Forum OpenACS Q&A: ACS 4.6 Release

Posted by Bryan Quinn on
ArsDigita has released ACS 4.6, the latest version of the ACS. You can download it here and read all about it here. I hope that you find the ACS useful in your development efforts.

The release notes:

Release Notes for 4.6 formal build 1

1. Introduction

This release of ACS Core is the first in a new set of products from 

All design, development, and architectural information is available on

Full documentation is available at

A high level product overview is available at
The ACS Core is a platform on which developers extend application 
user interface, and styling that together implement a website. The 
Core APIs 
insulate the site implementation from the data model, the hardware 
configuration, and the  web server. In the future, the same APIs will 
isolate the site from the database vendor.

This release is free and publicly available under the ArsDigita 
Public License,
details of which are available at

Based on experience implementing sites for many different customers 
industries, we believe that the product allows for efficient site 
Using this product, developers can focus on the elements that make a 
particular site interesting and unique.

This release also includes an early version of a new Content 
System (CMS). Release notes and documentation for CMS are included in

2. Installation and Development Notes

The product runs on a wide variety of configurations. Thus, there is
no general installation solution. At this time, there are solutions 
some special cases. 

Before installing the product, you should be familiar with the
concept of how Java code runs within a servlet engine environment,
how JDBC allows your code to connect to a database, and the basics
of configuring an http server. You will also need JDK 1.3.1, available

Future plans call for the development of a more complete installer.

If you are developing and extending ACS Core on Unix systems, the
recommended configuration is to use the Tomcat servlet engine and
Oracle 8.1.7. Solaris x86 and Linux are both reasonable choices for
operating system.

A shell script, installer-lite, will simplify installation in this 
You can find information about using it at

The ArsDigita development team has successfully used the product on
many other configurations, such as Caucho Resin 1.3.4. ACS Core has
been successfully developed and extended on Windows 2000. 
For details on these other configurations, see the documentation

Manual build and installation instructions are located at

Once you have an installed copy of ACS Core, the best way to
proceed is to read the QuickStart guide. It is available at

3. Release Information

This release is intended to be for developers, and early adopters.

3.1 API Stability

There are four support levels for the ACS Core APIs: mature, stable,
experimental and unsupported. In addition, methods within the APIs
may have a different support level. The support level is explicitly
stated in the Javadoc for each Java package.

Application code written to a stable or mature API is upgradeable
to future versions of ACS Core without modification. Application
code written to experimental APIs may need to be changed when
upgrading. Unsupported APIs must not be used, they are only public
scope because of language or architectural details.
3.2 Non-upgradeable situations

  - Use of experimental or unsupported features may 
    upgradeable. This "support level" information is 
    in the Javadoc for each package and method. A stable or mature
    package or class may include experimental methods.

  - Currently, the persistence layer allows you to write
    direct SQL code as part of your customizations. Such code
    may not allow you to migrate to a different configuration.

3.3 Oracle "Thin" Driver cannot be used with ACS Core

The ACS persistence layer currently uses the JDBC API for LOBs, which
Oracle's Type IV (Thin) driver does not support.  The OCI driver does
support use of LOBs.

You must use the Oracle OCI driver.

3.4 General Stability

Known problems when running with a high user load may cause the
server to deadlock or crash. For that reason, the use of this
release for production deployment is not recommended.

3.5 ORA-3210 can occur when an Intel server uses a database running
on a Sparc CPU.

According to Oracle, the ORA-3210 issue with selecting CLOBs from 
a UTF8 database over Net8 from an Intel CPU to a Sparc CPU is 
with Oracle,, and 9i.  We have verified this with and 9i.  There are no known issues with ACS Core
running with the OCI driver on those databases.

It is recommended that you upgrade any Oracle database 
intended for use with ACS Core to one of the supported versions. 
Patch sets 
are available at 

3.6 Globalization

Globalization support is inconsistent within ACS Core. Character
sets other than ISO 8859-1 may not work.

3.7 Upgrading from ACS 4.5

If you are using a prerelease version of ACS 4.6, you must drop and
reload your data model. There are no data migration tools provided
with this release. Future releases will provide such tools.
Note: if the story has lost all of its paragraph breaks then you probably should have selected
Posted by Ben Adida on
I hate to be the license freak here, but this surprise release of the
ArsDigita Public License v1.0 leaves me no choice: this is the first
I've heard of it, the first anyone I know has heard of it.

If you are an OpenACS developer, please do *not* look at ACS 4.6
source code for now. This is *extremely* important. We have every
intention of respecting ArsDigita's licenses, and I cannot say for
sure that the ArsDigita Public License is compatible with the GPL or
with the OpenACS project (after all, we do use the name "ACS" in our
product name).

