know where I can download this, so I can build a version under linux? Thanks a lot…”

    And received:

    Thu, 10 May 2001 16:18:33 -0500

    “..We will be making them available to Palm for inclusion in future versions of the source tree. The modifications will be included in all versions of POSE (and source) at that time…”

    To which I replied:

    Thu, 10 May 2001 14:27:44 -0700 (PDT)

    “..Are these sources available now? I’d like to include them in my local version of POSE, so I can begin testing applications against it. I
    do not run Windows, so I cannot use the Windows version of POSE. Thanks again for your time and a rapid response…”

    And received as a reply to this:

    Thu, 10 May 2001 16:50:51 -0500

    “..They are not available at this time. If you have any other questions please let me know…”

    Ok, so they’ve taken the sources for POSE, a known GPL project (who’s owner of copyright is
    still unknown) and modified them for use in their own product (the Handera 330 and the POSE Emulator to assist developers in developing applications against it), compiled a version of this for Windows using these sources and modifications, but continue to keep those modified sources “in-house”. That would be ok, if you also kept the Windows binary-only version in house, and did not distribute it, however, you can’t have one foot in both kiddie pools.

    Guys, I simply want the sources so I can support your hardware in the open source projects I help develop which may some day USE this hardware. This abuse of the community effort to help you develop your projects will not continue much longer. You don’t support the linux or unix community. We do. We do this in our spare time because we love this work. We don’t get paid to do this (however you reap the revenue rewards from our hard work, you’re welcome).

    So I get frustrated and decide to go to Handspring‘s site and look for their POSE modifications to support writing to the Springboard slot(s) in their new devices from pilot-link directly. Simple task. I see that they have a link to the Handspring POSE sources here on this page.

    The sources are for a VC++ 6.0 build environment. Ugh. I did receive this reply from them though in my query:

    Tue, 8 May 2001 09:41:19 -0700

    “..We don’t build POSE under Linux internally, so the Makefile might not be part of that package. The version from Palm’s 3.1 version should do it (we only added a few source files related to the Visor Edge)…”

    I’m not really sure how this translates, I mean… these ARE sources (which fits into section 3(c)p2 of the GPL), even if they’re not sources which will build on a GNU/Linux platform from which their parent project was derived from, so I can’t get completely pissed, but I don’t have or know VC++, so I’m not about to port these over (back over) to linux.

    So we have a few “issues” here. I’ve also had a conversation with a Palm employee who said that “..the GPL means nothing unless it’s tested in court…”. That may be true, fundamentally, but that doesn’t mean that this type of behavior can continue (Handspring is definately on the right side of this one, kudos!)

“Encryption via Obfuscation”

    I was trying to sync my newly-flashed OS4-aware Palm Vx with the latest pilot-link before I release it out the door, and I noticed that with a password set on the device, it will no longer sync. The Palm complains that the desktop software doesn’t support the password on the handheld device, and to upgrade the desktop software.

    So I sent an email to the list hoping to find an answer.

    The answer I got wasn’t exactly reassuring, but it gives me something to work with for now (thanks Dave Fedor, another fast response). One disconcerting thing though:

    “..So if you’re on a 4.0 device with a password, you need a 4.0 desktop if you want to perform a HotSync operation…”

    There are some “encryption” issues which exist in this new OS version. Just be careful and aware.

    I simply want to support these devices and the users who use them. I’m not trying to cut holes in your profit streams or in your business plans. We shouldn’t HAVE TO resort to reverse-engineering protocols on the port and sniffing syncs just to write a compatible driver to support these devices under non-Windows platforms.

    We’ve helped you, now how about helping us for a change.

Last Modified: Thursday, May 10th, 2001 @ 00:00

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