Tag Archives: win

Polypaudio 0.8 Released

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/polypaudio-0.8.html

The reports of Polypaudio’s death are greatly exaggerated.

We are proud to announce the release of Polypaudio
0.8, our networked sound daemon for Linux, other Unix-like operating
systems, and Microsoft Windows. Since the last official release, 0.7,
more than a year has passed. In the meantime Polypaudio experienced
major improvements. Major contributions have been made by both Pierre
Ossman and me. Pierre is being payed by Cendio AB to work on
Polypaudio. Cendio distributes Polypaudio along with their ThinLinc Terminal
Server
.

Some of the major changes:

New playback buffer model that allows applications to freely seek in
the server side playback buffer (both with relative and absolute indexes) and to synchronize
multiple streams together, in a way that the playback times are guaranteed to
stay synchronized even in the case of a buffer underrun. (Lennart)

Ported to Microsoft Windows and Sun Solaris (Pierre)

Many inner loops (like sample type conversions) have been ported
to liboil, which
enables us to take advantage of modern SIMD instruction sets, like MMX or SSE/SSE2. (Lennart)

Support for channel maps which allow applications to assign
specific speaker positions to logical channels. This enables support
for “surround sound”. In addition we now support seperate volumes for
all channels. (Lennart)

Support for hardware volume control for drivers that support
it. (Lennart, Pierre)

Local users may now be authenticated just by the membership in a
UNIX group, without the need to exchange authentication cookies. (Lennart)

A new driver module module-detect which detects
automatically what local output devices are available and loads the
needed drivers. Supports ALSA, OSS, Solaris and Win32 devices. (Lennart, Pierre)

Two new modules implementing RTP/SDP/SAP based multicast audio
streaming. Useful for streaming music to multiple PCs with speakers
simultaneously. Or for implementing a simple “always-on” conferencing
solution for the LAN. Or for sharing a single MIC/LINE-IN jack on the
LAN. (Lennart)

Two new modules for connecting Polypaudio to a JACK audio server
(Lennart)

A new Zeroconf (mDNS/DNS-SD) publisher module. (Lennart)

A new module to control the volume of an output sink with a LIRC supported infrared remote
control, and another one for doing so with a multimeda keyboard. (Lennart)

Support for resolving remote host names asynchronously using libasyncns. (Lennart)

A simple proof-of-concept HTTP module, which dumps the current daemon status to HTML. (Lennart)

Add proper validity checking of passed parameter to every single
API functions. (Lennart)

Last but not least, the documentation has been beefed up a lot and
is no longer just a simple doxygen-based API documentation (Pierre, Lennart)

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But that’s not all!

We’re really excited about this new Polypaudio release. However,
there are more very exciting, good news in the Polypaudio world. Pierre
implemented a Polypaudio plugin for alsa-libs. This means you
may now use any ALSA-aware application to access a Polypaudio sound
server! The patch has already merged upstream, and will probably
appear in the next official release of alsa-plugins.

Due to the massive internal changes we had to make a lot of modifications to
the public API. Hence applications which currently make use of the Polypaudio
0.7 API need to be updated. The patches or packages I maintain will be updated
in the next weeks one-by-one. (That is: xmms-polyp, the MPlayer patch, the
libao patch, the GStreamer patch and the PortAudio patch)

A side note: I wonder what this new release means for Polypaudio in
Debian. I’ve never been informed by the Debian maintainers of
Polypaudio that it has been uploaded to Debian, and never of the
removal either. In fact I never exchanged a single line with those who
were the Debian maintainers of Polypaudio. Is this the intended way
how the Debian project wants its developers to communicate with
upstream? I doubt that!

How does Polypaudio compare to ESOUND?

Polypaudio does everything what ESOUND does, and much more. It is a
fully compatible drop-in replacement. With a small script you can make
it command line compatible (including autospawning). ESOUND clients
may connect to our daemon just like they did to the original ESOUND
daemon, since we implemented a compatibility module for the ESOUND
protocol.

Support for other well known networked audio protocols (such as
NAS) should be easy to add – if there is a need.

For a full list of the features that Polypaudio has over ESOUND,
see Polypaudio’s
homepage
.

How does Polypaudio compare to ALSA‘s dmix?

