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McAfee Worried Over "Ambiguous" Open Source Licenses 315

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the play-by-the-rules-and-no-one-gets-hurt dept.
willdavid writes to tell us InformationWeek is reporting that McAfee, in their annual report, has warned investors that "ambiguous" open source licenses "may result in unanticipated obligations regarding [McAfee] products." "McAfee said it's particularly troubling that the legality of terms included in the GNU/General Public License -- the most widely used open source license -- have yet to be tested in court. 'Use of GPL software could subject certain portions of our proprietary software to the GPL requirements, which may have adverse effects on our sales of the products incorporating any such software,' McAfee said in the report filed last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Among other things, the GPL requires that manufacturers who in their products use software governed by the license distribute the software's source code to end users or customers. Some manufacturers have voiced concerns that the requirement could leave important security or copyright protection features in their products open to tampering."
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McAfee Worried Over "Ambiguous" Open Source Licenses

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  • I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by noz (253073) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @04:38AM (#21920720)
    Are they worried because they've used GPL licensed code in their products?
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by davester666 (731373) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @04:45AM (#21920758) Journal
      Yes. And to correct the article, they aren't really worried about having to release code may "leave ... products open to tampering", but rather, people might find blatantly obvious bugs or omissions with how they "protect" your computer. And then profit from it, either by writing rootkits or whatever that bypass their "protection" or by sueing them when they are infected by these rootkits.
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by unlametheweak (1102159) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @05:18AM (#21920916)

        Yes. And to correct the article, they aren't really worried about having to release code may "leave ... products open to tampering", but rather, people might find blatantly obvious bugs or omissions with how they "protect" your computer. And then profit from it, either by writing rootkits or whatever that bypass their "protection" or by sueing them when they are infected by these rootkits.
        I would suspect that it would be easier to run automated programs for finding buffer over-runs, etc, rather than phishing through thousands of lines of code looking for a non-obvious vulnerability (anybody who has ever coded knows that ALL coding mistakes are non-obvious... as soon as they press the compile button :P).

        By their logic it would be trivial to hack into a Linux computer because it is open-source, and next to impossible to hack into a Microsoft computer.
        • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Peaker (72084) <`gnupeaker' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @08:24AM (#21921948) Homepage

          anybody who has ever coded knows that ALL coding mistakes are non-obvious... as soon as they press the compile button :P


          Quite a few bugs are obvious to the experienced programmer.

          Many are not obviously bugs, but are obviously "bad practice" which will often lead to bugs.

          Once a proficient programmer re-factors "ugly" (full of "bad practice") code, most flaws also become obvious.
        • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Informative)

          by Machtyn (759119) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @08:47AM (#21922102) Homepage Journal

          By their logic it would be trivial to hack into a Linux computer because it is open-source, and next to impossible to hack into a Microsoft computer.
          That's what I gleaned from the headline. According to McAfee's logic, if the source is open it means it is less secure. I suppose they've never had the benefit of thousands of friendly eyes pouring over their code in the hopes of helping them improve their code.

          I'm of the belief that there are more people wanting to do good than bad. Of course, McAfee probably can only see the attacks they receive on their product by the nefarious trying to bypass their systems. From all that I can tell, McAfee is the Gateway (computers) of the AV world, it's useful if you aren't too worried about quality.

          /sorry, early in the morning. thoughts may be incomplete and incoherent.
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:43AM (#21921262) Homepage Journal

        Yes. And to correct the article, they aren't really worried about having to release code may "leave ... products open to tampering", but rather, people might find blatantly obvious bugs or omissions with how they "protect" your computer. And then profit from it, either by writing rootkits or whatever that bypass their "protection" or by sueing them when they are infected by these rootkits.

        They have a very simple solution, then, don't they? Do their own graft, write their own damn software, and stop freeloading off the community.

        • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

          by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @09:15AM (#21922278) Homepage

          Do their own graft, write their own damn software, and stop freeloading off the community.

