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Programming IT Technology

Rotor: Shared Source CLI 249

Oink.NET writes "The O'Reilly Network reports on an unannounced BOF session at BSDCon 2002 regarding Rotor, a shared souce implementation of Microsoft's Common Language Infrastructure that currently runs on Windows and FreeBSD. It relies on a Platform Adaptation Layer, similar to Apache's Portable Runtime, that simplifies porting to other OS's. As to the licensing terms, the Rotor FAQ says "Microsoft intends to provide very liberal non-commercial licensing terms and is interested in gathering community input on the design of the license." Wonder if that includes Slashdot community input..."
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Rotor: Shared Source CLI

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  • by mikeee ( 137160 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @11:05AM (#3134770)
    Obviously, a plan to get ahead of and preempt commercial support for any shared-source implementations that might have liberal non-commercial licenses (ie, Mono).

    The thinking seems to be, give the hobbyists something they can dink around with and they won't be worried about 'software freedom'; they want neat toys, not free software!
  • by Ami Ganguli ( 921 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @11:23AM (#3134816) Homepage

    The existance of a widely distributed "visible-source" version from MS means that developers of Open Source versions have to take special care to document their development. If there's any similarity between Mono or DotGNU and the MS offering, MS can try to say that their code has been stolen.

    Note that if MS really wanted independant implmentations then they would just use a BSD license. They're not doing that, and that means there's something sneaky going on. Don't trust them.

  • by Nailer ( 69468 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @11:40AM (#3134854)
    non-commercial licenses (ie, Mono)

    For God's sake would you all please stop referring to non free / closed source software as `commercial'? Not only is it simply incorrect there are many Open Source / Free apps produced for commercial benefit (eg, Zope) and many non-commercial apps with non Open Source licensing (eg, much Windows `freeware').

    Why is it that people (not referring to the person I'm replying to, just Slashdot in general) claim they care about Free Software so much and have never read The Free Software Foundations list of words to avoid [gnu.org]. I imagine the OSI would shaare this vview.

    Long live commercial software, as long as its Open Source!
  • by geoswan ( 316494 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @11:50AM (#3134874) Journal
    "Spin doctoring" is a neologism refering to the act of putting a complimentary "spin" on news that shows some public figure or institution in a really bad light. If you follow the links you will find some other fascinating examples of "spin" being doctored. Note particularly the Microsoft's "gpl_faq.doc" [microsoft.com] and The Commercial Software Model and Sustainable Innovation [microsoft.com].

    I hate this kind of untruthfulness. The authors of the GPL document know the real meaning of open source, and the other terms they plan to redefine. They mean to sway the minds of the rest of the public who don't know how self-serving their redefinitions are.

  • by cheese_wallet ( 88279 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @12:05PM (#3134901) Journal
    I only had time to scan the article, so I'm hoping someone who understands this a little better than me can help out...

    They say it is for non-commercial puproses...but what part of it? when you build this package, you get a c# compiler and some script compiler, and I assume the class libraries and VM or whatever CLI is (I really don't know). I can understand the part about building an app with their c# compiler being for non-commercial purposes--but don't you need the CLI library or virtual machine or whatever to run a .NET/c# app?

    So if I pull down Rotor, build it-- can I use it (the libs/vm whatever CLI is, tossing out the compilers) to run commercial apps? or is that a violation of the proposed license?

    I'd also be interested in knowing if this proposed license would prevent someone from selling sourcecode to a project, and have them compile it themselves on their own copy of rotor (which might be conveniently included with the source).
  • by Jobe_br ( 27348 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {hturdb}> on Saturday March 09, 2002 @12:13PM (#3134915)

    Absolutely true. Be extraordinarily careful. Its one thing to look at and share code from something similarly licensed to your project, but quite another to incorporate code from this into a GPL or BSD-licensed project. Recall from the end of the article:

    When it's available, that 18MB tarball will be available to download, compile, test, and modify (for non-commercial use).

    This is certainly not what could commonly be referred to as Open Source. I suppose its great for folks just wanting to work with .NET in an academic environment or to teach themselves (much like I am attempting to currently do), but that's as far as you can apparently go.

  • Can this end now? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2002 @01:06PM (#3135035)
    Since when are all readers of Slashdot the same?

    Has it ever occured to people who get upset that one point of view about MS/IP/whatever is followed by the opposite view later on that maybe, just maybe, these two points of view are coming from different people?

  • Re:CLI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mattr ( 78516 ) <mattr@telebCOUGARody.com minus cat> on Saturday March 09, 2002 @01:41PM (#3135097) Homepage Journal
    This is quite intentional and not a laughing matter.

    "Embrace and Extend" means Microsoft has an imperative from way up high to subvert anything it perceives as dangerous. This includes weakening de facto standards (made a lot of people code for MS Java) or somehow take over the very concepts we use to think about our environment.

    This is very dangerous when the environment is based on agreement by a lot of people as to virtual standards. Ultimately a Microsoft brand name would be planned in such a calculation to completely replace common features of the landscape. Or did you think they would allow "http://" to remain in the Address bar forever?

