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Re: Questions concerning S/390 OCO-modules


thanks a lot for your comments, Walter - please let me add a few

On Tue, Aug 14, 2001 at 02:08:24PM -0600, Walter Landry wrote:
> > 
> > This raises a few questions:
> > 
> >  - Does the license allow distribution of the oco-drivers with Debian?
> > 
> >    From item 1. of the license agreement I derive that this is possible
> >    as long as
> > 
> >    a) Debian assures that the license agreement is distributed with the
> >       oco-driver and
> > 
> >    b) that the user explicitely agrees with the terms of the license
> >       (actually the user can not download the oco-drivers from the
> >       IBM web site without explicitely accepting the agreement).
> > 
> >    I think a) is definitely not a problem and b) could be realized by
> >    asking the user before installing the oco-driver whether (s)he agrees
> >    with the license (could probably be done in the preinstall-script?).
> > 
> Actually, the requirement is a little different from that.  We have to
> ensure that anyone who uses the program will comply with the license.
> They don't have to have read the license, so we don't have to have a
> post install pop-up (which would be incredibly annoying).  But they do
> have to follow it.  So if someone gets it from Debian and then reverse
> engineers it, Debian might no longer be able to distribute it (and
> must destroy all copies).

I assume you are referring to this part of the license agreement:

  "You will ensure that anyone who uses the Program does so only in
   compliance with the terms of this Agreement."

If we force the user to read the license before installing the modules (as
I suggested in a preinstall script, or in a script that is launched during
bootstrap time, in case (s)he needs one of the modules during
installation) and force him to agree to the license (by not installing
the modules or not bootstrapping Debian if he answers "no"), wouldn't
this mean that from this time on he would be the "You" who has to ensure
that he will use the modules in compliance with the license and that
Debian couldn't be made responsible any longer for any violations of the

Actually that is what SuSE does in their S/390 distribution at install

(I don't really like thinking of "forcing" the user but I fear that's the
most appropriate term here...)

> I'm not sure whether that injunction will then apply to all of the
> people that we gave it to.  If it does, then people would have to
> check the debian website at regular interval to make sure that we
> still had the ability to distribute.  I think this would be too much
> even for non-free.

This would mean that IBM would potentially loose customers by
forcing them to make an installed Linux distribution de facto unusable
(as I wrote the modules are an essential part for Linux on S/390) so I
don't think that that's what they intended with this license.

> However, if people who got it from us don't have to destroy the copy
> they have, then we could probably distribute it.  At some point, IBM
> might decide that we can't distribute it anymore, and we would just
> take it out.

Arguing similarly as above, I can't imagine that that's implied in the
the license.

> There is some verbiage saying that no one is responsible for events
> beyond their control.  That might save this agreement, but I'm not
> sure what "events beyond its control" means.  People could certainly
> argue that we knew, or should have known, that someone would reverse
> engineer it (or violate export law, or make a copy without the
> license, etc.).

Yes we should have known, but if we force the user to agree to the license,
then (s)he should have known as well, so wouldn't (s)he be the first to be
made responsible?

> >    What would be the alternative, if the package could not go into
> >    non-free (i.e. not be part of the distribution at all)?
> Make an installer, if that makes sense here.  

I assume by installer you mean a package that asks the user to download
the modules from the IBM site to a certain place in the filesystem and
then goes on with installation? This makes only sense if the user
already has a network connection. But he won't have a connection without the
modules (s)he is just about to install (at least in most if the cases).
So at least at bootstrap time (where we need the modules on the ramdisk)
this is not really an alternative...

Best regards,


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