Why I Don't Use the GPL

Do the demands of the GPL cause as much harm as closed-source code?
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GPL hurts EVERYONE

Anonymous's picture

What is the GPL. It is a statement by Richard Stallman that if he doesn't like you, then you can't use his code. Keep in mind that it really isn't his code. It is your code to release under any license you choose. If you release it under the GPL then you basically are giving it to Stallman for free so that he can nanny you for the rest of your life and make you feel guilty every time you try to install some closed source software.

The GPL license if bad for software and bad for society at large. Keep in mind that almost half of all software released under the GPL should in fact be public domain since the authors released it anonymously.

If any GPL software were any good then of course companies would use it and if there were actual professional people behind the code the companies would respect the license but neither is the case.

So you have a GPL guy and a closed source guy both trying to sell software that does the same thing to a company.

Company "can I make money with this software"
Closed source "yes"
GPL "no"

Com "will you hassle me about the license"
CS "no"
GPL "yes"

Com "If I improve the program, who owns the improvements"
CS "you do"
GPL "We do"

Com "Is there a guarantee the software will work"
CL "yes"
GPL "of course not, I wrote this in my granma's basement"

Com "Has it been tested and shown to work"
CL "of course, I wouldn't sell you software that hasn't been tested"
GPL "we were hoping you would test it for us"

Com "can I have the names of all the developers who own copyright on the software"
CL "yes, here is a list"
GPL "uh, we can give you 20%, ... , maybe, in a couple of years"

To be fair, I am a bit of an open source guy. I like OpenOffice and Firefox and Thunderbird and what not. Do I look at the code? Of course not, I don't care about the code or the license. All I care about is does the copy that I have work on my computer or not. That's it and anyone who says otherwise needs to get a clue.

Open Source can be a good thing if done right but the goal should not be to end closed source software. There is nothing wrong, bad or evil about closed source software. God will not be angry with you if you don't give Stallman your code for free. He might be angry with Stallman for judging people and preaching a false morality though.

Linux, because it is so strongly tied to the GPL is doomed to never really be relevant in the market. It they would just re-release the code base under a different license, or if it were even somehow possible for individual vendors to contact the copyright holder to ask for a different license option then things might be different but this GPL only attitude will kill Linux in the long run.

What is going to happen, maybe not now, maybe not for five or six years but eventually, is that another open source OS is going to come along with a license that is not BSD and not GPL but open source none the less. It will make sure you can't just change the license which is what happens to BSD but it will not be anti-humanity the way GPL is. You will have the option of using Open Source software or closed source software on it. You will have true freedom and companies will be free to make a buck. Then Linux will finally completely cease to be relevant to even open source people and only GPL religious zeleots like Stallman will continue to use it.

Then in about twenty years there is going to be a court case. Some company is going to violate the GPL and Stallman will go after them looking for publicity and money. Don't all you realize that the GPL is just a scam for Stallman to make money off the work of thousands of developers he has never met? In the court case the company that violated the license will ask for the actual copyright holders to come forward. But they can't. No one knows who they are. They can't find them. The code was written by Anonymous. The judge will declare that all GPL code that does not clearly say who all authors, and copyright holders are is public domain to be used by anyone for any purpose. The ownership of the code and the copyright to it will pass to the public at large where it should have been from the beginning.

Then Linux, practically overnight will become very relevant in the market as companies go after all the code they can that might be public domain. Then OEMs will start to dump MS for their own proprietary version of Linux and we will see Linux code making its way into Windows and Mac OS and even whatever the true OpenSource option will be. They will cut it up and devour it. Even Stallman will have to drop Linux them and try to force his followers to use the Hurd.

Last I checked you couldn't even play pacman on the hurd kernel. Stallman will be 190 years old by the time it is even stable enough to run at the same level that Windows 3.1 ran at.

I don't release my code as GPL. First of all because it isn't my code, its my employee's code but I do get assigned the copyright and GPL is not an option for me. It harms society at large and I can not justify that morally. Also, I don't want other companies stealing my code and I'd prefer not to have Stallman thinking he owns my code or speaks for me in any way. And, I don't want a judge to declare my code that my employees spent hundreds of hours creating to be public domain. That isn't fair.

Please, for the love of all the little boys and girls of the world who will grow up to use the software that we create, don't use the GPL. Don't touch it with a ten foot pole. Shake the dust off your saddles, hold your nose and fan the stench away and move on with your life.

Fixed!

Anonymous's picture

Company "can I make money with this software"
Closed source "yes"
GPL "no"

Com "will you hassle me about the license"
CS "The software will call back to home about once a week, if it can't reach the server, it will stop working."
GPL "Only if you re-distribute it."

Com "If I improve the program, who owns the improvements"
CS "You can't improve the software"
GPL "You do."

Com "Is there a guarantee the software will work"
CL "30-days Money Back Guarantee, no more, no less"
GPL "No, however, We tried to do our best, but if it isn't working you can fix it yourself."

Com "Has it been tested and shown to work"
CL "of course, I wouldn't sell you software that hasn't been tested"
GPL "it has successfully completed the following testcases."

Com "can I have the names of all the developers who own copyright on the software"
CL "The copyright is with the Company."
GPL "Our commit log is here."

---

remember:
- The GPL is not an end in itself; it is a measure to protect our
freedom.
- Using the ordinary GPL is not advantageous for every library. There are reasons that can make it better to use the Lesser GPL in certain cases.

Unimpressed by GNU and all other free software ideas

Anonymous's picture

I am far from being impressed by the idea of the GNU software. Just look at this statement found on gnu.org

Published software should be free software... Documentation for free software should be free documentation

Why? I wish GNU provided an intellectually defensible answer to this question). It takes many years and a lot of money (how about college and expensive books on programming) to become a good software developer. What wrong with the idea of earning decent money by writing software? Believe it or not but software developers are also fathers and mothers and need to support their families and go on vacation from time to time. I feel much more comfortable supporting software developers trying to sell shareware and paying commisions to sites like Soft32 (free shareware downloads) or Software Master Center (more free shareware downloads). Software on these kind of sites costs usually no more than fifty dollars and usually you can find there everything you need. Plus you get good support and do not need to worry about untar or guzip.

Why am I so bitter about GNU? I tried to find a GNU video converter (MP4 to WMV) and I could not get it to work. Then I looked at shareware software and got what I needed in proverbial five minutes. I am pretty sure I got it from one of the sites listed (there are many shareware sites and all of them seem to carry the same titles).

Socialistic crap

Andi's picture

Seriously people, we work for a living. Developers need to pay for their pizzas.

If I find code that is relased under "free" auspices, albeit restricted, I want to make the democratic decision of offering the original developer compensation for using his/her code in my closed source application.

GPL leads to extortion and inhibits freedom.

Lately (long after the Original Post), many Open Source vendors are releasing software under a dual license, including Sun (VirtualBox) and MySQL.

I may just be stupid, but the GPL wording is cruddy, muddy and confusing. When is something a derivitive work, and when isn't it? Thank God for the LGPL, but alas, most usefull utilities cannot be used in usefull applications until released under LGPL or similar licenses.

Should I, during the course of development, make enhancements, or bug fixes to said GPL code, of course I will release it back to the public in good faith, and even pay the original developer for sublicensing.

Having said that, I refuse to believe that releasing, for example, a DOD project that has 30 million lines of code and uses one API call to the libgcrypt as GPL for the rest of the world to scrutinize, is for the better of National Security, or the FSF for that matter. Get real! Life isn't only about free Linux Desktops and MIT Final-year-projects!!! Some of us do work for a living!

Excuse the typos

Anonymous's picture

Sorry, just realised, usefull and derivative were misspelled.

so was "useful" and

Anonymous's picture

so was "useful" and "released" (spelled relased..)

WWM$D?

