back to article FUSE for macOS: Why a popular open source library became closed source and commercially licensed

In May this year, users of popular open source project FUSE for macOS noticed the source code for the latest update was missing. The project had become closed source and was no longer free for commercial use. But as The Reg discovered when we had a talk with its maintainer, there was a very good reason for that – and it's not a …

  1. trevorde
    Thumb Up

    Bus factor

    Being a software dev, I totally agree with what he's done but the 'bus factor' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_factor) for the project is now 1...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bus factor

      The bus factor was already 1 because there has only been him on the team. If it were that easy to pick up then others would have done so.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Bus factor

        Except with the source being closed noone *can* pick it up now...

        At least with the open model someone *could* have done.

        I fully support his decision though - meals need to get paid for.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Bus factor

          "Except with the source being closed noone *can* pick it up now..."

          Yes they can: go back to the last open version and do it yourself. And also it depends on whether he's put the code in escrow rather than just on his computer.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Bus factor

            The point is that the new code can't be... It would need to be redeveloped from scratch.

            He's forked at the point where he has added a rather useful feature set (and presumably put quite a bit of work into it). The whole point is that the organisations profiting from his work don't want to spend the money doing the development or provide any remuneration for that work.

            So it's gone closed, and therefore the new feature set cannot be picked up by anyone else.

            Yes - it does depend on whether the code has been placed in escrow... If I were a large organisation I might well insist on that as part of the license.

            1. ArrZarr Silver badge

              Re: Bus factor

              Unless he has put contingencies in place, like an Escrow, to mitigate the risk of all the work being lost due to bus factor 1 related problems.

              This is not a problem that is difficult to solve.

        2. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Bus factor

          Sometimes you see projects which are open-source but not free for commercial use, I thought(?) I wonder if anything like that could be possible.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Bus factor

            Only if you can trust companies...

          2. baud Bronze badge

            Re: Bus factor

            Another possibility is to open-source it with free commercial use, then sell useful plugins (like security & authent) / support on the side; one company that's doing it is Elastic, with elasticsearch (and associated tools) being free and some plugins being sold alongside it. Of course I have no idea how successful they are.

  2. revenant

    Seems fair

    He seems to have been careful to do only what is necessary to ensure that commercial entities contribute something to fund his work.

    Nice to see a statement that he will open it up again should he decide to step aside.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seems fair

      This is a perfect example of what some of us knew long ago.

      1. the future is back!

        Re: Seems fairly fair

        Nothing is free and FUSE is mot nothing. It’s nothing to pay something for something but that concept becomes a mob scene of reflexive users whose ideal is “free” stuff, that overcomes even wee pangs of guilt or considered thought, and damn any rational process that stands in the impatient stampede.

    2. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: Seems fair

      I was always puzzled how Open Source could possibly sustain itself.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Seems fair

        Lots of the big projects have people working on them from major companies who use them e.g. Google might put an employee on a OS project.

        Otherwise it's done for love as far as I can tell by people who use the software themselves, or just find it interesting.

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Seems fair

        Often by selling support...

        It pays my wages at any rate.

      3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

        Re: Seems fair

        OpenBSD is a particular example of this, whilst there are commercial donors to the project, it is written by the developers, for the developers. If anyone else wants to use it that's a bonus.

        It does enable them to make decisions that no commercially minded OS would make c.f. completely disabling hyperthreading by default, deleting the bluetooth and Linux compatibility subsystems, and rejecting any binary drivers in the install.

      4. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: Seems fair

        > I was always puzzled how Open Source could possibly sustain itself.

        Then you lack experience in running a business.

        You sell your service, not your code.

        Someone wants feature X, then they should pay something for it if they want it done within X time.

        Someone has found a bug that needs fixing and fast because its impacting their business, well how about £100 an hour?

        Or a support contract for a few grand a year.

        Its no different than invoicing someone when you go out to fix their till system or replace that faulty customer wifi access point. The could go to PC world and get the bits themselves sure, but tell them good luck when they find it broke. Or say "unsupported stuff can be supported at £150 an hour".

        If you think you are going to make money charging people to download and run bytes you are wearing rose tinted specs. Those days are GONE, heck you don't even have to pay for windows 10, unless you are ignorant of the upgrade path. Most of the best and most popular games cost nothing. They are funded by some people paying money in the game itself, optionally.

        "But if I charge for things like that someone will fork the code or use another fork"

        Whats the matter? Afraid of competition?

        You see whats happened here is software went proprietary and you could directly charge for literally nothing but electrical impulses that represent a program. The Free Software and Open Source movements naturally surfaced to combat this trend. The problem is, the idea of making it rich off bytes and bytes alone stuck, which is weird, and resulted in coders who try and scrape along doing just that. Some succeed because they are employed by a big corp, the clever ones realise that the code is not the money maker, its the enabler.

