Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.

Typo in “Stop The Presses”

On page 10 of the May LJ, you write that Precision Insight is operating “With funding from Red Hat and XGI”. In fact it is “SGI”, not “XGI”, that's co-funding PI's work. SGI has also donated the GLX X Window/OpenGL integration source code to XFree86, and PI is using that code as one component of the OpenGL infrastructure they're developing. More on this is available at http://www.sgi.com/software/opensource/glx/. Thanks.

—Jon Leech ljp@oddhack.engr.sgi.com

Oops, that was a bad one—my apologies to SGI for not catching this typo —Editor

Intellectual Property in a GNU Environment

Having used Linux since before kernel 1.1.13, I've found a very long list of reasons why various businesses don't develop more software on Linux. Nowadays, the reason is never performance or reliability. One reason is well-known; that is, how does one go about marketing in an open-systems environment without giving away key rights or simply being unable to enforce those rights? Secrecy is usually less expensive than a court battle.

An issue recently mentioned to me is that of knowing how to interpret what a developer will owe to others. The example in mind is OpenGL in X. My interpretation is that for dynamically linked applications requiring some form of OpenGL-compliant display libraries, it is not an issue for the developer, but instead for the user (unless the developer ships the libraries with the application). What I would like to see is a series of articles on intellectual property rights of developers, and to what extent these rights may affect marketing when a business (versus individual) must pay for using (not selling) various utilities and libraries used by a common distribution.

If, as a business, I use PPP utilities or generic NE2000 drivers but don't sell them, do I need to pay for them? If I use gawk as installed from my distribution, when do I need to pay for it? Can I use XFree as a business, without paying? Will my OpenGL application cause a liability to my end user who has Mesa? And so on. I would like to see a lengthy discussion worthy of showing to my employers. Thanks.

—Dan Stimits stimits@idcomm.com

As a start, read the article “Licenses and Copyright” by Michael K. Johnson in the September 1996 Linux Journal (issue 29). If you don't have a copy of this issue, remember that as a subscriber you have access to every issue on-line at http://interactive.linuxjournal.com/ —Editor

Larry Wall

The feature article, “Larry Wall, the Guru of Perl” (LJ, May 1999), was both insightful and delightful. Marjorie Richardson was able to convey Larry's obvious passion, joy, intellect and humor.

It was also refreshing to see one of the key figures of the Open Source community unashamedly mention God. Yes, there are some of us using Linux who realize that the ultimate in “open source” is the Bible.

Larry may not have become a missionary, but he's used his God-given talents in a very good way.

—Bob Nelson bnelson@netcom.com

Actually, Larry was able to convey his passion, intellect, joy and humor himself. I just provided him with the medium in which to express it. I enjoyed doing the interview very much—he's truly a delightful man —Editor


I just finished reading the article “Distributions Take a Stand on Standards”, and all I have to say is that all of this can be likened to Scotland when it was fighting the English (the movie Braveheart comes to mind). Microsoft (MS) is the English wanting to rule everything, and the Linux community is the Scottish. The clans of Scotland weren't unified and easily fell to the English. That is what is happening with Linux today. The different distributions are the clans. No one is trying to unite them. Linux falls to MS because it can't stand up to MS. Linux may be winning some battles, but MS is winning the war, and it's easy to see why. Take a look at both armies. One is well-organized and well-structured. The other is made up of small clans, fighting for the same main goals, but refusing to unite for the greater good.

Caldera seems to be the William Wallace of Linux. It looks like they will be the ones to take the lead and unite the different distributions. I am going to stand with their banner in my hands—I am going to give my money to Caldera henceforth.

Linux needs a leader for standardization. Stampede Linux was quoted as saying too much of a good thing can be bad, but I have to say that Linux in its present state is a bad thing. I am a user for about five months now, and have bought both Red Hat 5.2 and Mandrake 5.3. I am very disappointed in both of them. I am not able to get my printer to work, because neither distribution works with a HP 722c. I know this printer is designed mostly for Windows, but programs are available that will make this printer work with Linux. Neither of the distributions support this program. If the major distributions want to pull together and make a standard for Linux, they need to put these small programs in their distributions and support them. If this was the case, Linux would gain more support from computer users in the world than it does.

—Troy Davidson clandaith@netzero.net