Hip the hippo's picture

Re: For example, imagine if Microsoft used ext2 for its filesystem or bash for its shell? If this happened, it would be much easier for (some) applications to be ported to Linux. It also would be much easier for users to convert from Windows to Linux.

Well, the following thing might happen if ext2 was BSD license: they would add some new features to the file system that were integrated into windows, would patent part of them, would change metrics, would add an API with completely different names and would thus make sure that nobody else for the next 20+ years would be able to mimick their work. And after the 20 years of patent protection, either come up with a new file system, and/or profit the next 80 or so years from copyright in their code, which in addition would be protected by non-disclosure agreements, forcing others to redesign and write code from scratch to copy the workings of their code, something that you pretended to avoid with a BSD-style license in your short-sighted speech.

Don't attempt to protect corporations !

F. Dragos's picture

As stated by Richard Stallman, free software gives you four freedoms !
0 - Install and run as you wish
1 - Study the source code and make changes
2 - Distribute copies of the program
3 - Distribute copies of a modified version of a program !

First of all, you are talking here about open-source, NOT FREE SOFTWARE; Open-Source ideology conflicts with free software, it puts reliability before even freedom (where free software puts these four freedoms above all);

Free software doesn't mean free of charge ! You can charge as much as you want for a copy ! For example you can distribute copies of various GNU+Linux systems for $50 each.

Free Software fights proprietary software, so whenever someone develops non-free software THERE IS A PROBLEM ! And so the statement "But, what harm is really done?" - fails to convince anyone.

Yes, you can charge for the

Anonymous's picture

Yes, you can charge for the binary distributions of the software, but not for the code. This prevents any company trying to make a product using your code, from doing so. This causes that company to write their own software, instead of using yours. What Kirk Bauer was trying to say is that no harm is really done if they take your code and make money off of it, but if they do, there is a more likely chance that they will give back. If they write their own code, there is no chance that they will give you anything, and they just created another piece of proprietary software. And yes, you can say "but they would have turned mine into proprietary software anyway." This may be true, you didn't lose anything did you? Even if you think "I wrote that code, I should get some of that money." That's why it's open source, isn't it? So that many people can benefit from your code, not just you. For example MacOS is based on FreeBSD. There is a good chance that if Linux was better licensed, that Apple would have chosen Linux, and then Linux users could buy a Mac, and already have their favorite operating system installed, and Linux developers could more easily port their applications to the MacOS platform. Also, Apple developers have contributed back to FreeBSD. Also, much of the BSD licensed code has been adopted by GNU and GPLd, as Theo de Raadt from OpenBSD said "Once the code is GPLd, we can't get it back." Are you hypocrites? Have you just taken our code and turned it into yours, just as you said companies would do to us? Except now, GNU can't give it back. It's GPLd. You protect your code from being stolen, while you steal ours. Many GPL fans would still disagree with this. The larger GNU has lead you astray from real free software, BSD.

Why Kirk Bauer doesn't use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

Here I am, in 2008, six years or so after the original article was published, five years or so after the last comment.

And yet, I can't help it. I have to say (or write) it out loud:
KIRK BAUER, YOU ARE SUCH A SHORT-SIGHTED, STUPID, MORONIC IDIOT!

There, I said it. I *know* attacks "ad hominem" are wrong. I *know* that Kirk Bauer may even be working somewhere else, with something else. But I *had* to get that out of my system.

Ahhhhhh, it feels soooooooo good!

Nah, screw you

Anonymous's picture

Here I am, in 2008, reading the original post and your comment. Dear commenting GPL weenie:

SCREW YOU AND YOUR STUPID GPL WANKERY.

You GPL weenies are so full of ridiculousness it boggles my mind that you ever get anything useful done. Then I realize that you *don't* get anything useful done, most of you just use the code developed by engineers who are getting paid by corporations.

The meaning of the GPL

Anonymous's picture

GPL says: Closed source is harmful to society.

Therefore, if a CLOSED SOURCE company wants to use GPL code in its product, tough. That's the whole point of the GPL. Closed source is harmful.

Your argument essentially says "If programmers at a closed-source company could save time by using my code, then I have a moral obligation to let them use my code, for free."

Personally, I think that I don't have a moral obligation to help someone create closed-source code.

- Connelly Barnes

BSD page count Versus Linux page count.

Anonymous's picture

Linux has 50,000,000 hits:

BSD has 3,020,000 hits: Which shows that there is a tremendous interest in Linux, and the GPL. I read that IBM committed a Billion to Linux and realized a return equal to that amount in goods and services.

Linus Torvalds released his work on the Kernel under the GPL after attending a lecture by Richard Stallman. Since many of the tools, and apps that are part of any Unix style implementation are already under the GPL it made sense.

If Linus had released his work under a BSD style license he would have been competing at a disadvantage with the work of the BSD teams.

The early implementations were raw, needed worked on and have come a long way.

Differentiating Linux from BSD through a different license was good marketing.

Because there was an alternative, the enthusiasm and energy of thousands of developers has continued to improve the OS.

Even BSD fans will realize that competition is better than stagnation.

Okay, Linux may be more

Anonymous's picture

Okay, Linux may be more popular than BSD, fine, but that's not the point. Just because Linux is more popular dosn't mean the that BSD is wrong, and the GPL is right. It means that Linux is more popular, and so it gains more supporters than BSD based projects. Linus Torvalds's kernel was written for himself after his failed attempt to find a good operating system for his computer. Linux really gained supporters after the UCL v. BSDi lawsuit that prevented release of much BSD/OS code during the three year trial. Linus Torvalds himself even admitted that he might have not ever written his kernel if 386BSD was available during that time. Also, we're talking about the license, not the operating systems specifically, so comparing the number of "hits" (by this, I assume you mean the number of results, not the number of page views) of a search of BSD vs. a search for Linux dosn't really do you much good. I hope everyone will stop persisting for the silly idea of the GPL, and seriously consider BSD, not just saying "GPL is better than BSD, no matter what"

However

Anonymous's picture

In an ideal world, your scenerio might work. BUT, two things: 1. M$ - they'll buy or steal anything they can, period!2. Even with the GPL there's been cases of companies hijacking code only to have been found out later and thusly, having to give credit where credit is due.
Most companies and corporations are out to make money, not free software. Now, while some might be in the spirit of 'giving back', for most companies, that doesn't help the bottom line. Especially nowadays when software is so utterly crappy - I mean really crappy - sucky developers rip off anything they can. Right now, the biggest market of developers is a market called corporate developers. I.e., developers who couldn't code their way out of the trashcan next to their desk. And having been forced at my company to use the same tools as our neanderthal cousins, this becomes all to clear.
Now, if I was developing a closed source product (nothing wrong with that) and included some GPL code (or even used it I think), I'd be a little nervous, and that's the goal of the GPL. If you use it, then someone uses yours. The short answer, don't release closed source with GPL code, or else. This goes so deep tho, it's not worth arguing here. 'It's infinite man, like a black hole!'
Anyway, using a BSD type license, I can blantly rip off and include all kinds of stuff and get away with it. Which is precisely what M$ did to Kerebos and who knows who else to what else. That's definitely not the spirit, I'm sure, in which the authors released the code in. However, that is the corporate spirit - get ahead at all costs. Winning is winning. Period. 'Losing' means, drown the little guy in legal fees, which wins in the end anyways.
I'm really glad tho I, people, have the choice. I love free software. A lot of it is leap and bounds ahead of commercial stuff. But I also don't trust companies and those who run them and, er, most developers that work at them. So, I'll probably stick with the GPL for now. In a future where, I believe M$ will not have as much ground as they do now and OS just keeps getting better, there will be more opportnity with BSD and MIT type licenses for developers to not give credit where credit is due. Sad fact. Just human nature I guess...

They didn't "rip off" the BSD

Anonymous's picture

They didn't "rip off" the BSD people, the BSD people gave it to them. So what if they didn't give back. It's just that much more code they would have to write. It isn't taking any money away from you, is it? Isn't the spirit of free software to write software that benefits others, and not just you and your project? It seems like GNU is turning more and more into one of those big corporations every day.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

Closed-source software must be extinguished.