So, until we have a lawyer look at this, until we determine GPL
compatibility, and until we understand how this affects the OpenACS
group, I'm asking all OpenACS developers to not download, browse, or
come anywhere close to ACS 4.6 source code. I really wish I could say
otherwise, as I would like the OpenACS group to benefit from ACS 4.6
source code. We can't take the risk of violating this new license, though.

Posted by Roberto Mello on
I was also taken by surprise when I saw "ArsDigita Public License". I read the license and can say straight out front that it is NOT compatible with the GPL because of the advertising clause:

"Acknowledgment. All advertising or promotional materials, download pages, documentation, and/or physical media mentioning features or use of this software, and any redistributions in whatever form, must display the following acknowledgment in a reasonably prominent location: "This product includes software developed by ArsDigita Corporation for use in the ArsDigita Community System (ACS) ("

This is the one that strikes me up most, but there are probably other things. In the license it also says that "Except as required by the Acknowledgment section below, products derived from this software may not be called "ArsDigita Community System" or "ACS" and such names may not appear in the name of any such derived product without prior written permission of ArsDigita. To request written permission, contact "

I agree with Ben. OpenACS developers, please do not get close to ACS 4.6 until we give further recommendations. This is to avoid any problems to OpenACS as a project.

Posted by Todd Gillespie on
I'm asking all OpenACS developers to not download, browse, or come anywhere close to ACS 4.6 source code.
Aye, Cap'n. I have a question stemming from this announcement, though:

In section 3.4, does the phrase "running with a high user load may cause the server to deadlock or crash" imply the Oracle server or the ACS J2EE server? If the latter, this may be the first time I have heard the word 'ACS' connected with 'crash' in the affirmative.

Posted by Don Baccus on
Man, that is an interesting license spin, isn't it?
Would the terms be met if the Ars Digita blurb were prominently displayed when this:
<blockquote><i>Known problems when running with a high user load may cause the
    server to deadlock or crash</i></blockquote>
Posted by Jamie Ross on
Yeah, I looked at the new license and it disturbs me but it not surprising as they appear to be moving to a traditional proprietary software model. Note the phrase WHEREAS, ArsDigita seeks to promote its own business interests, in part so that it is able to sustain the high level of investment required to keep its software competitive and continue to distribute its software under an "open-source" model; I would hate to break with ArsDigita but this new license may force the issue. I am curious how this affects older releases or just 4.6 and beyond?
Posted by Don Baccus on
Older releases were GPL'd and they can't put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak.  However, they could move any new Tcl code that might land in the repository that their employees have written under the new license.

Or they could bundle up a new ACS Tcl release and make it available only under the new license, in which case we'd need to avoid it.

aD's business interest is in the Java version, though, so I doubt if they'll take steps of this sort.

Posted by Bryan Quinn on
On the "server crash" issue; we're still investigating it.  Putting it in the release notes is fair warning that we've got something good for evaluation, but we're still working on improving it.  This release is meant for early adoption, and the problem will be fixed for 5.0, most likely well in advance.
Posted by Tom Jackson on

This is very interesting, on another thread we had someone ask about the GPL and modifications to GPL'd software. I looked at the GNU FAQ on the subject, located at

It clearly states

The GPL does not require you to release your modified version. You are free to make modifications and use them privately, without ever releasing them. This applies to organizations (including companies), too; an organization can make a modified version and use it internally without ever releasing it outside the organization.

But if you release the modified version to the public in some way, the GPL requires you to make the modified source code available to the users, under the GPL.

Thus, the GPL gives permission to release the modified program in certain ways, and not in other ways; but the decision of whether to release it is up to you.

If ACS4.6 is a modified version of GPL software, is seems like it must be released as GPL as well. aD may be in violation of the GPL.

Posted by Ben Adida on
ACS 4.6 was entirely built by ArsDigita, which means they hold the
copyright on it, and they can license it in any way they want. In
fact, even if they had originally released ACS 4.6 under the GPL
(which, in the case of pieces of the data model, they probably did),
they can still release under any license they want because they wrote
it all themselves.
Posted by Mat Kovach on
As the copyright holder, ArsDigita has the right to release their software in whatever licence they want.  The licences for their previous software was GPL, so it is GPL'd, they can not retroactively change the previous software.  You can't be in violation, if you are releasing the software as the author as you do have the right to release the software as you wish.

This is a major change (as I see it) in licencing of ACS and understandably some research and thinking should be done on the communitiy's part.

Of course, we could always forward it to RMS (who I'm guessing that didn't talk to before releasing this) and see what he thinks about it :)

Posted by Adam Farkas on
"As the copyright holder, ArsDigita has the right to release their software in whatever licence they want. The licences for their previous software was GPL, so it is GPL'd, they can not retroactively change the previous software. You can't be in violation, if you are releasing the software as the author as you do have the right to release the software as you wish."

