RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

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myelin
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RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by myelin » Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:33 pm

The new license files aren't in the CVS repository yet, but here's the news. RISC OS Developments bought out Castle and is rereleasing RISC OS under the Apache 2.0 license!

https://www.riscosopen.org/news/article ... r-business
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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by davidb » Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:56 pm

I imagine that, at the moment, it's only RISC OS 5 that will be relicensed as that is the Castle/ROOL branch of the OS. Here's hoping that they can convince the other branch to similarly relicense their code. :) Switching to another revision control system before merging those branches might be desirable, too. ;)

It would be nice to see versions 4 and earlier get the relicensing treatment, but that seems to be unlikely at this point. :(

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by myelin » Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:17 am

Indeed... it would be amazing to get the source code to Arthur or RISC OS 2/3, but having at least one version under an open source license makes me happy :)

They're apparently talking to 3QD as well, so more free stuff may be forthcoming, fingers crossed!
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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by danielj » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:51 am

The elephant in the room here is the DDE - if that's not opened up they're still requiring people to pay to contribute :(

d.

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by sirbod » Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:12 am

myelin wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:17 am
it would be amazing to get the source code to Arthur or RISC OS 2/3
I don't believe source exists for the early OS versions.
danielj wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:51 am
The elephant in the room here is the DDE - if that's not opened up they're still requiring people to pay to contribute :(
I just said the exact same thing over on ROOL. The OS license has never been an issue for open source, it's only ever affected commercial interests. The issue for community involvement has always been the cost of entry via DDE - it needs to be open sourced and a free download.

At least the commercial outfits can now create closed source builds of the OS...that's a benefit for open source :?

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by danielj » Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:18 am

My main bugbear with the license was essentially that Castle took your IP for free and could sell it for profit or do what they wanted with it... That would put me off contributing. That and the DDE... If they'd GPL'd it then we'd not end up with closed source builds. I'm assuming there was a reason they decided on Apache?

d.
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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by davidb » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:22 am

If I was being cynical I would say that someone probably gave them advice saying that Apache 2.0 was more business-friendly than other popular licenses (like the GNU GPL). It seems kind of strange that they would choose a license that allows closed, derivative works given that seems to be the last thing they want to see.

Still, it's a step forward. Now if only that pesky toolchain could be relicensed! :)

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by danielj » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:26 am

Nothing to stop ROOL taking it and relicensing it under GPL :)

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by jregel » Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:12 pm

I'm aware that the post-Acorn history of RISC OS has been controversial at times, but I'm not fully up to speed on the detail and was wondering what this means for a single RISC OS codebase moving forwards.

Does this mean that RISC OS 5 is likely to be the "standard" moving forward? (or is it already the de facto standard?).

What does this mean for RISC OS 6? Is that even a thing these days, since it doesn't look like it's been upgraded for a few years?
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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by dgrubb » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:30 pm

sirbod wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 8:12 am
The issue for community involvement has always been the cost of entry via DDE - it needs to be open sourced and a free download.
Agreed. The approach of just about every other open-source project is reduce the friction to access as much as possible, providing, at a minimum, a description of the tooling required to build the project and a step-by-step to performing an initial build. An equivalent of that information needs to be front and centre somewhere. The license is a positive thing, but seems to be missing the point? Who are they expecting contributions from? How are they enabling those contributions? etc ...

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by davidb » Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:14 pm

I might be wrong but I see the relicensing as part of a move to a common ground by one of the parties behind RISC OS (the one with the de-facto standard version), with the aim of extending an olive branch to the party behind the other (obsolete) version.

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by myelin » Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:48 pm

As far as GPL vs Apache goes, my take is that they're more interested in making RISC OS super convenient to embed and aren't too bothered by the idea of closed-source forks. There's plenty of examples out there of successful projects with healthy ecosystems and lots of contributors that are under BSD-like licenses. Also the RISC OS Developments guys presumably make their money from helping people embed it, so making it easy to have closed-source forks is probably in their interest.
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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by simoni » Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:58 am

Nothing to stop ROOL taking it and relicensing it under GPL
Even more important, there's nothing to stop anyone from forking it and placing it under the GPL.