GPL will make it....... and the dream will come true..........

Henrique Dante de Almeida

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

What's the dream? That no software developer can earn a living writing code? The GPL sounds like it has a communist bent.

Red Hat

Tweenk's picture

Tell this to Red Hat people, or Sun people working on MySQL, or Canonical people... Sure, FOSS won't make more money than traditional software development, but in the end it will dominate because it is more cost effective at delivering the same goods.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

Simply put, I think the focus is all wrong on what the GPL should protect. In my opinion, libraries should never be GPL covered. As well, applications which are of general purpose use should also not be GPL'd. An example of this is a (simple) FTP client. This is not say that people don't have a right and are justified in doing this, it is just that in some instances the GPL may actually go counter to what it is attempting to (broadly) accomplish. When a company is hindered from being able to easily adopt a platform, then the company is going to have to adopt more slowly than would otherwise be possible. The GPL does present these types of road blocks at times, due to the fact that code which could provide tremendous value by being able to be readily adopted into a proprietary product is in fact incapable of being so used (at least legally so). In this regard, the GPL closes off code from adoption in no less as severe a manner as if it were proprietary in the first place. I believe that components which have a common use, such as Linux, are a great thing to protect. On the other hand, if my company wants to deploy a proprietary application on Linux, in no way do we want to expose or put our application at risk of requiring the disclosure which linking with GPL code requires. I believe that the greater company adoption there is of Linux, the better it is for Linux. The greater the speed with which companies are able to adopt Linux, the greater the speed with which we can be assured that when the real HAL finally does arrive, it won't Blue Screen.

You are in your right!

Anonymous's picture

You are on your right, of course!

And I so. If I wish grant the freedon of my software, and it is a program, not a library, then the GPL give the necessary freedon not only to end users, but also to proprietary software productor distribute my program, free of charge, together your proprietary software, at your price, to atend the need of the end user.

I find which this not disagre both, the freedon of FS neither the "rights" of PS.

If my piece of software is a library, then I have to use the LGPL. Under this license, both softwares, free and proprietary, can use the library and, at same time, I warrant which any improvement on it will return to comunity.

With all my respect to Open Source comunity, but what warranty any other license beyond give off return the improvements made om my software to the society, in general, and not only to the PS company?

---------------

Evandro Guglielmeli

MG - Brasil

Don't want to moan but...

Anonymous's picture

...but as the CTO of an international corporation, and enjoying this discussion as I do, I must ask all of you

"Why is your spelling so atrocious?"

"There" is not "their". "Principal" is not "principle". And so on. And yes, it DOES matter. You can be reasonably sure that anyone working at senior management level (and THAT is where you get to make decisions) can spell.

I'd recommend some self study. And release under any license you like. Both GPS and BSD/MIT have merits.

Cheers,

Mike

Re: Don't want to moan but...

Anonymous's picture

what is GPS ?

:-p

*LOL* ^O^

Anonymous's picture

*LOL* ^O^

Re: Don't want to moan but...

Anonymous's picture

You're one to talk, dude.

You put punctuation outside of quotation marks, and began a sentence with an article.

Both are incorrect English grammar.

I'd recommend some self-study, especially for someone in the position you claim to be in.

Nothing wrong with (a) in UK

Anonymous's picture

Nothing wrong with (a) in UK English. Nothing wrong with (b) unless you're a half-educated cluckwit who thinks that Victorian 'rules' of grammar set the gold standard for all time. Get a clue.

Re: Don't want to moan but...

Anonymous's picture

You no doubt meant to say conjunction instead of article. In any case, you are wrong. I recommend you look it up in an English usage manual. You are also wrong about the quotes: he wasn't using the quotation marks to set off quotations; there's no logical reason to put the punctuation inside the quotes there.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

It strikes me that a lot of GPL advocates seem to care most about the freedom of the community as a whole to use and modify not just the original GPL'ed code, but all of its derivatives as well. I think the BSD side deserves more representation than it's gotten so far:

When I write code, I want *anyone* to be able to use it for *anything*. YES, this includes commercial use! YES, this includes proprietary use! YES, this includes trying to charge me for my own code! And while I won't do any of those, I don't want to prevent other people from doing them. I think anything else is potentially harmful to the community at large.

My argument boils down to: People have to eat. And to eat, they need money. The GPL effectively prohibits any sort of commercial use. Even when a company attempts to legally use the GPL for a commercial product, outside pressure forces them to stop. (For an example, look at theKompany's recent decision to abandon the GPL.) The BSD and MIT licenses do not prohibit commercial use. That means that it is possible for someone to make money off of them, i.e., to eat.

So suppose I write a bit of code. It implements a standard which we'll call Foo. The Foo standard, and my implementation of it, becomes enormously popular. Everyone wants to run Foo, whether they're on Un*x, Windows, Macs, BeOS, NeXT, MS-DOS, whatever.

Clearly the commercial software establishment is going to offer Foo, because that's what their customers want. Each company has two options: Write their own implementation of Foo, or use someone else's (in particular, mine). If they write their own, it will take a lot of time (= $$), and have interoperability problems. If they use mine, they will spend some time porting it to their platform and some time thereafter maintaining it (= $$ again).

Suppose company Bar is trying to decide whether to use my implementation of Foo, and suppose my implementation is GPL'ed. Anything they do to my code must then be contributed back to the community. If Bar is profitable and favors open source a lot, they might be willing to devote a developer to a project on which they expect *no monetary return whatsoever*. Nothing that their Foo developer writes will directly get them profit, because any bugfix or feature addition he makes must return immediately to the community codebase. It might get them a little profit indirectly if their marketers push Foo very hard as something you want to buy from company Bar, but since anyone can run my implementation of Foo on a free (as in no cost) operating system, and since Bar's implementation of Foo is exactly the same as mine, Bar isn't likely to make much money that way. On the other hand, if they write their own implementation of Foo, they might try to make it bigger and better than mine, and thus they might hope to attract consumers to their platform and hence to make money. This is standard monopolistic competition from elementary microeconomics: Each competitor tries to make his product look different and better than everyone else's to get a bigger share of the market. This strategy, if you pull it off right (i.e., you have better developers than the collective open source community and you have good marketers), will make you a lot of money. (Think about the fast food industry for a good example.)

We probably all agree that Bar writing its own implementation of Foo is a mistake. It takes too much work to be effective. But writing its own implementation is the obvious way to get money, and you can't eat if you don't have money. Since most companies are traditional companies that expect a direct return on their investments instead of depending on side benefits like support contracts, Bar is going to write their own implementation of Foo. Hence different vendors have different libcs, and anyone who's tries porting anything to anything else knows what a mess that is!

Now suppose that company Bar is trying again to decide whether to use my implementation of Foo, and this time my implementation is under an MIT or revised BSD license. Bar can decide whether or not it wants to contribute its changes to my codebase back to the community. So if Bar is profitable and favors open source a lot, it can contribute patches for the BarOS to my codebase. On the other hand, if they're unprofitable or they don't favor open source, they can use my codebase without contributing patches to my codebase or without even mentioning me. Either way, they put in the work necessary to port my implementation of Foo to their platform, and, in return, they get full use of a high-quality implementation of Foo. That still leaves them the option of developing their own bigger and better implementation of Foo from scratch, which, in this situation, is absurd! No sane person would want to reimplement all of Foo when he doesn't have to! It's too much work! And since they don't have to contribute patches, they can *still* try to make their derivative version of Foo bigger and better than mine, and that could make them profitable.