        Its like having a land owner enjoy all the money made off charging the public to access his land. Then this land is reclassified as common land, access is now free. But the land owner tries to rely on donations for "upkeep" and complains loudly about not making enough money off it anymore and that common land is some crazy idea that will never work.

        Who do you side with? The common people who can now use a common resource as a right, passing such rights onto their children? Or the landowner who is so stuck in the mud and inflexible as to not be able to make the money off his other skills / assets.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seems fair

      Seems extreme to me.

      Much the same as locking a child out of the house for a week because they wont do the washing up.

      Sure, this all highlights difficulties but if you want to make money off FLOSS you cant lay back and sleep. You have to do it the old fashioned way and go out and get paid.

      Its a shame that the Apple users, who have no idea just how little freedom they have considering they use MacOS, are less free than yesterday.

      Oh well, another one bites the dust I suppose. The users tend to pay through the nose for old fasioned hardware that fails and has no support, I guess they wont miss FUSE. Either they wont know they use it, in chains, or if they do they will just find another solution.

  3. Peter X

    Licence

    Is there not a licence that is open-source, but requires payment for commercial use? Otherwise, is Fleischer prepared to make binaries for open-source projects on MacOS that use FUSE?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Licence

      "Is there not a licence that is open-source, but requires payment for commercial use?"

      Ah, the honour system, or as it's also known, fuck you little guy.

      1. wolfkin
        Linux

        Re: Licence

        >>Is there not a licence that is open-source, but requires payment for commercial use?

        >Ah, the honour system, or as it's also known, fuck you little guy.

        I mean that's basically the WinZip model. The product is free to use for a limited time (that isn't actually limited) but commercial use requires license. Even if people cheat the system companies need to pay for their licenses. That might still work with an open source product.

        1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          Re: Licence

          > I mean that's basically the WinZip model.

          Where are the WinZip auditors?

          Nobody and no company that had a braincell paid for winzip.

          Nobody uses it anymore anyway.

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Licence

      You can do a dual licence approach - like MySQL or the QT Library

      1. damiandixon

        Re: Licence

        QT OpenSource Licence is pretty much LGPL. Some libraries or parts are GPL but these can be avoided if you carefully review what you are using. Most of the GPL issue is around QML libraries.

        Mostly its fud from the current company developing QT in an attempt to get people to pay quite a lot of money.

        1. keithzg

          Re: Licence

          Naw, most of it is companies who already believed the FUD about Free Software long before they even heard about Qt, and so want to pay for a proprietary license that lets them keep all their code proprietary themselves.

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Licence

      "Is there not a licence that is open-source, but requires payment for commercial use?"

      Yes, there is. But a license is only as good as the ability to enforce it.

    4. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change Bronze badge

      Re: Licence

      Someone already mentioned MySQL, which is one of the most famous projects to take advantage of GPL copyleft. If you want to distribute it, either you contribute back your changes (participate in the open source community) or you buy a commercial licence.

      And GPL has a track record that includes being enforced in courts. I'm not sure that applies to any of the attempts to write a licence that says "free for non-commercial use". Such clauses can beg questions like defining non-commercial use, and are sometimes associated with unrealistic expectations.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Licence

        Where's MySQL now? Where's Sun now? It looks that model didn't work for them at all.

        1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change Bronze badge

          Re: Licence

          It worked so well for MySQL they got bought out for (from memory) two billion dollars. I'd be well-pleased if my startup had been half as successful.

        2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          Re: Licence

          > Where's MySQL now?

          Running happily on my machines.

          > Where's Sun now?

          Happily owned by Oracle who happily jumped at the chance to buy them years ago.

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Licence

        What if you don't make any changes or buy a license?

        1. unimaginative
          Linux

          Re: Licence

          If its dual licensed then you can still only redistribute it under GPL terms for free.

          As this is a library, if it was dual licensed you would have to make your software GPL or buy a license.

          There is a problem without SaaS not being covered by the GPL, but that is what the AGPL is for and it is not the issue here (because its a library that is useful for desktop software).

  4. FuzzyTheBear

    fairness

    When companies make money using code they should at least show their apreciation and contribute financially as a matter of course and not have to be begged for financial help while they take advantage of the work being done. fair is fair.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: fairness

      The whole cloud business is built exploiting open source code giving back almost nothing (or your competitors will get your improvement for free).

      Especially Stalllman couldn't see it coming - and the GPL license is giving Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Facebook a lot of free code without no need to pay anything back.

      Even mainstream media are starting to understand that:

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/15/technology/amazon-aws-cloud-competition.html

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: fairness

        Big companies who rely on FOSS typically want to improve on it. Assuming the license requires them to contribute changes back they are paying back.