Some people might ask whether there still is a need for a sound
server in times where ALSA’s dmix plugin is available. The
answer is: yes!

Firstly, Polypaudio is networked, which dmix is
not. However, there are many reasons why Polypaudio is useful on
non-networked systems as well. Polypaudio is portable, it is available
not just for Linux but for FreeBSD, Solaris and even Microsoft
Windows. Polypaudio is extensible, there is broad range of additional
modules
available which allow the user to use Polypaudio in many
exciting ways ALSA doesn’t offer. In Polypaudio streams, devices and
other server internals can be monitored and introspected freely. The
volume of the multiple streams may be manipulated independently of
each other, which allows new exciting applications like a work-alike
of the new per-application mixer tool featured in upcoming Windows
Vista. In multi-user systems, Polypaudio offers a secure and safe way
to allow multiple users to access the sound device
simultaneously. Polypaudio may be accessed through the ESOUND and the
ALSA APIs. In addition, ALSA dmix is still not supported properly by
many ALSA clients, and is difficult to setup.

A side node: dmix forks off its own simple sound daemon
anyway, hence there is no big difference to using Polypaudio with the
ALSA plugin in auto-spawning mode. (Though admittedly, those ALSA
clients that don’t work properly with dmix, won’t do so with our ALSA
plugin as well since they actually use the ALSA API incorrectly.)

How does Polypaudio compare to JACK?

Everytime people discuss sound servers on Unix/Linux and which way
is the right to go for desktops, JACK gets mentioned and suggested by some as a
replacement for ESOUND for the desktop. However, this is not
practical. JACK is not intended to be a desktop sound server, instead
it is designed for professional audio in mind. Its semantics are
different from other sound servers: e.g. it uses exclusively floating
point samples, doesn’t deal directly with interleaved channels and
maintains a server global time-line which may be stopped and seeked
around. All that translates badly to desktop usages. JACK is really
nice software, but just not designed for the normal desktop user,
who’s not working on professional audio production.

Since we think that JACK is really a nice piece of work, we added
two new modules to Polypaudio which can be used to hook it up to a
JACK server.

Get Polypaudio 0.8, while it is hot!

BTW: We’re looking for a logo for Polypaudio. Feel free to send us your suggestions!

Update: The Debian rant is unjust to Jeff Waugh. In fact, he had informed me that he prepared Debian packages of Polypaudio. I just never realized that he had actually uploaded them to Debian. What still stands, however, is that I’ve not been informed or asked about the removal.

Polypaudio 0.8 Released

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/polypaudio-0.8.html

The reports of Polypaudio’s death are greatly exaggerated.

We are proud to announce the release of Polypaudio
0.8, our networked sound daemon for Linux, other Unix-like operating
systems, and Microsoft Windows. Since the last official release, 0.7,
more than a year has passed. In the meantime Polypaudio experienced
major improvements. Major contributions have been made by both Pierre
Ossman and me. Pierre is being payed by Cendio AB to work on
Polypaudio. Cendio distributes Polypaudio along with their ThinLinc Terminal
Server
.

Some of the major changes:

  • New playback buffer model that allows applications to freely seek in
    the server side playback buffer (both with relative and absolute indexes) and to synchronize
    multiple streams together, in a way that the playback times are guaranteed to
    stay synchronized even in the case of a buffer underrun. (Lennart)
  • Ported to Microsoft Windows and Sun Solaris (Pierre)
  • Many inner loops (like sample type conversions) have been ported
    to liboil, which
    enables us to take advantage of modern SIMD instruction sets, like MMX or SSE/SSE2. (Lennart)
  • Support for channel maps which allow applications to assign
    specific speaker positions to logical channels. This enables support
    for “surround sound”. In addition we now support seperate volumes for
    all channels. (Lennart)
  • Support for hardware volume control for drivers that support
    it. (Lennart, Pierre)
  • Local users may now be authenticated just by the membership in a
    UNIX group, without the need to exchange authentication cookies. (Lennart)
  • A new driver module module-detect which detects
    automatically what local output devices are available and loads the
    needed drivers. Supports ALSA, OSS, Solaris and Win32 devices. (Lennart, Pierre)
  • Two new modules implementing RTP/SDP/SAP based multicast audio
    streaming. Useful for streaming music to multiple PCs with speakers
    simultaneously. Or for implementing a simple “always-on” conferencing
    solution for the LAN. Or for sharing a single MIC/LINE-IN jack on the
    LAN. (Lennart)
  • Two new modules for connecting Polypaudio to a JACK audio server
    (Lennart)
  • A new Zeroconf (mDNS/DNS-SD) publisher module. (Lennart)
  • A new module to control the volume of an output sink with a LIRC supported infrared remote
    control, and another one for doing so with a multimeda keyboard. (Lennart)
  • Support for resolving remote host names asynchronously using libasyncns. (Lennart)
  • A simple proof-of-concept HTTP module, which dumps the current daemon status to HTML. (Lennart)
  • Add proper validity checking of passed parameter to every single
    API functions. (Lennart)
  • Last but not least, the documentation has been beefed up a lot and
    is no longer just a simple doxygen-based API documentation (Pierre, Lennart)