That probably leaves some of you wondering: "Why do you want Bar to steal your work?" I have two reasons: The first is because it helps the community. Bar is now using a high-quality implementation of Foo that works with everyone else's (unless they make a deliberate decision to make it uncompatible. That risks losing market share, and once we work around it they have only disadvantages). The second is because my friends and I want to eat, too, and if Bar is profitable, maybe they'll employ us. By contributing my implementation of Foo to the community under a license which permits commercial use, I might have created my own job. Without a job, I'm going to be a bum on the street, not an Open Source developer.

I bet someone is now asking, "What if Bar corporation is Evil?" So? I don't care. Now they're using a high-quality implementation of Foo, and that helps the community, doesn't it? Or would you rather all the Windows boxes out there continue to have broken TCP/IP stacks? I can sacrifice my own personal vanity to fix that. Even if Bar intentionally makes their implementation of Foo uncompatible, like Microsoft has done with Kerberos, we'll live. Samba is out there, after all, and if we can work around a standard like that, we can work around a broken Windows implementation of Kerberos. I think a lot of people who hate Microsoft forget that, in the end, consistently good code will win. Microsoft doesn't have that, even if they take things from the Open Source movement, so I'm not worried in the least.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

> It strikes me that a lot of GPL advocates seem to care most about

> the freedom of the community as a whole to use and modify not

> just the original GPL'ed code, but all of its derivatives as

> well.

That's correct.

> I think the BSD side deserves more representation than it's

> gotten so far:

>

> When I write code, I want *anyone* to be able to use it for

> *anything*. YES, this includes commercial use! YES, this includes

> proprietary use! YES, this includes trying to charge me for my

> own code! And while I won't do any of those, I don't want to

> prevent other people from doing them.

That's your choice.

> I think anything else is

> potentially harmful to the community at large.

I disagree. "Anything else" is much too broad of a category.

You would have to prove that onlyBSD is harmless, which is

next to impossible. If you mean that GPL is 'potentially

harmful', I conditionally agree. If you think that any

restriction is harmful, such as prohibition against stealing or

prohibition against vandalism, then you will be correct in your

own mind, while totally disagreeing with the rest of the people

on the merits of the prohibitions themselves.

GPL carries its famous restrictions. Most people believe that

these restrictions are of more benefit than harm. Please note, I

don't represent GPL's restrictions as completely benign. But the

benefit outweighs the cost.

> My argument boils down to: People have to eat. And to eat, they

> need money. The GPL effectively prohibits any sort of commercial

> use.

This is false. GPL doesn't prohibit commercial use. In fact,

why do companies offer free binaries of their work is beyond me,

but certainly GPL doesn't require free or even low cost

binary distribution. GPL only cares about the freedom of

source code, which must be available for free or a

reasonably low cost (like the cost of media + shipping and

handling).

Just because a lot of commercial companies don't understand this

truth about GPL is nobody's fault. However, if you approach GPL

from the right angle, as a business, you can make money with

GPL'ed software. Because GPL only

cares about the source code freedom (and rightly so), this can be

compatible with GPL. Sure, die hards will be able to get the

cheap or free sources and compile it themselves, but most normal

people and especially businesses will most likely not waste their

time IFF the binaries + support are priced just right.

Think of this as a sort of a speed bump. Speed bump doesn't

prevent you from speeding, but it surely discourages most people.

Granted, this won't allow you to rake in some ridiculous monopoly

profits, but who says price gouging should be protected by law or

license?

> Even when a company attempts to legally use the GPL for a

> commercial product, outside pressure forces them to stop. (For an

> example, look at theKompany's recent decision to abandon the

> GPL.)

That's just a bunch of BS, imo. theKompany could continue using

GPL if they knew how to use it. If people whine, then let them.

Sooner or later the free (as in free beer) lunch will stop and you just have to

pass through this "whining" phase. theKompany was not willing to

do so, and it's their loss.

> The BSD and MIT licenses do not prohibit commercial use.

Neither does GPL. You can charge anything you want for binaries,

because GPL says nothing about binaries. You can even charge a

modest fee for the source code.

> That means that it is possible for someone to make money off of

> them, i.e., to eat.

Same thing is possible with GPL if you can think outside the box.

> So suppose I write a bit of code. It implements a standard which

> we'll call Foo. The Foo standard, and my implementation of it,

> becomes enormously popular. Everyone wants to run Foo, whether

> they're on Un*x, Windows, Macs, BeOS, NeXT, MS-DOS, whatever.

>

> Clearly the commercial software establishment is going to offer

> Foo, because that's what their customers want. Each company has

> two options: Write their own implementation of Foo, or use

> someone else's (in particular, mine). If they write their own, it

> will take a lot of time (= $$), and have interoperability

> problems. If they use mine, they will spend some time porting it

> to their platform and some time thereafter maintaining it (= $$

> again).

>

> Suppose company Bar is trying to decide whether to use my

> implementation of Foo, and suppose my implementation is GPL'ed.

> Anything they do to my code must then be contributed back to the

> community.

This is very likely. Bar will want to contribue back to the

community because this Foo is industry standard, and by

supporting this Foo, they ensure that the market doesn't fork,

and thus, their Foo-dependent product has more value. Not only

that, but Bar can donate their changes under GPL without worrying

that some company Buz will just get free labor out of Bar's hard

work and/or hijack Foo as a "thank you".

Keep in mind that in order for Bar to use Foo, they only need to

do some very minimal changes, otherwise, they might as well write

their own implementation. So, something like TCP/IP stack is a

perfect example of Foo like this. TCP/IP is not a product you

can sell and it doesn't make sense to make it proprietary. If

TCP/IP was LGPL'ed (as should be done with libs that you want in

wide use, yet don't want to be hijacked), then everyone could use

TCP/IP. What's more, commercial companies would feel free to

contribute small portability enhancements and bug fixes, because

it promotes TCP/IP as standard, thus indirectly increasing the

value of their TCP/IP-based product. And, they are safe in

knowing that no other company will be getting free lunch at their

expence.

> If Bar is profitable and favors open source a lot,

> they might be willing to devote a developer to a project on which

> they expect *no monetary return whatsoever*.

Of course you don't exepct monetary return on Foo. If Foo is

your entire product, then what are you doing starting a

software company? Perhaps you expect to add 1 or 2 small things

and close the source and start charging? That's hardly fair.

People who pick BSD license think otherwise on this point, but

then, please don't expect others to agree with you! If you think

it's fair, fine. I think it's unfair. So do many others. Thus

you have GPL'ed software.

On the other hand, if Foo is only an enabling part of your

application, you will still get all your profits that are

honestly earned based on the amount of non-Foo stuff that makes

up your application.

> Nothing that their

> Foo developer writes will directly get them profit, because any

> bugfix or feature addition he makes must return immediately to

> the community codebase.

That's wonderful for the community! Amen. If you join the club

and want to parttake of the goodies, you have to pay for them.

Except, instead of paying with money, you have to pay with your

bugfixes and enhancements. That's fair. Sure, GPL is not free

as in beer. But you knew that, right?

> It might get them a little profit

> indirectly if their marketers push Foo very hard as something you

> want to buy from company Bar,

But if Foo is your entire product, then your CEO and CTO need to

be fired. Period. I don't buy a bottle of water in the store

and then turn around to resell it for profit! No one would pay

me my surcharge. I have to provide value-add before I can

resonably demand something. Let's say I add my special sirup.

Now it's worth something more than just a plain bottle of water.

> but since anyone can run my

> implementation of Foo on a free (as in no cost) operating system,

> and since Bar's implementation of Foo is exactly the same as

> mine, Bar isn't likely to make much money that way.

That's true, especially if you also provide free binaries and Bar

is not the only source of binaries. Also, it's especially true

if Bar's Foo and your Foo are almost identical, and there is not

enough value-add in Bar's product.

> On the other

> hand, if they write their own implementation of Foo, they might

> try to make it bigger and better than mine, and thus they might

> hope to attract consumers to their platform and hence to make

> money.

This is fine. Let them write bigger and better things. That's

what freedom is for.

