Professor Tanenbaum is one of the most respected computer scientists alive, and for Intel to include Minix in their chip and not let him know is kind of unprofessional and not very nice to say the least. That is his only (and quite fair) point.
I guess Minix' license, which allows this kind of behaviour, is the very reason Intel chose Minix in the first place. I imagine it would be very complicated to get management approval for informing Dr. Tannenbaum about the usage in Intel's ME.
IMHO if he has a problem with the way things worked out, he should have chosen a different license. For example the MIT license requires the copyright and license to be included in distributions.
This is a classic conflation of legalese and ethics/decorum/professional courtesy. Just because something is legal doesn't make it good, and just because something is good doesn't make it legal.
For example, I abhor those who take credit for other peoples' work. But I use a license on software I write that permits folks to do just that.
* Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
One of my libraries with BSD 3-clause license was used in a U.S. government project. It did require particular hardware and couldn't really be deployed by any random user but they honored the mention clause without any prodding on my part.
My Bosch kitchen appliances came with a whole bunch of software licenses for embedded subsystems, even GPL ones. So it seems actual lawyers in a huge international corporation decided it constitutes distribution.
I mean, they could also just assume that shipping three sheets of paper with each washer is just cheaper than finding out.
For example, the software-as-a-service loophole that GPLv3 (and AGPL) closes. We actually had an exploitation of said loophole for the open source Space Station 13 game. People were making changes to the game (each server runs their own modifications, and, the game is pure client/server so the entire 'game' is server-side binary only with dumb clients connecting) and some people were making important modifications and not sharing them with the community AND it was intentional because their mods made them the most popular server to play on (because nobody else had the features). It was a big stink, and eventually someone "leaked" the code, but then nobody could tell if that was legal to use or look at and it became a big, confusing legal grey area. All because they didn't start with AGPL or GPLv3 (or some other SaaS-aware license). The original authors probably didn't think anything of it and just thought "GPL is 'good'. So GPL it is." and that was the extent of it.
I suppose you could make the argument that the OEMs are the ones distributing the binaries, but they are out there.
you can read:
"What is the MINIX 3 license?
The MINIX 3 license is a clone of the Berkeley (BSD) license. In plain English, it says you can do whatever you like with the system provided that (1) you agree not to sue us under any conditions, and (2) you keep the credit lines in the source, documentation, and publicity unless other arrangements have been made. Specifically, you are free to modify the source code, redistribute it, incorporate it into commercial products with only the above restrictions."
Note the passage "unless other arrangements have been made". I am pretty sure Intel made such an agreement with the MINIX 3 developers for this reason.
Also, my guess is this is part "security through obscurity", part Intel not wanting everyone to know that they used someone else's code for its chips' firmware.
Beyond the valid complaint of this being a personal insult, that is.
I have no idea what copyright law says about damages in a case where the infringing party tries to keep their large-scale infringement secret.
> I guess Minix' license, which allows this kind of behaviour, is the very reason Intel chose Minix in the first place. I imagine it would be very complicated to get management approval for informing Dr. Tannenbaum about the usage in Intel's ME.
Tanenbaum: Some people have pointed out online that if MINIX had a GPL license, Intel might not have used it since then it would have had to publish the modifications to the code. Maybe yes, maybe no, but the modifications were no doubt technical issues involving which mode processes run in, etc. My understanding, however, is that the small size and modular microkernel structure were the primary attractions.
> MHO if he has a problem with the way things worked out, he should have chosen a different license.
Tanenbaum: I don't mind, of course, and was not expecting any kind of payment since that is not required. There isn't even any suggestion in the license that it would be appreciated.
Tanenbaum: The only thing that would have been nice is that after the project had been finished and the chip deployed, that someone from Intel would have told me, just as a courtesy, that MINIX 3 was now probably the most widely used operating system in the world on x86 computers. That certainly wasn't required in any way, but I think it would have been polite to give me a heads up, that's all.
