[Pkg-net-snmp-devel] Bug#498475: Bug#498475: Lenny-Ignore tag request for SNMP related bugs

Wes Hardaker hardaker at users.sourceforge.net
Tue Sep 16 00:05:25 UTC 2008

The MIBs are not technically necessary for the SNMP protocol itself to
work.  In fact, most of the SNMP agent's functionality is just fine
without installed MIBs.  The command line clients, however, are far less
useful (still usable, but much more of a pain for the operator).

If you want to get really nasty about the legal issues, consider the
following snippit from RFC3414 (picking one at random, since they all
have this issue):

  usmStatsWrongDigests OBJECT-TYPE

  Blumenthal & Wijnen         Standards Track                    [Page 38]
  RFC 3414                     USM for SNMPv3                December 2002

      SYNTAX       Counter32
      MAX-ACCESS   read-only

Note how the RFC format inserts headings within the MIB itself.  It's
unclear to me, from a perfectly legal definition, if the copyright on
the "MIB" includes the page break markings.  I'll let a lawyer answer
that additional problem...

Anyway, there is one other solution:

Distribute the snmp packages without any MIBs in place but with a
auto-post-installation tool that could go grab all the RFCs, extract the
MIBs, modify them so they're not broken and then install them on the
system.  That only removes the "free" problem aspect from the
distribution itself and leaves it up to the user whether to run the
post-installation tool to make the tools significantly more usable but
reduce the "freeness" of the system (and you could even print a nice
friendly warning).

The crux of the problem is there is nothing you can do to fix it because
the problem stems from far upstream (the IETF Trust), which is beyond
the bounds of anything any of us control.  Maybe your lawyer should talk
to their lawyer and beg for a solution and explain the problem.

(it's actually been discussed in the past surrounding code-snippits in
various RFCs that are indented to be used by the author, but the IETF
stamps it with a less-usable license).

"In the bathtub of history the truth is harder to hold than the soap,
 and much more difficult to find."  -- Terry Pratchett

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