There is an unfortunate implication of dual licensing in this fashion -- the difficulty of outsiders contributing to the project.

aD can re-release ACS 4.x under any license they wish, because they essentially wrote all the code for it. (so much for collaborative development..)

But what happens if a non-employee wants to contribute code to the ACS?

Because aD wants to "relicense" the code (or reissue it under a new, as yet undiscovered license), a developer who wishes to contribute _must_ turn over the copyright to aD. I'm guessing this requires submission of legal documents explicitly stating that the copyright gets turned over to aD to do with the code what they will.

In contrast, the GPL requires no such legal wrangling, because subsequent users of GPL code get the same rights as those that came before them.

So, the practical questions _I_ would ask are: If i'm a developer and I want to contribute to future versions of ACS, 1) how do I do it? Do I need to fill out a form waiving my rights to the material? and 2) can i guarantee that my code will only appear in the GPL'd version, not in a "commercial" version?

3) If the answer to #2 is "no", and my contributed code must go into both GPL'd and commercial versions, what sort of additional compensation or incentives do I receive, as a developer, by having my code included in a commercial project? (TINSTAAFL)

I suspect that these issues haven't yet been fully worked through. Regardless, it looks like a roadblock to effective collaboration.

Posted by Talli Somekh on
Mat, you may be right, but I don't really see the sense in fighting them on this. If they try and undermine the OpenACS project (which there is more and more evidence of) or remove our rights, then that would really suck. But I would hope not.

Relations between the OpenACS and aD communities have not always been good, which is fine. We thought that they were ignoring an incredible resource of fans and they view us as ungrateful scabs. Oh well.

They are clearly not in favor of Free Software. That's too bad. My fear is that they are intentionally trying to screw OpenACS by intentionally limiting how much we can use their code. They could have at least pinged the gatekeepers to let them know what's going on.

aD has some really smart people over there who are committed to making good systems and are supportive of Free Software. It just seems that the management is screwy.

Bryan Quinn said: "I hope that you find the ACS useful in your development efforts."

So did we. And we hoped to have helped your development efforts. I hope things aren't as bad as they look.


Posted by Todd Gillespie on
Ah. That is illustrative, Bryan. One of the most attractive things about the ACS (at least to me 2 years ago) was its responsible handling of persistence, namely handing it off to Oracle; in which the ACS stood in stark contrast to its competition in Vignette, Broadvision, Dynamo, & co with their homebrew, unstable, difficult to administer caching & storage systems. ACS-tcl was a more-or-less stateless service layer. Down the latter path is not *one* "server crash" issue, but a lifetime of them. I fear that aD may be, after taking steps forward in flexibility and API orthagonality, taking a solid step back in reliability.

I certainly could be incorrectly assuming too much of aD's future architecture plans, and thus could be spectacularly wrong. Time will tell.

Posted by Mat Kovach on
I agree with you completely and since I try to stay (nor do I know everything about) the OpenACS/aD "thing" it might be time to consider erroring on the side of caution in looking on new ACS releases and it might be a good idea to make sure they were are following the GPL (which I have no doubt the about) and making sure while new contributions are looked.  Those are where my comments where directed.

On there terms of licences, I generally don't look at software where the licences has been reviewed. GNU's web page usually gives a good overview of all the possible licences that are out there and points out where there are issues with it in (in their eyes).

With the increase in companies making their own "public licences" it
really becomes and issue.  In the case of some companies, I can understand it (Netscape/Apple had previous issues that restricted them) while others appear to be self-serving copyright restrictions using the "Something"PL mindshare.  I've seen (and heard) of a few projects running into problems with this and would hate to see this happen here (although I'm quite sure this is looked at by _current_ comtributers).

In terms of aD, I think OpenACS is firmly planted with a source base (in both 3.x and 4.x code) to continue moving forward, that depsite being treated as "scabs" if changes are needed, I don't see that as a concern.

Posted by Don Baccus on
Whoa!  Despite Bryan's attempt to blur the difference between OpenACS 4 and aD's ACS 4.6 (see
<a href="/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=0002OT&topic_id=OpenACS&topic=">this thread</a>) the reality is that they're two different products.  I have no idea why he's trying to muddy the waters, but the fact that he's done so changes nothing.
Our code base is GPL-based and written in Tcl.  Their code's written in Java and though the datamodels share much in common the two, in practice, don't coexist as their operating environments are incompatible.  Their ACS 5 system will be considerably different at the datamodel level as well as, of course, being written as a Java app.
<p>So they can do what they want in regard to licensing.  We resisted forking with them for many months back when they continued ACS Tcl development.  When they dropped it, we forked their code base and rewrote it to support both Oracle and Postgres.  Now there are undeniable legal reasons to make sure that we stay forked and don't become "polluted" by code they release under the new license, but in practice, that's not really a problem.
Posted by Tracy Adams on is an example of someone that did exactly what we did, which was take the MPL licence and modified it a bit. It is pretty common.

