Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby darkgamorck » 2007-8-07 @ 10:23

The other thing is: I don't buy the binary wrapper bit of theirs. Here is why:

When you copy their modified EXE to a directory all by itself and run it, the first thing we've been told that it complains about missing is SDL. Once you provide SDL, then it complains about Steam missing. If the Steam dependencies were simply part of a wrapper, wouldn't it ask for those to be resolved first?

Either their wrapper is written extraordinarily bad or they are lying through their teeth.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby wd » 2007-8-07 @ 10:28

They use GetProcAddr and things for dynamic loading of the library.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby red_avatar » 2007-8-07 @ 10:58

I'm no fan of how Steam limits you either - one time, my internet had cut out because of my ISP working on the grid so I thought, let's play Deus Ex (I had bought it f or $5 even though I already owned it on CD - just to be easy). Well that bit me in the ass - Steam refused to let me run the game - it wouldn't go to offline mode. Basically I was stuck having to install the game from CD, and really searching for an hour on one of my old PC Gamer CDs for the patch (you get so used to getting those off the internet ...).

Steam has the advantage of not needing a CD/DVD in your drive but then again, at least you're not tied to an app when installing from a CD or DVD. When I mentioned on the Steam forums that Steam by itself will always have a liability, even if it's small, they were all over me, but it's reality - and if anything ever happened to it, I would lose for at least $300 worth of stuff.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby MiniMax » 2007-8-07 @ 11:11

I am not a lawyer, and I don't know the fine print of the GPLv2, but it would be nice if this could all be resolved by Steam/Valve freeing the 10-15 lines of code responsible for locating, loading and calling their proprietary steam.dll. I hope that would be okay licensewise - to keep the steam.dll with all its proprietary code hidden, and only free the code added to DOSBox.

My advice to "the DOSBox team" would be not to give Steam a carte-blance okay to the current situation, but instead give them a temporary okay, while the team examine the legality of that wrapper wrt. GPLv2.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby canadacow » 2007-8-07 @ 12:59

While some good comments have been made post-Qbix's statement that he has no problems with Value/Steam's integration of their code into DosBox, I think some clarification is in order.

Again, I'm going to reiterate my position that I think it is great that Value has chosen DosBox as it's method of distribution of these legacy games. It is the most frequently updated, stable execution of the task required of it. While Duke3D, Doom, etc. all have their esoteric releases, they are not nearly as uniform in configuration, stability or community support.

That being said, the purpose of Free Software, in both the beer and speech sense is communicated very clearly in the statements made by the Free Software Foundation in this document: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

(Emphasis mine)

In order for these freedoms to be real, they must be irrevocable as long as you do nothing wrong; if the developer of the software has the power to revoke the license, without your doing anything to give cause, the software is not free.

However, certain kinds of rules about the manner of distributing free software are acceptable, when they don't conflict with the central freedoms. For example, copyleft (very simply stated) is the rule that when redistributing the program, you cannot add restrictions to deny other people the central freedoms. This rule does not conflict with the central freedoms; rather it protects them.

You may have paid money to get copies of free software, or you may have obtained copies at no charge. But regardless of how you got your copies, you always have the freedom to copy and change the software, even to sell copies.


The above text is why Red Hat can charge for GNU/Linux distributions but in the same vein, CentOS can re-release system compatible RPMs that allow a previously Red Hat registered system to be updated indefinitely. Red Hat has held true to the letter of Free Software and CentOS is a, dare I say ironic, consequence of it.

So, from my reading of it, to link/patch/encapsulate a DRM wrapper around a GPL application is clear front to the very meaning of Free Software.

So what does this all mean really? It means that copyleft is amazingly fascinating and fluid. I'm personally in general agreement with Qbix. They've included the GPL license. They've included the DosBox source code. They've given proper attribution. To me at this point, a Steam integrated wrapper is trivial and Steam has indeed satisfied their part of the bargain. Does this stick to the pure letter of Free Software? No. Does it accomplish the goal of Free Software? Surprisingly, yes.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby gulikoza » 2007-8-07 @ 13:04

It's not that easy. GPL does not differentiate between static and dynamic linking. So anything that is, even dynamically, linked (and distributed) with the GPL executable is considered a part of the program and falls under GPL license. So why does nvidia get away with binary graphics drivers? Because the (linux kernel) linking of the drivers is performed by the users which do not distribute the resulting binaries and nvidia only distributes their binary blob and source code of the kernel glue. GPL is a distribution license not an EULA, it only applies if you distribute GPL work.
But I much rather then reading fine print like to look at the large picture. The point of GPL is that users must be allowed to modify and use a modified program. If I as somebody who might hold a part of dosbox copyright (:wink:) want to run steam games with my own dosbox patches, valve must provide me all the necessary tools (and permissions) to create and use such a modified version. Then IMHO the spirit of GPL requirements would be satisfied.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Vision2098 » 2007-8-07 @ 13:07

But it comes back to the point of there being many contributors.

I doubt ALL of their sentiments echo Qbix's. They contributed code to be licensed under the GPLv2, which does indeed seem to be violated in Steam's case.

It doesn't really seem to be Qbix's say at this point.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby MiniMax » 2007-8-07 @ 13:34

I fear - that when the dust has settled - that we will know far more about GPL than we ever wanted to.

gulikoza - you talk about "all the necessary tools". Would that be just the 10-15 lines of wrapper-code, or do you also want a license to use (or maybe even the source for) the steam.dll?
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby gulikoza » 2007-8-07 @ 14:17

GPL is clear about this
You have a GPL'ed program that I'd like to link with my code to build a proprietary program. Does the fact that I link with your program mean I have to GPL my program?
Yes.

