[GE users] Re: [GE users] Followup project

fx d.love at liverpool.ac.uk
Mon Aug 23 15:34:04 BST 2010

andy <andreas.schwierskott at oracle.com> writes:

> Joe,
>  > Let me ask a (somewhat obvious) set of questions.
>  >
>  > Is there any possibility that this project could be shut down due to
>  > Oracle flexing legal muscle? That is, DanT looks like his group has
>  > funding and a roadmap, and they might not take too kindly to an external
>  > group building a relicensed version. Nor give their permission for
>  > relicensure.

Is anyone actually proposing changing the licence unilaterally?  I
wouldn't contribute to a project violating copyright like that, even if
it wasn't closed down in short order.

> As I always understood the SISSL license 
> gives the freedom to anyone to take the code and create a fork -

Yes, it's a free software licence (see below).

> even commercial versions seem to be allowed if the requirements of the
> SISSL are met.


> I agree a statement or clarification and explanation what can 
> be done and what not were helpful.

I think the only issues surround details of the `standards' business
and, possibly, the implications of the patent language for people in
places afflicted by software patents (ugh).

> And the legal question is not only about the code: I could not give an 
> answer under which license the Issuezilla database and mailing list 
> archives had been made available. That needs to be answered as well.

http://www.sunsource.net/TUPPCP.html covers that, though I think it
couldn't apply to posts to the mail lists generally since the posters
may not have seen it.  Anyway, Oracle surely can't claim copyright on
them, and they're already in markmail and Gmane.

> There's certainly quite some risk for anyone who is responsible for 
> running clusters where every hour hundreds, thousands or tens of 
> thousands CPU hours are waiting to kept busy and keep the company behind 
> running.

[SGE is the least of our worries for reliability of our Sun
clusters :-(.]

> So is the assumed zero price tag worth the money you will lose 
> if the DRM system of your choice does not work?

Although most of us couldn't afford the huge Sun/Oracle support fees, I
guess for a significant number of us, the issue is free v. proprietary
software.  I go along roughly with <http://www.sunsource.net/why.html>,
considering `open source' equal to `free'.  I.e. it's a question of
freedom, not price, and if SGE hadn't been free software, I'd have used
Torque/Maui originally.

We'd like to be in a position here to pay reasonable fees for
appropriate support (as opposed to the largely useless support we paid
for though the vendor of our Sun systems, and licence fees for
proprietary software) but, like others, we're not.  However, from
experience I'm not sure I'd want to pay Oracle anyway.  Sun support went
really downhill in recent years (I go back to Sun 3s) and we have worse
problems now, especially since Oracle is essentially out of HPC, and Sun
HPC people are gone.  I'm not suggesting this is anything to do with the
developers, of course, but if you can't get to experts past the
first-line people, support is mostly useless.  The one thing I could
have got money for was `training', but I got nowhere with Sun trying to
organize a UK event involving non-trivial money and a possible sales
opportunity to industrials.

I hope that didn't sound unpleasant; it's just the way things are, and
not just for us.  It's with a background of cooperative projects and
maintenance, including of software used by most pharmaceutical
companies, so I hope I'm reasonably sympathetic.  Thanks for everyone's
efforts, anyway.

Dave Love
Advanced Research Computing, Computing Services, University of Liverpool
AKA fx at gnu.org


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