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Is Apache Or GPL Better For Open-Source Business?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the less-filling-tastes-great dept.

Software 370

mjasay writes "While the GPL powers as much as 77% of all SourceForge projects, Eric Raymond argues that the GPL is 'a confession of fear and weakness' that 'slows down open-source adoption' because of the fear and uncertainty the GPL provokes. Raymond's argument seems to be that if openness is the winning strategy, an argument Michael Tiemann advocates, wouldn't it make sense to use the most open license? Geir Magnusson of the Apache Software Foundation suggests that there are few 'pure' GPL-only open-source projects, as GPL-prone developers have to 'modify it in some way to get around the enforcement of Freedom(SM) in GPL so people can use the project.' But the real benefit of Apache-style licensing may not be for developers at all, and rather accrue to businesses hoping to drive adoption of their products: Apache licensing may encourage broader, deeper adoption than the GPL. The old GPL vs. BSD/Apache debate may not be about developer preferences so much as new business realities."

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370 comments

Doesn't really matter (5, Informative)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759557)

GPL or Apache doesn't really matters -- what matters is if you can make money. There essential matter is whether the software in question is a tool you use or the product you sell itself. If it's just a tool, the GPL makes sense, so you get contributions back. If it's your product itself, neither GPL nor Apache makes sense.

Re:Doesn't really matter (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27759613)

If this [youtube.com] isn't proof that welfare is a bad idea, then I don't know what is. Filthy negro beasts are too stupid to feed their kids when Popeye's is closed.

Exactly -- is the software the means, or the end? (3, Interesting)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759733)

[The] essential matter is whether the software in question is a tool you use or the product you sell itself. If it's just a tool, the GPL makes sense, so you get contributions back. If it's your product itself, neither GPL nor Apache makes sense.

And there you hit the nail on the head. If the software is the means to some other end, then yes, the GPL or some derivative would seem to make the most sense, in order to ensure that any improvements someone else might come up with are propagated back into the main branch. I would wager that this holds true for most FOSS projects -- and the SourceForge figures of 70% of projects using the GPL would seem to back this up.

But if, as you note, the software is the end in itself, if it is the product one is trying to sell, then proprietary is really the only way to go, simply from the perspective of locking others out.

And therein lies the crux of the conflict -- those keenest to use any piece of software are also keenest to see it spread and improve as quickly and efficiently as possible, while those trying to sell any piece of software are less interested in improvements than in maintaining exclusive control. These would appear to be orthogonal goals. The alternate model of giving the software away for free and charging for service instead adds an interesting wrinkle to the equation.

Cheers,

Re:Exactly -- is the software the means, or the en (4, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759987)

If the software is the means to some other end

i.e. you want to have your cake and eat it too. i.e. dual licenses schemes like MySQL's. i.e. you want to sell your GPL code.

then yes, the GPL or some derivative would seem to make the most sense

For you "owner" of the code, yeah--especially if you are extra weasely and require copyright assignment. For contributors, it is a scam. Why the hell should I contribute to your dual licensed garbage so you can turn around and profit from my work? I never understood why such companies aren't hassled more about this. It is really a great scam--you get a bunch of people contributing to your work for free and you get to sell it all. Course, I guess the same holds true for most things on the internet--flickr doesn't take pictures, its users do and flickr profits from that. Slashdot doesn't have a script to write comments, we write them and they profit from that. So I might be wrong on this... but the dual-license guys seem way more blatant, probably because I get a lot of satisfaction posting here, but dont really get much satisfaction contributing to some faceless corporations open source project.

The alternate model of giving the software away for free and charging for service instead adds an interesting wrinkle to the equation

A sucky one though. I doubt many programmers on this board want to be in a position that the work they produce for a company is essentially worthless and the way to move up is through the tech support department. I also doubt customers would benefit either since giving away the software and charging for support creates an incentive to make shoddy software that requires a lot of hand-holding.

Re:Exactly -- is the software the means, or the en (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760179)

I gather Slashdot doesn't make a lot from us writing comments. They make money from the advertisements we see while browsing. Comments are just slashdot's way of fostering a community and increasing page counts.

Re:Exactly -- is the software the means, or the en (2, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760415)

They dont make much from us clicking on the ads either. People who bother do register accounts become blind to them.

Slashdot doesn't directly make money from us writing comments. The indirectly make money from us because our comments give a reason for people to visit. Without them, the website wouldn't be interesting and nobody would visit... thus making this place unattractive to advertisers.

Re:Exactly -- is the software the means, or the en (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760245)

I think you're missing his point. If you make food, and you have a customer management system that is a means towards the end of staying in touch with those you supply food to, then the software is a means to an end, and the GPL makes sense.

The dual licensing schemes like MySQL don't fit this descriptor. The software is not a means to an end for those guys, it's an end in itself. And yeah, it's a scam. You want a great example of that scam in operation, look into the history behind Project Mayo, DivX Networks and XviD. A few guys took a boatload of peoples contributions and then sold em out, now they basically get a tax for every video player in existence.

Re:Exactly -- is the software the means, or the en (1)

gerddie (173963) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760335)

I also doubt customers would benefit either since giving away the software and charging for support creates an incentive to make shoddy software that requires a lot of hand-holding.

If the source is available then the customer might just ask some other developer to fix it, so your shoddiness doesn't gain you no money, maybe some bug fixes, but even this is not sure, because the consumer is not obliged to publish the changes, at least as long as he doesn't distribute the changed binary.

Re:Exactly -- is the software the means, or the en (1)

naubol (566278) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760485)

How is giving away shoddy software that requires a lot of hand holding (and therefore expensive service contracts) any different based on whether the source is open or not?

If anything, actually seeing the source might shame some companies into generating better code, and cut down on intentionally malicious code by having added transparency.

However, all software companies are in the support game, and therefore have an investment in maintaining lucrative support contracts.

Re:Doesn't really matter (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759779)

I agree it doesn't matter, but not on why.

How many people know the difference between the Apache license and GPL? How many are more likely to adopt a project because it chose Apache over the GPL? And, most importantly, how many people are dealing with your crappy project anyway? I don't have the stats but I can only imagine how many inactive, hardly active, or active but never used projects there are on Source Forge. The difference between licenses to 99% of those projects is zero.

Re:Doesn't really matter (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759913)

That's an odd view... personally, I think what really matters is that you can't make money with the code. Money comes from controlling a resource that is scarce. Money requires poverty as a precursor. Wealth comes from abundance.

The argument in the article misses the point when they keep talking about code quality, efficiency and market forces, because the GPL isn't about creating higher quality code. The GPL is about protecting something that is naturally abundant from the corrupting influences of law and commerce.

If you want to create artificial scarcity that is manifested, you use closed source distribution. You can't remove a law and create abundance, you need to actually kick in their door and download the source off their server. You don't get to have people who are outside your little conspiracy I mean corporation help with the work, and that's the cost you pay.

If you want to create artificial scarcity that is not manifested, but enforced by goons with guns from the BSA, you use an "Open Source" license. The code is out there, everyone could theoretically draw advantage from it immediately, but we're forced to pay to support the goons who watch us and prevent us from doing so. If you aren't already using other legal mechanisms to enforce your right to control the code, you're an idiot who just gave some group of patent trolls a present that will be used against you.