Once it's on git it would be a simple process create a fork and automate the process of merging changes to the Apache 2.0 code. If ROOL insist on keeping it Apache 2.0 then people can choose where to contribute. If you contribute to the Apache 2.0 version (why you would do that I don't really get, but it's a free world) - those changes would be pulled into the GPL version. If you contribute to the GPL version, those changes stay there (as you can't convert GPL to Apache, only Apache to GPL).

Eventually the GPL port would become the main one anyway (as it will always have more code available than the Apache version) - so ROOL could save the community the unnecessary hassle and just go GPL in the first place. But, either way, it would have the same result.

On another note; the argument that Apache 2.0 licensing is a key to commercial success is flawed on many levels. Firstly there is embedded Linux (GPL) - by far the most popular embedded OS both commercially and otherwise; given it's wide support and development base, there is no need or room for RISC OS in the mainstream there. For smaller/lighter RTOS style embedded OS there are also a number of well supported GPL based projects to choose from (again with far better hardware and developer support than RISC OS); so the argument that RISC OS is 'fast' is pretty moot - speed without function isn't very useful (and also based on a poor understanding of embedded systems) - If you want to build a consumer wi-fi router or a modern set-top box there is no reason to even consider RISC OS - it doesn't have the hardware support nor the pool of available developers let alone the same pace of OS development. Add in the lack of documentation and non-free tool-chain and you are dead in the water no matter how you licence the OS.

Personally I see RISC OS as purely a hobby OS - the continued dream that it has commercial potential seems to constantly hamper its actual use. The project (ROOL) would be far better off taking a realistic view and adjusting their aims in-line with what the target 'market' actually wants. However, after so many years of just not getting this (despite all the evidence to the contrary) - I'm not holding my breath. Forks can be a mighty good thing; and GPLv3 forks, even better.

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by acorn » Mon Oct 29, 2018 5:03 pm

simoni wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:58 am
Nothing to stop ROOL taking it and relicensing it under GPL
This is exactly what happened to StarOffice (proprietary) / OpenOffice.org (Sun, Oracle, SISSL , Apache) / LibreOffice (Collabora/TDF, GPL).

LibreOffice is miles ahead of the pack, OOo is not even on life support[1]. IBM Lotus Symphony, Borland Office, Corel WordPerfect, WordStar and the rest are history.

[1] https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/10/1 ... _not_dead/
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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by myelin » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:15 pm

Permissive vs copyleft debate aside, can I just say how awesome it is that they've actually gone back and relicensed everything right from the beginning of time in the repository? Terrible source control faux pas, but legally it's amazing: it probably means we can build an open source RISC OS 3.60 ROM, and maybe reverse engineer an open source RISC OS for pre-RiscPC machines.
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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by Phlamethrower » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:37 pm

Remember that there are still a few closed-source components (at least MbufManager, Resolver and ShareFS). They're on ROOL's list of things to sort out, but until that happens you're going to be left a bit short if you're interested in a fully open-source OS.

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by Elminster » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:20 pm

acorn wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 5:03 pm
simoni wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:58 am
Nothing to stop ROOL taking it and relicensing it under GPL
This is exactly what happened to StarOffice (proprietary) / OpenOffice.org (Sun, Oracle, SISSL , Apache) / LibreOffice (Collabora/TDF, GPL).

LibreOffice is miles ahead of the pack, OOo is not even on life support[1]. IBM Lotus Symphony, Borland Office, Corel WordPerfect, WordStar and the rest are history.

[1] https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/10/1 ... _not_dead/
You have kind of forgotten Apple and MS Office which are rather big and aren't open at all. (although Apples products are free these days). So I am not kind sure that proves the point.