          What kind of leftie, tree-hugging nonsense is that? Expecting corporations to accept responsibility when there is shareholder value to consider, quarterly numbers to make and fat bonuses to earn.

          Accountability...I can't believe such a radical concept will ever fly. The American corporate way is to have our cake, eat it too and expense the bill as entertainment.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            I asure you, my friend, that this is not only the case in the USA. The Europe (that's where I'm located) is not much better either. Corporate behaviour ESPECIALLY (but not only) with respect to open source and GPL, is plain disgusting.

            I'm all for profit, after all that means my paycheck is secured and will grow, but if it's achieved by almost-criminal means, I don't need it. Otherwise, why don't we all just start selling crack? That's where the really big money is, after all.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by JoelKatz (46478)
          "They have a very simple solution, then, don't they? Do their own graft, write their own damn software, and stop freeloading off the community."

          Your understanding of the issues involved seems pretty close to zero. They are not "freeloading off the community", they are supporting Linux.

          The problem is simply that in order to write software that interacts with Linux at the low level they need to interact, they need to use code that defines how Linux processes some things internally. There is no choice -- to su
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Broken Toys (1198853) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @04:47AM (#21920772)
      "McAfee's warning may have been prompted by the fact the Software Freedom Law Center, an open source advocacy group, recently filed a series of lawsuits against alleged GPL violators."

      The article isn't very clear on this point but it sounds like McAfee is almost admitting they violated the GPL and are about to end up in court.
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by unlametheweak (1102159) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @05:03AM (#21920854)
        The article talks more about lawsuits regarding GPL license violations than it does about security issues.

        Much security software is already open-source: encryption, firewall, virus scan, etc. The fact is that there is no inherent security problem with GPL software. McAfee just appears to have a problem with the licensing.

        Yes it seems like they would like to have their open source cake and eat it too.
      • I have been reading a fair bit of legal analysis (IANAL) relating to the GPL v2 and have been discussing various ambiguities relating to the GPL v3 with people at the SFLC. These licenses *do* have some ambiguities (though I think they are less of an issue for the GPL v2).

        The major issue for the GPL v2 is that it is not 100% clear where the boundary relating to mere aggregation is. In general it is easy to read "a work based on the original work" meaning derivative work (i.e. a transformation or adaption
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 05, 2008 @05:16AM (#21920910)
      No, they are worried that if governments begin using "infected"[*] open source products, they [McAfee] might be forced to support those open source products. And they are afraid that their code will be contaminated by the GPL *license* (note: not code).

      Let me put it another way..
      1. You create a program for counting beans, it's written for Microsoft Windows
      2. 40% of your important customers (government) switches to Linux
      3. Because you want to keep you clients, you port your application to Linux.
      In order to get access to the proper low-level interfaces (that you imagine you need for your bean counter), you start writing some kernel support functions.
      4. You deliever your application to your government. You are happy, the government is happy.
      5. One day, someone posts a "Company X are in violation of the GPL!" to Slashdot -- and all hell breaks loose. Your lawers tell you that "Yes, we have to open source all our products, because they have all been contaminated by the GPL, becase we touched the linux kernel source (which is GPL)!".
      6. You shut down your business, and live on welfare for the rest of your life.

      The only thing which has happened here is that McAfee has proclaimed that GPL is viral (it infects innocent suspects' code).

      I suspect that McAfee has been offered a Great Deal by someone, in exchange for publicly stating that the GPL is viral.

      And no, I don't believe they are using GPL code. That's not what this is about. They are afraid of their (important) customers demanding McAfee support GPL products.
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ricegf (1059658) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:16AM (#21921116) Journal

        You post doesn't make sense - or maybe I'm not following you? Anyone can write a Linux application and use any license they like (or stated another way, quite a few Linux applications are proprietary - the proprietary Flash plugin, for instance). McAfee wouldn't need to release their product under the GPL just to run it on Linux.