One could argue that this is the worst case scenario... better never to give you a car than to give it to you, tell you you're not permitted to use it, appoint guards to watch you day and night to catch and punish you if you do drive the car, and finally force you to feed the guards with your taxes.

If you want to create abundance, you distribute under a "Free Software" license, like the GPLv3. The code is out there, everyone can draw advantage from it immediately, except groups that are involved in creating manufactured poverty in your field are obligated to stop if they wish to participate.

Those groups are caught in a situation where the poisonous system that grants a thin veneer of legitimacy to their claims of entitlement is turned against them, and they are forced to either drift into irrelevance and be disempowered or ditch the layers of misdirection and exercise the violence that is the basis of their control overtly rather than covertly and indirectly.

That is what Free Software is all about, and why Open Source isn't good enough.

Re:Doesn't really matter (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760107)

If it's just a tool, the GPL makes sense, so you get contributions back.

The GPL doesn't make sense if your software gives you a competitive advantage, because by releasing your code under the GPL, you relinquish that competitive advantage.

Re:Doesn't really matter (1)

reashlin (1370169) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760503)

But your competitive advantage should ALWAYS include the support you give to that software. If no-one can better the support then there is little to no reason why anyone should branch. By saying that someone will "steal" your code if you don't GPL it means that you are worried that with your code people can offer things that you cannot. As the author of that code you are the one in the best position to know how the code works and the best way to work with it. If someone wants to expend money going through your code to add a new feature - then add it quicker than they can. Sell support for the software and people will come to you because you have all the new features and good support. Your competitors will end up null in comparison.

Of course this assumes we are talking about whole programs here. If a competitor steals say - a networking stack - for an OS. Then you should feel proud as a developer that your code is better than something they could produce and that their OS has benefited from you (hopefully) good work.

Perfect (1)

KingPin27 (1290730) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759565)

Thats exactly what we need -- Another Licensing method. Just when all of the modifications to GPL weren't making enough sense just throw another one in the ringer!

Re:Perfect (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759659)

I believe the Apache license is the same as the BSD license, it may even be the BSD license, I'm not sure and I didn't RTFA, naturally. Anyway both Apache and BSD have been around a long, long time.

So it's not "throwing another one in the ringer", it's an old player getting up and saying "you guys suck, I'm the best". Basically I think they are trying to start the FOSS version of a fist fight.

May the best license win!

It differed from the last BSD version (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27759767)

in that the Apache license dealt with patents (which, being outside copying is still able to ensure you can never use the original BSD licensed code if someone takes a patent on it) and therefore was a better BSD than the BSD license.

Linux licensing terms (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27759593)

A musty atmosphere of neglect pervaded the subbasement of University Library and the books on the shelves were covered in a fine layering of dust. There were dim lights over the small study cubicles at the end of each aisle between the towering shelves which produced only enough illumination for the top of the desks, leaving the surrounding stacks and central walkway shrouded in a perpetual twilight.

I had finally found the copy of the heavy API guide I needed for my work connecting my SQL database to the graphical front end I had been slaving over all weekend. However, the intricacy of the cover of the neighboring book drew my attention and I brought it along to the desk for better inspection under the light. The cover looked a lot newer than the heavily thumbed volumes beside it. Emblazoned across the front was the title "Linux - Unleash the Power of your PC" together with a picture of a fat cartoonish looking penguin. As I opened the book I felt a strange buzzing in my head that quickly passed. I shrugged it off as my attention was drawn to a CD which dropped out and landed on the desk in front of me. It bore the same title as the book, together with something about 'Ubuntu' which was a word I did not recognise.

I had heard of Linux though. The University ran Unix on some of their servers, although I rarely chose to interact with those systems. Perhaps I should broaden my horizons though. I liked to think I knew just about everything there was to know about using Windows, but you could never have too many strings to your bow. Almost without thinking I slipped the CD into my pocket and returned my attention to my work.

A date with my girlfriend Paige followed the work in the library. I was one of the few students on my CS course to actually have a partner since, although computers interested me and would one day be my means of making a living, I was careful not to get drawn into the weird geek subculture that seemed to pervade the department. Some of the guys with their nerdish glasses and unwashed t-shirts grunted at me strangely when I declined to join in their games of Counterstrike or attend Dungeons & Dragons sessions, but I reminded myself that while they were shut up in a grimy lab scoffing Cheetos I was getting laid on a regular basis.

That night in my dorm room while I was getting ready for bed, I remembered the CD in my pocket and fired up my laptop to take a look However I couldn't make out what the strange messages flowing across the screen meant. Perhaps if I sounded them out their meaning would become clear. I tried to phonetically pronounce the words but they disappeared too quickly to be replaced with a blank screen. I gave up, turned off the light and climbed into bed.

The erotic dream started with Paige slowly caressing my back and buttocks. The caressing transitioned into an incredibly gentle massage starting at my neck and shoulders and running down my back. My butt cheeks were being massaged apart and I spread my legs and raised my rear as her hand reached underneath me from behind to stroke my erection. Her hand was very warm and felt wonderful as I started to slowly thrust into her hand as she started jerking me off. A huge long warm and moist tongue started playing over my testicles and anus. It felt fantastic. No one had ever licked me there before. I never knew how sensual it felt.

As her hot hand was expertly running up and down my rigid penis something started probing my anus. It snaked its way into my anal opening and it started slowly expanding. Suddenly I had the urge to move my bowels, but I didn't care, as my attention was totally focused on my imminent orgasm. My penis was released as Paige suddenly grabbed my sides and jammed her hips against my butt.

I woke up to find myself with my rear in the air. Someone was grabbing my sides and hitting my butt. I jolted fully awake as I felt something expanding in my rectum and realized I was being fucked. The cock in my butt was still expanding and was becoming painfully large. I thought I could actually feel it moving around in my guts like some kind of writhing python. I looked over my shoulder and my heart nearly stopped. The fat penguin from the book I'd found this morning was screwing me with obvious delight.

He probably only stood about 3 feet high, but he was well proportioned. My shock wore off as I realized the cock in my guts was still expanding. I tried to stand up and fell off of the bed onto the floor as the penguin wrapped his flippers around my waist and planted his massive cock tightly into my rump. The long, disgusting thing invading my ass wiggled and slithered deep inside me. At times it hurt, at times it filled me to the breaking point and felt absolutely wonderful. With the help of my desk I managed to stand up with him firmly clasped to my backside and his legs wrapped around my hips. I tried to pry his flippers from around my waist, but again I failed. He was amazingly strong.

My rectum was on fire and still the bastard's cock continued to grow. I could actually see my abdomen move as his monstrous penis slithered through my intestines causing my stomach to cramp. I slammed my back into the wall to try to crush him. All this did was push him harder into my rectum as his beak stabbed into the muscles of my back. I felt my balls churn with a hot boiling liquid heat and gasped, clenching my ass muscles, but this only intensified the heat I felt in my ass. Suddenly I felt my cock spurting cum.

I pitched forward trying to get away from the pointed bill and ran into my desk. I could see the screen of my still open laptop. It was glowing and the lines of text which again flowed over the screen appeared to be written with florescent ink. Even in my panic and the delirium of my orgasm I thought I could make out the faint sound of chanting in the distance: "Linux r0x0rs my b0x0r! RTFM n00b!"