> This is standard monopolistic competition from elementary

> microeconomics: Each competitor tries to make his product look

> different and better than everyone else's to get a bigger share

> of the market. This strategy, if you pull it off right (i.e., you

> have better developers than the collective open source community

> and you have good marketers), will make you a lot of money.

There is only one problem. Open source developers have code

reuse on their side. While the monopolist has to constantly

re-invent the wheel, open source programmers reuse more and more

code. What happens is that the barrier to creation of an

additional feature is lower for open source developer than it

ever is for a proprietary developer. Open source developer can

just add one line here and one line there plus add some chunk

from this app and another chunk fromthat, and presto, you have a

new product. Proprietary developer has limited code reuse to

only within their own company. And when they want to reuse code

outside their company, they pay a fee. This is good. After all,

people who develop libraries need to eat too. Why release BSD

licensed TCP/IP stack under BSD when someone else can make their

own proprietary implementation and charge all the proprietary

companies to use it? Thus, there will be more food to go around.

> (Think about the fast food industry for a good example.)

Whatever. Burger King, McDonalds, Wendy's, family owned

"no-brands", etc.. they're all fierce competitors. Hardly any

one of them is a monopoly.

> We probably all agree that Bar writing its own implementation of

> Foo is a mistake.

Yes. They should support GPL'ed Foo instead and thus help ensure

that the component Foo will be that much less likely to fork and

fructure the marketplace.

> It takes too much work to be effective. But

> writing its own implementation is the obvious way to get money,

Too bad! Every CTO should think twice about this. It shouldn't

be obvious. If it is, you have to fire your CTO. Writing your

own implementation is a big gable that may or may not pay off.

It's anything but obvious!

> and you can't eat if you don't have money. Since most companies

> are traditional companies that expect a direct return on their

> investments instead of depending on side benefits like support

> contracts, Bar is going to write their own implementation of Foo.

> Hence different vendors have different libcs, and anyone who's

> tries porting anything to anything else knows what a mess that

> is!

Right, and this is what BSD license encourages. It makes it that

much easier for everyone to have their own implementation! At

least if Bar didn't want to use GPL'ed Foo, they'd have to

rewrite entire Foo, and thus, they'd have to think twice about

it. So creating their own Foo would be much more costly. On the

other hand, with BSD Foo, all you have to do is add 1 line and

close the source. Thus making a proprietary and incompatible

version of BSD'ed Foo is a no-brainer.

Thus you have the hell of totally forked and fragmented UNIX

market.

> Now suppose that company Bar is trying again to decide whether to

> use my implementation of Foo, and this time my implementation is

> under an MIT or revised BSD license. Bar can decide whether or

> not it wants to contribute its changes to my codebase back to the

> community.

Bar will almost never decide to contribute back under BSD

license. If they pay hard earned money to improve Foo, why

should they give away their hard work that their competitors can

use without paying anything back? If Foo was GPL'ed or LGPL'ed,

then at least they would would rest in knowing that all changes

made by their competitors will benefit them as well.

> So if Bar is profitable and favors open source a lot,

> it can contribute patches for the BarOS to my codebase.

Not likely. Not anything that is both non-trivial and very

desirable for reuse. You'll mostly get scraps of junk to assure

all the BSD contributors of 'good will'. You'll never get any

prized jewels.

> On the

> other hand, if they're unprofitable or they don't favor open

> source, they can use my codebase without contributing patches to

> my codebase or without even mentioning me. Either way, they put

> in the work necessary to port my implementation of Foo to their

> platform, and, in return, they get full use of a high-quality

> implementation of Foo.

Yea, that surely is a good deal for the company who does that.

It's like getting a free gift.

> That still leaves them the option of

> developing their own bigger and better implementation of Foo from

> scratch, which, in this situation, is absurd!

Exactly. Now they can just add one or two lines to BSD'ed Foo

and they have something that's just as good as developing their

entire thing from scratch to be incompatible!

> No sane person

> would want to reimplement all of Foo when he doesn't have to!

But adding a line or two to break compatibility is a day's work.

Sounds very tempting, especially if you already have a monopoly

that you need to maintain.

> It's too much work! And since they don't have to contribute

> patches, they can *still* try to make their derivative version of

> Foo bigger and better than mine, and that could make them

> profitable.

Hell yea. Getting free gifts is the fastest way to profit!

Can't argue with that!

> That probably leaves some of you wondering: "Why do you want Bar

> to steal your work?" I have two reasons: The first is because it

> helps the community. Bar is now using a high-quality

> implementation of Foo that works with everyone else's (unless

> they make a deliberate decision to make it uncompatible. That

> risks losing market share, and once we work around it they have

> only disadvantages).

Sounds like they only have advantages to me. They control the

market and if you want to play in the same space, you have to be

Bar-compatible. As soon as the others figure out work arounds,

lo and behold, Bar introduces the latest and greatest extentions!

On the other hand, the community who helped create BSD'ed Foo is

shafted. BSD'ed Foo-compatibility depends on good will of the

company, and given that companies are 100% amoral, and have no

such thing as "good will", you are begging to be shot in the

foot. So if it just happens that incompatibility with Foo is a

way to differentiate your product from generics and gain a

perception of "enhanced value", guess what??

> The second is because my friends and I want

> to eat, too, and if Bar is profitable, maybe they'll employ us.

Right, right... This is a secret hope of every BSD coder.

ROFLMAO!!! How pathetic. The reality of the situation is that

no one needs you! Just take a look at how hard this BSD kernel

guy (forget his name) had to beg Apple to get a job. You think

Apple went ahead and proactively recruited BSD devs? Don't be

kidding yourself.

> By contributing my implementation of Foo to the community under a

> license which permits commercial use, I might have created my own

> job. Without a job, I'm going to be a bum on the street, not an

> Open Source developer.

Right. Too bad it doesn't work :). How many BSD coders got

hired like this? And how many more are without a job right now?

Compare this to how many people have been hired to write GPL'ed

code.

> I bet someone is now asking, "What if Bar corporation is Evil?"

> So? I don't care.

I do.

> Now they're using a high-quality implementation

> of Foo, and that helps the community, doesn't it?

No it doesn't. It hurts them because the community gets nothing

out of this.

> Or would you

> rather all the Windows boxes out there continue to have broken

> TCP/IP stacks?

Market would force some modi***** of quality on them either way.

Just watch what happens with Microsoft security. It sucks, but

market demands it. Guess what, it will be secure soon. There is

no need to use BSD code base to ensure "unbroken" implementation.

Besides, nothing guarantees that they will roll all the later

fixes back into their own code. What if they're lazy or just

want to save money? So just having BSD code available doesn't

guarantee that they will expend time and energy to keep it up to

date with the latest official open source version. In fact they

probably added a few fixes of their own, and now it's harder and

harder to keep in sync with the open source patches (because your

hunks are rejected).

As you canse, you don't have a solid argument there at all.

> I can sacrifice my own personal vanity to fix

> that.

Vanity is one thing, but free labor is another.

> Even if Bar intentionally makes their implementation of Foo

> uncompatible, like Microsoft has done with Kerberos, we'll live.

What? We'll live? ROFL. Why? Just use GPL.

> Samba is out there, after all, and if we can work around a

> standard like that, we can work around a broken Windows

Oh yea, and you don't think that the time people have invested

into legacy support like Samba is not a waste? It's a total

waste and a market inneficiency! It would be much better if

Samba was uneccesary in the first place, and then the very

talented Samba devs could apply themselves to something

innovative and unique!

> implementation of Kerberos. I think a lot of people who hate

> Microsoft forget that, in the end, consistently good code will

> win.

Yea. It will. Even if this good code is proprietary. That's

why I prefer that proprietary companies don't have easy access to

free high quality code. I'd prefer Free(dom) Software code win!

I don't just want 'good code' to win. I want the winning code to

be free as in freedom! This benefits community the most.