By linking dosbox with steam, steam falls under GPL.

Linking ABC statically or dynamically with other modules is making
a combined work based on ABC. Thus, the terms and conditions of
the GNU General Public License cover the whole combination.


But as I've said. Since the Steam games appear to be working with vanilla dosbox version, as far as I'm concerned, the spirit of GPL is satisfied (for the moment). But if this changes...the point is, you cannot build your copyprotection into dosbox and abide by the GPL.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby gulikoza » 2007-8-07 @ 14:37

The basics of GPL are not that hard to understand. One has to remember that dosbox distributed with Steam is also GPL (since the authors have not given Valve/Id a different license). And as such, you have to have the ability to modify it, distribute it and even sell it further. You cannot do that if it's linked with proprietary steam.dll...and Valve cannot impose copy restrictions on it (they can on the games, but not dosbox). It would be perfectly legal for somebody to attach the dosbox.exe and all related (but not game) files to this forum for examination :)
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby gulikoza » 2007-8-07 @ 14:54

And to keep spamming this thread :)
One solution I see is...you build copy protection into the games, not dosbox. Modify dosbox so that the games have the ability to check for running Steam application. The sources for such a modifications are released, so that anybody can build Steam-compatible dosbox, but the games refuse to run if Steam is not running. This way, the copy-protecion has at least some possibility of working and GPL is fully satisfied.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby `Moe` » 2007-8-07 @ 15:21

gulikoza wrote:...and Valve cannot impose copy restrictions on it (they can on the games, but not dosbox)


Remember that creating a "modified work" does not mean it has to consist of a single executable. Support files are copyrighted as well, and if DOSBox and the actual game files are sold as a single integrated unit (which seems to be the case, considering it is all set up for a single-click launch, each game having it's own copy of a modified dosbox and everything), then the whole work must be distributed under the terms of the GPL. The way it is now doesn't look like "mere aggregation" as the GPL calls it.

As I said before, this is a fishy argumentation, but there's a tiny chance that it might just hold. (And as everyone knows, million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten ^^)
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Zorbid » 2007-8-07 @ 15:34

Although the current solution may seem fine from a moral stand point, I'm a bit worried that by not enforcing some parts of your license now, you could lose the right to enforce some other parts that you care about later on...

IANAL, of course, but if I were you, I'd ask one to be sure.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby MiniMax » 2007-8-07 @ 15:47

gulikoza wrote:And to keep spamming this thread :)

Keep it coming, keep it coming :)
gulikoza wrote:One solution I see is...you build copy protection into the games, not dosbox.

Problem is, that id Software probably do not have the capability to modify the games any more. The source maybe lost, documentation gone, compilers, linkers, etc not available any more, etc, etc. Of course - if money was no problem, I am sure some tinkering with DEBUG could produce the copy protection you are thinking about.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby MiniMax » 2007-8-07 @ 15:57

gulikoza wrote:The basics of GPL are not that hard to understand. One has to remember that dosbox distributed with Steam is also GPL (since the authors have not given Valve/Id a different license). And as such, you have to have the ability to modify it, distribute it and even sell it further. You cannot do that if it's linked with proprietary steam.dll...

I am not sure that it is such a clear-cut case. Again, I am not an expert on these things, but I seem to remember something in the (L)GPL's that addresses the libraries that are distributed with the underlying operating system. E.g. the GPL do not insist that the Microsoft C-runtime libraries suddenly become free open source just because you link them into your GPL'ed application.

A similar argument could be made about the steam library. E.g. does the whole Steam thing, with automatic management of the game files, menus for selecting and running the games, constitute some kind of "operating system" for the games? If so, would that make the steam.dll except from the GPL "virus"?

I found this blog with what looks like some really heavy lawyer types discussing GPL and linking:

http://www.oslawblog.com/2005/01/static ... -lgpl.html
http://www.oslawblog.com/2005/01/dynami ... -lgpl.html

I can't say it made it any more clear to me. It is probably something one needs to read 4-5 times before something close to enlightenment occurs.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby MiniMax » 2007-8-07 @ 16:04

`Moe` wrote:The way it is now doesn't look like "mere aggregation" as the GPL calls it.

I tend to agree. I would expect that something that was "mere aggregation" or a "collection of works" would allow me to enjoy/use each component on its own. It looks like I can use the game on its own (by running it with a true, unmodified DOSBox, or with one of the many alternative engines out there), but the modified DOSBox is not usable without the steam.dll, so it is not a mere aggregation any more.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby gulikoza » 2007-8-07 @ 16:08

MiniMax wrote:I am not sure that it is such a clear-cut case.


It is :)

However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable.

Microsoft C-runtime libraries need not to be GPL, unless you happen to distribute them with a GPL program. I don't think steam counts as a major component of the operating system and is also distributed with the component so it fails both points.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Zorbid » 2007-8-07 @ 16:10

The steam DLL is useless here anyway, since you can replace their DOSBox compile with a steam-free one..
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby MiniMax » 2007-8-07 @ 16:11

Zorbid wrote:Although the current solution may seem fine from a moral stand point, I'm a bit worried that by not enforcing some parts of your license now, you could lose the right to enforce some other parts that you care about later on...

I am thinking the same. That is why I said earlier that it would be best to only give a temporary, time-limited license to Steam while this is worked out (pending of course, that it is possible to figure out who is entitled to issue such a license). In the end, this temporary license could perhaps be converted into a special license for Steam, a license that okays the linking.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby MiniMax » 2007-8-07 @ 16:15

gulikoza wrote:<snip> and is also distributed with the component so it fails both points.

Is it really distributed with the "component"? Isn't that DLL part of the whole Steam client, and not part of the games you then buy and download?
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