        Often, they want to benefit from the main branch so will be active members of the projects anyway, driving them in directions they find valuable.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          C'est la vie

          Often, they [Big FOSS Reliant Companies] want to benefit from the main branch so will be active members of the projects anyway, driving them in directions they find valuable ? .... JDX

          WeUI don't see any evidence of their whole hearted support with Lavish Purchase of Almighty Leverage in Emerged Virtual Market Spaces ...... although that is where an Absence of Evidence is a Stealthy Applied Service whenever Needed.

          Because are you really likely to know what an Apple or a Google, a Huawei or a Federal Reserve have in their secret secure store cupboards and what they are going to do with all the increasingly novel and exponentially quite powerful intellectual property they have free access to? Methinks the answer is a resounding No, it be extremely unlikely.

          The Real and Present Danger whenever Big FOSS Reliant Companies [and anything else you might imagine appropriate here] do not Engage with and Deploy and Employ and Enjoy the Luscious Fruits of Secret Secure Storage, ie dither and dawdle on the rapid adoption for future application of home grown, company developed proprietary intellectual property, is their secure secrets will always inevitably revolt and escape to be free to everything everywhere and anything anywhere.

          And that then has the escaped intelligence seeding remotely with subsequent actions taken by their former prime hosts, which immediately reveals a very soon to be known Honest Current Disposition via True Future Intention. And some of those discoveries can be more than just alarming and disturbing.

          Such though is the Real Nature of the Omnipresent Virtual Beast ..... and as has been said before about such matters .....

          The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. ........ Transcript of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Address (1961)

          However, on the plus side you have these sorts of doozies ........ also revealed to you some time ago too .......... and was President Eisenhower silenced from revealing further information in his speech there. And just as it was getting interesting too.

        2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

          Re: fairness

          This is a major problem FOSS has with corporate society. Big companies are perfectly happy to profit from the endeavours of Open Source practitioners. Not always so happy to contribute back, as it doesn't generally make a profit for them. Assuming they contribute anything, it'll likely be just enough that they can appear to be supporting the project without spending much money.

          Look at Open SSL. The websites, and a lot of back end systems operated on behalf of the world's largest companies relied on that product, yet when the heartbleed bug occured, none of them had contributed *anything* to it's development, which, iirc was being left to a development team consisting of a couple of men..

      2. keithzg

        Re: fairness

        Stallman might not have quite seen it coming, but the FSF as a whole did, hence the AGPL.

    2. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: fairness

      When companies make money using code they should at least show their apreciation and contribute financially ...

      Sure.

      Good luck with that.

      O.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: fairness

      Tragedy of the commons. Say Company A contributes. Company B does not, and therefore reduces its costs and extracts value from the commons (in this case open-source software) at lower cost and greater profit. That encourages Company A to do the same.

      Even if Company A's officers and board agree to contribute for any of various reasons - sustainability, PR, etc - voluntary contributions are the easiest cuts to make when there's a downturn in profits and the stock market must be appeased with prayer and sacrifice.

      1. Justthefacts

        Re: fairness

        FOSS situation is more complex than that.

        The *real* problem is - who says that a particular feature or direction is a good idea at all? And being “inside the tent” is no guarantee of being able to steer the resources sensibly.

        In this particular case, yes the companies were getting features for free, and now they won’t. But a *perfectly sensible* viewpoint for a manager in company A is this:

        Should I subsidise external person to do this FOSS? Well, there’s a chunk of work and maybe I like some of it but only a bit. Plus some of it is likely flat-out opposite to what I need/want so I may need to allocate someone internal to make the mods I want on top. And then we’re sucked in to a FOSS commitment, and all for a “nice-to-have”. Nah, I won’t put that feature on the roadmap, if it arrives then great, if it doesn’t then I can live with that.

        Alternatively if someone decides the new feature is actually necessary...(And how many features actually are, most of them turn out to be bloat after a bit), then we will implement the 10% we actually wanted, internally and that won’t actually take so much time. Effectively subsidising an external to do 10x what we want, in the hope that gets split more than 10 ways is maybe not a good bet.

        Ok, maybe, should I subsidise this project with somebody internal to work on it. Then we focus to get the features we actually want. Which of my team would I put on it? Well, there’s Bill the FOSS evangelist. He’s actually a great coder. But the problem with Bill, is that he’s well-known for going off and doing stuff for weeks that nobody exactly asked for. That’s pretty much the definition of a FOSS evangelist. Within this company, I have him assigned under a technical lead that keeps an eye on him, and keeps him focused on what he needs to deliver. As long as we do that, he’s really productive. But if he’s on his own FOSS project, there’s really nothing to make him focus on the features we are telling him are important, he will just make castles in the sky again. No, then.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

    .... if code is ever OS then it remains so

    He has effectedly forked to a commercial extension off his old OS version, if the companies leeching off his code have a clue they will just fork their own commercial versions that they have to maintain themselves so no more free lunch/profits off another's back

    Open source was a great idea inline with the orginal ethos of sharing the wealth and profit though recognition however so many companies want to cash in on all this altruism that perhaps the license should change to reflect this via commercial entities being excluded.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

      But then they have to develop and maintain their fork, at their own expense.

