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Quasar

I go toe-to-toe with a corporate GPL violator

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A month or two ago I stumbled across the fact that CVSNT, a formerly free software fork of the original CVS project, has effectively closed its code and offers binary distributions, in the guise of "trial" versions, without a matching source distribution which can satisfy the terms of Section 3 of the GNU GPL.

Upon making this discovery, I edited the Wikipedia page for the program to state such, which I felt important due to the fact this Wikipedia page claims to be part of the "Free Software" project.

Here's the result so far:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:CVSNT#a_violation_of_the_GPL
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:QuasarTE#CVSNT

I especially find the word "libel" getting thrown around so quickly simultaneously quite informative as to what type of people I'm dealing with, entertaining, and perhaps a bit alarming.

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Heh that's kind of funny... Debian has cvsnt packages in its main repository (free software with no non-free components/dependencies).

Also charging $1000 for the software isn't a violation of the GPL but they can't add any extra charge for source code availability... so yeah, if they're putting out a trial version and not offering the source code for free as well, that's definitely a violation.

I actually find it a bit funny, who uses CVS anyway? Most of the centralized VCS world seems to have moved to Subversion (even though Subversion gets some fundamental things wrong that CVS didn't, like branching and tags ...). I've never taken a good look at the enhancements of CVSNT and whether they've solved what Subversion did/attempted to or not. Honestly it seems a bit pointless to be charging for this software in the world of Mercurial and Git.

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chungy said:

Heh that's kind of funny... Debian has cvsnt packages in its main repository (free software with no non-free components/dependencies).

Also charging $1000 for the software isn't a violation of the GPL but they can't add any extra charge for source code availability... so yeah, if they're putting out a trial version and not offering the source code for free as well, that's definitely a violation.

I actually find it a bit funny, who uses CVS anyway? Most of the centralized VCS world seems to have moved to Subversion (even though Subversion gets some fundamental things wrong that CVS didn't, like branching and tags ...). I've never taken a good look at the enhancements of CVSNT and whether they've solved what Subversion did/attempted to or not. Honestly it seems a bit pointless to be charging for this software in the world of Mercurial and Git.

You're quite correct. They can charge all they want for the binaries. However, they cannot charge additionally for the source code beyond a small physical distribution fee, which they are claiming costs them in excess of $1000, which is utterly ridiculous as both you and I note.

I have no qualm with them trying to sell their software, but what they've done is effectively stealing from any of their prior contributors, including the original CVS without which CVSNT simply wouldn't exist. Perhaps they can claim to have rewritten 100% of that code by now, but how are they going to prove that if they have closed their source code and expunged as many links as possible to prior versions?

They even shut down their community message boards just because they think they'll make more money on support. Somebody at that company has got the big $ signs for eyes for certain.

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chungy said:

I actually find it a bit funny, who uses CVS anyway?

This may be moot, but it was one of the required builds for our group's server when I took my Unix Administration class. Pain in the ass the first time around since none of us were particularly "fluent" in Unix, and any problems we had we basically had to sort out for ourselves. If nothing else I guess it can still be used on the academic level to teach new-ish users, then from which they can decide on a different program to use.

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kristus said:

They'll be sorry they ever heard of the librarian Health IT programmer callsigned Quasar. :O

FTFY ;)

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It's hilarious how he copy-pastes the 'good faith' and 'invective' crap across his every response on the talk page.

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Arthur is right in at least one respect. Wikipedia is not a place for original research.

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chungy said:

I actually find it a bit funny, who uses CVS anyway? Most of the centralized VCS world seems to have moved to Subversion (even though Subversion gets some fundamental things wrong that CVS didn't, like branching and tags ...). I've never taken a good look at the enhancements of CVSNT and whether they've solved what Subversion did/attempted to or not. Honestly it seems a bit pointless to be charging for this software in the world of Mercurial and Git.



Quite correct - but don't forget that corporate users are very unlikely to change procedure if they don't a very pressing reason to do so. Those people would gladly waste the money if they felt it'd save them more in other places.

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chungy said:
I actually find it a bit funny, who uses CVS anyway?

Some of the *BSDs still use it; looks like FreeBSD has gone with subversion, though. OpenBSD is/was working on a BSD-licensed implementation called OpenCVS, the CVSNT guys should have just used that...

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fraggle said:

Arthur is right in at least one respect. Wikipedia is not a place for original research.

Well frankly it's impossible to state anything one way or another about that subject since it's not covered in any media articles or what not. You might make the argument that the project isn't notable enough to have an article on Wikipedia in the first place, based on that.

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Quasar said:

Well frankly it's impossible to state anything one way or another about that subject since it's not covered in any media articles or what not.

That's unfortunate but I stand by my point: Wikipedia is not the place to do this.

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Does the FSF know about the issue? If they put up a little article on their website explaining that CVSNT is not free software and how they are violating the GPL, then there'd be an indisputable source.

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Gotta love the desperate corporate, distinctive heel-clicking that goes on during "discussions" like those ;-)

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fraggle said:

That's unfortunate but I stand by my point: Wikipedia is not the place to do this.

Of course I have not tried to revert my edit back into place either, so really that's not the issue, to me at least, at this point. I'm more concerned with the facts surrounding their licensing situation. I have since noticed that they also seem to claim you cannot use the GPL portions of their software without buying a commercial license for non-free portions they have linked into it, which is an additional violation.

It would be different if I just went looking for somebody to pick on for GPL violations, but I actually ran into this while trying actively to find the source code for cvsnt 2.x (which I have since found).

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