The chief reason we switched to a MPL-derived license was so that people could add to it and release it under any license they want. I've been in a room with a possible development partner and he immediately said GPL would be unworkable for many of his clients.

If you write a package for ACS 4.6, you can release it however you want...

The modifications requiring you to credit ArsDigita are pretty much what they seem. The product costs millions to build and it is an attempt to get some advertising in return for this investment.

Those are the high level points; please do check it out the licence and give us feedback, esp. if you deem it completely unworkable. We don't suspect this is the case.

This is the first version of ACS we've release that has been heavily load tested. We use to try to apply some load on, but that because increasingly unworkable and then some of our clients had loads that peaked higher than There is nothing like expecting a bunch of load and having no idea what the server can take (an experience I've had a few times and it was not fun, so I'm very glad we have the testing facility).

We are testing each release and working through issue at a time. Publically stating what we have found is our attempt at getting better about describing where the software is and what to expect. This is the starting point, and you will see regular releases with bug fixes and other improvements from here.

You'll find the architectures of TCL verses Java very different. So yes, the systems are clearly different as Don pointed and may support different needs depending on what you want. So, in that respect, we (ArsDigita) and I (because I wrote a lot of it:) are pysched to see the TCL version go on strong.

Posted by Patrick Giagnocavo on
Adam Farkas asks about contributed code from non-aD folks.

The answer as I understand it is that the developer gets to choose the license.  He could release the code under the GPL, APL, MPL, SCSL, JCL, whatever.  Whatever aD licensed their code as would not change.

If aD wanted to incorporate the code as part of an official distribution, they would probably ask him to license the code to them, and he could then license the code to aD, while simultaneously licensing the code under any other license of his choosing.

Posted by Tracy Adams on

My response is just the broad overview. Cesar is putting together more information about the license and these questions. It will be available soon.  We are reading this thread so if there are more questions, please post.

Posted by Adam Farkas on
I guess despite my two posts to this thread, I agree with don: This thread really shouldn't exist here. (heh.. i'm a hypocrite... sue me 😊 )

Tcl + AOLserver is in ArsDigita's past, not their future. Therefore, their latest & greatest licenses might be interesting, but are irrelevant to the OpenACS community.

ArsDigita's contributions to the OpenACS were huge, and should be acknowledged, but going forward it's fairly clear that what they do simply doesn't matter too much to the OpenACS project. Despite the history, ACS/Java and OpenACS are two different projects, backed by two different organizations, with two different philosophies.

I'm not sure why these discussions are still so intertwined.

Posted by Thid Wick on
Everyone seems to be very worried about this licensing change.  However, since no one has contributed anything anyways, this new license won't be a problem.
Posted by Talli Somekh on
Adam, my answer to that is yes and no. We, or I, would love to take advantage of those things that aD is doing. I have a tremendous amount of respect for their programmers and would like to take advantage of the extremely high level of code they put out. Just as I wish that they might take advantage of the extremely high quality of code the OpenACS code puts out. However, I do agree this has little effect on the life of the OpenACS code base.

Tracy, from my reading of the Mozilla license, and the important section is section 13, a developer can release derivatives of code SPECIFIED BY THE ORIGINAL DEVELOPER under any other license. If all of the code that aD released under the aDPL is recognized as such, then I am glad, applaud the release and completely take back my earlier post. I'm willing to take this position until convinced otherwise with the position that the requirement to request written permission from aD to be too much.


Posted by Michael Feldstein on
This licensing issue brings up an immediate practical problem
for me. I am in the process of (belatedly) putting together a
roadmap proposal for some KM features (as requested by a
number of developers here). I would like to be able to refer to the
requirements and design documents (but not the code) that aD
has posted for the categorization functionality in ACS Java.

(Sadly, I looked at these docs before the licensing issue was on
the table. Will I go blind now? Does it help that I didn't
understand most of the programming stuff?)

At any rate, is it OK for me to refer to these docs? As far as I can
tell, the only useful info in them (for our purposes) is the
requirements outline and a few comments about the datamodel.

