Everyone loves Linux and has the right to run, examine, modify and distribute the code“In October 2011, Conservancy received a GPL violation report on BusyBox for VMware’s ESXi products. Conservancy opened the matter in its usual, friendly, and non-confrontational way.
when Conservancy realized in late 2012 there might be a major Linux violation still present in VMware’s ESXi products, Conservancy representatives sought every industry contact we had for assistance, including those from trade associations, companies (both competitors and collaborators with VMware), and everyone else we could think of who might be able to help us proceed with friendly negotiations that would achieve compliance….
VMware’s last offer was a proposal for a settlement agreement that VMware would only provide if Christoph signed an NDA, and Christoph chose (quite reasonably) not to sign an NDA merely to look at settlement offer.” under the terms of GPLv2, the licence permitting what would otherwise be violation of copyright. Why then does VMWare not provide its source code, a modification of the Linux source code, under the same terms as required by GPLv2?
” You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion of it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1 above, provided that you also meet all of these conditions:
a) You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices stating that you changed the files and the date of any change.
b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.
c) If the modified program normally reads commands interactively when run, you must cause it, when started running for such interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a notice that there is no warranty (or else, saying that you provide a warranty) and that users may redistribute the program under these conditions, and telling the user how to view a copy of this License.”
Years of negotiation have failed. WMWare would not even discuss a settlement without signature of an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), for Pity’s sake. They weren’t negotiating seriously and now this goes to court where even more time, money and energy will be wasted in a case VMWare cannot win. They will be forced to cease distribution or rip out their code in some way. They may well have to pay for years of violation and profits in violation of others’ rights. If they did not want to distribute under GPLv2 they should not have used Linux. They got great value from using Linux. It’s the right way to do IT to use Linux so they should comply. They should have complied from Day One but did not. In spite of many of their loyal customers being placed in violation of GPLv2 by their action and pleading from those customers, VMWare stubbornly refused to comply. What were they thinking? They are offending their major suppliers and their major sources of revenue. That’s just not sustainable.
See VMWare Lawsuit FAQ.
See also, Christoff Hellwig defending the kernel against non-Free software as early as 2005…
Zachary Amsden, of VMware, wrote, back in the day… “This is not an attempt to force a proprietary interface into the Linux kernel. This is an attempt to find a common interface that can be used by many hypervisors by isolating hypervisor specific idioms into a neutral layer. This new layer is just what is claims to be – a virtual machine interface, which allows hypervisor dependent code to be abstracted in a way that benefits both Linux and hypervisor development.”
I wonder what went wrong.
UPDATE Hellwig called VMware on this on LKML back in 2006:
“Until you stop violating our copyrights with the VMWare ESX support nothing is going to be supported. So could you please stop abusing the Linux code illegally in your project so I don’t have to sue you, or at least piss off and don’t expect us to support you in violating our copyrights. I know this isn’t you fault, but please get the VMware/EMC legal department to fix it up first.”
That’s from a thread started by VMware… “I would like to propose an interface for linking a GPL kernel, specifically, Linux, against binary blobs. Stop. Before you condemn this as evil, let me explain in precise detail what a binary blob is.”
Ooh! They sunk my battleship! Not only does Hellwig have solid evidence of violation, he may well have proof of a guilty mind. In some courts that’s a hanging offence.