Article #475: CUPS Purchased by Apple Inc.

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CUPS Purchased by Apple Inc.

Created at 14:49 Jul 11, 2007 by mike, last modified at 14:49 Jul 11, 2007

In February of 2007, Apple Inc. acquired ownership the CUPS source code and hired me (Michael R Sweet), the creator of CUPS.

CUPS will still be released under the existing GPL2/LGPL2 licensing terms, and I will continue to develop and support CUPS at Apple.

Answers to questions about the change of ownership can be found on the frequently asked questions page.

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From unga, 07:09 Jul 18, 2007 (score=5)

Now what is the Apple's policy on commercial licensing of CUPS? That is, Easy Software Products used to offer commercial licensing of CUPS when CUPS belong to them. Will Apple offer commercial licensing of CUPS? If so, what are the terms & conditions and the new price? [ Reply ]

From claudio, 11:53 Jul 12, 2007 (score=5)

Good for you, bad for everyone else. [ Reply ]

From macguys, 19:22 Jul 12, 2007 (score=2)

I disagree.  Open source developers are among my heros. "CUPS will still be released under the existing GPL2/LGPL2 licensing terms, and I will continue to develop and support CUPS at Apple." sounds to me like Apple is honoring the charter, license and history of CUPS, supporting the developer while continuing to make it available to the entire community.  What's bad about that? 

I know that folks their own opinion about the "open source-ness" of other Apple projects and I'm not providing an opinion on that one way or the other.  I do know that this makes me proud of Apple's ethics.

Dave [ Reply ]

From ppgreat, 11:41 Jul 12, 2007 (score=5)

Enjoy your iPhone! [ Reply ]

From ArmandoO, 12:13 Jul 12, 2007 (score=4)

I have to actually give you props and give Apple some credit here.

You have provided a valuable service to Unix printing that LPD just can't do, and with a minimum of fuss.

Apple obviously has seen value in this since they use it in their OS and why not?

Let's put it this way - would you rather see Microsoft get CUPS or would you rather see Apple obtain it since it already has its foot in the Unix door better than MS?

I honestly hope it doesn't fork for the simple reason that at this point in time it's not worth shaking the tree for.

If Apple can help improve it, then I say go for it.  I've been looking at switching to Mac anyway despite my dislike for iPod.

Please continue your awesome work on CUPS.  I don't think we'd be where we're at without it. [ Reply ]

From atsysusa, 08:10 Jul 13, 2007 (score=3)

Mike:

Congratulations on signing a deal with Apple.  Appears to be the best of 2 worlds.

And thanks - CUPS resurrected an Epson 1520 for use with OS X - from doorstop to printer in 5 minutes! [ Reply ]

From melbourne1977, 22:52 Jul 13, 2007 (score=3)

i tried to do the same with my 1520... USB to parallel cord seemed to mess it up... how did you get around that? [ Reply ]

From kbear2, 21:32 Jul 15, 2007 (score=3)

Am able to use my Epson 1520 with upgraded 9600 running X via XPostFacto. Initially I had to install CUPS/Gimp/Ghostscript manually and of course use a USB/Parallel cable. It did work but printer settings were slim. Am running 10.3.9 now on the 9600, a Wallstreet as well as an upgraded Digital Audio and all can use the 1520 via hub with more settings options. It may be that you have a cable that isn't compatible. Here is a thread about cables that do work. Mine is a Belkin. https://sourceforge.net/tracker/?func=detail&atid=351537&aid=644565&group_id=1537

My only problem now is trying to fix the tractor feed; darn thing won't pull in the paper properly. [ Reply ]

From tonyx, 04:14 Jul 13, 2007 (score=3)

Hmm.

Interesting that there's no mention or commitment to CUPS being licensed with GPL v3.  While I understand the view to continue publishing as is with GPL v2, a sceptic might think that with Apple being a hardware and software provider, apple may have puchased CUPS with the intention of preventing it from going to GPL v3.

With Samba just recently going with GPL v3 this could get interesting... [ Reply ]

From Nitewing98, 23:49 Jul 12, 2007 (score=3)

LUCKY YOU!  No, seriously, you earned every bit of it.  CUPS has been invaluable to me, who have both Mac and Ubuntu computers in the house.  Until CUPS and OS X, I wasn't able to share a printer between the two computers.

If Apple's gonna pay you and you can still support the unix "community-at-large," where's the downside?

Thanks for all your hard work! [ Reply ]

From bill_mcgonigle, 15:56 Jul 12, 2007 (score=3)

CUPS is pretty excellent - thanks for saving us from LPR-ng.