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But that’s not all!

We’re really excited about this new Polypaudio release. However,
there are more very exciting, good news in the Polypaudio world. Pierre
implemented a Polypaudio plugin for alsa-libs. This means you
may now use any ALSA-aware application to access a Polypaudio sound
server! The patch has already merged upstream, and will probably
appear in the next official release of alsa-plugins.

Due to the massive internal changes we had to make a lot of modifications to
the public API. Hence applications which currently make use of the Polypaudio
0.7 API need to be updated. The patches or packages I maintain will be updated
in the next weeks one-by-one. (That is: xmms-polyp, the MPlayer patch, the
libao patch, the GStreamer patch and the PortAudio patch)

A side note: I wonder what this new release means for Polypaudio in
Debian. I’ve never been informed by the Debian maintainers of
Polypaudio that it has been uploaded to Debian, and never of the
removal either. In fact I never exchanged a single line with those who
were the Debian maintainers of Polypaudio. Is this the intended way
how the Debian project wants its developers to communicate with
upstream? I doubt that!

How does Polypaudio compare to ESOUND?

Polypaudio does everything what ESOUND does, and much more. It is a
fully compatible drop-in replacement. With a small script you can make
it command line compatible (including autospawning). ESOUND clients
may connect to our daemon just like they did to the original ESOUND
daemon, since we implemented a compatibility module for the ESOUND
protocol.

Support for other well known networked audio protocols (such as
NAS) should be easy to add – if there is a need.

For a full list of the features that Polypaudio has over ESOUND,
see Polypaudio’s
homepage
.

How does Polypaudio compare to ALSA‘s dmix?

Some people might ask whether there still is a need for a sound
server in times where ALSA’s dmix plugin is available. The
answer is: yes!

Firstly, Polypaudio is networked, which dmix is
not. However, there are many reasons why Polypaudio is useful on
non-networked systems as well. Polypaudio is portable, it is available
not just for Linux but for FreeBSD, Solaris and even Microsoft
Windows. Polypaudio is extensible, there is broad range of additional
modules
available which allow the user to use Polypaudio in many
exciting ways ALSA doesn’t offer. In Polypaudio streams, devices and
other server internals can be monitored and introspected freely. The
volume of the multiple streams may be manipulated independently of
each other, which allows new exciting applications like a work-alike
of the new per-application mixer tool featured in upcoming Windows
Vista. In multi-user systems, Polypaudio offers a secure and safe way
to allow multiple users to access the sound device
simultaneously. Polypaudio may be accessed through the ESOUND and the
ALSA APIs. In addition, ALSA dmix is still not supported properly by
many ALSA clients, and is difficult to setup.

A side node: dmix forks off its own simple sound daemon
anyway, hence there is no big difference to using Polypaudio with the
ALSA plugin in auto-spawning mode. (Though admittedly, those ALSA
clients that don’t work properly with dmix, won’t do so with our ALSA
plugin as well since they actually use the ALSA API incorrectly.)

How does Polypaudio compare to JACK?