> Microsoft doesn't have that, even if they take things from

> the Open Source movement, so I'm not worried in the least.

Right. They don't need to have good code to crush your behind.

You should be worried! All they need is some clever lies,

marketing, monopolistic abuse, and lobbying in Washington!

Wake up.

BSD license has good points, but certainly you didn't mention a

single one. In fact, everything you mention here is a weakness

of the BSD license. All in all, GPL is hundred times more useful

than BSD as a license.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

When I write code, I want *anyone* to be able to use it for *anything*. YES, this includes commercial use! YES, this includes proprietary use! YES, this includes trying to charge me for my own code! And while I won't do any of those, I don't want to prevent other people from doing them. I think anything else is potentially harmful to the community at large.

I disagree. "Anything else" is much too broad of a category. You would have to prove that onlyBSD is harmless, which is next to impossible.

That's not the "anything else" I'm talking about. I'm thinking of commercial and proprietary use. I think that prohibiting commercial and proprietary use is *always* harmful to the community at large. It screws up the economics.

Let me make a confession: I am a die-hard capitalist pig. I really, really, really honestly believe that capitalism is a successful system and that we should support it. I think that has something to do with my stand against prohibiting commercial and proprietary use.

GPL doesn't prohibit commercial use. In fact, why do companies offer free binaries of their work is beyond me, but certainly GPL doesn't require free or even low cost binary distribution.

Let me quote http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html:

With free software, users don't have to pay the distribution fee in order to use the software. They can copy the program from a friend who has a copy, or with the help of a friend who has network access. Or several users can join together, split the price of one CD-ROM, then each in turn can install the software. A high CD-ROM price is not a major obstacle when the software is free.

Mind you, this is on their page about selling free software. If I want to charge $30 a copy for my iplementation of Foo, and one person buys it and makes fifty copies for everyone he knows, I'm going to lose $1500, and I'm not going to be able to get it back, because the GPL lets him do that. By section 3 I must provide the first person with the source. Then by section 1:

1. You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program.

You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee.

So the first person can legally redistribute the source code to my program (which I'd like to charge for) for nothing. That's what I mean when I say that the GPL prohibits commercial use.

theKompany could continue using GPL if they knew how to use it. If people whine, then let them.

Let me quote an essay by Shawn Gordon, founder and president of theKompany.com, http://www.linuxandmain.com/essay/sgordon.html:

We sell one product that is GPL. On at least a weekly basis we get someone telling us that we have to give them the source code because it is GPL. Some of them become verbally violent and abusive when I point out that the GPL provides for us to charge for the source code, we just have to make it available, and this we have done. Some of these people even tried to hack our system to get the code because they thought it was their God-given right to have it.

I don't think the problem is with theKompany. I think the problem is a misguided belief among the users that the GPL entitles them to free beer, not free speech. And I don't think that belief is going to go away, either:

I had RMS come to me on this product to make sure we weren't violating the GPL, and he admitted that we were not, but in the course of the conversation he proceeded to project onto the KDE project aspects of theKompany in a totally inappropriate fashion and was very negative about KDE in this regard. Now, to my mind there is far more corporate involvement and control over GNOME than KDE, but RMS chose to see things the way he wanted to see them in this instance and say that it was too bad the KDE didn't stand for freedom. Again, this had nothing to do with KDE, this had to do with just one of our banner products and the way we chose to implement and license it.

Would you expect the community as a whole to understand things better than RMS?

Bar will want to contribue back to the community because this Foo is industry standard, and by supporting this Foo, they ensure that the market doesn't fork, and thus, their Foo-dependent product has more value.

The protocol will only fork if some vendor makes a conscious decision to abandon the standard. What I'm considering is the case when a vendor wants to have a compatible but different product from my implementation of Foo. Say they want a spiffy, new interface, or they want to make it scale to 10,000 users easily. In those cases the standard remains standard and my implementation of Foo will still work with Bar's implementation of Foo, but their implementation will, for the moment, have advantages. That gives their product more value, so they'd like to charge for it. But they can't do that according to section 2b of the GPL:

You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

Since Bar can't make any money off of modified versions of my implementation of Foo, they're going to write their own.

On the other hand, if Foo is only an enabling part of your application, you will still get all your profits that are honestly earned based on the amount of non-Foo stuff that makes up your application.

And what if I could honestly earn more if I had a better implementation of Foo? Then I'd love to improve on what I have and make my product better than all the rest, but I can't do that if the Foo implementation I have is GPL'ed.

Nothing that their Foo developer writes will directly get them profit, because any bugfix or feature addition he makes must return immediately to the community codebase.

That's wonderful for the community! Amen. If you join the club and want to parttake of the goodies, you have to pay for them.

No, it's terrible for the community, because it means that the community won't get anything back at all. It's not in the company's best interests to give anything back--it's in their best interests to write their own implementation of Foo.

Keep in mind that in order for Bar to use Foo, they only need to do some very minimal changes, otherwise, they might as well write their own implementation.

Whoa! Suppose I want to port a Linux distribution to a really, really big supercomputer (1000s of processors, TBs of memory, etc.). Doing a good job of that is going to take a lot of work--not only do I have to port the kernel to my hardware, but I have to create entirely new interfaces so that my users can use the enormous resources at their disposal. E.g., I need a way of scheduling jobs on particular processors. I need a way of reserving processors. I need a job control system. Etc. That's a lot of work, not just a few changes, but I don't think that I might as well write my own implementation. That would be even more work.

And since Linux is GPL'ed, I'd have to release whatever changes I made. This might not be so bad, since no other vendor is likely to have quite the same hardware as me, but on the other hand, they could still steal all the work I did on job and processor control interfaces. It wouldn't legally be theft, but they'd be using my code, which I wrote for my saleable product, in theirs. I'd get upset, but legally I'd have no recourse.

But if Foo is your entire product, then your CEO and CTO need to be fired. Period.

That's not what I proposed. I proposed including an implementation of Foo with the product.

(Think about the fast food industry for a good example.)

Whatever. Burger King, McDonalds, Wendy's, family owned "no-brands", etc.. they're all fierce competitors. Hardly any one of them is a monopoly.

I did not say that they were. I was referring to the microeconomic concept of "monopolistic competition", where each vendor tries to differentiate his product from everyone else's in the as yet unrealized hope of gaining a monopoly.

Right, and this is what BSD license encourages. It makes it that much easier for everyone to have their own implementation! At least if Bar didn't want to use GPL'ed Foo, they'd have to rewrite entire Foo, and thus, they'd have to think twice about it.

I don't think they would. Companies are used to putting large teams of programmers to work on large projects. And once Bar creates it's own implementation of Foo, we have the potential for incompatibility.

Sounds like they only have advantages to me. They control the market and if you want to play in the same space, you have to be Bar-compatible.

You speak as if Bar were a monopoly. I suspect you're thinking of Microsoft.

I'm not. I'm thinking of any generic software vendor. The Foo standard could be something relatively large scale, like POSIX, ISO-compliant libc, or TCP/IP, and Bar could be Sun or HP or RedHat. Or it could be something small, like the IETF syslog-reliable draft, and Bar could be a small thirty-person outfit that sells logging infrastructure solutions. Quite honestly, I think the GPL is more likely to hurt the little guy because he's going to have fewer products.

... companies are 100% amoral, and have no such thing as "good will"

Hahahahahahahahaha! You sound like a socialist.

(Forgive me, that sounds like an ad hominem attack. But I really did laugh out loud when I read that.)

The second is because my friends and I want to eat, too, and if Bar is profitable, maybe they'll employ us.

Right, right... This is a secret hope of every BSD coder.

Isn't it the not-so-secret hope of everyone to eat? Even Linux developers have mouths.

Now they're using a high-quality implementation of Foo, and that helps the community, doesn't it?

No it doesn't. It hurts them because the community gets nothing out of this.

