Open and closed source...

Ghovs ghovs at ghovs.moo.ca
Thu Jan 18 06:12:34 PST 2001


> I agree with you here, and hope that I wasn't misunderstood because of my
> previous message.  Microsoft _does_ develop good software too.  Heck, if
> they hadn't done anything right they wouldn't be in the position where they
> are now.
>
> My point though was that the BSD license opens up the door for open source
> software to be used _against_ the open source community itself.  In other
> words, it's pretty easy for Microsoft or any other company to simply reap
> the fruits of open source development while at the same time publicly
> opposing it, deriding it and even launching a battle to destroy it.  The
> rumors that a lof of BSD's network subsystems has gone into Windows 2000
> to make it more stable is a good example of this.

You know what open source is about?
Selflessly giving effort to a community which isn't paying you a single penny 
for it.

So why complain if companies don't pay you either?

Most GPLed software is the source of income for a lot of companies.

Some companies even live off BSD'ed software.

No, not off the software itself, but without it, they couldn't run a business.

> Yet another example.  There is an ongoing discussion in Slashdot right now
> on whether the new MacOS X can destroy Linux on the desktop.  That would be
> a good example of a commercial entity (Apple in this case) taking some
> open source software, building a lot of proprietary layers on top of it,
> and then perhaps destroying the chances of free software in the desktop
> market.  Something to think about.

Uhm.
Right.

And how exactly am I to be wooed on spending cash on something I can get for 
free?

You forget that a LOT of people simply want their current open source OS 
cause they like it, love the principles behind it, buy into the philosophy 
that drives it.

How are ya picturing me giving that up for shiny ads?

Linux and BSD never expected to be the mainstream solutions and the 
developers wouldn't stop even if it were an obscure, seldom-used bit of 
ancient cruft.

Sometimes, people actually have feelings they stick with.

> Agreed, and correct my statement.  You're right.
>
> This is what I mean though.  If we _only_ pay attention to the research and
> not to how the fruits of our research are going to be used, we're then
> avoiding responsibility.  The scientists who did space research did _not_
> have a choice of a license that would stop the authorities from using their
> research to produce better missiles.  The developer who writes open source
> software _does_ have a way to avoid that.  It's called GPL.

Okay, now, will you please tell me how you plan to detect people downloading 
opensource GPL software and using it in their own closed-source projects?

Or do you intend to sue .mil over using GPLed software for their AI missiles 
after they waxed all of China, since you clearly recognized their trajectory?

It's not as if a simple license is going to be able to protect software which 
is freely available.
It's just not realistic to think that forbidding is going to stop anyone at 
all.
If people have a conscience, they're not gonna be bad.
If people do not have a conscience (or an insufficient one) they will be bad.

Being bad includes ignoring legal terms of a license.

Following through with this, the only way to protect the world is to take 
down the publicly available software.

It's the ancient thing about people trying to halt progress and getting it to 
blow up in their face as a result.

Besides... after the knowledge of destroying the entire world being landed in 
the hands of the most militaristic countries in the world, what more horrors 
could possibly come?

How much worse does it get beyond world's end?

I do wonder for what consequences we'd be evading responsibility.
How much worse could we possibly make things?

> I don't always oppose the use of proprietary software.  I do oppose,
> however, the use of open source software to add it to a commercial
> proprietary solution without giving back to the very same people who
> created it in the first place.  In other words, if a bug is discovered in
> the ftp client Microsoft can go ahead, fix it, and forget about submitting
> the fix to the people who originally wrote it so everybody else can benefit
> from it.

That's a clear-cut case of people profiting of your selfless efforts.
It's a sad fact of life, but we're never able to really force people into 
being nice back.

> If the BSD license were widespread, we could end up with a lot of open
> source developers doing the dirty work for commercial entities that take
> advantage of it and don't care about giving anything back.

I'm not going to start about RH and SuSE.
At all.

> It's definitely different goals, like Greg Lehey said.  The BSD community
> appears to be more academic and scientific in nature since that's where it
> was born.  Their main aim is to create better software no matter what, even
> if it's going to be used by commercial entities for their own purposes. 
> That's why I brought up the simile of the scientists which I understand
> doesn't fully fit here but I see a parallelism in their attitudes.  The GPL
> community, on the other hand, has a different goal: to build open source,
> free software, that stays with the community who produced it.

It's a bad idea, I find.
Many people are having to spell out legalese in hours of clear study to 
figure out how it all fits together within the maze of licenses. GPL isn't 
the simplest.
I can't say I follow it very well.

I _am_ sure that I'd prefer just recoding things myself instead of trying to 
resolve license dependencies.
Also, I'd not like to be shoved into GPL for whatever I make.

I don't want to give things and pretend they're still mine in any way.
M$ does that, and that's why I don't like M$.

> Sorry if I make it sound as if I have something against the BSD community
> because the fact is that I also run their products (FreeBSD mainly). 

I even run M$ software.
It's not because I endorse them.

> Nothing like that is intended in my messages.  I simply want to emphasize
> that the difference between the two licenses is one of goals and nothing
> else and as such it is definitely important which one we choose because
> they will make a difference somewhere down the road.

The difference I see is that between easily implemented and difficultly 
implemented.

Anyways, I notice this is a little sarcastic in some parts...
Just want you to know I'm a little zealous about this, but not out to kill 
(or otherwise harm) you for your difference of opinion.

rgds,
Peter de Freitas

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