      It would probably be cheaper, and simpler, to pay for a license at that point.

      1. the future is back!

        Re: I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

        And the REAL cost - the years or decades of proprietary updates and maintenance whereas a license model keeps everyone on the same page and shares development cost, etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

        @"It would probably be cheaper, and simpler, to pay for a license at that point." indeed and that is what the dev is saying.

        DEV: "Pay me to maintain or do it yourself without my support"

        LEECH: "Damn I thought OS said this was free for me to profit off your back"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC - Re: I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

      This is where GPL comes into play and this is why so many people hate it.

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

        No, exactly the same issues arise with GPL and in that case a lot of the solutions are simply not available because of the strings of the license. GPL is essentially Richard Stallman's view of self-proclaimed egalitarianism: we'll pretend this is free provided you agree with my entire vision. If you don't we'll leech your code anyway. If you do but need to reconsider, tough, because the license is structured in a way that over time even the original author loses all rights to the code.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @the spectacularly - Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

          Richard Stallman 's view is this: keep the same level of freedom you received with the code. GPL strings: don't add new restrictions/strings on top of those imposed by the upstream provider.

          See, no neurons have been hurt in the process.

        2. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

          Richard Stallman 's view is this: keep the same level of freedom you received with the code.

          Not at all. Huge chunks of GPL code are lifted vertabim from sources licensed under BSD and other agreements. This is true enough today but was especially true in the early days of the FSF when a lot of GNU projects were essentially BSD code with a few minor additions and the entirety plastered with the much more restrictive GPL.

          GPL strings: don't add new restrictions/strings on top of those imposed by the upstream provider.

          See the above. It has the affect of locking the upstream provider out of changes: if one of the chunks of BSD code inside a GPL project gets modified with e.g. a one line bug fix or three line portability patch that can't then be merged back into the original version.

          This occurs even within GPL projects: the orignal author retains their rights but widely used projects will inevitably end up a patchwork quilt of tiny contribitions by any number of people. After a while it becomes essentially impossible to establish who has rights over any given section of code if it needs to be re-licensed for wahtever reason.

          The permissive licenses promote sharing: essentially do what you like subject to the minimal conditions of the license: generally, acknowledge your sources. Stallman talks the talk about sharing but doesn't walk the walk: it is at best like a private member's club: we will share this between ourselves subject to our rules. If you want to use it you have to abide by them. However, if we want to use your code we'll use it regardless of your rules. We'll then go on to apply our rules to your code.

          See, no neurons have been hurt in the process.

          Of course not, because you haven't even begun the process of citical thinking. Next time, try reading the very license you pontificate about.

          1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change Bronze badge

            Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

            Some serious nonsense there.

            Citations needed on subjects like adverse effects on BSD code.

            Oh, and I think I can claim some authority on the subject. It was my work, and discussions over licensing it with folks at Apache, Debian and MySQL, that led to MySQL's FLOSS exception to the GPL (back when MySQL was still an independent company), which in turn eventually led to the Universal FOSS Exception (though I only just now found out about the latter).

            1. the spectacularly refined chap

              Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

              Err, there's a little bit of a contradiction here. You claim one of the issues I cite is not an issue. As evidence of this you cite a modified version of the licence (i.e. not a pure GPL) which partially addresses the issue raised.

              Which begs the question, if this isn't a problem why is the modified licence needed in the first instance?

              1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change Bronze badge

                Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

                Two answers to that.

                One, it's nowhere near your claim of GPL code being derivative of BSD code and causing problems for the latter. Unless you're going to claim something about MySQL's heritage?

                Two, the issue I mentioned was one of ASF policy never to distribute code whose licence is in any way more restrictive than Apache's own. So we arrived at a point where Apache could bundle a generic SQL interface with drivers for open source (eg PostgreSQL), closed source (e.g. Oracle) and for third-party standards (e.g. ODBC), but a MySQL driver could only be distributed by a third-party. The effect of the FOSS exception was to permit the MySQL driver to be distributed under the Apache Licence, and thus by Apache itself, so lowering the barriers to adoption.

                See here for the Debian angle on it (a few months later, the ASF accepted it under the FOSS exception too). And further down the thread, a more serious problem (also here - it didn't go away from non-Debian user-land just because Debian dealt with it) having nothing to do with licencing.

          2. Day

            Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

            "Not at all. Huge chunks of GPL code are lifted vertabim from sources licensed under BSD and other agreements."

            Citation needed.

            1. the spectacularly refined chap

              Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

              If you really need cites it shows how little you have to contribute to the discussion. Have you ever read through the code or documentation of pretty much any GNU project? Stallman himself has commented on the issue, as I recall he referred to the GNU Emacs manual. There are several pages of copyright notices, each mandated by a chunk of BSD code Incorporated into the editor. What was imported remains covered by its original license so those notices are required, but any changes are covered by the GPL and can't flow back to the original project. This isn't some novel interpretation, it is the very core aim of the GPL.

