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An open Studio to Go

By Tina Gasperson on October 24, 2005 (8:00:00 AM)

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Open source software developer and musician Richard Bown wanted to make Rosegarden, a popular MIDI sequencer for Linux, available to all people, even if they weren't fortunate enough to be using an open source platform. That was the genesis of Studio to Go, a Knoppix-based CD that allows Windows users to access a wealth of open source music creation and notation software without installing Linux.

Rosegarden started as a project created by Bath University students Chris Cannam and Andy Green. It was originally written for the Irix platform, but Bown came along to help with a Linux port. Green apparently attempted a Windows port about the same time, but lost the only copy of the source code in a nasty computer crash.

The developers still wanted to provide something for Windows users. "As we progressed with development, we realized there was a need," Bown says. "I'm a computer guy, but I'm a musician as well, and Chris is very much driven from the score notation perspective. We wanted to make some simple software available. Lots of people look at Linux and think it's too complicated to do."

The question for Bown and friends was, "how?" When Knoppix appeared in 2002, it seemed that the Debian-based live CD provided the answer. "We thought, 'this is a good platform for us to build software around,'" Bown says. "We spent a lot of time on the kernel and making sure the foundation was right."

Why was Knoppix good? Beyond the obvious possibilities that a live CD format presented, Bown liked Debian because "they are very thorough with their releases -- they spend a long time getting things right, and it's stable."

Bown has just released version 1.5 of Studio to Go. It runs on any recent Windows PC, without taking any hard drive space, and configures itself automatically to the hardware. In addition to Rosegarden, the CD contains LilyPond score typesetting software and various mixers, samplers, and other MIDI packages.

Once purchased, Studio to Go can be used over and over again on any PC without limitation, as long as it is run from the live CD and not installed on the hard drive. The software may be installed on only one computer. Most of the software on the CD is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), but the documentation and tutorials are not. "There's a lot of stuff in there that is copyrighted," Bown says. "We've done a lot of work to make it a point-and-click experience, and we don't allow it to be redistributed."

Tina Gasperson writes about business and technology from an open source perspective.

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on An open Studio to Go

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Very Good Idea

Posted by: Synonymous on October 25, 2005 04:48 AM
I've been wanting to try Linux for a while now but just farting around with a standard Knoppix distribution isn't really using Linux in any meaningful way. What is needed is something to do substantial with Knoppix once it's up and this idea of using Linux only applications is a good one.

If the distribution can include other applications that are Linux only it will help people bridge the gap if/when it comes time to actually use Linux.

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This is extremely misleading

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 25, 2005 04:58 AM
Most of the software on the CD is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), but the documentation and tutorials are not. "There's a lot of stuff in there that is copyrighted," Bown says. "We've done a lot of work to make it a point-and-click experience, and we don't allow it to be redistributed."

I think almost everything on the CD is subject to copyright. It's just not Bown's copyright. What he means is, 99.9% of the material on the disk is copyright with a GPL or other free license; the remaining 0.1% or less, mainly documentation, is not; and that 0.1% (or less) is what lets him get away with charging for the whole collection.


I don't see why Newsforge had to give free advertising to these parasites. People can legitimately make money out of free software, indeed they can legitimately make a lot of money if they put a really substantial amount of effort into adding software, packaging, and support (like Redhat, Novell, and Lindows) and contribute genuinely free software (GPL/GFDL or similar licenses) to the community. But this is different. Nothing is contributed to the community. Marketing is based on a false suggestion, that the charge is for all copyrighted material on the CD, and that everything else (i.e. almost everything) is not subject to copyright laws. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Re:This is extremely misleading

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 25, 2005 06:05 AM
I think your use of parasites is misleading as:

a.) These guys are behind rosegarden which is freely licensed under GPL

b.) The gpl allows you to charge for the distribution, which is what they have done.


I spent several months setting up a system for my nephew based on gentoo to be used for schoolwork and music which he is very interested it. Getting all the music production software is not trivial with the requirements for dssi etc. Several months later the hard drive crashed on that machine. Instead of redoing all that work, I sprung for a copy of STG. It works fine out of the box (while agnula crashed during boot on that machine) and was worth the money for the ease of setting up. My only complaint is that its KDE based and I have gotten used to Gnome... but thats neither here nor there.


Matt

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Re:This is extremely misleading

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 25, 2005 06:54 AM

I'm not disturbed by the fee, but by the idea that this can only be installed on one computer. What makes that possible? After all, all of the software is libre, minus whatever they added in. IOW, all the libre stuff can be installed on 1000 machines, regardless of their license terms. That said, I hope they don't have any proprietary code that mixes too closely with GPL'ed code, as that would violate the GPL (or other licenses).



