[off-topic] NTFS, Apple and GPL vs LGPL (Was : NTFS write support)

Scott Long scottl at samsco.org
Sat Feb 25 10:14:12 PST 2006

Gilbert Fernandes wrote:

>>I'm pretty sure that Microsoft makes the technical details
>>available for NTFS, either from their website or from one of their
> There is a Linux NTFS project at linux-ntfs.org
> This is mainly off-topic but while reading a few days ago an article on
> Slashdot called " Will MacIntel Kill Apple Open Source Efforts?", I read an
> interesting comment about Apple and that NTFS Linux project :
> ----8>----8>----8>----8>----8>----8>----8>
> Last July, Apple asked [sourceforge.net] {http://linux-ntfs.org/} Anton
> Altaparmakov, lead developer of the Linux-NTFS [linux-ntfs.org] project, to
> dual license the Linux-NTFS driver under the APL so that the Intel version
> of OS X can read/write files on Windows partitions (presumably for
> dual-boot computers). The problem pointed out by other Linux-NTFS
> developers is that the APL is not GPL compatible [gnu.org], and any changes
> made by Apple to the driver will be unusable in Linux. As one person put it:
> This would open up a one-way street: towards OS X and away from GNU/Linux
> and any other OS based on the GPL.
> Not to mention the Konqueror / Safari fiasco
> {http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/07/134222} where Apple
> complied to the terms of the LGPL by the skin of their teeth, making it
> impossible [kdedevelopers.org] for open source developers to port changes
> upstream.
> In November, Apple has again tried to hijack Linux-NTFS code, this time by
> suggesting {http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/message.php?msg_id=13769046}
> that it be licensed under the LGPL. This was promptly rejected by one main
> developer, who threatened lawsuits.
> ----8>----8>----8>----8>----8>----8>----8>
> It is thus highly probable that Apple would like to see a BSD-based
> implementation of NTFS. They asked twice the GPL-based project to adopt a
> dual-licence so they (Apple) would be able to integrate this into MacOS X.
> Perhaps Apple would agree to give some support for the BSD-licence based
> work ?

First of all, everything that you quoted from Slashdot is rubbish.
There isn't a single opinion in there that has any relationship to
reality.  It makes me sad that such junk has such a wide audience.

If you want to work on a BSD licensed NTFS module, it's reasonable to
expect that Apple might show some interest in it, but it's unreasonable
to expect or demand that they will act as an equal partner in developing
and sharing.  They might be very open and cooperative like they are with
Webkit, or they might not.  You've got to decide that you are OK with
sharing your effort with no expectation of a return from them.

A good example is my work with the UDF filesystem in FreeBSD.  Shortly
after I checked it in, I was contacted by SGI about them wanting to
incorporate it into IRIX.  Since it was BSD licensed, they we allowed
to.  Over a few months they fed back a few comments that resulted in bug
fixes, but they never sent in code or patches, and they didn't share any
of the new features that they had added.  But that's ok, my had no
expectations that they owed me anything in return, I was simply happy to
share and pleased that they found my work good enough to reuse for
themselves.  But, it's a personal choice.  I could have just as easily
GPL'd the code before checking it in (which would have still been
allowed) and then demanded that anyone working on it share.  In the end,
SGI probably would have looked elsewhere.  There are pros and cons to
both approaches.


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