But either way good to do any sort of open sourcing.

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by hubersn » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:40 am

acorn wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 5:03 pm
simoni wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:58 am
Nothing to stop ROOL taking it and relicensing it under GPL
This is exactly what happened to StarOffice (proprietary) / OpenOffice.org (Sun, Oracle, SISSL , Apache) / LibreOffice (Collabora/TDF, GPL).
LibreOffice is not licensed under GPL, but dual-licensed under MPL and LGPL. There are certain external parts (IIRC the spellchecking data) under GPL IIRC, but nothing inside the core.

Apache License does not allow relicensing under GPL. Everything licensed under APL stays under APL forever. Only the copyright holders can do a relicensing.

Since ROOL is not the copyright holder, they cannot relicense RISC OS.

hubersn

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by simoni » Tue Oct 30, 2018 4:41 am

It really depends on how you look at it. If I take something Apache 2.0 licensed and add something to it; I can place my additions under GPLv3 (since Apache 2.0 is compatible in one direction). The original code is still Apache 2.0, but the combination of my code and the original together is only available as GPLv3 (as the one-way nature prevents you from using my GPLv3 code under Apache 2.0).

The net result of this is that the combined code is covered by GPLv3 and those additions cannot be pushed back into the original A2.0 repo.

You could interpret this as 'not relicensed', but the net result (original fork + new code) is that it is.

As for ROOL not being able to relicense stuff, well that's just a sham; ROOL and RODev combined are 4 people; it's not difficult for them to do anything, they just have to decide to do it (giving away the DDE is a prime example; there's nothing 'complicated' about the decision at all). The fact that they decide to split themselves into two groups and use each other as excuses to not do stuff is a comical reason for inaction at best (especially now that the original "it's Castle's fault" fall-back has disappeared). They either act for the community, or against it; it's just a choice they have to make. Forking RISC OS and developing under GPLv3 means we can remove that choice from them - it's better if that isn't needed, but there you go.
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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by vanpeebles » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:26 am

It won't have a better chance now there is a million and one raspberry pi's arl ower. It's now or never really.

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by simoni » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:32 am

It won't have a better chance
Funny enough, that's what everyone was saying when the Pi was first released... and the combination of licensing, DDE payments and shear nasty attitudes on the ROOL forums killed it then too. I remain ever hopeful that eventually they'll (ROOL and RODev) figure out what the common denominator really is; but history shows that it's unlikely as they continue to chase the commercial success they'll never get (at the expense of the Acorn community).

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by sa_scott » Tue Oct 30, 2018 2:16 pm

sheer nasty attitudes on the ROOL forums
It would be good if you can provide some choice examples from the ROOL forums of such comments? Would be certainly interesting to review them, but not regurgitate them. Nobody wants to highlight how toxic opinion was at the time - I would hope we've drawn a line in the sand now.

Having watched Steve Revill's talk on Youtube, my sense is that the working relationship between RISC OS Developments and ROOL is in a much better place. ROOL are looking towards corporate sponsorship as a way of getting the DDE is be freely available. At this point, they are aware it is a barrier.

However, open sourcing was the largest barrier to wider adoption, which has been cleared.
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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by danielj » Tue Oct 30, 2018 2:32 pm

As I said on the ROOL forums, the single thing that every actually stopped me playing with, and thereby being in a position to contribute, was the fact that the DDE cost money. The shared source license wasn't ideal but I don't think it was the dealbreaker. Not being able to play with it was. I realise some are more than happy to push £50 at an OS that they love, but the majority of the people who'd consider having a play aren't that invested - they'll muck about with something that has no financial barrier to involvement, but having to pay to contribute to something is not going to endear it to people.

There's a great deal of fondness for RISCOS amongst the Acorn community, but I strongly suspect that most of that is around playing with a fun toy and indulging in nostalgia rather than wishing to push it on as a realistic proposition for myriad new hardware...