Their implementation of Foo is likely to be more compatible with other implementations because it was initially based on a high-quality implementation that was compatible with others. That means less work for the community and an easier time switching to our products if Bar does a bad job with its own (conversely, it means an easier time switching to Bar's products if we turn out to suck!).

Samba is out there, after all, and if we can work around a standard like that, we can work around a broken Windows

Oh yea, and you don't think that the time people have invested into legacy support like Samba is not a waste? It's a total waste and a market inneficiency!

But Samba works, doesn't it? I can connect just about any Unix system to just about any Windows system now. SMB is not a legacy protocol--it's still in very active use. Samba isn't going to go away just because you think SMB is ugly. I agree, SMB *is* ugly and I'd rather use something else. But if I don't have a choice, I'd rather use Samba than say, "Oh, Microsoft has really beat me this time! I can't share files between my Unix systems and my Windows systems!"

That's why I prefer that proprietary companies don't have easy access to free high quality code. I'd prefer Free(dom) Software code win! I don't just want 'good code' to win. I want the winning code to be free as in freedom! This benefits community the most.

A hypothetical situation:

Suppose that you had the option of, every six months or so, driving to your local computer store and buying the newest release of KillerOS for $25. KillerOS works *perfectly*--it and its applications never, ever, ever crash under any circumstances, it is infinitely and easily customizable to whatever need and interface you want, and it is compatible with every other system that has ever been used.

Suppose that your other option is to download FreeOS for free from the Internet (or to buy a CD of the same stuff for a nominal fee). FreeOS is GPL'ed. FreeOS also sucks. It crashes daily at least, it doesn't do what you want and thumbs its nose at you when you complain, and it whines and moans when it has to work with any other operating system or even some other version of FreeOS.

KillerOS and FreeOS both have development tools for at least one language in common, and the tools work well enough on FreeOS that development is practical (Needless to say, they work perfectly on KillerOS). Furthermore the development tools compile to machine code, not bytecode. There are no restrictions on what you can do with your source or the binaries on either platform.

Which would you choose?

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

You misrepresent things. Suppose that you have a choice between an expensive OS that sucks, and a "free" one that sucks less, but requires an investment in learning how to use it ... that's actually no harder than the expensive OS. That's how it is.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

Microsoft did not need for user to change from MS products to Linux. It's pure concurrency. So, all the reasons listed not applicable to Microsoft, but only to advanced users. Hovewer, the MIT idea is good.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

Hmm... looking at all the banter and debate on this subject prompted by this article, I'm struck by the sad state of human politics in the 21st century. That we need to debate the subtleties of "software licenses" (what an offensive concept!) is an indicator that simple human greed still holds sway over those greater and loftier ideals to which we as humans can aspire. It's depressing, really. Reminds me of a line from Kipling:

"We are very slightly changed,

" from the semi-apes who ranged,

"India's prehistoric clay,

"Whoso drew the longest bow,

"ran his brother down, you know,

"as we run men down today,

Unfortunately, so long as the world prefers to try to steal ideas and make a quick buck from them rather than doing an honest day's work for a day's pay, we'll need some form of protection from the thieves and bullies in the world.

So... make choices that you feel are appropriate in your licensing schemes. I know what I'll be doing (but I'm not going to argue about it here).

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

Thanks for the poem. It was really useful. Here's one:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

The GPL sucks,

and the geeks cry boo-hoo!

Once again, another zealot trying to forward a cause instead of a product. Wake up! We live in a capitalistic society. Without the will and desire to make money, and own something, we would be a socialist state. Look what happened to those? USSR? And when did apes ever fashion a tool more complex than the a$$ scratcher? I think of none. Your argument is best elementry and worst, condescending.

Decommodizing

Anonymous's picture

I think the main aim of the "cascaded" phroibition of code closing, stated by GPL, is preventing "decommodizing" (I think you already know the Halloween documents...).

If ext2 wasn't GPL protected, MS could take it, extend it in an appearently useful, but non backward compatible manner, and use all its power to spread outsuch a propretary closed version, a "decommodized" version, and force everybody to use it, killing that way the previous free and open implementation.

Yet, L-GPL is an intermediate solution between GPL and BSD, that allows commercial use of libraries and alike.

releasing your program under the GPL is not much better than Microsoft selling their program to you with a restrictive EULA--in both cases, the copyright holder is telling you what you can and cannot do with their software.

None, never, put in discussion the right to establish what may be done and what cannot done with one's own intellectual properties. However GPL is very different by EULA. In one case you prevent your code from being embedded and locked inside propertary distributions, protecting its freedom and the opportunity of free availability of further enanchements, changes and extensions. In the other case whole freedom of software is completely banned.

ZakMcK

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

Both GPL and BSD type licences have there respective advantages, but i perfer the GPL. I think the BSD licence is more lickly to be used but the GPL, although idealistic, keeps things more free. For example look at BSD, EVERYONE USES BSD CODE!!! There are bits of BSD in Linux, MacOS X, and even microsoft Windows. Now thats great in that the code is being used, but it sucks because BSD doesn't get credit for these changes, and the code is no longer free. If BSD had been GLPed right now all those windows and Mac usere would have fully open source operating systems, or lag behind because they refused to use innovative code.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

I'm so glad you want me to steal your work. I'll be selling my proprietary improved version of autoRPM/logwatch (and whatever else you right) soon.

Sincerely,

Bill G.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

If this is Bill G for real do you thik that the stuff you get is truly the bleeding edge, think agian, your system can`t even run as a true multitasker without a lockup. It can`t even do true rentrant processing.

So, you do not get the true benifits I have been with your system for close to 30 or more years. And by the way you know me as a student in 1976 in a lecture meeting in Wenatchee Senior Hi School.

As I am talking to you I can boot up an 100/mps LAN

on line, but if you think that I will have them on lint your full of it after that response.

I heard that the people at Susi in Germany bought your stocks back after your code messed up their production system. Don`t tell me your code is better as we are not getting viruses and worms in our code because we share our problems and have a protection setup in weeks instead of moths and years.

Sincerly,

Steven Loyd Blair.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

Congratulations, you figured out how BSD licensed software raises the quality of software, free or not.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

I think you're being naive when saying that corps would contribute back to BSD codebase. Exactly how much corporate contribution does BSD kernel get? Sure, it gets some. Now compare this with Linux.

If your personal freedom is more important to you than the freedom of the community and the continuing availability of the untainted standards compliant software, then BSD is the right choice. BSD gives you, the author, more personal freedom, like the freedom to customize your own work and make that customization proprietary. Personal freedom is important. However, what about the freedom of the community?

I think the freedom of the community is more important than the personal freedom. It takes a larger view of things to understand this. Think of a human being as a body part of a larger being called 'community'. Your quality of life and your freedoms are inextricably connected to those of the community.

Let's say you are the most rich man in the world. You have 30 billion dollars in various bank accounts. You can afford anything. Now, imagine that by getting all this wealth, you have debased the community to such an extent, that you must live in the ghetto, surrounded by some poor scumbags who must do making money via prostitution and other illegal activities. Now, a truly wise person will recognize that the value of these 30 billion is vastly dilluted. In fact, most sane people would choose to have 100k but live in a friendly community free of crime, strife and poverty. Sure, you have less money for yourself, but you live in a better place. Thus each dollar that you do have is worth more.

So the truly greedy person, the most capitalistic pig possible, will consider the good of the community before their own personal good, if they are properly enlightened. Who wants to be the king of the hill if such hill is a mountain of *****? No one, I would hope. That's why many rich people just can't bear to live with the rest of us and have to buy secluded property and lock themselves up in 40 million dollar nuclear-bomb proof shelters. This is a direct result of them debasing the commons in order to get more personal wealth.

I'm all for personal freedom and individuality. If you take the enlightened, wholistic and larger view of things, if you keep in mind that we only live here a short time, and that being nice to each other to create a worthwhile community is important, you will see that choosing BSD license is not an obvious choice, because it doesn't benefit the commons in a clearcut way.

