Feeds

Alcatel ships Linux USB ADSL driver

But files it under proprietary licence

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

USB ADSL modem maker Alcatel has shipped its long-promised Linux driver. However, the company seems to have misunderstood just what the phrase 'open source' actually means.

Alcatel's driver allows Linux fans to use the company's USB-based SpeedTouch ADSL modem. In the UK, BT Ignite bundles that modem with the home ADSL offering it sells through a variety of telcos, including BT's own broadband operation, BT Openworld.

The USB package costs £39.99 a month plus £150 for installation; the alternative is an Ethernet-connected modem, which will work with Linux, but that costs £99.99 a month plus £260 for installation.

After much petitioning from UK Linux users - 944 signatories and counting, according to petition founder Chris 'Linuxdude' Jones - and an offer to create Linux drivers on the company's behalf, Alcatel finally announced early February it would offer the software this month, along with a binary file containing the SpeedTouch's firmware.

And, indeed, that's what it has posted on its site. There's a binary file containing (we assume, since we haven't looked) the firmware and a separate tarball file containing the source code and makefile data. The code was written, we note, by Johan Verrept, the guy who originally approached Alcatel to write the driver for it.

The snag is that to get it all, you need to accept Alcatel's Developer Licence Agreement, which effectively removes the 'open' from 'open source'. Now clearly Alcatel wants to protect its proprietary data - in this case, the contents of the modem's firmware. However, you have to agree to the licensing terms even if you only want to look at Verrept's source code, which Alcatel promised would be open.

And while the DFA is clearly a generic licence - it doesn't explicitly define what is covered - it is headed "Speed Touch USB ADSL Linux driver application", which suggests that the driver is included in the proprietary licence.

Of course, there's nothing to stop anyone distributing or modifying the source code, and we doubt Alcatel's lawyers are going to go after anyone that does, but you'd have thought the company was smart enough to get it right in the first place. ®

Related Link

Alcatel's Linux drivers

Related Stories

Alcatel says 'yes' to Linux USB ADSL support
Linux people petition Alcatel for USB ADSL drivers

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.