I'm afraid I cannot recommend its use. If it's not libre, I don't recommend using it. Ease of use is a moot point, if the software is not libre software. Put another way, I'm just not willing to give up my fair use rights under our copyright system. Everytime we surrender our fair use rights, it becomes easier and easier to do so, until, at some point, we will have no such rights to defend.



I agree that this is a poor use of libre software. The developers could have found other, legitimate ways to make money off of this. It does take some creativity, but it can be done.



DC Parris

The Freely Project (USA)

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Re:This is extremely misleading

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 25, 2005 11:15 AM
I think almost everything on the CD is subject to copyright. It's just not Bown's copyright.

You're misinterpreting him. "There's a lot of stuff in there that's subject to copyright" simply means that his tutorials and so forth are distributed under the normal terms of copyright law, whereas most of the software is distributed under the GPL or some other open source licence.

People can legitimately make money out of free software

Which they are: they comply fully with the GPL.

and contribute genuinely free software (GPL/GFDL or similar licenses) to the community

Ahem. Rosegarden is licensed under the GPL.

Nothing is contributed to the community.

Except ten years of unpaid work on the best open source sequencer / score editor / composition package in the world. And work on the DSSSI API. And VST plugin hosting.

So, tell me, what have you ever contributed to the world of Free Software? More than Bown and the other Rosegarden developers? Do enlighten us. And don't forget to mention how you fed yourself and your family while writing all this software, since clearly it would be immoral for you to make a profit in any way from your software development.

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Re:This is extremely misleading

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 25, 2005 11:03 PM
You're misinterpreting him. "There's a lot of stuff in there that's subject to copyright" simply means that his tutorials and so forth are distributed under the normal terms of copyright law, whereas most of the software is distributed under the GPL or some other open source licence.

Everything distributed under the GPL is ALSO subject to the normal terms of copyright law. You may not make copies without being subject to the terms of the author. This *IS* normal copyright law and the GPL simply leverages it.

The way the phrase went, it implies that GPLed software is not copyrighted software, which is false.

Part of releasing a program under the GPL is writing a copyright notice in your own name (assuming you are the copyright holder). The GPL requires all copies to carry an appropriate copyright notice.

(from <a href="http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#HowIGetCopyright" title="gnu.org">http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#HowIGetC<nobr>o<wbr></nobr> pyright</a gnu.org>)

So, tell me, what have you ever contributed to the world of Free Software?

Yes, I have. See <a href="http://sf.net/projects/vbutils" title="sf.net">http://sf.net/projects/vbutils</a sf.net>, besides *other* contributions that I don't feel compelled to list here.

BTW, in case anyone should misunderstand, I fully support the concept of people being paid for the work they do. The GPL definitely accomodates this, and all work under the GPL is copyrighted.

Public Domain is NOT governed by copyright. This is what you were thinking of.

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Re:This is extremely misleading

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 26, 2005 05:31 AM

>> You're misinterpreting him. "There's a lot of stuff in there that's subject to copyright" simply means that his tutorials and so forth are distributed under the normal terms of copyright law, whereas most of the software is distributed under the GPL or some other open source licence.

> Everything distributed under the GPL is ALSO subject to the normal terms of copyright law.


Indeed; I never said it wasn't. I said that GPL'd software is not distributed under the terms of normal copyright law. It's distributed under (surprise!) the terms of the GPL.

The way the phrase went, it implies that GPLed software is not copyrighted software, which is false.

To you, maybe. He said that a lot of the stuff is governed by copyright---that is, he hasn't attached a specific licence to it, so it's distributed under the normal terms of copyright law, whereas much of the rest is distributed under the terms of the GPL.

Public Domain is NOT governed by copyright. This is what you were thinking of.

No, I wasn't.

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Re:This is extremely misleading

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 26, 2005 02:42 PM
The article is misleading in several ways. Studio to Go (STG) is a live Linux distribution that CAN be installed on a hard drive. It is mostly a real-time version of Debian optimised for audio content creation. It is VERY reasonably priced, and it works really well.

It is a significant contribution to the community, as many tricky configuration issues have been figured out AND PUBLISHED under the GPL.

Of course, Fervent Software's trademarks and the like are protected. This is no different than Novell/SuSE, RedHat, Sun,<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... and other suppliers of distributions.