    This is a seedy corporate tactic and unless we refuse to feed our brains with Microsoft drivel we have only ourselves to blame. They've still got plenty of acronyms to go..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2002 @01:59PM (#3135139)
    A big part of the function of the BSD os, in particular the case with NetBSD, is that it's what is called a 'reference design.' Many hardware vendors port NetBSD to their new platforms as an initial step in bring the system online.

    A 'reference design' is one that plows new ground, proves a concept, and is open for other developers to adopt and use.

    There is much merit in the TCP/IP stack implementations on all the different systems communicating with it to be based on the same code.

    Linux is one of the few major OSes that uses a stack entirely separate from the BSD reference design. Because of this, there are unique bugs and flukes with the Linux stack not seen in what's implemented on most other OSes.

    The story that's gotten around is that Linus 'didn't like' the BSD stack for some subjective reason, so they pulled in some other odd code.

    So, Microsoft pulled in some BSD code (the TCP/IP stack) and used it for awhile as their stack, while work progressed on their own implementation. That's in the spirit of the BSD license, in fact it's what people are SUPPOSED to do.

    Face it, the GPL is about 'gimmie gimme, it all needs to be part of the hive' whereas the BSD license is written in a spirit of sharing.
  • by aulendil ( 243399 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @02:21PM (#3135180)
    Sounds like the Microsoft we know. Only M$ can make money. We can be sure what they mean by liberal is that they can comercialize anything they want and lock out the orignials. Like winsock.

    Yeah, you got a point, but talking about winsock and TCP/IP stacks, you wouldn't complain if Linux came without?

    OR if Windows still didn't include one, wouldn't you bash it for not having one?

    I Admit there are lots of dubious business practices going on in Redmond, but _please_, just ponder a second before bashing MS like this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2002 @03:39PM (#3135324)
    Only few hate MS. The majority just don't want to play by its rules. These are very diferent things!
  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @03:40PM (#3135325) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft may have a case against this, but they probably do not have a case against me. And I doubt they would go after all of my customers.

    You're right, they would just send the BSA after you. Your customers files can simply be deleted thanks to the wonders of XP EULA. After they have all pointed back to you, that is.

    Is there any reason to develop for Microsoft anymore? Those who have tried, tried and died.

  • by spongman ( 182339 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @04:03PM (#3135367)
    what, you expect microsoft to spend four years and hundreds of millions of dollars of R&D to produce a product and then just create a new market in which they can reap no benifit from this investment?

    Are you fucking crazy?

    same old story? sure, this is what every company in existance does: invest, develop, collect. If all your company did was invest and develop then you'd see your cash dry up in a hurry and your investors leaving south even quicker.

    It's simple economics, why does nobody on slashdot seem to understand these things? Maybe 'cos the only economics they've ever had to deal with involve getting stuff for free... tanstaafl.

  • by bmajik ( 96670 ) <matt@mattevans.org> on Saturday March 09, 2002 @05:51PM (#3135665) Homepage Journal
    Well, i hope someone mods me up, because there are a lot of +5 posts in this thread that are patently false or pure speculation.

    Whereas what I am about to say is neither.

    1) FreeBSD is NOT driving the majority of hotmail. I am not interested in TheRegister or anyone else's "investigative" reporting. The overwhelming majority of machines (by machinecount) are running windows 2000 (or maybe even something later, by now, in trial rollouts ?)

    FreeBSD is still used in a few specific places, just like SunE4500 machines are still used at the mailstores. However, when you've got > 10 farm machines per mailstore, and the freebsd machines are just scattered here and there for specific purpose roles (some dns and some inbound mail, iirc), its obvious that the balance of all computers currently in the hotmail system are windows.

    So, please give up the tired "hotmail is unix" arguments. Hotmail is a mix of things, all of which are moving towards windows based on the principle of "low hanging fruit" - i.e. whatever is easiest to migrate is getting done first.

    Obviously the Sun boxes wont be getting windows on them anytime soon, so dont expect them to get replaced until someone decides "ok, it is now cost justified to get big x86 machines and more importantly re-write all of our STORE system to work on x86+windows and throw out the MILLIONS of sun hardware/software investment we have"

    As far as someone else saying all these free-bsd competant people working on rotor - thats pretty much a load of shit. Maybe some of the people working on rotor had worked at hotmail, but i very, very much doubt it. It's a microsoft RESEARCH project. MSR is essentially a research university with no undergrads. MS just pays a bunch of brilliant people to think about shit, and sometimes that rolls into products years down the road, and sometimes it doesnt. There are more people doing interesting things with UNIX at MSR than there are on slashdot (because most slashdotters frankly dont do interesting things, as far as computer science research goes :)
    MS is not necessarily so pompous as to suggest to some of the top minds in computer science that they should run Windows to do their experiments and research on.. when frankly to a researcher a computer is a computer, and the concepts applied have little to do with the host os.. its a matter of convenience for the researcher..

