Great. So Oracle acquires two new patents that (at least on the surface of it) seem a bit less obvious than most other software patents; they only support Oracle Linux; and they'll probably make the underlying technology proprietary.
Really a terrible move for the general public, but I'm sure the CEO of Ksplice is happy with his millions now. Typical corporate america. And I actually respected Ksplice for being so open and affordable! Pff. Never trust a corporation.
They sent me this email (I'm a paying customer of theirs):
Originally Posted by Jeff Arnold, CEO
Dear Ksplice Customer,
We are very pleased to announce that Oracle has completed the acquisition of Ksplice today, and we are now a wholly owned subsidiary of Oracle.
Along with this news, we want to reiterate our commitment to customer satisfaction and our intention to communicate with you regularly during the integration process. All of your existing relationships with Ksplice remain the same. Ksplice’s management and its highly-regarded team of engineers bring significant domain expertise to Oracle.
The Ksplice Uptrack service is planned to be included as a standard part of Oracle Linux Premier Support, and we will no longer be selling the service separately to new customers moving forward. As an existing Ksplice customer, you may continue to renew your subscriptions and add additional systems to your account as before, however we need to make a couple of changes:
Starting on September 1, 2011, credit cards will be the only accepted method of payment, as we will no longer be able to accept payment through PayPal or checks. We ask that you please update your credit card information with Ksplice through the Uptrack web interface.
We will be requiring all Ksplice customers to agree to a revised Ksplice Uptrack Subscription Agreement before September 1, 2011. Please review the revised Agreement through the Uptrack web interface and accept the terms to continue use of the service.
Please feel free to contact me if you have immediate questions – or to learn more about the combination of Oracle and Ksplice, please visit oracle.com/ksplice.
We appreciate your business and continued support.
Former CEO Ksplice
This document is for informational purposes only and may not be incorporated into a contract or agreement.
Oracle is currently reviewing the existing Ksplice product roadmap and will be providing guidance to customers in accordance with Oracle's standard product communication policies. Any resulting features and timing of release of such features as determined by Oracle's review of Ksplice’s product roadmap are at the sole discretion of Oracle.
All product roadmap information, whether communicated by Ksplice or by Oracle, does not represent a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making a purchasing decision. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract.
I've always thought KSplice was foolhardy and just outright stupid. It only works given a very long list of stipulations on what exactly the patch does. It's not much different than edit-and-continue debugging, which is borderline useless. If you want to patch a security hole like "this should've been adding -2 to the buffer offset but was only adding -1" then it works. If you need to actually make any kind of even trivial change to data structures, layout, entry points, etc., then it doesn't do anything. And quite a few security holes even are due to larger oversights in the design and not just a simple off-by-one error or inverted condition.
This. I think this is introducing a whole series of risks (a piece of software handling the kernel), just to avoid a reboot that takes like under a minute. Maybe more if you have to start many servers, but if uptime is critical, a cluster should be in place anyway.
It isn't that hard to do especially if your outside contributions are few and can easily be weeded out and replaced. Replace that outside code, change license, and continue development under that new license and only release as a blob because that new license allows it. At that point all a person can do is fork the original open source code that was under a open source license. All new development doesn't have to be shared after that except on the fork. Also, even if the source was open source it doesn't mean that the patents covering that source are free to use.
Sortof true.... thing is that you *can* fork the source and compete, as long as that source is available under a sensible license -- which GPLv2 *is*. In fact, the licensing of this technology makes it impossible for oracle to close it up -- all they can do is close up FUTURE VARIATIONS on it -- which we're not interested in, and as you mentioned, they can't close up any outside contributions unless they control copyright on that code. Just because the original devs are now stuck working for a hostile force doesn't mean that the source quits working.
As far as the patents go... as they say, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Looking briefly over their patents, they are definitely the kind of thing that can be worked around. These guys didn't invent the notion of altering the contents of volatile memory, nor did they invent the concept of debugging, so there is sufficient prior art (TONS of it, in fact) that you could fairly easily alter the source to not infringe on those patents.... Further though suggests that it doesn't matter if the code uses those patents. They licensed the code that uses the patents, it is, therefore, their own implementation and their own infringement on their own patents. No problems here, move along.
That being said, I wouldn't dare run this crazy scheme on my production servers. If you can't afford downtime to load a new kernel, you certainly can't afford a massive crash that takes your whole server offline and requires a personal visit to the datacenter hosting your server to pull it out of limbo mode. There are things you can update on a live server. The kernel isn't one of them.
Last edited by droidhacker; 07-22-2011 at 10:02 AM.
If stuff like this keeps happening, you'll have to pick one distro to get KSplice, use another one to get Mono, or a third one to use ZFS.
This fragmentation is bad for Linux.
Oracle is a horrible company. They'll make it so you can only use this technology on Oracle's Copy Cat Linux and then sue anyone who tries to create a GPL licensed project that does similar things.
KSplice is already GPL.
Anyway, I dont think this is a too much of a problem. Oracle does lots of open source, for instance, Oracle develops BTRFS which many of you enjoy. I dont think there is any risk of Oracle shutting down BTRFS? And Oracle OpenOffice is now driven totally by the community. etc etc