I grabbed the laptop and slammed the cover down. A flash of light blinded me and an electrical shock shot up my arms making them tingle. The penguin let go of my waist and hips and fell heavily onto the floor with a thud. Despite lying on the floor and me still standing his cock was still in my guts. I quickly stepped away from him before he could recover. This ended up pulling about another foot of cock out of my rectum. His gargantuan snake of a penis plopped wetly onto the floor like an empty fireman's hose. It was at least four feet long.

I picked up a pitching wedge from my golf bag against the wall and holding the club like a baseball bat walked slowly over to his still prone form. He didn't seem to be recovering very fast. In fact I soon realised that he was dead.

I ran to the light switch on the wall and turned the overhead light on. Using the golf club I lifted the covers on my bed up to look under the bed from a safe distance. Nothing there. I checked under my desk and then carefully opened my closet. Satisfied that there were no more intruders in my room I sat down in my chair and my arms and legs started shaking as the adrenaline rush slowly passed.

My back and rear end were aching. I got up and looked at my back in the mirror over my dresser. There was a puncture wound from the sharp beak but it wasn't bleeding anymore and didn't appear too serious. My anus was another matter. I couldn't see my rectum, so I put my hand to it. I was wide open. I could fit my fist into my asshole. If I squeezed down, I could barely feel my sphincter tighten.

I put on some underwear and then wrapped a towel around myself and went down the hall to the shower. I took a long hot shower and gently cleaned my backside. It seemed that my anus was slowly contracting and returning to normal. Once back in my room I didn't think I would be able to fall asleep, but I was so exhausted I fell into a dreamless sleep.

When my alarm started buzzing I reflexively jumped out of bed, turned it off, wrapped a towel around my waist and with my eyes barely open I marched off to the shower with my shampoo and soap. I didn't wake up enough to remember what had happened the night before until the steamy water hit my face in the shower. It seemed like some sort of horrible nightmare. But I could feel the wound on my back and my anus burned and still felt very loose. The dead penguin though had completely disappeared.

It doesn't matter all that much (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759601)

The source availability provisions that come with distributing GPL software are a small pain for companies that want to make use of open source software, but that's about the biggest difference.

Anyway, over time, it will become obvious how big a concern the copyleft is to businesses.

Re:It doesn't matter all that much (2, Interesting)

2short (466733) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760293)

Actually...
  I work for a company that makes closed source software. We have a few pieces of core code we're not willing to open. But to make that stuff useful, we integrate with vast amounts of other tools and libraries that aren't our critical core, that we're perfectly happy to share with others.
    So the first thing we look for when we need some particular functionality is a BSDish license. We can use it however we need to, but we, and others can all share our improvements. As a result, we wind up spending a fair bit of money paying developers to write open source code on BSD projects.
    GPL is a deal killer. We can't use how we need to, so we respect the authors wishes and don't touch it. Unfortunately, that means we're never going to contribute any code to a GPL project.
    So while in theory GPL requires quid-pro-quo contributions, in practice BSD gets more. At least from me.
    Please note that if you are just philosophically dedicated to GPL and don't want no stinkin' code from dark-side sometimes-closed-source developers like me, I have no problem with that.

Short Term vs. Long Term Thinking (2, Insightful)

fictionpuss (1136565) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759623)

Without people like RMS fighting for the cause, I don't think the center would have moved so far towards FOSS today.

Supporting GPL in business is tougher, but it is also true that the benefits a company derives from open software are those it won't be able to reap in the future if the world turns back towards licenses which are less free.

Who's business? (2, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759639)

If you are making money developing the software, the GPL with a dual liscence is a feature, not a bug:

"Hey Mr Customer, you can have it for free under this GPL thingy, or pay us $$$ and do whatever you want with it"

If you want to make money modifying the software, the GPL is a disaster.

Re:Who's business? (3, Insightful)

PinkPanther (42194) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759755)

I wouldn't call it a "disaster", but it certainly becomes difficult to compete with the rights holders (if they are a single entity).

You have identified the major points though:

  • GPL allows me to leverage the "free" model by getting my software into the hands of potential customers, letting them experiment or do initial implementations
  • GPL stops competitors from taking my product and using it to directly compete with me, at least initially

The GPL does not preclude the open source community from forking and out innovating me. But any innovation done has to be done in the clear, assuming those changes are beyond "customizations" for a single customer.

If it's not your CODE... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27759803)

It isn't

"If you want to make money modifying the software, the GPL is a disaster."

It's if you want to make money modifying SOMEONE ELSE'S code, the GPL is a disaster.

If it's your own code, you can add non-GPL bits to your code and still make monopoly rent.

If it contains someone else's code under GPL, you can still make money from the modifications, but you won't make a monopoly rent from it.

Re:If it's not your CODE... (2, Informative)

gerddie (173963) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760157)

It's if you want to make money modifying SOMEONE ELSE'S code, the GPL is a disaster.

As always, it's about what exactly are you doing: If you want to monopolize on someone else's code, then you're right. But imagine, some user (company) has some software and the code is available under GPL. To get improvements they can ask you to do it, instead of the original author, and you can make money by modifying his code.

Re:Who's business? (1)

Jantastic (196238) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759839)

I agree, but what about government, which spends money, uses open source and/or free software, and develops as well?
In a discussion I had this week with a project manager (developing a nationwide CMS under Apache license), I noticed how he "embraced the freedom of the Apache license" / feared the "restrictions of GPL". Mind you, this is a very open minded FOSS advocate inside our government (not the USA), willing to contribute to the community and release the newly developed software. He also mentioned he still had to visit the legal department for advice on using and distributing open source...

Re:Who's business? (1)

jimwelch (309748) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760225)

X% of your customers demand GPL.
Y% of your customers don't care.
Z% of your customers want closed source.

The questions is what is X, Y, Z in your field of dreams (err, Business plan)?
More business and governments are demanding GPL, but is it big enough for you?

Re:Who's business? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760375)

free under this GPL thingy, or pay us $$$ and do whatever you want with it

Yep, because that worked so well for increasing QT adoption in companies.

I understand what he's talking about - you do want the OSS to spread, then the GPL takes it only so far (to other OSS products), if you want it to spread everywhere and become a standard, then you need a BSD-style licence. I'm sure Microsoft wouldn't have used the tcp/ip stack if it was GPL, and they'd have created their own network protocol instead. Fortunately they got to 'steal' that code and we've all benefited.

Now open source is reaching a level of maturity in the marketplace, and in end-user's minds, its time to start thinking of reducing the amount of GPL licences out there, whilst you needed GPL to get us to this point, we need LGPL or BSD to take us all the way to global software domination.

It depends on what you're trying to accomplish (5, Insightful)

ActusReus (1162583) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759643)

If you're trying to get a protocol or "standard" of some kind as widely adopted as possible, then you should use a more permissive license (e.g. BSD, MIT, Apache). If you want people to embrace your product, yet then have to buy a license from you if they want to modify it in any proprietary way, you use the GPL.