Everytime people discuss sound servers on Unix/Linux and which way
is the right to go for desktops, JACK gets mentioned and suggested by some as a
replacement for ESOUND for the desktop. However, this is not
practical. JACK is not intended to be a desktop sound server, instead
it is designed for professional audio in mind. Its semantics are
different from other sound servers: e.g. it uses exclusively floating
point samples, doesn’t deal directly with interleaved channels and
maintains a server global time-line which may be stopped and seeked
around. All that translates badly to desktop usages. JACK is really
nice software, but just not designed for the normal desktop user,
who’s not working on professional audio production.

Since we think that JACK is really a nice piece of work, we added
two new modules to Polypaudio which can be used to hook it up to a
JACK server.

Get Polypaudio 0.8, while it is hot!

BTW: We’re looking for a logo for Polypaudio. Feel free to send us your suggestions!

Update: The Debian rant is unjust to Jeff Waugh. In fact, he had informed me that he prepared Debian packages of Polypaudio. I just never realized that he had actually uploaded them to Debian. What still stands, however, is that I’ve not been informed or asked about the removal.

LCD Brightness Control on MSI S270 Laptops

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/s270ctrl.html

In response to mjg59‘s rant about
controlling the LCD brightness on laptops, I invested some time to
reverse engineer the Windows driver of my MSI S270 laptop
which implements changing LCD brightness. It requires some ugly
fiddling with registers of the “embedded controller” on ports 0x62 and
0x66. The result of my work is s270ctrl, a
small userspace utility. I’m planning to turn this into a proper
kernel module soon.

LCD Brightness Control on MSI S270 Laptops

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/s270ctrl.html

In response to mjg59‘s rant about
controlling the LCD brightness on laptops, I invested some time to
reverse engineer the Windows driver of my MSI S270 laptop
which implements changing LCD brightness. It requires some ugly
fiddling with registers of the “embedded controller” on ports 0x62 and
0x66. The result of my work is s270ctrl, a
small userspace utility. I’m planning to turn this into a proper
kernel module soon.

Avahi 0.6 in Beta

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/avahi-0.6-pre.html

Unless we find any major bugs Avahi 0.6 will be released on friday. We ask everyone to do some testing for us:

Current Avahi SVN snapshort
Current libdaemon SVN snapshot

There have been a bunch of API changes. However, the API is now frozen, so feel free to start porting your application to the new API now.

A rough overview about the many improvements in Avahi 0.6.

Support for (read-only) wide area support. (i.e. DNS-SD over unicast DNS)
Ported to FreeBSD, NetBSD, Darwin/MacOSX and to some extent OpenBSD
Compatibility layers for HOWL and Bonjour
Support for registering/browsing abritrary records
Proper support for DNS-SD service subtypes
Native C implementations of the client utilities
Now passes the Bonjour conformance test suite without any exceptions
“Passive observation of failures”
chroot() support
Many traffic reduction improvements
Bugfixes, cleanups

Avahi 0.6 in Beta

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/avahi-0.6-pre.html

Unless we find any major bugs Avahi 0.6 will be released on friday. We ask everyone to do some testing for us:

There have been a bunch of API changes. However, the API is now frozen, so feel free to start porting your application to the new API now.

A rough overview about the many improvements in Avahi 0.6.

  • Support for (read-only) wide area support. (i.e. DNS-SD over unicast DNS)
  • Ported to FreeBSD, NetBSD, Darwin/MacOSX and to some extent OpenBSD
  • Compatibility layers for HOWL and Bonjour
  • Support for registering/browsing abritrary records
  • Proper support for DNS-SD service subtypes
  • Native C implementations of the client utilities
  • Now passes the Bonjour conformance test suite without any exceptions
  • “Passive observation of failures”
  • chroot() support
  • Many traffic reduction improvements
  • Bugfixes, cleanups

Avahi Gains "Wide-Area" Support

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/avahi-wide-area.html

Yesterday in the late evening I commited “Wide Area” support to
Avahi SVN, i.e. “DNS-SD over Unicast DNS”. Only browsing, no
“Long-Lived Query” support and no publishing for now, but it is a
start.

