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Castle USB, ethernet derived from BSD

By Chris Williams. Published: 3rd Jul 2004, 21:26:02 | Permalink | Printable

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NetBSD logoIt's been revealed that Castle's USB and Iyonix ethernet drivers include portions of code originally from NetBSD, FreeBSD and Intel.

Specifically, the Castle USB stack contains copyrighted material from the NetBSD project, the USB mass storage driver includes copyrighted material from FreeBSD and the EtherK driver is derived from copyrighted code from Intel. All the aforementioned code is licensed under the classic BSD licence, which requires redistributions to include appropriate copyright attributions among other things. Unlike the GPL, you don't have to make source code available under the BSD licence.

Today, Castle issued to Iyonix users a documentation pack which included the necessary copyright attributions and other text for the above drivers, as directed by the conditions of the BSD licence. So unlike their previous tussle with open source software, Castle are seemingly playing this one by the book. A note in the documentation release reads, "This update groups all the related documentation, disclaimers and licence conditions in a consistent location for ease of reference. We have re-supplied the relevant documentation in updated form to reflect the current state of play."

"The licence style of BSD derivatives permits their use," Castle's John Ballance commented this morning when we asked Castle if they see the BSDs as providing a route for improving RISC OS. He added, "Indeed, for a long time the [RISC OS] network stack has been based on (and attributed to) NetBSD."

On Friday, Iyonix users were issued beta release USB drivers, which (for the first time) sported an accompanying copyright attribution to NetBSD. A keen reader also spotted similarities between the EtherK module and Intel's gigabit ethernet driver, so we got in touch with Castle. The next day, the updated documentation was issued, which included copyright attributions for EtherK and the USB modules.

Of course, this isn't the first time RISC OS has used BSD derived code (for example, the network stack), and the liberal nature of the BSD licence permits code to be used in closed source commercial products with little disruption. However as the RISC OS platform continues to increasingly rely on open source software to further itself, it's interesting to see where developments are coming from.


Castle website Other open source software used by Castle

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Quite a few companies have used BSD code - its perfectly permissible. Microsoft won't touch GPL code but used lots of BSD in Windows 95.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 3/7/04 9:45PM
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As far as the Ethernet driver is concerned this really isn't news. The EtherK documentation has been included on Iyonix hard discs for months now, though earlier purchasers may not have had it (presumably the documentation update remedies this). Reading this file would have revealed the above information rather more easily than 'spotting similarities' - your keen reader must have an awful lot of spare time on his hands! In any case, this shouldn't be terribly surprising, as writing any sort of device driver without using source code provided free by the chip vendor would be masochistic to say the least (and maybe impossible, depending on the quality/availability of datasheets).

 is a RISC OS Userjbyrne on 4/7/04 1:51AM
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The 'future of RISC OS' is merely stealing bits of other OS? :-(

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 4/7/04 12:13PM
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imj: one person's stealing is another person's leveraging :)

Look at the fundemental base of Mac OS X is BSD based. The important stuff to Apple, the GUI, which is their crown jewels, and the making it all flow, is down to proprietary software.

Even if it wasn't BSD based, the future of Mac OS was only secured when Apple bought NeXT - is that buying, stealing, or leveraging?

I think you need to remember which parts of the OS you actually care about, and which are just there to support it. If people can use software from another source for the support parts then why do you care? It's giving you a stable platform quicker than had they spent time developing it in house.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 4/7/04 12:25PM
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In reply to imj:

"Or its avoiding reinventing the wheel where a solution already exists which can be used (and BSD actually encourages this usage) and using limited resources to add new features"

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 4/7/04 1:06PM
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So if that's the plan, just steal bits, what's gonig to cost the quoted ridiculous 8-10 million?

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 4/7/04 1:16PM
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in reply to imj:

"HOW can you steal something which has been given away under a license which says everyone can use it as they wish? If it was GPL or commercial license, but BSD is giving it away".

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 4/7/04 1:42PM
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imj: you may notice that Apple's development overheads are non zero :)

You still need people to turn the code you get teh way you want, make new developments, perhaps even feedback changes.

Remember, that the main part of your OS won't be open source. That's not going to develope itself for free. Whilst I can't comment on the validity of Castle's figures, it's certainly going to be non-zero.

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 4/7/04 2:09PM
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imj Isn't the networking stack in RISC OS Select derived from BSD?

Furthermore I would have thought that anyone happy to use RISC OS on emulators running on Windows PC's (with all that is known about the business practices of MS) is going to have problems trying to take the high moral ground in a debate on fair use of other people's code.

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 4/7/04 2:11PM
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"The internet module has been derived from ... the 4.3 BSD 'Reno' release of UNIX" - PRM p5a-299 published by Acorn in 1995.

Incidentally, this statement stopped me worrying about IP v6 that we will need at some point; it should be relatively easy for Castle to provide by a further port.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 4/7/04 5:13PM
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Why reinvent the wheel when perfectly good wheels exist that can be used e.g. BSD. You would be crazy not to do something like this. RISC OS has many unique bits so I don't think we need to worry about it turning into BSD...e.g. WIMP, small memory requirements and most importantly the ability to run games written by Neil White :-)

 is a RISC OS Userknutson on 4/7/04 9:01PM
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TonyStill: [link] suggests that Castle are indeed already working on IPv6. In fact I thought they'd already done it, but that may have been a dream ;)

 is a RISC OS Usersenduran on 4/7/04 10:19PM
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In reply to senduran: Indeed it is past tense - I missed that. Presumably it was precisely done by means of a new port.

My comment about concern re IPv6 was a bit historical; I doubt many RO users actually need it yet since IPv4 has proved as resilient as RO itself in continuing to survive. At some point the Internet will move though and then we'll be glad it's available.

I understand that both Windows and MacOS now ship with dual stack solutions so they can work in the trial IPv6 networks around the world. Perhaps it's such a solution that Castle have?

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 4/7/04 10:46PM
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Dougal: I agree that if we "steal" (legally) other platform ideas and source codes, then who should care. Either Windows should have all of RISC OS ideas and features OR vica versa.

I really wonder at times just how much did Dill Gapes of Macrosoft actually steal to keep his cost down.... not only before but nowadays???

Cheers Steve.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 5/7/04 6:51AM
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With all those billions in monopoly money [1], Bill really needs to keep those costs down...

[1] As opposed to Monopoly money, although Bill probably has that kind of perspective on real money.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 5/7/04 3:03PM
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I would not be surprised if Microsoft uses code from Mozilla in coming Internet Explorer versions.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 6/7/04 11:53AM
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Using BSD code isn't "stealing". The licence was specifically designed to encourage commercial developers to use the BSD code for things like the network stack to maintain compatibility - which is the reason the internet still works.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 17/8/04 11:03PM
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