locked
Interpretation of the Windows Home Server EULA RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I'm wondering what other people's interpretation of some of the clauses in the Home Server EULA is?

    The sections I refer to are as follows:

    d. Functionality Limitations.

    • Active Directory - You may not use the server software as a domain controller or otherwise make use of DCPromo.exe. You also may not join the server software to any Active Directory domain.
    • Terminal Services – You may only use Terminal Services functionality to the extent required to manage the server software in Remote Administration Mode. You may not use Terminal Services for any other purpose.
    • Server Roles - You may not use server roles other than the roles that are already enabled during the server setup process.

    I am particularly concerned with the second and third limitation... the first is completely understandable.

    But the second one: What does Microsoft define as "extent required to manage the server software?" Does that mean that, if I install some third party software that does not have a WHS add-in onto the server, that I am prohibited by EULA from RDP'ing to the server to manage it?

    Which brings me to the third restriction, about Server Roles. According to TechNet Windows 2003 has a set number of different roles that it can hold:

    • File and print server
    • Web server and Web application services (Limited use in WHS)
    • Mail server
    • Terminal server (Limited use in WHS)
    • Remote access and virtual private network (VPN) server
    • Directory services, Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server, and Windows Internet Naming Service (WINS)
    • Streaming media server

    According to my understanding, the items in bold are the roles that are (according to Microsoft) "roles that are already enabled during the server setup process."

    I assume that means that I am violating the EULA if I install the Microsoft DHCP, DNS, or WINS servers. But what about DHCP4WHS, for example. This is a developer-written DHCP server, so you do not have to install any "illegal" Microsoft services, but isn't this still using the server for roles "other than the roles that are already enabled during the server setup process?" Or how about installing BIND for Windows for DNS? Again, no Microsoft software, but is it enabling roles that are prohibited?

    What about something COMPLETELY undefined in the roles list: a HomeSeer home automation server? Is that changing roles?

    The root of my question is two-fold; I really want to try to follow the EULA as completely as possible, since I know the kind of hard work that goes into a software package, and it is the developer's inherent right to limit the use of THEIR product as they see fit. But I also want to be careful what I blog about, and need to make sure that it is within the EULA's limit if I talk about something that I have done with my Home Server.

    Thanks for any opinions that you'd like to share, especially any of who might have an "in" to find out the real story.

    Bushman

    Check out my Home Server Build Blog


    Thursday, January 22, 2009 3:48 AM

All replies

  • Hi,
    while the EULA is very clear about the limitations for using the built in functions of Windows Server 2003 on Windows Home Server, you still can add 3rd party stuff to it.
    You should be aware, that this may work (and is not in conflict with the EULA if not excluded explicitely), but is also unsupported and may cause Windows Home Server core components to fail.
    The problem with all this EULA stuff is - it can be interpreted, and a lawyer may read it different than normal users like us. On top some EULA passages may be invalid in some countries.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Thursday, January 22, 2009 8:29 AM
    Moderator
  • So I guess that, if I read you correctly, you think that installing DHCP4WHS, Bind, and HomeSeer are all within the rights of the EULA?  I tend to agree, but I just want to make sure I am understanding any language differences between us.

    Thanks for your opinin,

    Bushman
    Thursday, January 22, 2009 2:33 PM
  • Glenn Sullivan said:

    So I guess that, if I read you correctly, you think that installing DHCP4WHS, Bind, and HomeSeer are all within the rights of the EULA?  I tend to agree, but I jsut want to make sure I am understanding any language differences between us.


    Thanks for your opinin,

    Bushman



    From experience and mind I would say, yes, but I do not speak for Microsoft.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Thursday, January 22, 2009 3:34 PM
    Moderator
  • There is a grey area here. A strict interpretation of the EULA probably prohibits most of the things people do with their servers. For example, many people install Firefly to stream iTunes music; this requires logging in via Remote Desktop and installing software, something a lawyer might well say is prohibited.

    However, in my opinion, even though this may be a technical violation of the EULA, it's unlikely to get anyone in trouble. Part of the Microsoft vision for WHS is that it be a platform that people can extend for use in the home. Microsoft is not going to offer you any real support in this, so anything you do outside of the WHS Console, the shares, and the Remote Access web site is all going to be "unsupported" and "at own risk". But all the Windows Server 2003 tools are there. Since those tools include some that have the potential to cause severe issues with the software (up to and including partial or complete data loss), the usual advice is going to be not to try to load the world onto your server, choose your additions very carefully, and have a fall-back plan if things go wrong.

    The "server roles" clause is a little more serious, IMO. The server roles that are enabled "out of box" are file sharing (printer sharing comes along with that but is unsupported and for various reasons perhaps not a good idea), limited web services, and streaming media. Terminal Server is not a role that's enabled; what you are using to connect to your server remotely is "Remote Desktop for Administration" which has user and other limits. These roles are prohibited for a number of reasons, chiefly that enabling some of them is a quick trip to server reinstallation, and there is likely a certain amount of revenue protection. But in general, the roles that aren't enabled out of the box are roles that have no real place in the average home, or at least that will already be filled by other devices and services if they are needed. (I need VPN access to my home network, for example, but have it via my router.)

    In the end, you are going to have to decide for yourself if A) you are comfortable, in a legal sense, with a potential use of your server, and B) if you are comfortable technically with the possibility that you will paint yourself into a corner.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, January 22, 2009 4:14 PM
    Moderator