I hope you get some good resources at Apple and can do even greater work in your new situation.  I won't complain about any of the rough edges I've encountered as I've been too lazy to submit bug reports, and I'm sure you've heard about them already.  Room for improvement, sure, but an excellent product.  Good luck! [ Reply ]

From pm99, 13:44 Jul 12, 2007 (score=3)

Good luck!

Historically, Apple has tended to screw over free software projects it co-opted (e.g. khtml for Safari), and has not had much success in starting their own. The Apple culture is much too secretive to work with a community.

I hope you can avoid the pitfalls that have befallen Apple's past attempts at exploiting the free software movement.

That said, thank you for all your work on cups, in the past, and continued. It is extremely good work, and greatly appreciated. [ Reply ]

From aeonfinis, 01:25 Dec 28, 2007 (score=3)

The GPL license does a good job of protecting source code, and if the license changes then the open source community will likely fork the project or find (or create) an alternative. My question is why the writers of the GPL haven't tried to tackle the trademark problems that keep coming up. Maybe an open-trademark license or something? If only there were a way to attach the trademark (name, logo, etc.) to the actual project instead of leaving it proprietary and non-free. This way system binaries and directories (cups, firefox, etc.) would not have to be changed as this usually requires a considerable amount of patching to multiple projects. Leaving the trademark un-free seems to create a lesion in the armor of the GPL. [ Reply ]

From chas66, 03:26 Jul 13, 2007 (score=3)

I believe Apple have had moderate success with open source going back a long way... see http://www.squeak.org/SqueakLicense/  - Squeak is a pretty big and far-reaching (in terms of influence if not mindshare) project. [ Reply ]

From Krioni, 05:45 Jul 13, 2007 (score=2)

That's not a complete picture. Apple stuck to the license (LGPL). The big complaint was that they released their changes in one big submission when they released Safari, rather than in small chunks. It was still a useful contribution.

Since then, they've set up a CVS system, bug-tracking, and have otherwise improved the quality and ease-of-access to their contributions. They may not have contributed in the MOST useful way at first, but they've improved, and they certainly have contributed greatly to the khtml project. Now that the iPhone uses Safari, khtml's user share is going to increase even more than it already had by being the default browser in Mac OS X - building respect for a rendering engine is very important in this world of non-standards-compliant websites. Even better - a web designer can know that using the standards is what will make Safari/khtml render properly, so Apple is increasing support for following standards in web design as well. That's a very good thing for everyone (except Microsoft).

Citation: Apple and KHTML, together againReply ]

From pm99, 11:46 Jul 19, 2007 (score=3)

It was intended to be concise, not a complete picture. "(e.g. khtml for Safari)" was 3-5 words, depending on how you count, with which it is hard to paint a complete picture. The more complete picture was one of too little too late -- Apple took khtml, forked it, made massive changes, periodically releasing them in big blobs when required to by the LGPL, intentionally being minimally cooperative with the original project. They complied with the letter of the license, certainly, and they didn't do anything illegal, but they were bad citizens. When bad PR from that kicked in, they eventually opened up their CVS tree, but it was a matter of too little, too late. The projects had diverged adequately at that point that a merge was impossible. They could have, at that point, worked to merge the two code trees, or at least to maintained Safari's khtml be Qt/KDE-compatible. They could have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and been good citizens, by releasing Safari as a whole, under GPL, and allowed people to port it to GNU/Linux. They did the minimum required to avoid a complete PR disaster, but the project is still an Apple-internal project with essentially no use to the free software community (or anyone outside of Apple).

This wasn't Apple's only experience dealing with free software. Darwin, which is built on a free software base, never managed to attract a community outside of Apple, mostly due to Apple's incompatibility with the free software community. It has slipped in and out of being free software itself.

In almost all other free software projects, Apple has taken as much as they could, and given back almost nothing. Part of this has to do with an attitude problem on Apple's part. Part of this has to do with doing what's best for business, and ignoring community standards. A much bigger part of this has to do with cultural incompatibility -- Apple likes surprises, and is one of the most secretive companies in existence. Free software, in contrast, relies on open development, and surprises are impossible. Apple can't make surprises while allowing external developers access to their codebase.

With the exception of not releasing many hardware specs, and the occasional legal threats about a free software project resembling Apple's UI too much or disclosing some Apple trade secrets (usually involving DRM or hardware specs), Apple is rarely openly hostile to free software. They do, however, do whatever is best for business, and if that involves screwing over a free software project, so be it.

All that said, I trust CUPS to keep doing the right thing. The CUPS developers have shown themselves to be fantastic people many times over. I just wanted to give a heads-up to be aware of the dangers. [ Reply ]

From bcmiller, 12:03 Jul 12, 2007 (score=3)

CUPS is great, you deserve credit and thanks for making CUPS in the first place and continued thanks for keeping a GPL version released. 

I am glad you were able to convert your hard work to financial success as well. [ Reply ]

 
 

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