It's basically a business question of whether you plan to make money DIRECTLY from the code (i.e. GPL), or whether you have ulterior motives for making money elsewhere (i.e. Apache). For examples of the latter, most of the largest permissive-licensed projects (Apache, Firefox, etc) are bankrolled by Microsoft competitors as a means to block Microsoft from having full monopoly power in a particular niche.

This really is a TIRED and boring flamewar. There simply is no "one license to rule them all". It depends on what you're trying to accomplish.

Re:It depends on what you're trying to accomplish (2, Insightful)

trybywrench (584843) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759857)

I would say that when it comes to interoperability and standards compliance ( like a protocol ) then the GPL makes a lot of sense. With the GPL a business can't take the protocol, modify it, and then use market share to push their closed and modified version as the standard.

My best guess for making money off open source is still support. If you provide pay-only features then you've got to be better than the very best programmer in the open source community. You'll always be in an arms race trying to introduce new features that customers will pay for faster then the community implements these same features in the open source version.

With support you can provide a service that the open source community can't match which is basically a legally binding contract. Individuals would never buy the support and just head to the community for issues but a business will use the support contract as a hedge on the risk of using open source. The community has no contract and no obligation.

Now making enough to live on is a whole other matter.

Re:It depends on what you're trying to accomplish (2, Interesting)

ActusReus (1162583) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760303)

The business model for making money off support doesn't really change all that much when you use the GPL vs. whatever. If anything, you MIGHT get more business if your code uses a permissive license... because more companies are willing to adopt permissively-licensed products. I haven't really seen that play out anecdotally, though. I still think it's neither here nor there.

As for your claim that the GPL is "better" for standards and protocols... better for whom? It may be "better" for the creator in terms of giving him power to block proprietary derivative works. However, it will have less adoption in derived works precisely because it limits that flexibility (which, for a protocol or standard, is not better). This is the age-old heart of the GPL-vs-permissive debate... how to balance "freedom" for end-users vs. freedom for derivative works.

For an example of licensing a "standard", look at GTK vs. Qt. The Qt library follows your advice and uses the full-blown GPL, while the GNU-backed GTK library uses the more permissive LGPL. I note with irony that GTK is FAR more widely adopted, in both open and proprietary products, than the Qt library which follows RMS to the letter. The thing is, if you build your application around Qt you lose the flexibility to someday sell the thing without having to buy a commercial license. This reveals an unpleasant reality: that underneath all the Che Guevara and V for Vandetta ranting, many free software guys simply don't want to pay for stuff... yet they want to retain the right to get paid themselves.

Human nature is human nature... and even on free software's home turf, people are more reluctant to adopt a GPL'ed library or protocol than a permissive-licensed one.

Re:It depends on what you're trying to accomplish (3, Insightful)

gmack (197796) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760031)

This is what happens when people used to getting attention miss the attention when their 15 minutes is up.

No one has payed attention to Eric Raymond in years so now he has to start a flame war.

Re:It depends on what you're trying to accomplish (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760205)

Amen to that! The editors of /. must have felt like rousing the old BSD vs. GPL debate one. . . . more . . . time.

copyright doesn't cover the method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760455)

only the specific implementation of that method.

If you copy an algorithm and the code can only reasonably be written that way, then that is not copyrighted.

Nothing stops you using a GPL as an *** implementation *** of the standard, a reference of how it CAN be implemented.

GPL offered protection from competitors (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759661)

One thing the GPL offers that BSD-type licenses don't: protection from competitors. When a business releases it's code under a BSD-type license, it's competitors are free to take that code and expand upon it to make new products while keeping their code secret. As a business that means that you're always giving to your competitors but they don't have to give anything to you in return. The GPL, by contrast, allows your competitor to use your code as the basis for their enhanced product only if they give you their code in return. That means that whenever your competitor uses your code to gain a competitive advantage, you can grab his code in return and match him. You're never left holding the short end of the code-exchange stick. The only way a competitor can use your code without letting you use any improvements he makes is to not make any changes to your code at all. But if he's not making any changes or enhancements, you always have the first-mover advantage and he'll never be able to offer anything you aren't already offering. From a business standpoint, if you're going to open the source code at all the GPL provides assurance that the only way your competitors can hitch a free ride is if they accept always being in second place behind you when it comes to new features.

That's assuming you can open the code in the first place. For code that's not critical to your business it's an easy answer. If the code is critical to your business, the first question you need to ask is whether or not you can open it to the world in the first place. Opening it means the entire world can see the exact thing that sets your business apart from others in that case, OTOH it also means the entire world can offer improvements and that means you're effectively getting a development department not even giants like IBM and Microsoft can afford for free. Keeping it closed means you can avoid revealing the keys to your success, OTOH it also means there's huge amounts of useful software out there that you can't use and will have to pay to get (either in cash to buy commercial versions or in time to duplicate the functionality). I can't say whether the trade-off's worth it for any particular business or not, but as a businessman you'd better be asking that question and getting a solid, well-grounded answer to it.

Re:GPL offered protection from competitors (1)

mjasay (1141697) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759877)

This is absolutely true, but isn't that same protection against competitors more efficiently realized through proprietary add-ons to the open, Apache-licensed core?

Re:GPL offered protection from competitors (1)

cdgeorge (775179) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759899)

If you're that afraid you'll loose to competition, than you'd better not open source your code. But, really now, suppose that a new business wants to compete with you by using your own code. This means they'll have to 1. Understand the market 2. Hire/Use existing developers to understand the code and be able to create new features 3. Spend a lot of money to create a competitive brand (Hey, this shiny new thingie i've created for you is the best, and you shouldn't go to those guys i've copied from and know what they're doing) 4. Make sure those code better and faster than yours Leaving all this aside, have you ever seen this in action?

Re:GPL offered protection from competitors (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760035)

the shows the BSD license is more free, as it doesn't dictate what you can or cannot do with your code.

Re:GPL offered protection from competitors (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760223)

I think you mean "it doesn't dictate what you can or cannot do with someone else's code. The GPL can't force the copyright holder of the code to do anything.

Re:GPL offered protection from competitors (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760307)

> the shows the BSD license is more free, as it doesn't dictate what you can or cannot do with your code.

the shows the BSD license is more free, as it doesn't dictate what you can or cannot do with SOMEONE ELSES code. ...see, I fixed that there for you.

This has never been what you can do with YOUR OWN property but what you can do with SOMEONE ELSES property.

The biggest anti-GPL whiners are thieves that try to pretend that they are otherwise.

Don't like the GPL? Code your own. In this respect it is the same as any other license that
doesn't attempt to be equivalent to public domain (and thus completely pointless). In this
day an age there is little reasonable expectation to be able to grab something from the web
that is obviously not yours and start to treat it that way.

It doesn't matter if it's computer source code or some 50 year old pop hit.

Re:GPL offered protection from competitors (2, Insightful)

DaleGlass (1068434) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760437)

The whole argument about which is more free is lame semantics.

I use the GPL because it does what I want. Whether you call that "freedom", "restrictions" or "communism" is completely irrelevant.

I don't choose a license because of its freedom value, but because it does what I want.

Re:GPL offered protection from competitors (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760083)

Not exactly. GPL vs BSD vs Apache only matters when there is distribution. A business can customize GPL software and use it (internally) as a competitive advantage without giving anything back.

