[conspire] The old stealth licence change trick

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Sep 30 14:38:48 PDT 2010

Quoting Don Marti (dmarti at zgp.org):

> A lot of the time, when the Free Software
> implementation of an idea goes away without resulting
> in a fork, it was a bad idea.

SSH was a classic case of that.  By the time people realised just how
restrictive the 'commercial' (proprietary) version was becoming, nobody
could find the final GPL + permissive licences source tarball (v. 1.2.12)
any more.  It was quietly purged from ftp://ftp.cs.hut.fi/pub/ssh/ and
other known public locations, and nobody had it in version control

One Björn Grönvall finally showed up with an old 1.2.12 copy that he
still had, which he updated to remove the patented algortihms (IDEA and
RSA, the latter being re-added later) and re-released the code as
'ossh'.  The OpenBSD Foundation, in turn, noticed his work and created
their own fork to rewrite all copylefted modules, and that's what we now
call OpenSSH.

It's now a _bit_ rarer for significant open source codebases' source
code to become so scarce that forking in reaction to the developers
going proprietary is impossible.  However, it scares me that too many
people rely on Freshmeat (which doesn't host code) and SourceForge.net
(which has been purging a lot of old projects, which pattern I think few
people have noticed).

> LWN thread about other tracking techniques:
>   http://lwn.net/Articles/406814/

As it happens, I just posted to that thread, because, as usual, someone
touted the BetterPrivacy extension for Firefox without bothering to
mention that it's proprietary software and that a (IMO, better) open
source alternative exists.

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