          3. Graham Dawson Silver badge

            Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

            Not at all. Huge chunks of GPL code are lifted vertabim from sources licensed under BSD and other agreements. This is true enough today but was especially true in the early days of the FSF when a lot of GNU projects were essentially BSD code with a few minor additions and the entirety plastered with the much more restrictive GPL.

            And? That's the entire point of the BSD license.

            1. the spectacularly refined chap

              Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

              And that is my entire point. BSD is relatively tolerant of relicensing which is how BSD code can end up in GPL projects in the first instance. The reverse is not permitted by the GPL. Once the code is within the GPL any changes made to it can't be back-ported to the BSD project because the GPL expressly prohibits that kind of relicensing. Hence GPL projects are free to leech from the wider open source community but don't give back.

              In the context of the current article it also means that projects can't be relicensed. If circumstances change making the project unsustainable it dies as a result. Sure, someone else can pick up the code under either licence but someone has to do it: if it was a given there would be no market for a commercial offering.

          4. brotherelf

            Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

            Sidenote: no, the author does not usually retain the rights, FSF projects require that you assign, to the maximum extent possible, all copyright to them.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @AC - I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

            > Huge chunks of GPL code are lifted vertabim from sources licensed under BSD and other agreements.

            Bullshit

            I guess we found out what happened to SCO...

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "This is where GPL comes into play"

        Just the GPL doesn't work in many actual situations, like the "cloud", because it was written years ago, and the whole environment that produced Stallman had the need to be able to exploit others' software for their own use cherry picking what givinig back. Hence the exception that if you don't re-distribute the code you don't need to publish anything. Of course all the code used inside universities and their labs is "internal use" only.... then came the "cloud"...

    3. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

      Depends on how hard it is to get your hands on a certain certificate:

      A further complication facing developers thinking of forking the last open source version is that running FUSE on macOS requires a kernel extension signing certificate. "That's not the standard Developer ID certificate every registered developer gets," said Fleischer.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

        Just like Micro-shaft, looks like Apple wants to "lock down" the kernel using *cough* certificates THAT YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR.

        Nevermind the effect it has on OPEN SOURCE and FREEDOM TO USE YOUR OWN COMPUTER HOW YOU SEE FIT...

        Also: besides being IRRITATING, it's a FALSE sense of security. Widespread cracking of _THAT_ is just a matter of time... and I doubt they're making any developer friends in the process.

        [you could make the case of having a strong lock on a door; however, it's my opinion that putting a TOLLBOOTH ON THE PROCESS is _NOT_ the way to do it! That assumes that Apple _CHARGES MONEY_ to sign the drivers, just the way that Micro-shaft does]

        1. IGotOut Silver badge

          Re: I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

          Bob, have you turned into a bot? That was far to many underscores and caps, even by your standards.

    4. ckm5

      Re: I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

      Not necessarily - if he owned the copyright, he can relicense it any way he wants. The true source of control in open source is copyright, not the license....

      Also, open source is about free speech, not free beer. Seems most everyone has forgotten that.

    5. david 12

      Re: I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

      Companies leeching off his code have already forked their own commercial versions. That was the impetus for the licence change.

      1. Psmo Silver badge

        Re: I understand where the dev is coming from but ....

        Well, they may have forked it.

        But if they are dependent on upstream patches trickling down then it doesn't sound like they forked it very far.

  6. Dave559 Bronze badge
    Angel

    Apple should step forward

    Apple like to emphasise the open source origins of MacOS when it suits them. The right thing for them to do would be similar to what they did to support CUPS, and hire the FUSE for MacOS developer.

    Apple can pretend the that whole world exists in a closed Mac/iOS enrironment as much as they like, but the reality is that it is very desirable, if not essential, for all of us to be able to read and write other filesystems, and so Apple should really support this as core OS functionality.

    (The other thing that would be Really Nice would be if the main players in the computing world could all get together to develop a modern and robust filesystem that all could use without having to pay any sort of licensing fees, so that we wouldn't need to have to drop back to out of date lowest common denominator de facto standards like FAT, when formatting storage for exchange between multiple OSes and devices...)

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Why We Love Big the Apple ....

      Apple like to emphasise the open source origins of MacOS when it suits them. The right thing for them to do would be similar to what they did to support CUPS, and hire the FUSE for MacOS developer.

      Apple can pretend the that whole world exists in a closed Mac/iOS enrironment as much as they like, but the reality is that it is very desirable, if not essential, for all of us to be able to read and write other filesystems, and so Apple should really support this as core OS functionality. .... Dave559

      I'm seconding that brace of notions, Dave559. And was a Win Win ever so sweetly served and deserved?