But since open source is a superior development model (right?), any private fork will lag behind the open source version, regardless of the license. Unless that company wants to maintain their own fork, it's to their benefit to contribute back, regardless of the license.

Re:GPL offered protection from competitors (2, Insightful)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760187)

The GPL, by contrast, allows your competitor to use your code as the basis for their enhanced product only if they give you their code in return. That means that whenever your competitor uses your code to gain a competitive advantage, you can grab his code in return and match him.

That's actually not true. There's no obligation in the GPL for your competitor to give you any of their source code unless they, or one of their customers, or somebody else downstream, redistributes the code to you. Since they are allowed to charge a fee for the software, you might find yourself having to pay to see their code changes. Or if you can't find anybody prepared to give you or sell you a copy of the software, you may never get the changes.

Re:GPL offered protection from competitors (3, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760253)

OTOH it also means the entire world can offer improvements and that means you're effectively getting a development department not even giants like IBM and Microsoft can afford for free.

Not really. That's the theory, but in reality what it means is that nothing prevents such a development department from forming spontaneously. In reality, many open source projects languish because no one is interested in developing for them, and there's no management in place to guide the developers to plan a roadmap for the project. High-profile, successful open source projects like Linux, Mozilla, and Pidgin didn't happen by accident.

You have to have people who understand the project, its purpose and goals, and have technical expertise in coding, and who are interested in contributing to the project and see a need to do it, or who are paid to do so.

If you're a company and you want to foster this sort of environment, one of the best things you can do is set aside some budget to pay coders for contributions that make it into the trunk of the project, or, you know, hire a few full-time developers to work on your project.

Simply putting the code out there and wishing isn't going to get you very far. Although, at least that way, when you go out of business, anyone who used to depend on your company for support can come along and pick up the project code and do something with it. Which is better than nothing, I guess. Far better to fertilize your project by putting incentives out there for programmers and users to take interest, than to simply open the codebase up and wait for magic to happen.

GPL is a hindrance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27759713)

GPL is a hindrance.

Whenever we use anything that is open source the first thing is to ensure it is not GPL'd. If it is GPL'd we find another solution or write our own.

Whenever we release any source we put the most permissive license on it we can - which translates to "You can do whatever you want with this EXCEPT put a GPL style licence on it" because we want anyone that uses anything we choose to give away to be free to make money with it or give it away and have to do nothing in return unless they want to - that is more freedom than the GPL gives you.

Re:GPL is a hindrance (2, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759937)

"Whenever we use anything that is open source the first thing is to ensure it is not GPL'd. If it is GPL'd we find another solution or write our own."

That's the idea, dummy.

If you're not going to reciprocate, then write your own!

Re:GPL is a hindrance (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760127)

That is the catch (and this is actually becoming boring :-)...

I can't reciprocate when your code is GPL'd. Since I would linking to your code (say, a CPAN module), your code would put my own codebase in a legal gray area. Therefore, I can't give back the changes that are relevant to you without also potentially being required to give back the entire codebase that uses your library.

So yeah... I'd like to reciprocate, but your license won't let me!

Re:GPL is a hindrance (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760237)

"I can't give back the changes that are relevant to you without also potentially being required to give back the entire codebase that uses your library."

No, that really is the idea, that you can't use my stuff without opening the whole of your codebase in the same way.

That is precisely the point! If you're not willing to open the whole of your application, you don't get to use any GPL components.

Re:GPL is a hindrance (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760315)

you don't get to use any GPL components

And I dont! That is the point of the article. Evidently I'm not alone and many more people avoid GPL codebases because it doesn't let them contribute back either!

Re:GPL is a hindrance (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760383)

What you see as not letting you contribute back, I and others would see as refusal to open up more of your work.

If you are a commercial entity that does not want to open the whole of your application then the GPL is aimed specifically at preventing you from using the software.

This is not a surprise to anyone using the GPL, it's the whole idea behind the GPL.

Re:GPL is a hindrance (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760465)

I and others would see as refusal to open up more of your work.

I disagree with this kind of world view, but fair enough. Just don't be surprised when your project doesn't get as much action as that hip new BSD one down the street.

You didn't write the code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760045)

so if it were closed source, you wouldn't be able to use the code either.

And you ALWAYS have the choice of writing your own. Or do you think your company should be allowed to "steal" the work of others?

Re:GPL is a hindrance (1)

keeboo (724305) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760229)

Whenever we release any source we put the most permissive license on it we can - which translates to "You can do whatever you want with this EXCEPT put a GPL style licence on it" (...)

Does your license define what is a "GPL style license"?
If not, thanks but no, thanks.

ah folks GPL3=ASF2 legally (1)

shareme (897587) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759721)

Ahem hard work by both ASF and FSF made GPL3 legally equal to ASF2 so its kind of a mute point.. I think there are more important valid points to debate about

Re:ah folks GPL3=ASF2 legally (2, Informative)

chabotc (22496) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759833)

Woops, you seem to have heard some rumor, misunderstood it, and then attempted to spread it as if it were truth.

The real story is that hard work has been done to make the GPL3 *compatible* with the Apache License 2 (or APL v2, ASF is the 'Apache Software Foundation' and not a license).

Compatible, ie that GPL3 software can link too APL software, is new (GPL2 code wasn't able to link to/include Apache licensed code), is new.. But that is not at all the same as being *equal*, the APL is a BSD like license which means you can do pretty much almost anything with it (as long as you include the copyright headers and notice/readme files), while the GPL3 has many restrictions that the APL doesn't have, the best known one being the viral clause that says you can only link to GPL'd software if your product is GPL too.

Please stop telling people the APL2 and the GPL3 are 'equal', legal issues around licensing are confusing enough without this type of miss-information :)

Re:ah folks GPL3=ASF2 legally (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27759845)

Moot point, not "mute".

Debian's 'free' repo rebut (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759731)

My example is the number of packages in the Debian Free repository. There are, no doubt, quite a few licenses among those packages, but they meet Debian's high standards for Free software.

Businesses will always do their best to capture all of the value of the work of others. There are no end to schemes meant to capture the value of GPL software and prevent others from using them. Tivo's kernel hack come to mind....

Re:Debian's 'free' repo rebut (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760495)

Businesses always want to charge as much as possible; a competitive marketplace always wants to make them charge as little as possible.

By releasing your code as OS, even under a BSD licence, means that the entry barriers to entering the marketplace are greatly reduced, thus increasing competition and reducing prices overall. This still applies if a company takes your freely-given code and makes a proprietary product with it, either they compete with other similar proprietary products (thus reducing prices), or they compete with a free version. Either way, the end users win.

In some cases, allowing a business to be created to sell a proprietary product using the free software can be more beneficial than a free one - mainly because the company will develop it much further than volunteers would. Obviously this applies more to smaller markets, or ones where there are few volunteers to develop for the free software, in these places a company would probably not start up at all unless they had a more guaranteed way of realising the revenue needed to develop it.

Embrace and extend all over again? Raymond's FUD ? (3, Insightful)

alexandre (53) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759737)

How does having the ability to close down the product a better freedom?
Actually with the GPL, you can dual license since it's your own software and thus have a free GPL version and then a privately extended version if that is what you business is looking to do...

