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    SubjectA reply on the RTLinux discussion.
    Tape loops and arguments
    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this contains no legal advice.

    Many years ago during one of the earlier episodes of this, now regular,
    attack, I asked one of the first RTLinux contributors why he did not
    speak up to defend us and he said something like: I agree with all of your
    complaints, but I don't need the abuse I'd get for speaking up.

    It's standard practice on the Internet that the loudest, most persistent,
    and most intransigent can "win" arguments by making it simply too unpleasant
    for everyone else.

    I don't participate in these disputes anymore, since they don't seem to get
    anywhere. I do want to address some claims that are widely made here.

    1. MYTH: "The acceptance of Linux in embedded is being harmed by uncertainty over
    intellectual property"

    This is not correct from what I can see. Our customers include
    several Fortune 500 companies, and an incredible range of smaller
    companies around the world. The use of the free GPL RTLinux is hard
    to quantify, but we from all indications it is enormous. There are
    multiple mirrors, and we still had to limit download bandwidth on our
    site to 1G/day.

    Our resellers and OEM partners include some of the most serious
    players in the embedded Linux business: LynuxWorks, RedSonic, and
    Red Hat.

    And most of embedded Linux use does not require hard real-time.

    This issue is perhaps based on problems seen by
    the people who are yelling so loud - although I do not doubt that
    all the yelling does put off some potential adopters.
    There are also some issues particular to RTAI technology and
    support that we believe will put off adopters: an API in flux,
    no solid commercial support, stability issues and so on.

    RTLinux is doing very well and there is no uncertainty about
    it. If other variants are not doing well, there are other reasons.

    2. MYTH "The patent license is a terrible burden and terribly vague".
    The real dispute here has very little to do with the
    patent itself, and a great deal to do with GPL "linking".
    Linux itself permits binary modules and is generally pretty
    relaxed about what you can do to the kernel. But for companies
    like FSMLabs, Namesys, Trolltech, MySQL, and for many other
    GPL developers - controlling the right to add non-GPL components
    to our code is a business fundamental. Behind all the rhetoric
    of "I'm only in this for the greater glory of free-software" from
    our die-hard opponents, you find the demand to be allowed to make
    derivative works that incorporate non-GPL code - without payment of
    any fee.

    Robert Schwebel has made the issue quite clear on occasion, by
    arguing that in the embedded controller world, the valuable IP
    often is _required_ to be tightly integrated into the base real-time
    system. I think he is partly right, but this is precisely the
    advantage we have as owners of the core RTLinux copyright.

    The patent license is absolutely clear: GPL software can
    use the patented method without payment of any fee. So
    any dispute is on when one can use non-GPL software as a
    component - and in many respects the
    the real-question is whether the Linux binary module exception
    can be imposed on everyone else.
    In the dispute with our
    RTAI friends, most admit that RTAI derives from the RTLinux
    code base. Given this, the absence of a patent would not
    solve the problem that Schwebel sees: it would still not be
    permitted to link binary modules into the derived program without
    our permission. RTAI "user space" to me, does not escape this

    All that said: we're not against making allowances for small support
    companies: ask.

    3. Although most RTAI developers agree that RTAI started from the RTLinux
    code base, this issue keeps being obscured. In the Linux tradition:
    the code is definitive. If you look at
    you can see most of the history of RTAI, from "myrtlinux 0.6" which
    is openly billed as a variant of RTLinux 0.4 - note the peculiar copyright

    There is certainly a lot
    more there than modified RTLinux, but whatever the virtues or lack
    thereof of this extra material, the absence of any of the RTLinux developer
    copyright notices in RTAI is noteworthy.

    4. The point of the argument.
    It is is obviously not worth arguing with people like David Schleef
    who can baldly assert that RTAI predated RTLinux and did not fork from it.

    Karim Yahgmour writes that he has
    asked the same questions over and over and not received a response.
    The tactic of asking questions that are really insinuations is
    to me an indication of the ethics of the questioner.
    "Questions" of the
    form "did you steal XYZ code?" asked in the absence of any evidence are
    not questions, they are a dishonest way of damaging a reputation.

    Q:Why is there no copyrighted material in RTLinux from Paolo Mantegazza?
    A: Because none of his code was incorporated.
    Q: Did we take Wolfgang Denk's MPC860 patches?
    A: No. Why would we? Cort and I shipped working code for MPC860/Linux
    as our first consulting project, long before FSMLabs existed.
    Q: Are other people allowed to contribute code to RTLinux?
    A: Learn how to use FTP. The answer is yes.
    Q: Various questions implying shabby treatment of Michael Barabanov.
    A: Karym has been "asking" such "questions" for years. In all that time
    he has refused to take my suggestion that he ask Michael whether Michael
    appreciates this effort.

    and so on. It's both annoying and tedious.

    As for the requests for legal advice: Yahgmour has been playing Internet
    lawyer and encouraging people to sue us for a long time. The presence he
    makes to simply be asking for information is as believable as the rest of his

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