      Can you imagine the flack Apple would then have to simply dismiss as not unreasonable but misguided and unsustainable, the premise Apple Virtual Machine Networks are globally too big and far too powerful to ...... well, easily command and control is a surely something of a vain wish when all is considered with all of these new happenings that are going on.

      So Much to Plan to Do has One Consistently Constantly Busy and that is both Exhilarating and Empowering and Wonderfully Exhausting Too. And if the Truth be More Fully Told, IT is Enlivening.

      And that makes it Awesomely Valuable. ...... ie Absolutely Priceless. Any piece of that pie is worth every red cent sent and spent. The ROI is colossal, and easily way beyond the imagination and dreams, and that is but one of its many great attractions. New Riches to Uncover that Sell Forever and Server with Passion and Grace, is another one. :-)

      I Kid U Not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why We Love Big the Apple ....

        I tried running your post through Google Translate but it still failed to scan.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: Apple should step forward

      Apple could really use some help with that APFS mess. As of October 2019 when I last experienced MacOS, Apple still didn't support imaging or cloning, image backup/restore, reformatting an existing partition map, or even booting from an external device when a soldered-in APFS device has a damaged partition. None of Apple's utilities had been updated to understand the difference between APFS physical and virtual volumes so they'd simply abort or do something very wrong.

      1. WolfFan Silver badge

        Re: Apple should step forward

        Interesting. I can and have booted from external devices to fix damaged APFS volumes. What am I doing wrong?

      2. FatGerman

        Re: Apple should step forward

        APFS is a pretty goood filesystem for SSDs, but Apple do not want you to use imaging. That's official, it's not supported. Something to do with hardware-level encryption using the T2 chip. You can pull and restore a disk image off a non-T2 equipped APFS disk very easily if you know how to use dd, or are prepared to push the right clicky things in Disk Utility. One APFS volume can be cloned to another with 3 clicks.

        But once you get a machine with a T2 chip all that becomes history.

    3. Long John Brass

      Re: Apple should step forward

      What Like ext(3/4) btrfs and the other file systems that Linux supports?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apple should step forward

        Nope, they are encumbered by a restrictive license (GPL)

        Better go for the anyway more superior FFS/UFS2 ot ZFS

    4. phuzz Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: Apple should step forward

      For what it's worth, you can now use Microsoft's exFAT file system* non-commercially, for free. It's part of the Linux kernel now (it's in 5.4).

      * It's designed for external media like SD cards and USB sticks

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: exFAT

        That's interesting news regarding exFAT. But that "non-commercial" sounds somewhat weaselly. While that might be useful for Linux, BSDs, etc (no bad thing), does it mean that if Apple were to want to support it in MacOS, they'd still have to stump up licensing fees to Microsoft (which I can't see them being keen to do)?

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: exFAT

          They have said it will be included in a future version of the Open Invention Network Linux specification, so the terms can be found here, https://www.openinventionnetwork.com/joining-oin/linux-system/ however it's not listed yet, so I'd take this to mean it's not yet covered. There are various categories and tables here, which I'm not very familiar with, however there seem to be exceptions for a raft of applications, mainly Sony and Philips exceptions (PVR, EPR, lighting control). Which at least is less grey than 'non-commercial'.

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: exFAT

          I dunno if Apple pay any money or not, but OSX can read and write to exFAT volumes, and you can format volumes as exFAT in Disk Utility.

    5. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: Apple should step forward

      > de facto standards like FAT

      EEEEK!

      KILL IT!

      KILL IT!

  7. karlkarl Silver badge

    This sounds like an excuse for "control"

    GPL / commercial dual licenses have been used for years for exactly this reason. For example:

    https://github.com/cesanta/mongoose/blob/master/LICENSE

    Quite successful, loads of commercial companies use *and pay* for it.

    But I suppose a scummy proprietary operating system deserves a scummy proprietary Filesystem in User-Space implementation.

    1. james_smith Silver badge

      The trouble is enforcing the licence, especially for libraries or something else that's "under the hood".

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "GPL / commercial dual licenses have been used for years"

      Sure, tell MySQL... how many hosting providers used it for free? And not only hosting providers...

      There's a reason why it's now an Oracle property.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "GPL / commercial dual licenses have been used for years"

        There's also a reason why its originator forked a GPL version.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          "why its originator forked a GPL version."

          Sure, after cashing $$$$$$$$ selling it because it couldn't make real money otherwise. If the model worked and made money, why sell it?

          1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

            Re: "why its originator forked a GPL version."

            > If the model worked and made money, why sell it?

            Maybe it was easier and more desirable not to maintain such a huge very busy product anymore?

            Sometimes its nice to walk away on an high note.

      2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: "GPL / commercial dual licenses have been used for years"

        > There's a reason why it's now an Oracle property.

        And yet it's still Free :P

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Except with the source being closed noone *can* pick it up now...