Fervent Software also provides an online forum for its customers, who mostly are professional audio content creators or audio equipment developers, so the forums are quite good. Fervent's support is also accurate and responsive.

I am not connected with Fervent Software in any way other than as a (happy) customer.

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Re:This is extremely misleading

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 27, 2005 06:55 AM
duh!

Calling Rich Bown and Chris Cannam parasites is not just misleading, it's downright rude, not to mention shows that this poster knows absolutely nothing about the development of Open Source audio software. These guys have put more energy into promoting and producing free software than you'll ever know. If you want it for free there is always DeMuDi, Planet CCRMA, Musix or whatever.



Time to wake up and smell the roses dahling.



I wish Fervent Software every success, they fully deserve it. I hope their detractors get what they deserve too.

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Hail to the free software leechers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 25, 2005 07:29 AM
We've done a lot of work to make it a point-and-click experience, and we don't allow it to be redistributed

How nice. You write a software under the GPL. You then use a kiloton of other GPL or otherwise free software, that someone else has written. You then put the documentation under a proprietary EULA. You do a live cd with this all and you make a proprietary cd, putting also the "assembly" work under a proprietary EULA.

Thank you guys. You have just understood what does Free Software means. Even Red Hat does not stop CentOS from being free. You know, even Mandriva has done a lot of work to give a point-and-click experience, but guess what?it's free, yet Mandriva is doing profits.

I just hope someone will stand up (I'd do it if I had the time and the skills to do it... I hope to have both one day, but until now I'm still learning the skills and I have limited time) and do a competitive free alternative to this pathetic abuse of the GNU license.

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Re:Hail to the free software leechers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 25, 2005 10:53 AM
I just hope someone will stand up (I'd do it if I had the time and the skills to do it... I hope to have both one day, but until now I'm still learning the skills and I have limited time) and do a competitive free alternative to this pathetic abuse of the GNU license.

I agree! It's morally wrong for anyone to make money off GPL software---especially the people who write it! He should be grateful for the opportunity to give his work away!

I look forward to seeing your 100% GPL Studio-to-go-killer; do let me know when you get round to it.

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Re:Hail to the free software leechers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 25, 2005 04:05 PM
It's okay to make money off of GPL software so long as you do not forbid other people from giving it away. This guy is forbidding by marking even the compilation of all the stuff as his property. That is Terrible, Stupid, and Wrong.

But thanks for playing Kneejerk Response Quiz Bowl! Here's a copy of our home game!

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Re:Hail to the free software leechers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 26, 2005 05:15 AM
It's okay to make money off of GPL software so long as you do not forbid other people from giving it away.

*yawn* They're complying entirely with the terms of the GPL. I doubt whether they give a toss whether you think it's "okay" or not.

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Re:Hail to the free software leechers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 26, 2005 12:34 AM
I agree. If you write GPL and buy into the GPL system, then why are you afraid of releasing the "hard" part also under GPL?. What you are giving the world is crap but it's GPL'ed CRAP and it's better than Cakewalk or Sonar. But btw, you need to pay us to make this crap work.

Thanks but no thanks, you can sit your GPL'ed crap.

There's better software written under GPL that is totally free and even comes with nice installers and free help and information.

You want to make money, stop playing the shell game, just write closed source software with all the whizz-bang features and we'll buy it. If you want to write GPL'ed software just make it all gpl'ed.

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Re:Hail to the free software leechers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 27, 2005 12:19 AM
Even Red Hat does not stop CentOS from being free.


That's because CentOS puts in a lot of work making sure they've excised out the RH trademarks and other things that RH objects to being redistributed.


I just hope someone will stand up (I'd do it if I had the time and the skills to do it... I hope to have both one day, but until now I'm still learning the skills and I have limited time)


In otherwords I want it now, I want it for free, and I want you to rub my feet, too. Sorry, Charlie, this is Free Software, not Burger King. And while you can still have it your own way, you'll have to fire up the grill and cook it yourself. What? you can't do that? then learn.


And when someone says I have limited time it means it isn't important enough for me to get it done. If it where important enough, you'd be working on it even as I type...


HTH. HAND.

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Musix GNU/Linux

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 25, 2005 01:59 PM
How about promoting a 100% GNU/GPL distro for musicians for a change,

<a href="http://www.musix.org.ar/" title="musix.org.ar">http://www.musix.org.ar/</a musix.org.ar>
dowload at <a href="ftp://ftp.gnu.org/gnu+linux-distros/ututo-e/" title="gnu.org">ftp://ftp.gnu.org/gnu+linux-distros/ututo-e/</a gnu.org>

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Re:Musix GNU/Linux

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 26, 2005 02:48 PM
Studio to Go from Fervent Software, is a GPL Linux distribution for music and audio content creation. The article was extremely misleading and borders on slander.

