[conspire] More on resizing NTFS

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sat Oct 26 03:00:54 PDT 2002

Quoting from my summary:

  Proprietary / terms of redistribution unknown:
  o  ASPLinux distribution installer's ASPDiskManager utility:
     downloadable CD image, http://www.asp-linux.com/

I checked it out.  OK, folks, this is a weird one.

"ASPLinux" is an RPM-based distibution produced in Russia by a company
called SWsoft, which has Linux-related subsidiaries in the USA, South
Korea, China, and Singapore (ASPLinux Pte. Ltd.).   Looks like most of
the Linux business is in Singapore, but the coders are in Russia.  One
of the advantages claimed for it is the ability to resize NTFS during
installation, using an included "ASPDiskManager" utility.  

Which is, of course, what got my interest.

Where is it?

There are i386 and PPC[1] versions.  And there are lots of download sites
for the i386 ISOs:


What is it?

The mystifying part was:  Were they really giving this stuff away for
free?  Was it one of those deals where only the Deluxe Edition boxed 
set had the impressive goodies?

I also noticed a press release saying ASPLinux Pte. Ltd. had become an 
authorised distributor for Acronis OS Selector, one of the retail,
you-may-not-redistribute packages that do NTFS resizing.  So, I e-mailed 
ASPLinux Pte. Ltd. asking (1) What are ASPDiskManager's licence terms?
(2) Is source code available to the public?  (3) Is there any connection
between ASPDiskManager and Acronis OS Selector?

The next morning, I got a telephone call, not from ASPLinux/SWsoft, but
rather _Acronis_.  They wanted to know what I was digging into, so I
told them.  They said ASPDiskManager _is_ Acronis OS Selector, included
in ASPLinux under licence.

So, I downloaded an ISO of ASPLinux v. 7.3 disk 1 (of 3).  Burned it to
disk.  Booted it.  Very nice graphical installer.  Pick your language, 
pick your mouse type, pick _custom_ installation (overriding the default
of quick installation), select installation source (CD), pick custom
partitioning (default).  You're now in ASPDiskManager.  Hot damn!

It seems quite impressive.  If you highlight an existing partition and
select the Edit button, you see an Edit Partition screen whose options
include Resize.  It will resize NTFS, FAT, ext2/ext3, XFS, and Reiser!
I didn't have any partitions I cared to sacrifice, let alone NTFS ones, 
but likely you just exit the ASPDiskManager screen and then hard boot
and eject the CD (if you just needed the resizer, and don't want to
install ASPLinux).

How free is free?

Time for a review of software types classified by licence.

o  Proprietary / non-redistributable.  E.g., most retail software.
   You open the box, and see a licence, which probably has a lot
   of nasty restrictions, including maybe it being allegedly
   non-transferrable (which courts have held to be bunk) and that 
   you may not hand out copies.  Many people don't realise that, even
   if no explicit licence said so, it would still be unlawful to
   redistribute it, _by default_.  The Copyright Act reserves that 
   right to the copyright holder.

   That's right:  Software is proprietary by default.  It takes an
   explicit licence to change this.

o  Proprietary / redistributable.  E.g., shareware.  If you read the
   README for a piece of shareware, it says you're welcome to 
   re-upload it, even though you're allegedly prohibited from 
   modifying it, reverse-engineering it, decompiling it, etc.

   A lot of people assume that anything you find downloadable for free
   from the Internet is therefore lawfully redistributable.  Not so.
   Again, that right is reserved, by default.  For example, after 
   Microsoft save Corel from collapse with a huge investment, Corel
   discontinued downloads of WordPerfect 8.0 Download Personal Edition
   for Linux, _and_ apparently telephoned CNET and Tucows, saying 
   "Pull those files."  Because WP 8.0 DPE for Linux never included 
   a grant of permission to redistribute, CNET and Tucows were forced
   to comply.[2]

   A lot of such software does exist on the Net, some of it with source
   code.  Where the copyright owners aren't being zealous in going 
   after people, often it circulates for decades.  In some cases, they
   intended this and just failed to include a licence statement -- or
   wrote that permission in a letter, or on a Web page, or in a 
   telephone conversation.  Any of those might suffice:  A licence
   is whatever a judge agrees is one.

   But the point is that, if you _don't_ have any sort of licence,
   then at best you can convince the judge that you lawfully downloaded
   it:  You have no inherent right to redistribute.  If you do 
   redistribute, you run the risk of the copyright owner coming
   screaming at you, telling you that you may not (and worse things,
   in these days of DMCA legal action).

   A more current example is Borland Kylix Open Edition.  You can 
   download it directly from Borland for free -- but its terms very 
   explicitly omit permission to redistribute.  (In fact, just in 
   case you're unclear on that point, it's actually forbidden.)
   If they wished, Borland could also designate other authorised 
   download sites -- like CNET's download.com and Tucows, for example.
   But all of those sites could be shut off without advance notice, 
   and nobody would have the right to offer it elsewhere.

o  Open source.  This is software that _is_ explicitly redistributable,
   and whose further development anyone may take over ("fork").  As
   noted, this isn't possible without a licence, since the default 
   licence (inherent in the Copyright Act) is proprietary.

But what the hell is this...?

Which brings us back to ASPLinux, ASPDiskManager, and Acronis OS
Selector.  Acronis OS Selector is very much in the proprietary / 
non-redistributable category.  But what about ASPLinux (which _includes_
Acronis OS Selector, under licence)?

I read the README.  It says you're explicitly allowed to redistribute.

It's obvious that the ASPLinux installer as a whole (including
ASPDiskManager) falls basically into the second category, above
(proprietary / redistributable).  There's no sign of source code for it,
so nobody's going to be able to maintain ASPDiskManager independently 
of SWsoft.  And there's no obvious way to extract just ASPDiskManager
from the installer, and pass it around separately.  But it looks like
ASPLinux disk 1 can be distributed indefinitely.

Acronis may eventually become unhappy about this -- as it puts a bit 
of a monkeywrench in their product sales model.  They might convey
that unhappiness to ASPLinux Pte Ltd. / SWsoft, who conceivably might
yank existing ISOs from ftp sites it controls and ask removal from
others.  But I _believe_ they could _not_ compel the files' removal.
(I'm not a lawyer.)


Linux users who're in the habit of helping people create MS-Windows
dual-boot setups might want to add ASPLinux disk1 to their kits.
It appears to be as redistributable as the open-source (but scarily
prerelease) ntfsresize utility, and even more than BootIt NG (which 
may not be redistributed by companies or for money).  And by all means 
put one or both of the rescue disks with the open-source Partimage
partition-imaging utility in your kits (http://mkcdrec.ota.be/ ,
http://rescuecd.sourceforge.net/).  Both are toolkits, but the latter
one has preconstructed images, too.

[1] There used to be a version of Windows NT for PowerPC, with NTFS
support.  So, it's quite possible that ASPLinux for PPC includes an
NTFS resizer, and that such a feature would not be entirely pointless.
However, it seems very unlikely that the Linux community would have to 
deal with such computers, at this late date.

[2] One can still find WP 8.0 DPE elsewhere.  Presumably, Corel quit 
after getting it removed from the two largest download sites.  The 
point is that Corel _could_ enjoin all the others, too.

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