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Printer Businesses Apple

CUPS Purchased By Apple Inc. 465

Rick Richardson writes to note a posting on that reveals that Apple, which in 2002 first licensed CUPS for printing in OS X, purchased the source code last February and hired its main developer, Michael R. Sweet. Sweet writes: "CUPS will still be released under the existing GPL2/LGPL2 licensing terms, and I will continue to develop and support CUPS at Apple." There are no comments on the post. What exactly did Apple purchase? It was and is an open source project. Trademarks aren't mentioned.
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CUPS Purchased By Apple Inc.

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  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:34AM (#19837687) Homepage
    Just because it's licensed under GPL, doesn't mean that there is no copyrights that can't be sold.
    What probably happened is that mr. Sweet (the main developer) sold his copyrighted code to Apple. Any bits of code in the open source project which wasn't build by the main developer is still the sole property of those individuals.
    What this means is that Apple can use mr. Sweet's code any way it pleases, without having to adhere to the GPL (just as mr. Sweet could do; it was his copyright). What Apple CANNOT do is use any CUPS source which was NOT created by mr. Sweet and use it outside the restrictions of GPL.
    In theory; if nobody but mr. Sweet contributed any code to CUPS, Apple could effectively fork the code and start a non GPL branch.
  • by saintlupus ( 227599 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:37AM (#19837725) Homepage
    The CUPS implementation in OS X server was such a total piece of shit, prone to lockups and meltdowns, that we have all of the Macs on our campus printing through a Debian box instead. Hopefully this will allow Apple to handle the sort of printer sharing that _every other NOS on earth_ has done for the last three decades.

    It's pretty bad when you're fucking something that simple up to a degree even Netware can't manage.

  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by niiler ( 716140 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @10:39AM (#19837759) Journal

    I predict a fork. Much as some folks are always worried about KDE being beholden to TrollTech (which has been very friendly to the Open Source movement so far), people should be worried about Apple which has already closed off a portion of the code from redistribution. Yes Apple did the smart move from a business viewpoint, but if it should ever consider itself a foe of Linux operating systems, it could pull the rug out from modern printing support (I'm not talking about crusty old lpd) and leave a number of distros high and dry.

    Also, am I the only one who finds a July 11, 2007 announcement about something that happened in February 2007 a little bit strange?

  • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:21AM (#19838255) Homepage
    In fact the CUPS on OS X is so flawlessly working that nobody has clue they have "CUPS" or ever visited the famous on their browser. I bet most would be surprised to see that page.

    I think now Apple in control, they may make it same way on Linux that only actual system admins would care about the CUPS interface and end users may have a similar feeling on Linux/FreeBSD.

    CUPS must be also used at large corporate Windows based hosts or anywhere that actually have a real postscript printer. I mean of course there must be a actual printing server running its Professional edition.

    This may really prove good for Linux and FreeBSD. Look how they made a Mach/NeXT/FreeBSD hybrid (OS X) usable.

  • Re:RMS Proffing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shawnce ( 146129 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:57AM (#19838771) Homepage
    As you note Apple is the one developing it so they can do what they want with it and so far I am not sure they have publicly specified the license it will live under and/or if it will be available for use by others (in a open / no cost sense).

    Given that they are pitching it to the LLVM community I would say a better then average chance exists that Apple will share while maintaining enough control over the project to ensure that it can fulfill their needs and ensure a high quality project (in otherwords get what they need with out triggering forking which can easily negate collaborative gains). Apple can benefit from assistance from others on a project like this.
  • Apple is traditional (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @12:47PM (#19839423) Homepage Journal
    Apple is still a very traditional business in most ways. They are uncomfortable basing there multi million dollar empire on open source. And Apple has always been nervous about depending on outside groups, be it other companies or be it open source, for delivering their products.

    They likely want CUPS under their management umbrella. And it's always nice when an open source guy gets a full time job.

    GPL3 on CUPS would not be a terrible problem for Apple, you can already replace CUPS on existing systems with an upgraded version if you so desire (which is really what GPL3 is about). There is nothing special about Apple's CUPS distribution. They just have some management interfaces layered on top but not linked to it. That's something not even the GPL3 tried to extend itself to controlling. And it seems like people have successfully gotten the proprietary management bits to talk to upgraded versions of CUPS, which means it even fits in the spirit of GPL3.
  • by photomonkey ( 987563 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @01:37PM (#19840133)

    I have a feeling I'll get modded down for saying it, but a lot of the posts I'm seeing here are pro-FLOSS in an anti-FLOSS way.

    I'm not a lawyer, and don't pretend to have a complete understanding of GPLv2 and GPLv3. However, I do think it is generally A Good Thing when companies like Apple (despite their less-than-stellar FLOSS history) buy out projects like CUPS.

    Sure, there is a lot of really great FLOSS software out there that comes completely free to use. A lot of people donate their time to projects. However, with the growing popularity of desktop *NIX, especially desktop Linux, the pseudo-commercialization of the software is bound to happen.

    So long as people get to modify the original code, it only encourages developers if companies like Apple (or Microsoft, or Novell, or whoever) take the original code and make it their own proprietary code. It gives otherwise volunteer developers a way of being financially rewarded for their work.

    The argument about all this comes from something much bigger: the patent/copyright situation. People don't want to see a portion of really useful code locked up for a really long time. But that's kind of the nature of the beast, hunh? You're going to go to whoever has the best product. Companies will seek market advantage by trying to build the best product.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2007 @01:42PM (#19840201)

    This is why you should be careful about contributing to Emacs, which requires you to transfer your copyright to FSF.
    Yes, this makes sense. The risks are high that the FSF sells Emacs to Apple (or anyone else).
    Are you serious?
  • Fork still fine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lulu of the Lotus-Ea ( 3441 ) <> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @02:23PM (#19840785) Homepage
    A number of posters have commented that Apple probably did this to insure their ability to relicense the CUPS code, or at least keep it under GPL2 rather than GPL3. That's probably true enough. But there's no particular harm in it either.

    If Apple creates a branch of CUPS under some restrictive, proprietary license, so what? All the other developers in the world can take the last GPL(2) version, and enhance it however they like. They might not have access to Apple's enhancements, but there's no requirement for Apple to create them in the first place. For that matter, there's nothing that requires its primary developer to ever write another line of CUPS code either, so that's not something to count on either. Well, the contract with Apple might require such lines be written, but that's neither here nor there.
  • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @04:15PM (#19842153) Homepage

    And the anti-patent clause represents unilateral disarmament in the defensive-patent war, so even if you weren't going to enforce the patents, just have them for defense, GPL3 is a vulnerability.

    This is only true if your opponent's software business uses only GPLv3 software derived from software you have conveyed. If that's the case, they've given up their right to sue you as well (assuming that you've folded their changes back into your products) - so you don't need defensive patents against them at all.

    Yes, the GPLv3 results in "Patent Disarmament". No, that's not likely to result in a situation where it prevents you from using your patents defensively.

  • by real gumby ( 11516 ) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @04:48PM (#19842611)
    I don't know Apple's motivation, but you know, there are compilers that can generate better X86 code than GCC. []

    GCC is quite portable and generates very good code on many architectures, especially X86, but often chip vendors ship highly optimised compilers for their own processors, even when they fund GCC as well.

    Also, Microsoft has some special internal compilers that they don't ship (sometimes they take a very long time to compile, but generate very tight code. I don't know if they use any of them for shipping products but I wouldn't be surprised. These wouldn't really be productisable, but are appropriate for this sort of in-house use.

    I only use GCC myself, because it's really good, but I don't kid myself that it's the best in every situation.

May all your PUSHes be POPped.