        And if they want to write a kernel support function that compiles with Linux and is also part of their product, they can dual-license (GPL when it's compiled with Linux, proprietary when part of their product). As long as they hold copyright, they aren't limited at all.

        What they seem to be saying is that they compile code written by someone else and released under only the GPL in their products. They can't change the license on code on which someone else holds copyright, so they are distributing that code in violation of the license (or, more precisely, in violation of copyright). Either they must "cure" the violation (e.g., by releasing their source code or replacing the GPL'd code), or acquire a commercial license from the copyright holder (if available).

        I must be missing something between step 3 and 5 in your post.

        • by tsa (15680)
          If you mess with kernel support functions you have to use the GPL because the Linux kernel is GPL'd. That is what the GP's post is about.
          • by Angostura (703910)
            Surely that's what the LGPL is used for. You wrap your kernel support functions into LGPL-licensed modules and then link your proprietary code from there. No?
          • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

            by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @07:00AM (#21921376) Homepage Journal

            If you mess with kernel support functions you have to use the GPL because the Linux kernel is GPL'd. That is what the GP's post is about.

            Wrong

            If you link against the Linux kernel (or part of it), then you have to use GPL. Very few programs do this. Even kernel modules do not have to do this, provided they use the correct API.

            If you copy code from the Linux kernel, then you have to use the GPL. Incidentally, this applies even if you don't copy verbatim - if you copy the structure and then change variable and function names, you still have to use GPL.

            But if you have a piece of code which you wrote in its entirety, and which is only linked against the Linux kernel when on Linux, then it only has to be GPL'd when actually linked to the Linux kernel. The version you ship on Windows or Mac OS X can be licensed any way you like.

            Anyone who tells you different is just spreading FUD. Version Two [gnu.org] of the GPL is a very simple document and is easy to read. It means just what it says, there's nothing complex behind it. Version Three [gnu.org] is a little more prolix, but it still means just what it says. Go read it yourself; don't listen to people who are trying to mislead you.

            • I still don't buy the argument that linking against something that is built to be linked against makes your product a derived work under copyright law. I know that this is the FSF's position's and Stallman's, but I don't know if it's ever going to stand up when tested.
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bert64 (520050) <bert@slaSLACKWAR ... com minus distro> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:28AM (#21921186) Homepage
        GPL code does not "infect innocent suspects' code"...
        If you choose to use GPL code in your product, then you must agree to the terms under which you are permitted to do so. These companies cross license code between each other all the time with a plethora of different licensing requirements. For example Microsoft will license a lot of code to you, such as wma/wmv codecs and drm, under the condition that you pay them for each copy you distribute as part of one of your products.
        The only difference with the GPL is the requirements which you must abide by in order to distribute. Don't like the terms? Then write your own, or license code from somewhere else under different terms, or merely change the way you use the GPL code so that compliance no longer bothers you.

        All this garbage about "releasing the source makes our products less secure" is ridiculous... Open source software has a very good track record when it comes to security, just look at OpenBSD for instance, and then you have apps like qmail for which the source has been available for years without huge numbers of holes. And Solaris hasn't suddenly seen a rash of new vulnerabilities since being open sourced.
        If code is well written, it doesn't matter who can see the source code. If it's poorly written you can understand why someone wouldn't want to be embarrassed by it's release, but if it's full of holes people will still reverse engineer the binaries to find them.
      • by Alsee (515537)
        5. One day, someone posts a "Company X are in violation of the GPL!" to Slashdot -- and all hell breaks loose. Your lawers tell you that "Yes, we have to open source all our products, because they have all been contaminated by the GPL, becase we touched the linux kernel source (which is GPL)!".
        6. You shut down your business, and live on welfare for the rest of your life.