    There's always escrow ...

  9. missingegg

    Open source is a tough business

    There aren't that many examples of financially successful open source software businesses. It sadly doesn't surprise me that he's been forced to take this step. Most companies I talk to are basically unwilling to pay for software. They're so used to getting what they need for free, most of their staff don't even know how to go about negotiating a software license even if they wanted to. Not to mention that they'll generally prefer to use bad open source software over paying a nominal amount for a well written closed source competitor. While I benefit as much as anyone else from all the open source software available, I do feel bad for those who are trying to make a living from writing it.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Open source is a tough business

      "Not to mention that they'll generally prefer to use bad open source software over paying a nominal amount for a well written closed source competitor."

      So this is the year of Linux on the desktop then? (Not saying Linux is bad, before anyone starts.)

      1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

        Re: Open source is a tough business

        > So this is the year of Linux on the desktop then?

        I'm not stating don't worry lol.

        However, I have booted windows only a few times in 2019, mostly to keep it updated.

        I never seem to need to leave my Debian desktop. Mostly everything I or anyone really needs to do can be done with Libre Office, Firefox / Chromium, Thunderbird (or use webmail).

        Those that have more specific requirements of their computer, such as 3D design, music making, video editing will be the ones who will be considering the options and chosing something like windows / mac based on that. Most "general" users will hardly notice much difference between Windows/mac/linux as so much is web based and HTML 5 is the way.

        Flash? I haven't seen a flash site in years, although I know they still exist. However anyone that has used an ipad in the last 10 years for web browsing didn't care for flash either.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @missingegg - Re: Open source is a tough business

      It is OK companies don't like to pay for software unless they are forced to it. This is capitalism after all.

      What annoys me is that companies/developers that use open source software are salivating at the idea of making the software proprietary and sell it to you and to those who created it and gave it away for free.

    3. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Open source is a tough business

      I do feel bad for those who are trying to make a living from writing it.

      I don't think you need to: in days gone by there never was any expectation of a financial reward for open source, it was put out there for the hell of it. Sure, there would be rewards, reputation, something on your CV etc but not necessarily directly financial. If money was to be made it was for commercial-level support, but outside of a few key apps that is always a non-starter: I might be well to pay for support on e.g. PostgreSQL, but FUSE... not a hope in hell.

      The idea that you somehow deserve a living from open-source is a modern one and fundamentally at odds with its very premise. In essence it is say "I'm sharing this with everyone, for free, use it how and for what you want". You can't then notice that someone is then usng it to (gasp) make money and demand some form of kick-back after the event.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Open source is a tough business

        Yes!

        I remember reading a rant from a GPL zealot who was complaining that some company was using some code he wrote without his permission, and without paying him.

        Of course, he'd licensed all his code as GPL, but it seems he changed his philosophical tune when it affected his bottom line.

      2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

        Re: Open source is a tough business

        Yes and no.

        You might not need to use FUSE, but it's vital for these cloud companies. The only time I use FUSE is to rarely load an exFat driver on OpenBSD.

        The obvious consequence of the author continuing to keep the project open source is that it gets dropped, hurting the general user base.

        There is a difference between user focused OS such as modern MacOS, and developer focused OS such as OpenBSD where even large features will be dropped if no-one works on it.

        Also, by adopting this licensing model it should act as another wake up call for people to join the project and keep it open source. The author tried asking for help three years ago, and had very little response.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Open source is a tough business

      > I do feel bad for those who are trying to make a living from writing it

      Unless you are employed to do this, don't. It has to be seen as a hobby.

      If you want money for it you will have to sell contracts for support / custom implementations / consultancy.

      A company wanting to upgrade all users to your software would quite like having you, the principle developer, able to help them make the upgrade, write the user training or even to help train the users in groups.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is a valid proof that

    you can never have (free and) open source software on closed proprietary hardware.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: This is a valid proof that

      "This is a valid proof that

      you can never have (free and) open source software on closed proprietary hardware."

      OK, this is a new definition of 'valid proof' that seems to mean 'not a proof'. Apart from the fact that one example cannot prove a 'never' statement, I fail to see how the hardware makes a difference here.

      And what is open-source hardware? Here are the plans to your new microprocessor, you can either buy one off the shelf, or pop down to your shed where you store your 14nm chip fab, and make your own.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

        Re: This is a valid proof that

        This would be open source hardware :

        https://www.raptorcs.com/

        Even there, to get any sort of decent graphics performance needs a closed design GPU albeit with an open driver

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think the source code to all software should be published, then there is no issue with providence, decent security analysis and we can all laugh at just how shit a group of coders work for Adobe.

    1. Antonius_Prime
      Joke

      That's a terrible thing to do to those poor monkeys Adobe get from the zoo...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >That's a terrible thing to do to those poor monkeys Adobe get from the zoo..

