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Apache 2.0.35 released. The first 2.0 alpha release of the Apache web server was announced just over two years ago - in March, 2000. Since then, the project has seemed to creep along at a slow pace; like Mozilla 1.0, it has been in the background for years, with no stable release in sight. For the most part, this pace has not been a problem for Apache; version 1.3.x works well enough that few people feel the need to make a change.
1.3.x, however, is now officially old software. With the 2.0.35 release, Apache 2.0 is now considered stable and ready for production use. It is now the recommended version of the server; expect to see it start showing up in distributions later this year.
So what has the Apache team been doing all this time? Some of the most significant new features in 2.0 include:
Other additions include IPv6 support, an improved internal API, the ability to serve multiple protocols, a simplified configuration mechanism, completely rewritten proxy support, and the ability to create customized error responses in multiple languages. Congratulations are due to the Apache team, which has worked long and hard to improve on the world's most popular web server.
The Elcomsoft case will not be dismissed, at least not yet. At a preliminary hearing on April 1, Elcomsoft's lawyers asked for a dismissal of the DMCA-based charges against the company, claiming that U.S. jurisdiction does not extend to a product developed (legally) in Russia. Judge Ronald Whyte didn't buy that argument, however. This result is not all that surprising; the company did, after all, sell the Advanced eBook Processor in the U.S., via a web site hosted in the U.S. The jurisdictional situation thus seems relatively clear.
There are two other motions for dismissal outstanding, however. One is based on claims that the DMCA is overly vague, making it impossible for a company to know if a product is in violation or not. The other challenge is on freedom of speech grounds. Judge Whyte has not indicated when he might rule on those motions.
The next date in this case is April 15, when a "status conference" will be held. Stay tuned.
Licensing terms: what's in a name? Richard Stallman recently objected to our use of the term "reasonable and non-discriminatory" to describe certain classes of software and patent licenses. These licenses, require a payment for the use of the patented technology; the RAND terms just ensure that everybody can use that technology for the same payment. According to Mr. Stallman, the name RAND is inappropriate because:
Mr. Stallman's suggested term is "UFO" for "Uniform Fee Only." LWN will likely not drop the use of "RAND" entirely for the simple reason that the term is widely used and recognized. There is a certain appeal to the "UFO" term, though...
Meanwhile, "royalty-free" (RF) licenses are generally considered to be good for free software. But what is one to make of Microsoft's "Royalty-Free CIFS Technical Reference License Agreement," which prohibits the distribution of a CIFS implementation under an "IPR impairing" license - specifically the GPL? It's only "royalty-free" if Microsoft likes your license. These terms appear to be an effort to undermine Samba, which is licensed under the GPL. Whether this attempt will see any success is, of course, another question: the Samba developers have not signed this agreement. It does hint, however, at the possibility of real attacks against Samba - using patents, perhaps - in the future.
Microsoft's language also highlights a common misconception about the GPL that Microsoft, seemingly, wants to encourage. One often sees claims that use of GPL-licensed software can force the release of a company's proprietary source code. In fact, the GPL lacks any such power. A company which distributes software derived from GPL-licensed code is required to make source available and follow the other GPL terms. Should a company fail to comply with those terms, however, there is only one thing that happens: the company loses its right to use the original GPL-licensed code. From the GPL text:
You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works. These actions are prohibited by law if you do not accept this License.
The loss of the right to use GPL-licensed code can be devastating to a business, but it is not the same as having that business's intellectual property pried away from it.
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April 11, 2002