        Well lets see. If it is GPL software involved you have a choice. Either you release the source code and maybe you shut down your business /
    • Maybe a big customer moved to a free software anti-virus and they want their salesmen to have something to use while pitching against it.
    • They aren't worried. This is typical of a "full disclosure" of risks that companies give to their investors. They imagine everything that could possibly go wrong, and tell that to the people whose money they took, to cover their asses in case it does go wrong. It doesn't mean they think it will go wrong, any more than Ford thinks you will believe the objects in the mirror are as far away as they appear, or the Coppertone people think you will take their sunscreen internally. They're just covering their
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 05, 2008 @04:39AM (#21920726)
    their EULA which has been rigorously tested time to time in International Court of Justice.
  • by zebslash (1107957) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @04:40AM (#21920732)
    Don't want to be bound to the terms of the GPL? Don't use GPL code!
    Just another piece of FUD.
    • Don't want to be bound to the terms of the GPL? Don't use GPL code! Just another piece of FUD.

      You are seriously mistaken. You are assuming that it is company policy to inappropriately incorporate GPL'd code. It may be against policy but a programmer may get lazy and do it on his own. Hell, it could be a relatively honest mistake like confusing a GPL'd lib for a LGPL'd lib. A GPL related lawsuit would be an appropriate item in the risks section of an SEC filing.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:16AM (#21921120)

        You are seriously mistaken. You are assuming that it is company policy to inappropriately incorporate GPL'd code. It may be against policy but a programmer may get lazy and do it on his own.
        Then when that's identified, they have to remove the code, if necessary pulling the product. Or comply with whatever license the copyright holder is prepared to grant them. This is EXACTLY the same position as if the lazy programmer had infringed on a previous employer's code, or on leaked Microsoft code or... any other copyright infringement at all.

        Their best bet is to tighten up on their recruitment and code review processes. That would certainly beat complaining that it MAY turn out that some of their employees may be breaking various laws and that if they are then the victims may be gosh darned unreasonable about it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Simon Brooke (45012)

        You are seriously mistaken. You are assuming that it is company policy to inappropriately incorporate GPL'd code. It may be against policy but a programmer may get lazy and do it on his own. Hell, it could be a relatively honest mistake like confusing a GPL'd lib for a LGPL'd lib. A GPL related lawsuit would be an appropriate item in the risks section of an SEC filing.

        If you don't have sufficient code review processes in place, and you don't know where your employees are copying code from, that's very much your problem. McAfee may be that unprofessional, but if they are they deserve everything that's coming to them.

    • by Cally (10873) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:22AM (#21921156) Homepage
  • Fine. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by palegray.net (1195047) <philip.paradis@p ... t ['ay.' in gap]> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @04:44AM (#21920752) Homepage Journal
    If you're worried about "uncertainties" with respect to any software license, don't include code in your application that might cause those licensing terms to apply to it. End of story.

    • by oglueck (235089)
      Can be tricky, if you have a bunch of young programmers hacking on a closed source codebase and they don't care about these things. You need to educate your programmers about licencing issues and have a monitoring process of your codebase that can identify blatant violations of your licensing policy. Otherwise your codebase will end up depending on GPL libraries or include verbatim copies ("look, ma, what I found on the Internet") of GPL code. If you ever ship a release with such code, be prepared of the wh
      • by ajs318 (655362)
        And how is that any different from them copying an example program out of a copyrighted textbook with a notice inside the front cover to the effect that use of code examples in a commercial application requires permission from the author?

        If you don't want to end up in court for copyright violation, don't violate copyright.
        • by oglueck (235089)
          The difference is the ease of use. It's just so incredibly easy for stupid programmers to copy code off the Iternet and introduce that into your proprietary codebase. I don't blame the GPL. I blame the bad education of the people.
  • by bark (582535) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @04:47AM (#21920770)
    there is no free lunch. these manufacturers are seeing the "gold mine" open source software as a way to do less work. Well, you've got to comply with the terms of the license if you distribute it. no 2 ways about it.
    • I have a question for all of the GPL license experts.

      What if, instead of distributing GPL software with your app/hw, you had your installation software download the same GPL software onto the box from the internet. Would you be violating the GPL in any way?

