[CentOS] What happened to 6.1

Lamar Owen lowen at pari.edu
Fri Oct 28 15:51:04 UTC 2011

On Friday, October 21, 2011 02:22:26 PM Les Mikesell wrote:
> Which is explicitly imposing additional restrictions.  Which is
> explicitly prohibited in section 6.  I don't see any exceptions
> relating to what the consequences of those restrictions might be.

The RHN AUP simply says that if you redistribute information from RHN you lose access to RHN.  It does not restrict your right to redistribute anything; it restricts access to future information distributions from RHN.  I know that's splitting hairs, but it does seem to meet the letter of the license.  After all, RHN access is not required except for updates; if I really wanted to do so I could redistribute everything I have from RHN at this point in time and upstream has no legal recourse against that distribution that I know of (but I am neither a lawyer nor a paralegal; Russ on the other hand knows of what he speaks....).  

They can, however, choose to not distribute anything else to me in the future, and nothing in the GPL or any other license used by upstream forces them to distribute anything new to me.  And that's the gestalt of the RHN AUP; it states under what conditions RHN will distribute the compiled binary code (treated specially by GPL and not as a derived work) to you, its customer.  Once you have received the binary of a particular version you have the right, under GPL and only for GPL-covered packages, to receive the source code for that particular version of that package.  

Upstream is very gracious (in my opinion, at least) and distributes all of its source, not just GPL source and not just to customers but to the public at large (I say all; I haven't personally verified that all source in any given RHN channel is indeed available publicly on ftp.redhat.com, primarily because I don't have access to all channels).  They could distribute only the source that they legally have to under those licenses that require it, but not for the source covered under other licenses that do not require redistribution of source plus modifications.

But just because I have version 1.2.3 of a package does not give me a guaranteed right under GPL to get 1.2.4 from them.  And just because I can get the source to the 1.2.4 package they distribute does not give me an automatic right to the corresponding binary as the GPL does treat the compiled code specially.  If you get the binary, you have the right to the source; if you have the source it is assumed you can generate the binary yourself (as is proven by the various EL rebuilds).  

The level of difficulty required to generate the binary is not specified or even addressed by the GPL, nor does the GPL guarantee your ability to generate the exact same binary as someone else distributes..... nor is the distributor of the binary restricted at all in how difficult generating their exact binary, or a 100% compatible binary, can be.  This seems to be the current holdup with C6.1, in my opinion; you can build *a* binary but will it work just like *the* binary?  Upstream can make it even more difficult than they already have (and I know it's currently very frustrating to the CentOS team just from reading this thread!).

Russ, is that summary even close to accurate in your opinion?

These are the facts of life for an EL rebuild distribution user.  If you want a primary access distribution (rather than a secondary rebuild) you need to find one that meets your needs, either by paying up for upstream or by going to something else (and there are really only two suitable enterprise choices for 'something else' in this case (and in my opinion): OpenSuSE or Debian Stable). 

 I'm evaluating Debian Stable on IA64 myself, as Debian Stable is the only actively maintained enterprise-grade distribution (again, in my opinion) freely available for IA64 (yes, upstream's EL5 is still available and is still maintained, but it costs six arms and eight legs to purchase for the machines I have; SLES likewise).  

And I don't really currently have the time to rebuild C6 for IA64 myself.  I'd love to, and I've had conversations with like-minded people, and I don't really want to go to Debian on it since I really want the IA64 boxes to work like all the other servers here which are running upstream EL rebuilds.  But I have more important and necessary things to do with my time at the moment than to get into the game of maintaining a private rebuild for IA64 (I say private; even if I had time to maintain the build I don't have time to deal with the 'issues' of a public build!).

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