With BSD, well, all your concurrent company can do the same and compete in the proprietary version with you, how is that helping you?

Raymond argues that GPL is bad because it's an uncertain license... what?
If Cisco can't read that it has to distribute source code, well, that is a shame with all their lawyers.
Anyone else KNOW what they have to do. So there is no ambiguity there!

Same goes for Google's Android going with the Apache license...
Basically in that super proprietary cell phone world, they are more than happy to have it under a BSD like license.
Now every company can build an OS together and all close them on their side leaving you, the user, with nothing out of that openness except the base system which might well be unusable.

See how MacOS X free part is free/useful compared to the full product? Haha! ...

So they save on development cost, like they would have with the GPL but remove the idea that they want to guarantee that this investment will be guaranteed in the future.

It's like a trap to win the cellphone OS race and then, when it's too late and they have such an insurmountable market share, they close it and we go back to business as usual...

As a user i can't trust that, I'll go with Maemo, OpenMoko or anything that has as much GPL as possible if i have a choice!

(which right now I don't really have, but this year is going to be interesting! I hope ...)

Re:Embrace and extend all over again? Raymond's FU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760011)

Actually with the GPL, you can dual license since it's your own software and thus have a free GPL version and then a privately extended version if that is what you business is looking to do..

Then that would be a derivative work and a violation of the GPL if you did that.

Re:Embrace and extend all over again? Raymond's FU (1)

alexandre (53) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760055)

From my understanding, if you own all the copyright you have a right to republish under different terms and extend all you want, which doesn't remove the original GPL source code from circulation of course.
Like QT did and i think MySQL and probably others.

Re:Embrace and extend all over again? Raymond's FU (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760177)

It would be only if the work includes code that you don't have copyright to. If it's your product, this very well may not be the case.

Business adoption my ass (1)

janwedekind (778872) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759751)

Depends what business adoption means. If I would want distributors like Microsoft and Apple to adopt my software, I clearly would not use GPL. But if I want to stay involved (i.e. have access to their modifications), using the GPL is definitely recommended. Maybe something like the Apache license (or even BSD without patent clause) is globally the winning strategy. But that's a small comfort for the individual developer getting sidelined.

If all GPL code was Apache... (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759765)

...it'd be better for business, at least in the sense that more people would find commercial opportunities with it. But would that code be open source in the first place, were it not for the GPL? I doubt it. Most companies don't want to give away source competitors could put directly in their proprietary products. Give away GPL code? To use it means the competitors would have to open source their application, turning them into a service and support company rather than product sales, where you'll beat them on accrued skill and experience. I'd also say that a lot more individual contributors subscribe to "share and share alike" than "share and kthxbye". My point is that it's not like you got two equal options, either you use GPL code or you have to write it yourself because there is no such Apache code. Would be nice if there were, but then I'd like a pony too.

...then IBM wouldn't be into OSS at all (3, Insightful)

caseih (160668) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760215)

If you look at big companies like IBM who have really embraced OSS, they have done so precisely because of the GPL. The GPL is really the only license that makes a lot of business sense. The GPL has two major advantages over other licenses. First since you own the copyright you can dual license the code as proprietary and GPL if you wish, while making sure that code can continue to be developed by a community and protected from exploitation---the only caveat here being that you have to make sure copyrights are always assigned to you, something that many projects do. The second major advantage is that no company can use your code against you in a competitive manner. The playing field is completely level. If improving your code helps a competitor, it also helps you. Given all this, if I was a commercial company, wanted to have my projects be open source, and I owned all the copyrights, then it's a no brainer. the GPL is the only way to go. It seems like the only time people complain about the GPL is when they don't happen to have a natural copyright to the code and for some reason feel some sense of entitlement to code (if it's open source I should be able to use it how I want, dang it) just because it's OSS. It's very bizarre.

Frankly I'm surprised to hear of such blatant FUD coming from someone like ESR. I think the solution to FUD is to be a bit more vocal about defending what the GPL is actually about and how it protects users, developers, *and* commercial corporations. It's not public domain software. It's source code just like source code from any other source. If it's not yours and you don't want to abide by the license, buy rights to the code or stop complaining.

Hurd it all before (1)

Al Al Cool J (234559) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759777)

This is of course a centuries old debate. GPL projects have the patience, confidence, and self-respect to wait for the right business to come along, one that will make a real commitment to a long-term relationship and honour its responsibilities. Only then does it get the source.

On the other hand you've got the projects with the much more liberal BSD or Apache licenses, projects so desperate for attention that they'll jump into bed with any business, and give up their source at the drop of a hat, not caring if it gets mistreated. Sure they can be convenient if you need some quick and dirty code, but mother always warned me about projects like that.

Tell you my "stragetgy" (3, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759861)

Eric is basically right. I've been burned in the past, so I now pay attention to the license an application uses (something you should get into the habit of doing).

Here is my decision tree for deciding to use an application licensed under any FOSS license:

1) If I plan to modify the application in any way, or use it as a library, it has to be under a BSD derived license. This means BSD, MIT, Apache, MSPL, Perl's artistic license, or anything similar. GPL, or any "viral" license is out... I dont touch GPL code anymore (actually, this is a lie, see below).

1.1) There are exceptions to the "used as a library" rule. If everybody else is using said library in their application (eg: libmysql), nobody is gonna try to GPL-ize my whole application. And if they do go after me, it will only be because I'm so successful that I become a target for such nonsense. If your library is nothing more than a CPAN module and it is GPL, I can't use it, sorry.

2) If I don't plan to modify the application for use in my project, the license becomes less important. In these cases, I look at other factors such as how active the project is. I don't like depending on projects that haven't been touched since 2005.

3) If your application or code will become a non-linked dependency of my application (for example, a GPL'd version control system), I don't really care what the license is. Since it isn't linked into my application, I won't get "infected". In fact, I might even contribute to your GPL project provided my contributions are independent works and don't come out of my own "toolkit" so-to-speak.

4) If you require me to assign copyright to you before I can contribute, you are a scam and can piss up a rope. Granted, many of the big-boys require this (most GNU stuff, Firefox(?), MySQL) and so I might be willing to cave in an contribute anyway provide what I'm contributing is an important bugfix and doesn't erode ownership my personal toolkit (i.e. the good stuff). The scam guys are companies who want ownership so they can cook up dual license schemes and profit from your work (MySQL). Scammers can pay for their own bugfixes...

Bottom line, I won't touch GPL for anything that might make my mainline code become a derivative work and force it all to become GPL'd. BSD'sh licenses cannot do this to my mainline code, so I can use their stuff and contribute anything I think they will find useful. GPL doesn't let me cherry pick useful stuff out of my code, so they miss out on some pretty cool things. Since I dont like leeching from GPL stuff (using it, but having no way to give back), I just avoid it instead.

In other words, if you GPL your project, $SUPER_BIG_COMPANY can't lift your code and make $MILLIONS$ but only at a heavy cost--the pool of people who are able to work on your project becomes much, much smaller. BSD-style licenses are attractive to business precisely because business knows they can contribute changes without getting into trouble. If I use a BSD anything, I know that I have the option to deeply embed the code into my application, still be able to contribute back any changes, and retain control over my intellectual property. GPL reduces control over my IP and thus I can only depend on it in the loosest way possible. The second I want to make any contributions, depending on how I used the GPL code, my entire portfolio might be in legal jeopardy. Not cool.