In a perfect world, if every human was ethical and enlightened, BSD license would be ideal. Because the more cultured and responsible a human is, the more freedom such a being deserves. Without being pro or con, think about this: would you rather give a gun to a convicted criminal or would you give it to someone who is a vegetarian and would never harm a being, but simply enjoys target practice for its sportsmanship?

In essense, BSD license is like a gun. To a responsible person, it offers more freedom to do good. To a thug it offers more freedom to screw people over.

The people behind GPL have considered this carefully and decided that GPL strikes a better balance. GPL takes away more freedom from a thug than it does from an honest person. It's not perfect! GPL is a careful and well considered compromise.

I prefer GPL over BSD, and yet, I think in some cases it is more expedient to use BSD. For example, for all important infrastructure, I prefer GPL. I want all the open code to stay open and I don't want it subverted or 'extended' in any way. Competitors feel better sharing their code knowing that it can't be used against them. Thus GPL creates a neutral ground where the natural animosity of the marketplace is suspended in order to promote greater projects with greater scope and larger, more wholistic benefits.

In the end, it is your choice, just like it is your choice to abide by the law. Think carefully about the larger consequences. Look beyond your own nose.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

"would you rather give a gun to a convicted criminal or would you give it to someone who is a vegetarian and would never harm a being, but simply enjoys target practice for its sportsmanship?"

Hitler was a vegetarian, non-smoker and non-drinker...

What about LGPL?

Anonymous's picture

I personally prefer LGPL, so commercial companies can use the code if they help the developers to modularise it enough. Then they are obliged return their changes to the LGPL-ed modules, but their product as whole is their proprietary and nobody else can sell it.

Isn't it fair enough?

Michal

Re: What about LGPL?

Anonymous's picture

I also seek out LGPL stuff for this reason. It makes no sense to me that I write a million lines of code, link to one function in one GPL library and viola, all my code is infected. So I have to re-invent the wheel to protect my companies efforts--so I'm not giving back any improvements I might make during my reinvention. We don't want to steal code, propriatorize code, or keep it all to ourselves--we will happily work with LGPL code to give credit, funnel fixes back, etc. but will never allow GPL code into our work, so the GPL code will not receive the benefit of our efforts (hey, it might be useful!).

Re: What about LGPL?

Anonymous's picture

So I have to re-invent the wheel to
protect my companies efforts--so I'm not giving back any improvements I might make during my
reinvention.

Please explain why "your company's efforts" deserve protection ... but the work of other programmers out there doesn't.

This is exactly the problem. You want your company to benefit from the work of others, without them being able to benefit from yours.

Re: What about LGPL?

Anonymous's picture

I think you missed the point. The protection he is referring to is protection against a license that you do not want to use, NOT the "protection" that is derived from making the software closed source.

There are a variety of reasons for making software closed source. Some of them good, some of them aren't. Ditto for making software open source. That's not the issue. The issue is 1) that GPL is a viral license, and divides the software community into two disjoint sets, GPL'd and not GPL'd, to the detriment of all, and 2) the FSF propaganda surrounding GPL has been so successful that many, many developers select GPL without any awareness of the harm they are doing.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

You know, that BSD license is exactly why the BSD OS's

are just eclipsing and kicking Linux's ass right now.

Boy, you just hit it on the mark this time didn't you.

Ever take the 5 seconds to wonder why IBM didn't contribute

JFS to the BSD OS's?

Well, I'll tell you why. It's because IBM doesn't want Microsoft

or Apple to have JFS for FREE.

When you donate code you want the donation to remain in

the hands of the PUBLIC! Not in the hands of your compeditors.

The GPL is a barrier to privitization of code via another copyright. It is a means of guaranteeing continued community

support for the software which is usable by the community.

I personally feel that all code sponsered by the U.S. Government should be GPL'd as allowing corporations to

re-copyright code under the BSD or MIT licenses and then

charge consumers millions of dollars for that same code is

indeed a TOTAL CRIME against the people of the United

States of America!

When you wrote this article you were refering more to YOUR

FREEDOMS than the freedoms of the community.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

Amen, brother. We get taxed twice on the same money, too. It's the old I/O tax scheme!

Let this guy give away his rights, but if my tax money is used to develop software, don't let a company charge me for it ten years from now!

"Open Source" is just not good enough, in my opinion.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

jlkreps's picture

I know that Microsoft Psychophants will love your new philosophical positiion. Several have expressed such joy in posted replies to your article.

But, tell me again why Microsoft's using the BSD FTP code, for example, without returning anything to the BSD community, except an onerous license fee and a Bill of Rights busting EULA, is a good thing?

The BSD rewards exploitation and, when encorporated into a propriatary product that is or becomes patented, pevents the original author from using his own code. Prior art? The TPO rarely considers such works, and the original author does not have the deep pockets necessary to defend himself against charges that he stole his own code.

In my opinion Linux is making the gains it has made against the most dangereous monopoly that every existed BECAUSE of the GPL. To abandon it now would return everyone to the EXPENSIVE software enslavement demonstrated by XP, .NET and Longhorn.

Unforntunately, if the CBDTPA (formerly the SSSCA) becomes law the Digital RIghts Management patent owned by Microsoft will become the law of the land and the BIOS of all "personal" computers. The GPL will be illegal in the USA and compliant nations. Citizens of other nations will be able to continue to use the GPL. Their profit margins won't be made razor thin or non-existant by the Microsoft Tax and their competitivie power will drive businesses hampered by the MS Tax and the CBDTPA out of business.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

Anonymous's picture

In my mind, it's better that M$ uses, for example, a standard FTP implementation than some weird-@$$ propietory, closed MS-FTP protocol. I mean, we do have to work with Windoze users, no matter what OS we choose for ourselves -- Billy G.'s ease of access to BSD code ensures that more and more of Windoze is reliant on standard, open protocols, which means easier integration for those of us in the *Nix community.

Re: Why I Don't Use the GPL

xtifr's picture

This debate has been raging since the mid-eighties, and this article adds neither light nor insight into the debate.

For a (not-at-all brief) review of the debate, check google for the gnu.misc.discuss archives from the eighties. Most of the time, this debate filled more than 75% of the posts to that newsgroup/list.

One of the standard counterarguments is: lack of restrictions does not necessarily equate to more freedom. For example, a law against slavery restricts my freedom to capture and work slaves, but preserves the freedom of all potential slaves. The GPL (proponents argue) is analogous to a law preventing slavery. While it does indeed contain restrictions, those restrictions actually encourage more freedom, not less.

Of course, there are obvious flaws in that analogy, and I'm not going to defend it, but it does point out that the situation isn't necessarily cut-and-dried. You can't just count up the number of restrictions in a license and use that as a measure of its "freedomness". You have to look at the purpose of the restrictions, and gauge how they impact freedom overall.

Bottom line, I think the article is about as useful and informative as one that recommends using vi instead of emacs, or one that recommends using gnome instead of kde. This is an old, tiresome debate, the issues are non-trivial, and frequently personal, the correct answer may well depend on circumstance. I do think the conclusion is utter crap, and I think kerberos stands as a perfect counterexample. I think the GPL and BSD/MIT licenses both serve the community excellently. And I reserve the right to use either one as the mood or circumstance dictate.

One rule of thumb I use is that if I'm building infrastructure, and I want to encourage its use as widely as possible, I'll generally use an MIT-style license. On the other hand, if I'm cloning something that's already available in proprietary software, I'm more likely to use the GPL, because the proprietary vendors already have their version, and don't need mine. Of course, that's only a tiny part of what should go into the decision-making process here. And I definitely agree with the author that you should think about your licensing, rather than blindly choosing any license. But I object to the authors obvious partisanship in what should be a matter of choice and taste and circumstance. And yes, I'd argue just as hard if he were promoting the other side.

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