      Let's put a couple of caveats...
      1. Your sw/hw can work without the GPL stuff, even if in a very limited manner.
      2. You make the user press the button to download the GPL stuff.
      • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2 AT earthshod DOT co DOT uk> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:11AM (#21921098)
        No.

        When you link a GPL work against a non-GPL work, you create a derivative work. As long as you are authorised to possess both works, the derivative work you create is initially permitted by the Law of the Land, as Fair Dealing (Fair Use in some jurisdictions), and any apparent prohibition in the licence terms is unenforcible precisely because a promise not to do something the Law of the Land already says you can do is worthless.

        However, the terms of both licences now apply to the derivative work as a whole. If the restrictive licence said "You must not distribute the Source Code to others", that would conflict with the GPL's requirement to distribute the Source Code. Therefore, the only way you can comply with both licences at once is not to distribute the software at all (aka "Liberty or Death").

        The key point is, you don't need a licence to create that Derivative Work. You need one to distribute it. None of which would be an issue, by the way, if software vendors just distributed the frigging Source Code already.
    • Do you guys have a clue as to what goes into the risks section of an SEC filing? Pretty much anything conceivable. That way if it happens it is harder to get sued by an ambulance chasing lawyer who found *one* unhappy shareholder and filed a class action suit. So if you are a publicly traded company you probably should have a risk enumerated that a programmer will violate policy and inappropriately incorporate GPL'd code.
      • Yeah, but do you have a clue as to what goes into the comments section of a slashdot story? Pretty much anything conceivable. That way, people can try out their favourite rants and arguments as long as it's roughly on topic :)
  • "We have a McAfee product for Linux in the labs, but the company lawyers are worried that someone else runs away with our IP."
  • by JonathanR (852748) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @04:49AM (#21920780)
    ...require testing in court?

    I would have thought that Copyright law was pretty unambiguous, and that any conditions imposed regarding distribution of a copyrighted work is at the whim of the copyright holder.

    This would apply to any distribution license.

    No need to test anything in court, unless you wish to discuss the finer detials of Copyright Law itself.
    • by sinthetek (678498) <sinthetek@ment a l c a s es.net> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @05:01AM (#21920848) Homepage
      Sounds to me like that is just an excuse; I think it is fairly likely they are just trying to stir up trouble for FOSS community with SEC. They have a lot at stake if you think about it. AV companies' prime source of revenue is MS and it's adoption is declining while *nix -based systems' are increasing. They have little experience with *nix software probably and know most people won't see much need for a *nix AV solution and there are several to compete with already.

      I could be wrong but seems like this and similar complaints about FOSS are from entities with self-serving interests rather than interests of society/world at large. A lot of it is just FUD hoping to encourage paranoia in businesses and slow FOSS adoption
      • by ppanon (16583)
        Nah, I would guess it more likely has to do with the various McAfee appliances (i.e. Messaging or Web Security [mcafee.com]). They could be using GPL code (such as a modified kernel and TCP/IP stack, or portions of some other OSS package).
        • by ajs318 (655362)
          So what? Forget the GPL for a moment. The key thing is: if they are using someone else's copyrighted software in a product that they sell, they require permission from the copyright holder.

          The GPL provides conditional permission to use covered software in a product you sell. If you don't think the conditions are generous enough, then you have the right to fuck off.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yokaze (70883)
      > [...] that any conditions imposed regarding distribution of a copyrighted work is at the whim of the copyright holder.

      No. The conditions are still subject to
      a) common law
              Extreme example: you can't demand the firstborn for the use or distribution of the work.
      b) interpretation by court
              The legal meaning is finally determined by judges.

    • I would have thought that Copyright law was pretty unambiguous

      Copyright law is well tested in court, and so is Licensing law, and so is Contract law. However, the various F/OSS licenses meld the three different kinds of law together in a new way, and this melding isn't yet tested in court.

      any conditions imposed regarding distribution of a copyrighted work is at the whim of the copyright holder.