All in all, I think Tanenbaum's open letter is partly an exercise in self promotion and partly venting a little frustration that his work has gone uncredited given the scale of its deployment. I might be reading between the lines a little here but I also wonder if he's venting little because he dislikes nature of this particular deployment:
Tanenbaum: Many people (including me) don't like the idea of an all-powerful management engine in there at all (since it is a possible security hole and a dangerous idea in the first place), but that is Intel's business decision and a separate issue from the code it runs.
if so i don't begrudge that, as it's not like intel was saying much about it. :P
Companies using such projects should be more courteous, if only to encourage more of such licenses...
> The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.
This is weaker than what is in a BSD license:
> Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
That is, BSD license explicitly requires copyright attribution for binaries, while MIT does not.
I wrote in
that the MINIX 3 developers openly say in their FAQ that different agreements with them are possible. I would bet such an agreement exists - I don't believe Intel's lawyers would have tolerated such a legal liability.
> I don't mind, of course, and was not expecting any kind of payment since that is not required. There isn't even any suggestion in the license that it would be appreciated.
> The only thing that would have been nice is that after the project had been finished and the chip deployed, that someone from Intel would have told me, just as a courtesy, that MINIX 3 was now probably the most widely used operating system in the world on x86 computers. That certainly wasn't required in any way, but I think it would have been polite to give me a heads up, that's all.
> If nothing else, this bit of news reaffirms my view that the Berkeley license provides the maximum amount of freedom to potential users. If they want to publicize what they have done, fine. By all means, do so. If there are good reasons not to release the modfied code, that's fine with me, too.
His letter point is clearly about widely(1) known debate(2) between him and Linus Torvalds, and ego massage.
I think the reason he posts this is that, just like everybody else, he's not happy about Intel secretly introducing a massive security hole in their processors. Telling him they were using Minix on such a massive scale would have been polite, but it would also have informed Tanenbaum that Intel was running a secret OS on their processors.
What Intel did was not only foolish and harmful, it was also impolite. Plenty of people are addressing the foolish and harmful parts already, but the impolite part can only really be addressed by AST.
Forgive me for interjecting politics into this debate, but we all know at this point that there is at least one highly successful egotist in this world who still needs to have his ego stroked on a regular (daily) basis. I admire Tanenbaum and doubt that he fits into this category, but the category does exist.
"I would like to close by clearing up a few misconceptions and also correcting a couple of errors. First, I REALLY am not angry with Linus. HONEST. He's not angry with me either. I am not some kind of "sore loser" who feels he has been eclipsed by Linus. MINIX was only a kind of fun hobby for me. I am a professor. I teach and do research and write books and go to conferences and do things professors do. I like my job and my students and my university. [...] I wrote MINIX because I wanted my students to have hands-on experience playing with an operating system. After AT&T forbade teaching from John Lions' book, I decided to write a UNIX-like system for my students to play with. [...] I was not trying to replace GNU/HURD or Berkeley UNIX. Heaven knows, I have said this enough times. I just wanted to show my students and other students how you could write a UNIX-like system using modern technology. A lot of other people wanted a free production UNIX with lots of bells and whistles and wanted to convert MINIX into that. I was dragged along in the maelstrom for a while, but when Linux came along, I was actually relieved that I could go back to professoring. [...] Linus seems to be doing excellent work and I wish him much success in the future.
While writing MINIX was fun, I don't really regard it as the most important thing I have ever done. It was more of a distraction than anything else. The most important thing I have done is produce a number of incredibly good students, especially Ph.D. students. See my home page for the list. They have done great things. I am as proud as a mother hen. To the extent that Linus can be counted as my student, I'm proud of him, too. Professors like it when their students go on to greater glory."
Why is this necessary?
[this comment was written in Lynx]
I'm sure A.Tannenbaum is flattered (and duly so, Minix 3 is very interesting) but I'm feeling he's patting himself on the back here.
You have a legal and ethical responsibility to the creator of the work, not to whomever put it in your feed.
Of course, we should credit our grade school teachers each time we do arithmetic - Thanks, Mrs. Ashliman!
The courtesy they owe is to Andrew S. Tanenbaum, the /creator/ of the work they are using, not to some individual who happened to blog about it.