PS: IANAL

Re:Tell you my "stragetgy" (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760129)

I always thought that was the idea -

"If you want to use my stuff in your project, you have to open it. Feel free to write your own if that doesn't fit in with your plans"

Re:Tell you my "stragetgy" (2, Insightful)

replicant108 (690832) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760421)

The second I want to make any contributions, depending on how I used the GPL code, my entire portfolio might be in legal jeopardy.

Firstly, "making contributions" does not normally trigger the GPL.

Secondly, the GPL does not put your portfolio "in legal jeopardy". The worst case scenario is that you have to remove (somebody else's) GPL'ed code from your portfolio.

Finally, it is copyright law which makes this a requirement, not GPL.

Protect Forking or Merging? (1)

Trevelyan (535381) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759885)

I have not read the Apache licence, however I am given the impression its something near the BSD licence.

The difference between the GPLv2 and BSD is simple:
  • BSD Protects your right to fork the code and do with what you will.
  • GPL Protects your ability to merge forks, which in effect puts a limit on how you can fork the code in the first place.

So in the end, the choice is whether forking or merging is more important to you. Forking may mean more people can use your code. However others would argue the merging means more people can benefit from the collective contributions.

Re:Protect Forking or Merging? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760409)

GPL Protects your ability to merge forks, which in effect puts a limit on how you can fork the code in the first place.

Sure, great in theory. Until you find out that one of the forks of the GPLv2 or later project has incorporated GPLv3 or later and one has incorporated some GPLv2-only code. Or you depend on an LGPL library which suddenly switches to LGPLv3 and you incorporated some GPLv2-only code. Or you want to merge code with an Apache 2.0 licensed or CDDL library. Or you want to burn the GPLv3 code into ROM and distribute it in an embedded system where it can't be easily upgraded. Or the person who's forked it hasn't bothered to release their changes because they only use them internally. Or they have distributed it, but no one who has a copy of one fork wants to give it to you. Or the person has forked it to add a socket interface and put all of their value-added code in a separate program.

Would the best Linux still be free without GPL? (3, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759903)

I think we have to ask: What has the GPL done for us, or at least probably done for us?

Starting a decade ago several very large corporations poured significant resources into Linux development, and were compelled to keep their contributions open-licensed and essentially free (as in beer).

Do we think that would have been the case if Linux had been Apache or BSD-licensed, or would we instead see a division into deluxe IBMLinux (that works on multi-processors and new chips and 64-bit) and open Linux that scrapes along on simple 486 hardware.

theres something wierd going on (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759983)

not only is Eric Raymond wierd, slashdot.org seems to be having a cookie problem...

Anyone having weirdness? (1, Informative)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759991)

I opened this article and was somehow in a different users account; I refreshed several times, and got at least a half dozen user accounts other than my own.

It's claimed to be a feature. (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760117)

From the FAQ: Why is someone else's User Name appearing on my User Page's Menu?
This is not a bug. This is a feature! That name is the last user page (besides your own ;) that you have visited. This is useful when you want to hop around between your user info, and someone else's: to compare friends and foes for example. Your account has not been hacked, this is totally by design.

It's a badly implemented feature. You don't really have someone else's identity, it just looks that way. Maybe. It may have a bug that lets you use someone else's mod points. I just got a "Moderate" button from someone else's account.

It's a bug (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760145)

I've gotten 8 other accounts, with their preferences and hidden emails, as well as mod points.

It only stated happening today, too.

Re:It's a bug (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760249)

LOL, I think I've just been logged in as you :-) Mess with my account, I'll refresh until I go back to yours and will mess with you!

Re:It's a bug (1)

1729 (581437) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760309)

And I just had access to your account. (Don't worry, I tried not to mess anything up.)

Slashdot is seriously broken today,

Re:It's a bug (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760349)

I can definitively say my account is cooler than yours though. You people and your weird ass comment settings :-)

At least I can't seem to post as you. It wouldn't even moderate when my "account" had mod points. What a weird ass bug. I bet their damn cache code is trashed... memcached is a wicked evil mistress.

Re:It's claimed to be a feature. (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760233)

that isn't this. I suspect what they ment that answer to be for people who get confused because other user profile pages look like there. In this case, the damn website thinks I'm logged in as somebody else! Hopefully this glitch doesn't extend further than the story pages and people can't reset the password on my real account. Who knows who this will post as!

(guess it posts as me, not whoever it things is logged into this page)

Having weirdness? Yes. (1)

jDeepbeep (913892) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760323)

I was having this unintended user-switch behaviour also, but it seems to have ceased in the past 5 minutes.

*knocks on virtual wood*

User logins hosed! (1)

Geirzinho (1068316) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759995)

Anyone else getting logins to random accounts?

Re:User logins hosed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760111)

Anyone else getting logins to random accounts?

At the risk of being modded down for being offtopic, no it does not seem to be a problem for me.

Re:User logins hosed! (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760173)

I'm having this problem; I've gotten several other accounts with their prefs, private email addresses, and mod points (in 2 instances).

Shit's busted.

Way Offtopic (0, Troll)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 4 years ago | (#27759997)

And now let me rant about how Slashdot gets worse by the day. Not only do I have to log back in to Slashdot repeatedly when browsing (because I'm "behind a corporate firewall")(imagine!!) but now I find myself browsing this particular topic as user "1779"! Sorry, 1779, I'll try not to muck up your view settings.

It will be interesting to see what Slashdot user posts this, now won't it? Will it be me? 1779? SomeOtherRandomUserAccount? How F&CKING hard is it to keep track of my log in name between subjects? Rtards.

Thank you. I feel better. Go on about your business.

Re:Way Offtopic (1)

1729 (581437) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760103)

And now let me rant about how Slashdot gets worse by the day. Not only do I have to log back in to Slashdot repeatedly when browsing (because I'm "behind a corporate firewall")(imagine!!) but now I find myself browsing this particular topic as user "1779"! Sorry, 1779, I'll try not to muck up your view settings.

You sure it wasn't '1729'? I'm getting a lot of other logins as well, at least 25 so far.

I've gotten you (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760275)

And let me tell you, you have a weird comment threshold set, buddy. And some of you people and your minimalist mode... why do you guys turn off javascript-- this place is easier with it on!

Vendu-style Licensing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27759999)

BSD/Apache makes the most sense if you plan to sell out your principals for a few dollars. GPL makes the most sense if you have scruples.

How much for your mother?

Who is this Eric Raymond ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760043)

Who is this Eric Raymond really ?

idiots and zealots (0, Flamebait)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760109)

Here's an idea.

Let's take the anti-capitalist hippie and the gun-loving greaseball, lock 'em in a room with five sticks, and see who comes out in the end.

And just to be sure of things, we'll use really good locks on the door.

I'll be happy to consider any other way of getting these idiots out of the way, but the time for zealotry is over--it's time for the various subfactions of the cult of Linux/Gnu/OSS/FOSS to grow up and put their efforts towards mature products, instead of arguing over details that scare potential users away.

fear and uncertainty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760155)

he forgot "doubt". Jeez, you'd really think he'd know what he was spreading.

