[NetBehaviour] Free Software Robin Hood Liberates Leaked Samsung Code

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org 
Fri Jul 26 15:24:32 BST 2013


Free Software Robin Hood Liberates Leaked Samsung Code

By Klint Finley and Robert McMIllan.

A student and programmer using the name “rxrz” has posted a large chunk
of a proprietary Microsoft file-system software to GitHub, claiming that
she’s liberating it for the open source world. She says that the
software was leaked from Samsung, and that it also contains some code
from the Linux kernel. That, she argues, makes it de facto open source
under the terms of the Gnu General Public License.

“All I’ve done is given the community of open source developers and
linux/android users a way to finally share data between all major OS’s
without any excessive impact on the performance,” she wrote on GitHub.

In an email interview, rxrz wouldn’t give her name, but said that she
was a nineteen year old female student from the European Union.

She posted the code last month, but only gained widespread notice on
Linux discussion forums this week.

The code is a driver for exFAT, a flash memory file system that has
become the standard for digital cameras and has also been adopted by
smartphone makers. BlackBerry, Sharp and Samsung all license the format
from Microsoft. It also happens to be compatible with Windows and OSX,
meaning users can seamlessly drag and drop files between exFAT format SD
cards and their desktops. But because the licensing costs are expensive
and the system is proprietary, there’s no official Linux support. That
means that in order to use it with Android, which uses the Linux kernel,
smartphone makers like Samsung and Sharp have had to license the
technology from Microsoft and then either write their own driver modules
and adapt Microsoft’s reference code.