      A copyright holder can't impose conditions on the distribution of his work on a whim - either th

  • Missing the point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurhussein (864532) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @04:53AM (#21920808) Homepage
    "Some manufacturers have voiced concerns that the requirement could leave important security or copyright protection features in their products open to tampering"

    Uh, that's the very idea of the GPL. It lets people who bought the product use it in any way they see fit, which includes "tamnpering" with it. It even allows you to redistribute it. The only thing it prevents is redistribution under a different license without permission. Didn't anyone give McAfee the memo?
  • by stox (131684)
    We used GPL code, and it breaks our business model. I really feel bad for McAfee, not!
  • by inode_buddha (576844) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @04:54AM (#21920816) Journal
    It has been tested in both USA and Euro courts, If you've been reading Groklaw at all in the last few years. And no, I don't mean SCO.
  • ...that they think they're about to get caught out abusing an Open license in one of their products?
  • boo hoo (Score:3, Funny)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @05:06AM (#21920870)

    'Use of GPL software could subject certain portions of our proprietary software to the GPL requirements, which may have adverse effects on our sales of the products incorporating any such software,' McAfee said in the report filed last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Translation: "We fucked up and didn't do our homework."
  • by houghi (78078) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @05:18AM (#21920920)
    When all software out there is Open Source, leaks will be found and closed. That would mean no more virusses. That would mean no more McAfee.

    What is the best defence they can come up with? FUD!

    If anybody is dependent on closed source and the slow process of bringing out patches, it is these guys. In an ideal world they should not even exist.
    • Yes. And even if Linux had a virus problem, there would be open source anti-virus application to defend people against viruses. That would also mean no more McAfee.
    • by DrSkwid (118965) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:35AM (#21921226) Homepage Journal
      > When all software out there is Open Source, leaks will be found and closed.

      When all software is open source, there will be so much of it that the scope for virus infection is wider and products that monitor system calls and does intrusion detection will have more market.

      McAffee's real problem is that Windows gets more and more locked down and fine grained capability permissions are being applied. The days of the blanket anti-virus product are numbered in the business world balanced against the rise of the dedicated software administrator.
    • by Cally (10873)

      When all software out there is Open Source, leaks will be found and closed.

      Right, because of course Free software never has security bugs [redhat.com]. Look, I'm a paid-up card-carrying member of the FSF, which makes me about as much of a swivel-eyed zealot as they come, but even we don't make silly claims like that.

  • .... to criminalize such fud, but there are laws against slander and libel. Perhaps teh FSF and EFF should take action.

    However the real issues here is not exposing this FUD to those who know better but to those who don't.
    So sue to force such FUD spreading companies to undo the FUD they spread by the same means and extent they used to spread it.
  • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @05:29AM (#21920962) Homepage
    1) Don't use any license that requires you disclose your code if you rely on obscurity for your security.

    and

    2) Only use code owned by others and covered by a strong copyleft in a product, if you are willing to release all the code for that product under a strong copyleft.

    It is really not that complicated.
  • There is nothing "ambiguous" about the GPL, at least not on the context presented.

    Both cases, "security by obscurity" and "keep part of the program proprietary" are simple no goes with regard to the GPL.

    What "ambiguous" it really means is that some companies hope they can get away with ignoring the GPL, either directly or by finding some legal loophole.

    McAfee correct that either strategy put the company at risk. Just as it puts the company to risk to ignore or circomvent the license of any proprietary soft
    • What McAfee needs to do is tell someone who really cares. McAfee was one of the original anti virus companies who's software was free to the home user and cost only a modestest fee for the corporate user. Also, there product was of a higher quality than most of the others on the market, was updated frequently and non intrusive but all that changed after incorporation in 1992 when they started to follow the Microsoft style of marketing.
  • HEY MCAFEE! (Score:4, Informative)

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:26AM (#21921178)
    How about your write your OWN DAMN CODE instead of complaining, or just STEAL Theo De Raadt's. He WON'T mind AT ALL, honest :)
  • by noidentity (188756) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @06:47AM (#21921302)

    Some manufacturers have voiced concerns that the requirement could leave important security or copyright protection features in their products open to tampering.