I prefer Bruce Peren's approach (1)

MarkWatson (189759) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760193)

As much as I appreciate Eric's contributions to open source (his early writings helped get me interested in writing open source), and our shared interest in shooting guns -grin-, I prefer Bruce Peren's approach (as I wrote about recently http://markwatson.com/blog/2009/02/bruce-pernes-on-gnu-affero-general.html [markwatson.com]).

I think that a combination of AGPL, a less restrictive license like MIT or Apache 2, and perhaps something like the LGPL cover most needs, and the fewer licenses the better. The point of the article is that GPL is not good for business, raising VC for startups, etc. Perhaps true, but I still believe in the more restrictive (for developers) forced sharing of the AGPL is better for a world where software infrastructure is just about free because a very large number of people and companies supply resources for coding, bug tracking, and documentation.

I would rather do work for customers that involves adding functionality to an already great open source project, and I would prefer that improvements be folded back into infrastructure that everyone can share.

BTW, I disagree with Stallman's and the FSF's take on cloud computing as long as:

1. you have access to the software that you are running
2. you can easily copy your own data
3. you can easily migrate to your own servers or other hosts

I think that both EC2 and App Engine meet these requirements.

Doesn't matter (1)

zenyu (248067) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760257)

It doesn't matter if GPL is the ideal license structure for open source development. There is a huge amount of "GPLv2 or later" code out there. By licensing my software with a compatible license, I can copy bits of that into my creation without having to rewrite it. When one writes a little utility that doesn't link to anything and when one writes something where it is good practice to rewrite any external code for auditability, like OpenSSH, one is free to choose whatever license one wants. But when building something substantial quickly GPL wins just on the easy incorporation of external code argument alone.

I do realize this same argument could have been made about closed source ten years ago, when you could license helper code easily and cheaply for your closed source project but no open source equivalent existed. But this really means the question is not whether an Apache license is superior to a GPL one, but is it superior enough to go through the enormous effort to redevelop or relicense all that code which exists in the GPL ecosystem now? The people who have answered yes to that question are by and large in the BSD camp. I have great respect for them, but I have to admit that their effort appears more quixotic to me now than it did just a few years ago. Throwing the Apache license in there is silly, it's an outlier and there are good reasons to think that if the project were started today it would be GPL licensed. If you have philosophical objections to forcing sharing either explicitly place the code into the public domain or use a modern variant of the BSD license; using fewer licenses reduces the sharing friction.

As to the value of the GPL's forced sharing, I've also had the experience of having numerous businesses based on software I had a large part in writing. All of them placed their enhancements online, one explicitly contributed back with patches. I believe the one that explicitly contributed back would have done so even if a sharing was not forced, and very little of the code written by the other companies made it back into the project do to low quality. The couple exceptions to that were when one of those less enlightened companies hired a couple of the main contributors to clean up their mess. The only one still in business is the one that explicitly contributed back, those improvements were maintained by the core project lowering the business' maintenance cost, and those improvements were audited and improved as part of the patch submission process. It's hard to draw any conclusions, one might be that smart businesses might contribute back no matter the license and another that one shouldn't care about those that don't because they won't weather the next economic downturn. But reason by anecdote is a weak form of argument and I would really like some scientific studies before I would argue such conclusions be adopted by others.

It's simply a matter of business (3, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760263)

The only reason people ask this question is because they take a simplistic "one fits all" view of Open Source.

A great many ways have been tried to make money from Open Source. Dual-licensing is one of the best. It requires a strong copyleft license.

On the other side, if you are investing your own time, without pay, in an Open Source project, having folks run away with it in their commercial product makes you feel like an unpaid employee with no rights. So, a lot of people use the GPL because of that.

Apache or BSD licensing is really good if you want everyone to use your stuff regardless of what they do with it. There are many strategic reasons to do that, for example if you are trying to evangelize a standard way of doing things (that, perhaps, ties into some other aspect of your business and will eventually make you money).

Companies that apply BSD or Apache licensing to their products are really severely limiting how they can possibly make money from that product. Having seen some of these companies fail (I've not been directly involved in one, yet) it sounds like a bad idea.

The company I'm working on now does use dual licensing.

Screw them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760267)

The GPL is simple. If you use the code, don't restrict others from using it. If you don't agree to this, don't use the code. Your business is no worse off for not using the code.

Take Geir with a grain of salt. (2, Interesting)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760269)

He and Stephen Colebourne are engaged in a bitter propaganda war with Sun (now Oracle) over JCP licensing for Apache Harmony.

The linked article's comments should be seen in that light.

Long before Harmony existed, there was a GNU clean-room implementation of Java called Classpath. In the interests of the community, the thing to have done for free software would be to obtain implementation completeness and then 'pony up' the money to Sun to certify (Cacao/JamVM/Kaffe + Classpath) as Java compatible.

Perhaps Sun wouldn't have allowed that but... Instead, the backers of Apache sought to create a second clean-room implementation, namely Harmony (Code and financial resources of IBM, & others - according to wikipedia). 'They' choose to hire developers to implement Java again from scratch a second time in the hopes of bullying Sun into giving them the JCK for free. It would have been sensible before work started on Harmony 4 years ago to negotiate licensing. Now there's a standoff but in whose interests does it serve to have 2 almost compatible implementations? As one javalobby poster bluntly put it recently [dzone.com]:

Apache Harmony is just a cheap IBM trick to attempt to wrest control of Java from Sun. It failed miserably when Sun GPL'd Java so that the source could not be integrated into Harmony. Apache is not an altruistic organization formed of developers donating code off hours. It's financed and draws developers from large companies such as IBM that have their own agendas, good and bad.

So in this case, the Apache license benefits faceless corporations. I believe GPL is a good license for Sun's Java, as it prevents closed forks. Apache are arguing it's good to have a JVM distinct from the reference implementation. Again, good for whom? IBM, so they can release a proprietary JVM for Websphere? Google, so they can plunder bits of it for Harmony?

In response to the above quote, Oracle may also have their own agendas for Java but at least now the code is GPL'd. Red Hat, the main contributor to IcedTea, could fork it at their leisure for the goodwill of the people - any changes they make would be subject to the GPL. Forks of Harmony don't have the same protections. And yeah, I trust Oracle more than I would IBM!

Two words: false dichotomy! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760277)

To explain this to you, mjasay:
Did you stop drinking two bottles of whiskey per day, or do you still do it? ^^

It's a sad day, when you only have to read the headline, to detect an epic failure.
Before that, at least it was TFA, which nobody read anyway. ^^
Then it was the TFS, which now nobody reads too.
Will we now have to ignore TFH too, and jump straight to the tags?

fudish (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760295)

While the GPL powers as much as 77% of all Sourceforge projects, Eric Raymond argues that the GPL is 'a confession of fear and weakness' that 'slows down open-source adoption' because of the fear and uncertainty the GPL provokes. Raymond's argument seems to be that if openness is the winning strategy, an argument Michael Tiemann advocates, wouldn't it make sense to use the most open license?

If you think so, use the GPL.

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