Posted by Don Baccus on
If the docs are public and if there's no restriction notice on them, you're fine looking at them and talking about them.
<p>Even looking at Ars Digita code and gleaning ideas from it doesn't necessarily "pollute" you, it's just hazy enough to make any ensuing lawsuit far too interesting for one to want to participate as a defendent.
<p>If you catch my drift...
Posted by David Kuczek on
I believe that Michael's points are of highest relevance:

What kind of legal problems will arise when OpenACS clones ACS 4.6+ modules??? (Vice versa this is clearly not a problem, because of the GPL of OpenACS)

With cloning I mean: OpenACS takes some ACS 4.6+ modules' datamodell and pageflow as a basis for a clone and rewrites all the java into tcl...

It would really be nice if some aD execs or lawyers could clarify this as they seem to be interested in a coexistence of OpenACS and ACS as Tracy mentioned.

Posted by David Touitou on
I'm not a licence expert at all.

I just read on Freshmeat today that ArsDigita Community System 4.6 was released under the Mozilla Licence...

Posted by David Eison on
FYI, it cuts both ways - when doing Postgres work on ACS 4.6, I don't get to use OpenACS code, because it's GPLed, we don't own the copyright on all the OpenACS code, and the GPL is intentionally incompatible with pretty much all non-GPL licenses.

As far as I can tell, ideas discussed on bboard are fair game (specifically, dealing with connect by - eventually I'm going to benchmark nested sets vs. precomputed sort keys and pick whichever is faster); I'm just avoiding code (anything that would go into a tarball distribution).

It's worth noting that you actually have more options under the MPL derived license than under the GPL - if you want to release a software product that uses the ACS, you can choose what license to use for your code.  Previously, it was all GPL only.  Because of this, I was personally thrilled when this license was selected (I had no part in the decision, but I think it's a great one).

I'm surprised that none of you have run into business problems dealing with GPLed software.  I have personally seen a client refuse to use the ACS because they were convinced that the GPL virus clauses could cause them to make all of the content (pictures, mostly) they posted on their ACS site be GPLed.  It was an absurd concern and I got to brief them on why they were wrong (derivative work blah blah blah), but their lawyers were never satisfied - they had heard the GPL was infectious and couldn't get beyond that.  I suspect not having the virus clauses will make sales a bit smoother and open up new options *for everyone* in product development.

Posted by Ben Adida on
The interesting thing, David, is that we didn't choose the GPL.
We inherited code from ArsDigita under the GPL, and we played within
that realm. Now ArsDigita is changing the rules.

Also, your claim that the GPL is "intentionally incompatible" is
absolutely false. The GPL came before many of these licenses, so it's
hard to say that it was meant to be incompatible with things like the
MPL. In addition, the new BSD license *and* (I believe) the MPL
license are GPL-compatible in that MPL code can be distributed under
the GPL. However, the ADPL, because it carries a clause very similar
to the original, GPL-incompatible, BSD license, is most probably
incompatible, too.

But let's try not to confuse the issue here with how one markets the
GPL and such, eh? We're here trying to figure out how to coordinate
our development effort. We've been under the GPL for 2 years. We
didn't have a choice, but we're happy about the GPL. Now we're faced
with a brand new license that is *not* the MPL and that is *not* GPL
compatible as best we can tell. Sure, everything's relative, and I can
see how, from the point of view of ArsDigita, OpenACS is moving away
from them. That works only if you assume that ArsDigita is stationary,

Finally, let's also try not to turn this into a licensing flame war.
You think the MPL gives you more freedom; I disagree. But the thing
is, we're not even discussing MPL vs. GPL. We're discussing ADPL vs.
GPL. The ADPL is *NOT* the MPL.

And, no matter what you believe, the facts stand that OpenACS 4.x is
under the GPL, will always be under the GPL (unless you want to track
down and convince > 30 developers), and cannot in any way include
source code from ACS 4.6. Those are the facts. The rest, frankly, is

Posted by David Eison on
"The Netscape Public License, or NPL, as it was ultimately designed in 1998, is a free software license--but it has three major flaws. . . . Two of the flaws apply to the Mozilla Public License as well. Because of these flaws, we urge that you not use the NPL or the MPL for your free software."
. . .
"3. Not compatible with the GPL...
This conflict occurs because the GPL is serious about copyleft: it was designed to ensure that all changes and extensions to a free program must be free. So it does not leave a loophole for making changes proprietary by putting them into a separate file. To close this loophole, the GPL does not allow linking the copylefted program with code that has other restrictions or conditions--such as the NPL."


Essentially the GPL says that the restrictions it places on code are the only restrictions which may be placed on the code.  Intentionally incompatible, it's a philosophy thing.

As for having OpenACS 4 use ACS 4.6/5.0, I'm surprised to see this is a concern since I thought everyone here felt aD was headed in the wrong direction.  I don't know if any options exist for using ACS4.6/5.0 on a GPL project beyond writing modules that run on ACS 4.6/5.0, which you can then distribute with whatever license you'd like.  (See flaw #2 at the previous link, which I don't see as a flaw).