    So, the type of work that went on to produce Rotor isn't exactly the sort of thing some random FreeBSD admin could pull off. I mean, think of the scope of what was done here.. .NET ontop of windows was analyzed for all the windows calls it made, as well as the MS C runtime library. ALl those calls were re-implemented in a portable layer ontop of UNIX (freebsd, specifically.. so far i've found some freebsd specific bits in the code.. so much so that porting it to openBSD is requiring source changes)

    How many BSD admins are competant to write a Win32-on-top-of-BSD compat library ?

    Now consider that Rotor was done with just under 5 people, afaik, in the timeframe of something like about 1 year.

    2) "Some people" have copies of the Rotor source, and are toying with porting rotor to other platforms.

    Rotor is done on FreeBSD because Microsoft HATES the GPL. Microsoft HATES the GPL because it shuts them off. I can't understand how anyone is confused by this. GPL means NO closed source software. GPL means all interop with closed software is RISKY, because some judge COULD interpret the GPL in such a way that MS would have to give away all/any of their source on a royalty free basis.

    How do you think MS feels about putting its most valued asset in the hands of some techno-incompetant judge ? There are more lawyers at microsoft trying to understand the GPL and possible GPL interop/challenge/implication scenarios then there probably are at the FSF. (ok, this is speculation.. i dont know how many FSF lawyers there :)

    Understand that The Source is the crown jewels to MS. They're willing to let other people look at the jewels, they're willing to let other people help them make the jewels nicer...so long as they retain control and can set the rules.. they're MICROSOFT's jewels after all.. not anybody elses.

    MS does not understand how to make money or exist the way they do today in a GPL-world. It is not clear anyone else knows how to do this either - i humbly submit the dismal track record of commercial opensource software companies, and the growing pains and reorganizations, etc etc.

    So. Rotor is an implementation of CLR/CLI that DOES let you run .NET applications on UNIX. To ALL of you naysayers and trolls that were saying "it will never happen", ".NET is another windows lockin strategy", and so forth, the line to EAT MY ASS is forming now.

    in Summary, of _COURSE_ it wasn't done on GPL. There are absolutely NO advantages to ANYBODY of GPL'd software over BSD license. Microsoft isn't in any hurry to try and get people to use GPL because it SCREWS them. BSD gives everyone what they want out of a license, except those people that want to destroy commercial software development. Rotor is a research project showing that not only is it legal to do a unix .NET, but a couple of bright people can write it and do so in about a years time.

    And their efforts have been given to the UNIX community.

    So, someone please humour me by finding the microsoft evil in all of this. I think its time some of you suck it up and realize that there are people at microsoft that _DO_ realize there are other platforms, and DO want .NET to be succesful everywhere.. even if they think that an MS hosted OS may be the best place to develop for or run .NET apps, there is no longer anything saying "you have to".

    ALso, the "Java is the true cross platform solution, .NET isn't" camp can also get in the "eat my ass" line, right behind all the vaporware naysayers :)

  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Saturday March 09, 2002 @07:43PM (#3136080) Homepage Journal
    what, you expect microsoft to spend four years and hundreds of millions of dollars of R&D to produce a product and then just create a new market in which they can reap no benifit from this investment? Are you fucking crazy?

    No, I'm not. M$ could have saved itself a bundle and worked with Sun instead of trying to "innovate" some piece of crap that will never run well. If they did things that way, they might not have to spend BILLIONS of dollars advertisements. Instead they go through these embrace extend and extinguish cycles to screw the world. Seen FORTRAN under XP yet? Ha Ha Ha, just you try to run something Not M$ under M$. Let's not forget other wasteful practices like buying competitors to shut them down, breaking interfaces regularly to force "upgrades" that do the exact same thing and flying in the face of established standards. Do you know anyone else dumb enough to say that http must die? Wastefull practices like this have ruined them.

    People like you might think it's natural for one company to dominate something like software for "economic" reasons. Let's think about that. Software that works has been written for just about everything you could want to do on a computer. The costs have been recouped multiple times. The supply of computer programers and potential software companies is limitless. Supply and demand says cost of software should be zero. The people who write it would rather you use if for free and improve it.

    I'm an engineer at a nuclear power plant so I know plenty about community effort as well as supply and demand. The plant is part of a regulated monopoly that provides some of the cheapest most abundant electricty in the world. Think about how much equipment and labor it takes to get electricty to your house and compare what you pay for it to what you pay for telecomunications. If tomorrow fuel cells/solar proves cheaper than nuclear, you can be my company will be building big ones that will cost everyone less than being their own fuel cell mechanic. That three billion dollar plant I work at? Oh well, it's made plenty of money and will run until it's cheaper to shut down.

    Microsoft is screwed. When the world realizes it, their stock will drop like a pigeon egg and many many computer problems will go away. It's not as needed as they think it is and the free alternatives are better. The loss of their 7,000 jobs won't even show up as a blip on the US economy.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak