Visual FoxPro for Linux: A Violation of the EULA?
Editors' Note: This article has been updated with an addendum since its original posting.
It started out in an unassuming manner: an industrious developer, Paul McNett, had a growing interest in Linux. He began playing around with the open-source implementation of Windows for Linux called WINE and wondered how his favorite development tool, Microsoft Visual FoxPro, would run. It was slow going at first, but Paul persisted. He tracked down problems and submitted them to the WINE team. Little by little the problems were corrected, until Paul finally was able to run Visual FoxPro under WINE. He began telling other VFP developers about his work, and many were interested in learning more.
One such person was Whil Hentzen. Whil is the editor of FoxTalk magazine, a multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award, book publisher, host of his own FoxPro conference and the first ever recipient of the FoxPro Community Lifetime Achievement Award. Whil asked Paul to write an article detailing his work for FoxTalk, and Paul agreed. Whil also began incorporating a demo of Visual FoxPro running under WINE into his presentations at conferences and user group meetings.
Whil was scheduled to give one such presentation recently to the Bay Area Association of Database Developers (BAADD). Shortly before his presentation, however, he received a phone call from a manager at Microsoft, who informed Whil that the material covered in Paul's FoxTalk article was in violation of the EULA (End-User License Agreement). As Whil was in the middle of dinner, the conversation was short and ended with a request for Microsoft's legal department to document its objection in writing. Understandably reluctant to incur the wrath of Microsoft's seemingly bottomless supply of lawyers, Whil did not demo VFP under WINE that night, but simply explained to the audience the reason why he couldn't.
That didn't sit well with some members of the audience. One of them, Chet Gardiner, immediately fired off an e-mail to the ProFox mail list expressing his outrage with the heavy hand of Microsoft. His message in turn raised the ire of others, and anger over this issue began to grow. The manager at Microsoft who made the initial call, Ken Levy, then refined his comments to state that while it was okay to run a fully licensed copy of Visual FoxPro under WINE, it was a violation to distribute the applications built with Visual FoxPro to be run under WINE. Because VFP is a tool for generating applications, this seemed like a blatant tying of an application to the operating system, one of the things prohibited by US anti-trust laws for monopolies such as Microsoft. Needless to say, that clarification didn't do much to settle the issue.
In the past few weeks, this story has appeared on The Register, Slashdot, LinuxWorld and even the German publication Heise Online. That's pretty amazing considering Microsoft has done its best the last few years to keep Visual FoxPro, one of its most powerful development tools, off the radar screen. Why would they do that? One simple reason: money. An application developed in Visual FoxPro is much more economical for a business, as Visual FoxPro has its own data handling and storage capabilities. Contrast that with the much more popular tool Visual Basic, which requires a separate data engine (usually Microsoft SQL Server). Microsoft makes a lot more money selling licenses for SQL Server, which are quite expensive, than they do when VFP applications are distributed, requiring no additional license fees. So which solution do you think Microsoft is going to promote? The fact that Visual FoxPro has a rich set of development tools and a robust object-oriented programming language doesn't concern them; they simply want the highest license fees they can squeeze out of their customers.
Why should any of this concern Linux users? After all, we're talking about a Microsoft product. For starters, I think this situation shows that Microsoft truly is afraid of Linux's potential on the desktop. For them to add this restriction starting in 2001 certainly suggests that someone in Redmond recognized the threat posed by Linux.
Secondly, if it does become possible to run the executables under Linux with no Windows licensing fees, a lot of companies would certainly see the benefit in switching. Many of my clients have their business applications running on hundreds of machines throughout their sites, systems that do not run anything else. They have no reason to pay for a Windows license besides being able to run this single application. They literally could save thousands of dollars by switching to Linux/WINE, resulting in Linux's entry into many traditional Windows shops.
But what sort of companies are we talking about here? Probably some Mom-and-Pop businesses that use VFP applications because they couldn't afford a "real" tool, right? Wrong. Visual FoxPro has been used to develop mission-critical applications for some of the largest companies around. I personally have developed VFP applications for AT&T, 3M, Daimler-Chrysler, Ogilvy & Mather and Pitney Bowes. If you're not familiar with Visual FoxPro, you owe it to yourself to give it an in-depth look.
For now, we wait for the pronouncements from the Microsoft Legal department on its exact interpretation of the EULA, which is quite vague and offers numerous loopholes that developers and their clients can invoke to implement a Linux/WINE solution. Will this be the start of another set of anti-trust violations by Microsoft, or will it quickly fade away and be forgotten? Like most VFP developers, I'm waiting for Microsoft to make the next move.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Tech Tip: Really Simple HTTP Server with Python
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- Returning Values from Bash Functions
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
- Rogue Wave Software's Zend Server
- Google's SwiftShader Released
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide