Genuitec CEO beclowns himself

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In an amazingly intemperate and irrational blog entry:

the CEO of Genuitec, the company behind MyEclipse, calls Max and I children, thugs and bullies, claims credit for the success of Hibernate (apparently he, Maher, is the hand that feeds) and demonstrates an astonishing ignorance of the nature of open source licenses. Nevertheless, from this blog alone, it's quite difficult to tell the cause of the outburst, so a little background information is in order.

Hibernate Tools is an open source project created primarily by Max Andersen, one of the earliest contributors to the Hibernate project, who now works for JBoss and is currently leading the integration of Exadel Studio and JBoss IDE.

MyEclipse is a commercial product distributed only in binary form. MyEclipse, however, does embed several open source libraries, including Hibernate Tools, Spring IDE, etc, in this binary distribution. So far, so good. However, more than embedding is going on here. The version of Hibernate Tools (and, if we understand correctly, some of the other open source plugins) that is embedded in MyEclipse is actually built from a modified form of the original code.

Now comes the problem: Hibernate Tools is distributed under a licence known as the LGPL. The LGPL is one of a class of open source licences called copyleft licences. These licences place responsibilities upon people who redistribute the open source product. Namely, they require that whenever a modified version of the product is redistributed, the full sourcecode of the modifications must be made available, under the terms of the LGPL. The purpose of this restriction is to ensure that open source products stay open source - that closed forks of the product are not able to compete on unfair terms with the original, open project (taking from open source, but never giving back).

Genuitec have decided not to comply with this restriction.

We (JBoss) have made at least three or four private overtures to Genuitec, asking that they comply with the licence, and make their changes available in source form to people who purchase MyEclipse. On repeated occasions, Genuitec has assured us that they will do this. On repeated occasions, absolutely nothing has come of these promises.

Recently, as a way of turning up the heat on Genuitec over this issue, we mentioned it, in passing, in a public forum. The result of this was the aforementioned tirade.

At this point, Genuitec have two choices. If they don't like the LGPL, they can stop distributing Hibernate Tools. Otherwise, they need to comply with the license. Note that this issue potentially affects other open source plugins that are embedded in MyEclipse, not only Hibernate Tools.

I'm not really upset about the namecalling - I've been called worse names by people who are far better namecallers than Maher (Hani Suleiman, Ward Mullins, and many others). All I'm asking is that Genuitec comply with what is legally required of them.

UPDATE: Of course, Maher's claim that since we've placed our Eclipse-based tooling under the GPL, user code created using this tooling will be subject to the terms of the GPL is, of course, utterly false, as his commenters point out. It's pretty scary that he's so unfamiliar with the basics of open source licences, when he's building a product around several open source projects.

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