Posted by Don Baccus on
<blockquote><i>Essentially the GPL says that the restrictions it places on code are the only restrictions which may be placed on the code. Intentionally incompatible, it's
    a philosophy thing.
So, clearly, Ars Digita has undergone a change in philosophy.  I haven't heard anyone outside of Ars Digita argue that this is not the case.
<p>Bottom line, as Ben says, is that aD released the Tcl toolkit under the GPL, we're bound by it.  Whether or not the new license restricts our ability to learn from future aD development efforts remains to be seen.
<p>As far as the community being convinced that aD is going in the wrong direction, obviously many here weren't fond of the switch to Java.  That doesn't mean that we've decided there's nothing to learn from the work you guys are doing, though.
Posted by David Kuczek on
David, I don't know why you keep hitting on license philosophies... It is of minor interest here.

The only goal is to improve OpenACS as widely and quickly as possible for competitive reasons. Therefore it really wouldn't be clever to neglect the innovative potential of aD developers. This is directed towards innovative ideas, datamodel, pageflow of ACS 4.6+. As Don put it: The ONLY thing that we were not quite comfortable with was Java and NOT aD's innovative potential.

In my opinion aD's move towards Java+Apache+ADPL is reasonable from a business perspective. BUT in order to avoid this kind of discussion (and maybe further frustration towards aD) aD's execs should have released effects of the ADPL on OpenACS together with Bryan's post!!!

Posted by Perry Hewitt on
Thought this FAQ might be of interest:
Posted by Thid Wick on
Again, it's remarkable that there is such a commotion over this change in licensing.  Since OpenACS is essentially a blind port of queries, why does it matter if you use java or tcl? I mean honestly, how would you know the limitations of TCL when you have not designed anything, just blindly ported what some real programmers wrote.
Posted by Adam Farkas on
Uh, "Thid", it's considered bad form in this community to use aliases, even when you're throwing flames.
Posted by Ryan Campbell on
Thid, it's obvious you're new here and know absolutely nothing about what you are talking about.  Welcome to OpenACS.  Sit back and listen and maybe you'll learn something from some real programmers.
Posted by Dan Wickstrom on
Looks like an obvious troll. He's using a hotmail account and he registered two days ago:

Thid Wick

               Your Workspace : Community member 

               A member of the OpenACS Community community since August 1, 2001 

                     E-mail Thid Wick:

               /bboard postings

                     August 1, 2001: Response to ACS 4.6 Release 
                     August 2, 2001: Response to ACS 4.6 Release 
Posted by Thid Wick on
I programmed 4 times more of ACS than the rest of you combined when I worked there. Farkas you suck. We fired you for using windows. I guess the GPL doesn't mean anything to you.

I don't see how it's possible to learn programming from a bunch of losers who don't have a single compelling product. Open acs4 only works on oracle. (Oh that's right, it is just acs4.2) and acs 3.2.4 is just weak.

I challenge any of you to name one thing you've contributed that is in ACS.

Posted by good bye on
Thid, You need to check your Hotmail account. I just sent you
some email about the size of your penis. I'm anxious to hear
your reply.
Posted by Ryan Campbell on
I know that pimples disappear more quickly when you ignore them, but for some reason, I feel a reason to pop this one.  Last post.  I promise.

Thid, until you reveal your identity, you remain some hopeless 13-year-old kid.  In the eyes of everyone reading this bboard, you are a complete moron.  Why not prove us all wrong and just tell us who you are?

Posted by Lou Zer on
Thid, You need to check your Hotmail account. I just sent you some email about the size of your penis. I'm anxious to hear your reply.

Hmmm, I'm new to Linux and don't know much about it, but would that be?

cat /dev/null | mail

If anyone could reply, I'd really appreciate it. There's lots to learn and I'm wondering if this is the right command.


Posted by Don Baccus on
<blockquote><i> I don't see how it's possible to learn programming from a bunch of losers who don't have a single compelling product.</i></blockquote>
Just because Ars Digita no longer has a product, I wouldn't call them losers.  After all, they have a firm schedule for their Java-based product release.  I expect them to rise from the ashes, like the Phoenix, and put forth a product once again.  Meanwhile, if you're worried about them, perhaps you should post in a forum on their server?
And, hell, why not cut them the benefit of the doubt?
<p>As far as learning programming here, or anywhere else, if you're trying to learn to program from a web bulletin board, you're a sick puppy.
<p>I learned to program back in 1970, amd have several commercial compilers to my name (though sadly the hardware's obsolete and unavailable)  and a variety of other pieces of system software.  True, this is my first foray into the wimpy-assed applications (as opposed to systems) realm but that doesn't make me an idiot.
<p>Nor does it make you an idiot.  You're doing very well on your own.
Posted by Don Baccus on
Well, hell...