    Translation: "Some manufacturers have voiced concerns that the requirement could leave important user-restriction features or copyright fair-use prevention features in their products open to rightful destruction."

    They fail to grasp the most important aspect of GPL: every end-user is also the master of said software; it is not up to anyone else to decide what he can and can't do. Features which keep the end-user out are not part of (publicly distributed) GPL software, period.

  • My guess is that this warning has arisen from the use of kernel hooks to provide on-demand scanning. I read somewhere that McAfee modifies the Windows kernel to intercept among others file access calls. They might want to do the same for Linux, which would subject the code that provides those hooks to the GPL. It may be the case that McAfee thinks that this code must be secret to ensure the security of their product, and that could be why they are so afraid of the GPL.

    How about creating a generic interfac

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ettlz (639203)
      It already exists, it's called Dazuko [dazuko.org]. It's licensed under the GPL for the Linux kernel, and BSD license for FreeBSD. But the Linux kernel license makes it quite clear that making system calls from user space (essentially all kernel extensions like this just provide extra syscalls and ioctls) does not constitute a derivative work so far as the GPL is concerned. Otherwise any piece of proprietary software running on Linux would be necessarily screwed.
  • Fuck McAfee. Their anti-virus and security products suck anyway; buying a prebuilt machine that comes with this crap on it is about as bad as the ones which come with Norton...I have never met anyone who has worked with windows machines a lot who doesn't dislike both of these products.

    It's not so much that they aren't secure enough for various reasons, it's that they impose such an overhead on your machine, occasionally can be difficult to remove, install so much crap, and really impact the user experience
  • How many McAffee EULAs have been tested in court?

    PS: McAffee, never heard of them. Does it run on Linux? Has anyone greeted our McAffee Overlords? Imagine a McBeowulf Cluster of these...
  • This is worrying, I mean, how would users that use mcafee anti virus software feel about this? A company unable to understand a license is probably not good enough to protect your computer...
    • by pla (258480)
      A company unable to understand a license is probably not good enough to protect your computer...

      Well, I can tell you from first-hand experience with at least half a dozen versions of their software that their uninstaller sucks golf-balls through the garden hose...


      Of course, I can say the same for Symantec, and don't really consider this at all accidental. After all, most OEM PCs come with 3 month's to a year's free AV support, and Zeus help anyone who decides they want to switch to a different AV pack
  • ...no warez, no cracks, most software from distro repositories, single command to update all software = 90% of their market is gone. The last 10% are those that would stab themselves in the foot if you didn't give them a gun. Anti-virus companies live off people donwloading infected shit, unpatched software (either because they're lazy OR it'll break their cracked software) and the fact that anybody can setup a professionally looking website with malware. They say Linux is only free if your time is worthles
  • When you're a public company, and you release an annual report, you are required to list just about every possible risk to your company that you can think of. That way, potential shareholders who read the report and buy stock based on your good news are also exposed to the bad news at the same time.

    If your CEO is brilliant, you have to point out that he could die. If you have a gigantic data center, you have to point out that it could get hit by a missile. If you have obvious competitors, you have to poi
  • What this is about (Score:3, Informative)

    by JJC (96049) * on Saturday January 05, 2008 @01:59PM (#21925122)

    So as far as I can tell, here's what this story is actually about:

    McAfee makes a virus scanner for Linux [mcafee.com]. Presumably the "on-demand" scanning uses a closed-source kernel module. Some kernel developers (i.e. copyright holders) assert that it violates the GPL to distribute closed-source kernel modules (although NVIDIA's and ATI's lawyers presumably disagree). This has never been tested in court. If one of the kernel copyright holders decided to litigate and won, then McAfee might have to stop selling their product, or significant alter it. Since there is a risk of this happening, they are required to disclose it to investors.

That does not compute.

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