I can't imagine anyone much younger than me being particularly interested in it as an OS, and I certainly can't imagine anyone much younger than me, in modern hardware terms, wanting to splash out on more than a Raspberry Pi to have a play with it. I'd be interested to know what the demographic of people purchasing the more expensive "new" RISCOS hardware (e.g. titanium based etc, etc).

d.
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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by simoni » Tue Oct 30, 2018 2:50 pm

ROOL are looking towards corporate sponsorship as a way of getting the DDE is be freely available. At this point, they are aware it is a barrier.
Why is corporate sponsorship necessary? Just make it free. If they need to fund ROOL to cover costs, state the costs and ask for donations - but don't make it a condition of cooperation or openness. There's paypal, patreon, gofundme and any number of other means that open source projects use to raise funds. What you don't do is kill/hurt your own project for the sake of funding your own project - that's just backwards. Drop all the bounties, corporate sponsorship wishes and dreams of being the next big commercial OS. It's just nonsense - and work towards making people want to contribute instead - through openness, a spirit of mutual gain and it simply being a fun thing to do.

Very few open-source projects gain corporate sponsorship; you need to have a compelling reason for a company to be interested and, news flash, that ain't RISC OS. Help the community and the community will help you - state your interests in commerce and they'll leave you to do that instead.

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by davidb » Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:12 pm

simoni wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 2:50 pm
ROOL are looking towards corporate sponsorship as a way of getting the DDE is be freely available. At this point, they are aware it is a barrier.
Why is corporate sponsorship necessary? Just make it free. If they need to fund ROOL to cover costs, state the costs and ask for donations - but don't make it a condition of cooperation or openness.
Or unbundle the bits that aren't strictly needed to work with/on the OS. I don't know why ABC is in there, for example.

But ideally they would try to open it up and switch to more capable compilers.

While it's nice to be able to build your own OS with your own compiler, this case isn't even like the classic case where you bootstrap your compiler tools before building the OS, so the compiler is just this separate component that could be replaced with something else, as far as I can tell.

I wonder if this complicated licensing situation was why Acorn could never give away its own compilers, apart from the Pascal one - if anyone else remembers that! :)

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by sydney » Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:54 pm

I'd agree with pretty much everything Daniel wrote. Not that I'm necessarily capable of helping develop the OS but at £50 I'll never find out. If it was free I might have installed it and had a play. At a low cost of maybe £10 then I possibly would have bought it. £50 - no chance.

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by Elminster » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:30 pm

sydney wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:54 pm
I'd agree with pretty much everything Daniel wrote. Not that I'm necessarily capable of helping develop the OS but at £50 I'll never find out. If it was free I might have installed it and had a play. At a low cost of maybe £10 then I possibly would have bought it. £50 - no chance.
True, even the big commercial companies give some/all the dev tools away for free or give low usage no fee these days. Apple, MS, Oracle, AWS etc.

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by dp11 » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:53 pm

Do they fully own the tools ? or are the licensed e.g. Norcorft

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by danielj » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:13 pm

Well, Codemist (developers of Norcroft) are basically "out" now: http://www.codemist.co.uk/index.html
I'm not sure of the provenance of anything else (and it doesn't seem to be written down anywhere). Someone clearly has access to some of the source, as they keep producing updates...

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Re: RISC OS relicensed: now under Apache 2.0!

Post by BigEd » Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:22 pm

AIUI, the death of a company doesn't generally help in making its source code free - not in the sense of it becoming open source. It does open up the possibility that no-one would chase up any unlicensed copy, but that would be a matter of judgement, in case some person or company came to own the assets. So, you or I might feel free to copy the software, but someone else might not feel free. No-one could incorporate that software into an open source product, as they don't have a license to do so.

In the absence of a license, I think you have to wait for 70 years after the death of the creator.

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