On a positive note, we've managed to build an active, loyal, optimistic, and ballsy user community here at OpenACS.

While over at aD, well ... they announced Java 4.6 over here because no one reads web/db any more.

If your belief that we are incompetent software engineers gives you comfort, fine.  We'll take solace in our ability to build a community of users.

Posted by Michael A. Cleverly on
"#1 I programmed 4 times more of ACS than the rest of you combined when I worked there. Farkas you suck. We fired you for using windows. I guess the GPL doesn't mean anything to you."
Funny, I don't ever remember seeing Thid Wick listed in the release notes for any version of the ACS. Since ArsDigita historically has had a Cathedral-style approach to open source, I don't doubt you did program more of the ACS than any non-aD employee(s) here.
"#2 I don't see how it's possible to learn programming from a bunch of losers who don't have a single compelling product. Open acs4 only works on oracle. (Oh that's right, it is just acs4.2) and acs 3.2.4 is just weak."
If you coded 4x more of the ACS than anyone else while at AD then I take it that means you were involved in the (you say) weak ACS 3.x (and predecessors) and part of the never-quite-finished-or-tested 4.0-4.2 series?
"#3 I challenge any of you to name one thing you've contributed that is in ACS."
Here's one thing.

Anyway, now that I've answered your, uh, questions (or points), I'm curious if you'll respond to a couple of mine:

  1. From your viewpoint, is the shedding of a Moose's antlers a metaphor for the move from Tcl to Java?
  2. Do you identify with Moose generally or just certain ones? (Alternate link for dog lovers.)
  3. Are you a fan of any of Dr. Seuss's other works?
Posted by David Kuczek on
Why doesn't Thid Wick work at aD anymore? He has a talent for involving a lot of people into discussions.

Obviously he has been around as Adam was fired. Either as an employee, the employer or part of the team...

Posted by Ben Adida on
I was going to have a lawyer take a look at the ADPL at some point,
but ArsDigita has cleared up the matter for us with the FAQ: if the
OpenACS project uses any part of ACS 4.6, ArsDigita will consider that
we are covered under the ADPL license, which puts into question our
name and our GPL'ed code.

The section on whether gleaming concepts from ACS 4.6 constitutes the
creation of a derivative work thus covered under the ADPL is murky at
best, and is not something on which I'm ready to take any risk.

Thus, I reiterate my strong request: if you are developing for
OpenACS, please do *not* take a look at ACS 4.6 source code. This is
no longer "pending further review": we cannot take the risk of
violating the ADPL.

Posted by Jamie Ross on
I am going to toss in the philosphy thing again as I did in the .NET thread.  One of the concepts that appealed to me most about ArsDigita was the philosophy with which the GPL licence was compatible (in  my opinion).  I agree with Richard Stallman that people tend to grab "Open Source" many times without the philosphy of "free software" (which does not mean free in price for those that are unfamiliar with the FreeSoft Foundation).  Personally I think that this is really important to us as programmers and as companies.  I have been there with proprietary business models and they dont work very well to be honest.  Microsoft would be losing billions each year if it weren't for its very questionable accounting of employee stock options.  Everytime we code, we bring in things we learned from someone elses code so we should give that back as a principle.  Once you stray from those principles you get into the MBA "profit is the goal" greed mentality which has caused many good companies to dive into the dustbin.
I believe that OpenACS should stick with the idea of being a free software product released undr the full GPL license which improves through constant contributions by a active developer community and tries to teach and diseminate what they know.  Sure big corporations will probably still shell out megabucks for Broadvision or Vignette (no ArsDigita isnt even on their radar screens), but more organizations will choose a more cost effective robust solution.  I think ArsDigita is trying to take on the big boys now, and I suspect that they will not be successful.  Remember that Vignette has a TON of Fortune 500 customers , $500Mil in the bank and a established Java/J2EE product as well as TCL and ASP support.
Lastly I agree with Ben.  It is clear that ADPL is incompatible with OpenACS and we should stay well clear of it.
As far as the idiot in those last posts.. sounds like you should go find work in Redmond.
Posted by Kjell Wooding on
Okay. IANAL, but some of these digital i-prop debates get me frothing...

Code, sure. Page flow, dubious. But data models? I have a hard time grasping how copyright can be extended to include thought processes. Even if someone did lay claim to the contents of a .sql file under a copyright, there is no underlying claim to the data model. Re-implement the same data model in a different way, (using a different "expression" of the idea) and no copyright violation has occurred.