I take that back, it is slander, and Newsforge should pull it and issue an apology.

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Strange article

Posted by: Chris Cannam on October 27, 2005 04:44 AM
I believe this article was based on a brief phone interview with Richard, and I can't speak for its accuracy in the details, but as a whole it's quite unhelpful.

Fervent Software are developers of Free Software for music creation and production on Linux, through the Rosegarden project, DSSI plugin system and contributions to a number of other projects. No other company or individual has contributed more GPL'd software in this field, and we have nothing to prove in terms of Free Software credentials.

Studio to Go! is a Linux distribution that, like any other, includes software and other material under the GPL and BSD licenses and a variety of other licenses. This includes code that cannot be GPL'd because it is legally encumbered for reasons beyond our control; documentation that is simply copyright, with no particular license attached; code (such as example Windows VST plugins) that we have permission to distribute but do not have the power to grant to others the permission to redistribute. There is no end-user license agreement and no hidden agenda.

The distribution exists to make life easy for people who prefer to have the tedious work done for them and supported, and also to attempt to place the ongoing development of Rosegarden and other GPL'd music software onto a stable financial basis. This is exactly the sort of "approved" commercial use of GPL software that others in these comments have been keen to promote, even while criticising us for doing exactly that.

Chris Cannam
Fervent Software

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Re:Strange article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 27, 2005 05:05 AM
Good luck to you. I gave Rosegarden a try a couple of years back and was pretty impressed, though I'm not really much of a musician. Unfortunately anyone who tries to make money writing GPL'd software opens themselves to the kind of uninformed kneejerk sniping which this article elicited. It's quite entertaining to read mutterings like "I hope someone writes a 100% free distro that blows Studio-to-go out of the water" and the inevitable, hilarious "I'd write one myself but I don't have the time or expertise". Needless to say, there is no danger of these people actually contributing any free software to the world, they're just waiting for the code to rain down like manna from heaven...

Anyway, if the pain I went through setting up sound on my Linux box is anything to go by, there's a definite need for something like this. I hope it does well.

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Re:Strange article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 27, 2005 12:59 PM
Who is this "Tina Gasperson" the alleged author of the article? Gasperson? Sounds more like bull****
to me.

Studio to Go is a great multimedia distribution of Linux. Maybe it has someone on the US West Coast a bit frightened. They should be afraid - very afraid.

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Software freedom is worth the struggle.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 07, 2005 11:40 AM

Although I'm sure many are grateful for the GNU/Linux-based Live CD you're distributing, I hope someone will remove the non-free software you're distributing with it and redistribute the rest, as is their right under any free software license. Telling us that the VST plugins have "no end-user license agreement and no hidden agenda" can't be accurate. If the plugins are proprietary software, what they do is hidden from inspection (so most users can't know what they do when they're running), modification (so even technical users can't improve them), and distribution (so nobody can help their community by distributing the improved plugins). Proprietary software is always about a "hidden agenda".



I won't criticize you for engaging in commercial activity with free software. I think it's fantastic you do so, and I think you should charge as much money as you can get for doing it. I encourage you to sell consulting for a fee so those who want to work with you commercially but also want to retain their software freedom can do business with you. I object to the inclusion of proprietary software (a kind of non-free software). The proprietary software is user-subjugating software, not a bonus. Proprietary software prevents me from helping myself (can't inspect or modify as I explained earlier) and it prevents me from being a good neighbor. Proprietary software forces me to decide between placing my friend into a similar trap as I'm in and telling my friend that I won't share with them; such a dilemma has to be resolved by breaking the law and sharing a copy as the lesser of two evils, after all my friend hasn't done anything bad to me so I can't justify punishing them by denying them a copy of the program. Having only free software on my computer means I never face the dilemma to being with.



—J.B. Nicholson-Owens (<a href="mailto:jbn@forestfield.org" title="mailto">jbn@forestfield.org</a mailto>)

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Backhanded complement this article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on October 31, 2005 01:13 PM
Studio to Go is an excellent product, and Rosegarden an important MIDI and music creation and editing tool - perfect for the creation of soundtracks for commercials, TV shows, and multimedia promotional material.

The author of this article, on the other hand, is clueless as to the professional use of open source software.

Why did NewsForge post this?

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