        That's a cruel thing to say about monkeys, they are far more intelligent than your average Adobe code basher.

        I wonder how CVEs Adobe have this month ?

  12. Stephendeg
    Unhappy

    Embarrassing

    It is embarrassing that I used to spend more on hosting and AWS than on donating to OSS that I use every day(not a browser). I’ve dropped AWS, switched to free hosting, and instead donate a very small amount.

    If you want your favourite tool to hang about I’d suggest donating if you can afford it. Even a small amount helps. I donate to my choice of OSS via https://sfconservancy.org/ but I believe github has launched a way to do it too.

  13. Long John Brass
    Childcatcher

    Over the years

    I have donated to the Debian project, Now that money goes to Devuan. Also thrown Shekels at the OpenSSH crowd and a couple of others that I can't remember offhand.

    I've never had millions to throw around, but I suspect that most of us here at elReg could spare a tenner or two every once and a while.

  14. tekHedd

    So, er, why again?

    Surprised the entire body of the article isn't simply:

    ...because Apple.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of companies that use open source commercially are parasites

    They don't contribute code, when they make enhancements. And all too often they won't contribute a little cash to these projects. Yet many use open source because it is often better than commercial alternatives. I think Fuse ism is thin end of the wedge.

  16. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Flame

    Let us remember the lesson of OpenSSL

    Basically the entire Internet runs off it but none of these good corporate citizens started to think about paying for it until it blew up and it looked bad that nobody was paying for it.

  17. JulieM Silver badge

    The BSD trap

    This is precisely why I am very wary of anything licenced BSD or Apache-style. It's just too easy for anyone to cage up your Source Code that you intended to be for everyone. The GPL actually makes it abundantly clear that not sharing is stealing.

  18. Gordon Henderson
    Alert

    A bit of a "metoo" here ...

    I did more or less the same recently on an open source project I maintain. Many reasons, but mostly because of the people who would just wrap my code into their big project without offering their end-users support, but telling them to go to me for support.

    This appears to be the way it is these days, sadly, so I fully support what Benjamin Fleischer has done and it would not surprise me if we see more of this in the future.

    -G

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: A bit of a "metoo" here ...

      "mostly because of the people who would just wrap my code into their big project without offering their end-users support, but telling them to go to me for support."

      There's always the Eudora model (free software, support via contract)

      The problem with this is that if you're doing this, you _really_ need to pay attention to what the endusers want and deal with the bug reports. Writing things off as "not a problem" or "works for me" doesn't sit well with paying customers.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: A bit of a "metoo" here ...

        "There's always the Eudora model (free software, support via contract)

        The problem with this is that if you're doing this, you _really_ need to pay attention to what the endusers want and deal with the bug reports. Writing things off as "not a problem" or "works for me" doesn't sit well with paying customers."

        And, of course, you need to make sure there are enough bugs in your program that people need the support.

      2. aaaa

        Re: There's always the Eudora model (free software, support via contract)

        This is a terrible model. It encourages the developers to write software that is buggy. Seriously: the only way you get paid is if people need support? You don't want that software.

        I sponsored an open source project and we used this model - it was great when we started, because the project code was buggy, but with sponsoring the developers did a great job of improving the code, and within a year or two the user base had grown a hundred fold and the number of users paying for support was around .0001% - not enough to pay to keep the developers employed or the lights switched on.

  19. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Not overly surprising.

    I was informed one of my projects saved one company alone in excess of $90million - so I asked if they'd mind tossing a few bucks at the development hardware so I didn't have to keep scrounging around on scrapheap junk and being heavily in debt.

    Answer (of course) being "nope".

    There were a number of such stories.

    Not to mention regularly finding my work (and other GPLed stuff) stuffed inside proprietary blobs with Big Scary Copyright Claims on them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not overly surprising.

      > Not to mention regularly finding my work (and other GPLed stuff) stuffed inside proprietary blobs with Big Scary Copyright Claims on them.

      Perhaps the answer to this particular problem is for the next version go GPL to include an agreement to pay 4% of global revenue as a fine for misuse. Now that the GPL in principle (i.e. if you use it then you have agreed to its terms) has been upheld in courts it's now time to make those terms more onerous for abusive companies.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Beans for "Free" Stuff

    One big problem that I have encountered is the perception of the bean-counters. Bean counters will not fork over beans for something that is available for "free". Supporting OSS developers in the absence of explicit contracts is not something A/P understands and does not show up well in accounting audits. I see no easy solution here.

  21. Eduard Coli

    Free as in beer

    A sad fact of human nature is that anything that can be obtained without cost is perceived to have no value. This is is why Socialism and public housing fail.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Free as in beer

      Seemed to work after WW2.

  22. doggybreath

    Academic institutions also make money off software like this. "Non-profit doesn't mean no profit," as they say.

  23. razorfishsl Silver badge

    So he took opensource work, took control , then made it private ?

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