To show off how cool this is, here is a “screenshot” of
avahi-browse showing all services defined in the domain
0pointer.de:

$ avahi-browse -a -d 0pointer.de
Browsing domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1 …
Browsing for services of type ‘_http-rss091._tcp’ (Web Syndication RSS 0.91) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1 …
Browsing for services of type ‘_http-rss20._tcp’ (Web Syndication RSS 2.0) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1 …
Browsing for services of type ‘_http._tcp’ (Web Site) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1 …
Found service ‘Lennart’s Blog’ of type ‘_http-rss091._tcp’ (Web Syndication RSS 0.91) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1.
Found service ‘Lennart’s Blog’ of type ‘_http-rss20._tcp’ (Web Syndication RSS 2.0) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1.
Found service ‘Lennart’s Homepage’ of type ‘_http._tcp’ (Web Site) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1.
Found service ‘Avahi mDNS/DNS-SD’ of type ‘_http._tcp’ (Web Site) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1.
Found service ‘Lennart’s Photos’ of type ‘_http._tcp’ (Web Site) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1.
Found service ‘Lennart’s Blog’ of type ‘_http._tcp’ (Web Site) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1.
Service data for service ‘Lennart’s Blog’ of type ‘_http-rss091._tcp’ (Web Syndication RSS 0.91) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1:
Host 0pointer.de (217.160.223.3), port 80, TXT data: [‘path=/blog/index.rss’]
Service data for service ‘Lennart’s Blog’ of type ‘_http-rss20._tcp’ (Web Syndication RSS 2.0) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1:
Host 0pointer.de (217.160.223.3), port 80, TXT data: [‘path=/blog/index.rss2’]
Service data for service ‘Lennart’s Homepage’ of type ‘_http._tcp’ (Web Site) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1:
Host 0pointer.de (217.160.223.3), port 80, TXT data: [‘path=/lennart/’]
Service data for service ‘Avahi mDNS/DNS-SD’ of type ‘_http._tcp’ (Web Site) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1:
Host freedesktop.org (131.252.208.82), port 80, TXT data: [‘path=/Software/Avahi’]
Service data for service ‘Lennart’s Photos’ of type ‘_http._tcp’ (Web Site) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1:
Host 0pointer.de (217.160.223.3), port 80, TXT data: [‘path=/photos/’]
Service data for service ‘Lennart’s Blog’ of type ‘_http._tcp’ (Web Site) in domain ‘0pointer.de’ on any.-1:
Host 0pointer.de (217.160.223.3), port 80, TXT data: [‘path=/blog’]

Avahi Gains "Wide-Area" Support

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/avahi-wide-area.html

Yesterday in the late evening I commited “Wide Area” support to
Avahi SVN, i.e. “DNS-SD over Unicast DNS”. Only browsing, no
“Long-Lived Query” support and no publishing for now, but it is a
start.

To show off how cool this is, here is a “screenshot” of
avahi-browse showing all services defined in the domain
0pointer.de:

$ avahi-browse -a -d 0pointer.de
Browsing domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1 ...
Browsing for services of type '_http-rss091._tcp' (Web Syndication RSS 0.91) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1 ...
Browsing for services of type '_http-rss20._tcp' (Web Syndication RSS 2.0) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1 ...
Browsing for services of type '_http._tcp' (Web Site) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1 ...
Found service 'Lennart's Blog' of type '_http-rss091._tcp' (Web Syndication RSS 0.91) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1.
Found service 'Lennart's Blog' of type '_http-rss20._tcp' (Web Syndication RSS 2.0) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1.
Found service 'Lennart's Homepage' of type '_http._tcp' (Web Site) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1.
Found service 'Avahi mDNS/DNS-SD' of type '_http._tcp' (Web Site) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1.
Found service 'Lennart's Photos' of type '_http._tcp' (Web Site) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1.
Found service 'Lennart's Blog' of type '_http._tcp' (Web Site) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1.
Service data for service 'Lennart's Blog' of type '_http-rss091._tcp' (Web Syndication RSS 0.91) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1:
        Host 0pointer.de (217.160.223.3), port 80, TXT data: ['path=/blog/index.rss']
Service data for service 'Lennart's Blog' of type '_http-rss20._tcp' (Web Syndication RSS 2.0) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1:
        Host 0pointer.de (217.160.223.3), port 80, TXT data: ['path=/blog/index.rss2']
Service data for service 'Lennart's Homepage' of type '_http._tcp' (Web Site) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1:
        Host 0pointer.de (217.160.223.3), port 80, TXT data: ['path=/lennart/']
Service data for service 'Avahi mDNS/DNS-SD' of type '_http._tcp' (Web Site) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1:
        Host freedesktop.org (131.252.208.82), port 80, TXT data: ['path=/Software/Avahi']
Service data for service 'Lennart's Photos' of type '_http._tcp' (Web Site) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1:
        Host 0pointer.de (217.160.223.3), port 80, TXT data: ['path=/photos/']
Service data for service 'Lennart's Blog' of type '_http._tcp' (Web Site) in domain '0pointer.de' on any.-1:
        Host 0pointer.de (217.160.223.3), port 80, TXT data: ['path=/blog']