Copyright is about expression. If you want to protect process and design, you have to patent. Can I copyright how an internal combusion engine works? No - but I can write a textbook about it, and protect that.

Thank you. Rant over.

Posted by Ben Adida on
IANAL either, but how is a data model different from code? SQL is a
declarative language. Sure, it isn't Turing-complete without something
like PL/SQL. So the question is, if I look at some code (be it Tcl or
PL/SQL), and I get inspired, and I go write some other code that does
something very similar, am I creating a derivative work? I would bet
that there are plenty of lawyers out there who can answer "yes" to
that question.

Finally, your argument about SQL can apply to the other stuff you call
code: code is just the expression of a flow of ideas. SQL is code....

Posted by Don Baccus on
IANAL either, but even I know the difference between copyright protection and license protection.

Kjell's argument is irrelevant because the code's not only protected by copyright, but by license.

Posted by David Kuczek on
The final conclusion for OpenACS developers would then be:

Don't check out ACS 4.6+ code at all, as Ben already mentioned???

We should definitely have a page on the new OpenACS site, that exactly explains what would be permitted and what wouldn't, because aD's FAQ is a bit blury on that part...

The rather blury FAQ part:

If I look at ACS source code covered under ADPL and apply general ideas and concepts learned from this review in products I develop, am I bound by ADPL?

No. The terms of ADPL would extend to direct or closely similar reimplementations of ACS, in Java or any other language. This would extend to close similarities at any layer of ACS: in the data model, application logic, page flow, or presentation layer.

We don't mind if you get and apply ideas from ACS, but we would want close approximations/copyrightable expressions to honor the terms of ADPL. We would rely on the extensive body of legal precedents under which we could assert our rights under ADPL to enforce this. Bottom line, if you have concerns about whether you'd be violating ADPL, please get in touch with us and ask us about specific instances.

What strikes me here is the first "No", although they basically mean "Yes", because a good lawyer would probably know how to detect close similarities...

And then: What does "honor the terms of ADPL" mean??? Especially in combination with the nicest of all sentences: "We would rely on the extensive body of legal precedents under which we could assert our rights under ADPL to enforce this."

Hope we find a solution on that...
Posted by Ben Adida on
Yes, I cannot stress this enough! If you are planning on contributing
code to OpenACS, which means under the GPL, you're putting the entire
project at serious risk if you download and take a look at ACS 4.6
source code! Please do not do this. I wish things could be different,
but I'm not the one making the rules.
Posted by Michael Feldstein on
This is a really sad state of affairs. In the beginning, people were drawn to ArsDigita precisely because Philip gave so much away in terms of insights on how to write better code. Now, the very same community that was built from that generosity can't look at anything from ArsDigita for fear that doing so will jeopardize what has grown from it.

In essence, until and unless ArsDigita solves this licensing problem, they have completely cut themselves off from the community.

Posted by Walter McGinnis on
I agree with Ben. We should state that OpenACS developers
should not look at ACS 4.6 right at "/" of in
clear, but plain terms.  At the least as a news item.

It would be good to replicate it throughout the OpenACS 4 porting
information as well (maybe a link to the news item).

Oh yeah, it probably should be in this FAQ, too: http://


Posted by David Kuczek on
Is there a possibility to save OpenACS from potential future trouble? (I don't want to make a big fuss about this topic, but it's always nicer to sleep quiet at night...)

I am thinking about the P2P File Sharing Systems, where users have to state that they are not sharing copyrighted files.

As soon as the OpenACS 4.x port is done with, contributers of new modules could state that they are not contributing copyrighted code. Is this reasonable?

NOTE: I don't want to offend anyone with this!!!

Posted by S. Y. on
This is a really sad state of affairs. In the beginning, people were drawn to ArsDigita precisely because Philip gave so much away in terms of insights on how to write better code. Now, the very same community that was built from that generosity can't look at anything from ArsDigita for fear that doing so will jeopardize what has grown from it.

In essence, until and unless ArsDigita solves this licensing problem, they have completely cut themselves off from the community.

Let it go. It's time to move forward.

When visionaries leave companies, guess what they take with them? I worked for Jim Clark during his waning days at SGI. The company has never been the same since he left. They lost market share, got dropped from the S&P 500 for "lack of representation" and have recently traded as low as $0.50 per share. I had a great time working there, but I've moved along since then.

If you really want to rant about ArsDigita, I suggest you visit this site which specializes in that sort of stuff.

Posted by Ben Adida on
In order to clarify any misunderstanding around the ADPL, OpenACS licensing, etc.., we've put together a set of documents about these issues. Please take the time to check out /licensing.

Specifically, you'll want to take a look at the gatekeepers' statement about OpenACS and the ADPL.