Avahi 0.2 Release

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/avahi-0.2-release.html

Yesterday we released Avahi 0.2. Get it while it is hot! Full announcement here.

In related news: Jakub Stachowski is working on a kdnssd-to-Avahi bridge. Soon KDE applications will be able to make use of Avahi without even knowing.

Sebastien’s Zeroconf Gnome Applet now has an SVN repository: svn checkout svn://svn.0pointer.de/service-discovery-applet/trunk service-discovery-applet.

Avahi 0.2 Release

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/projects/avahi-0.2-release.html

Yesterday we released Avahi 0.2. Get it while it is hot! Full announcement here.

In related news: Jakub Stachowski is working on a kdnssd-to-Avahi bridge. Soon KDE applications will be able to make use of Avahi without even knowing.

Sebastien’s Zeroconf Gnome Applet now has an SVN repository: svn checkout svn://svn.0pointer.de/service-discovery-applet/trunk service-discovery-applet.

The GNU GPL and the American Dream

Post Syndicated from Bradley M. Kuhn original http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2001/02/21/american-dream.html

[ This essay
was originally
published on gnu.org
. ]

When I was in grade school, right here in the United States of America,
I was taught that our country was the “land of opportunity”. My teachers
told me that my country was special, because anyone with a good idea and a
drive to do good work could make a living, and be successful too. They
called it the “American Dream”.

What was the cornerstone to the “American Dream”? It was
equality — everyone had the same chance in our society to choose
their own way. I could have any career I wanted, and if I worked hard, I
would be successful.

It turned out that I had some talent for working with computers —
in particular, computer software. Indoctrinated with the “American
Dream”, I learned as much as I could about computer software. I
wanted my chance at success.

I quickly discovered though, that in many cases, not all the players in
the field of computer software were equal. By the time I entered the
field, large companies like Microsoft tended to control much of the
technology. And, that technology was available to me under licensing
agreements that forbid me to study and learn from it. I was completely
prohibited from viewing the program source code of the software.

I found out, too, that those with lots of money could negotiate
different licenses. If they paid enough, they could get permission to
study and learn from the source code. Typically, such licenses cost many
thousands of dollars, and being young and relatively poor, I was out of
luck.

After spending my early years in the software business a bit
downtrodden by my inability to learn more, I eventually discovered another
body of software that did allow me to study and learn. This software was
released under a license called the GNU General Public License (GNU
GPL). Instead of restricting my freedom to study and learn from it, this
license was specifically designed to allow me to learn. The license
ensured that no matter what happened to the public versions of the
software, I’d always be able to study its source code.

I quickly built my career around this software. I got lots of work
configuring, installing, administering, and teaching about that
software. Thanks to the GNU GPL, I always knew that I could stay
competitive in my business, because I would always be able to learn easily
about new innovations as soon as they were made. This gave me a unique
ability to innovate myself. I could innovate quickly, and impress my
employers. I was even able to start my own consulting business. My own
business! The pinnacle of the American Dream!

Thus, I was quite surprised last week
when Jim Allchin, a
vice president at
Microsoft hinted
that
the
GNU GPL
contradicted
the
American Way.

The GNU GPL is specifically designed to make sure that all
technological innovators, programmers, and software users are given equal
footing. Each high school student, independent contractor, small business,
and large corporation are given an equal chance to innovate. We all start
the race from the same point. Those people with deep understanding of the
software and an ability to make it work well for others are most likely to
succeed, and they do succeed.

That is exactly what the American Way is about, at least the way I
learned it in grade school. I hope that we won’t let Microsoft and
others change the definition.