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Open Source causes more Harm than Good?

CmdrTaco posted more than 15 years ago | from the stuff-to-read dept.

News 214

Gryphon sent us a link to a Linux Power article on Open Source causing more harm than good. Talks about OSI, ESR, the recent proliferation of "Open Source" and more things that are also being discussed fairly passionately in the article on ESR wanting to retire that we posted earlier. Update: 03/29 11:45 by S : In other reactions to the ESR story, AbiSource's Eric Sink argues replacing ESR is the wrong goal, and Bruce Perens says we need speakers not leaders. Thanks to LT and rokhed.

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Ahh, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957368)

... you forgot one key thing. The software that these companies produce may be buggy and whatever. BUT, in the case of Open Source Software, you could (or anyone else could) theoroetically take that code and fix it.

Currently, your problem only exists with closed-source software programs. In the case of Open Source, the source would be available for anyone to inspect as well.

If you go back to closed source, just forget this whole discussion, since it began as, "How do you make money with Open Source Software?"

Service != Tech Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957369)

Service does not necessarily mean technical support of end users. Service can mean things such as Consulting services for new installs of large user bases, networks, etc. It can also mean providing other services, i.e. Internet access, storage services, etc.

Thinking that Service only means technical support is thinking with blinders on. Look around at all the other services that are out there. Heck, look at IBM. They make money by the wheelbarrows doing service-oriented work (and in ain't tech support!)

I still don't understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957370)

..how business is supposed to make money with Open Source strategy, and how there is going to be any incentive (outside of the "look at me, I can write appz!" crowd) to create new technology if we somehow eliminate IP.

BTW, open source qualifies as intellectual property. Open source can't be used arbitrarily... it's use is restricted by a license, and the license is predicated on IP.

Licences are the problem not open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957371)

I agree with the artical in the fact that semi-free licences are a problem. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that open source in general is bad.
My idea of open source is that no one owns the source (kinda scary, that is like communism), so no one can steal it, or make money off it. Because no one owns the software you can't have suits about "He stole my code!", it wasn't yours to begin with, it was the communitys. Now, that isn't to say that you can't take credit for it, like having a comment that says "I wrote this part", but when you make your stuff open source that is the only thing you should get for it. If you want to sell your stuff, then do it, but don't call it open source or free software.
In a pure open source computer industry you would have companys like redhat (and others) that sell support and make software on the side to give away to the community, and hackers that enjoy coding in there spare time. No one would be selling software per-se, just support. And if a company makes bad software, then another company or group/individualy can make a patch for it, or just rewrite that program.
Right now, I see all the other licences just dying out. There will end up being so many slightly different licences that make you pay for some part or restricts you in some other way will just eventualy not get used. They will not make money, and close options for everyone and therefore die in our lovely system, like software that is written badly.

-Vividan

Service (The Bull services the cow) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957372)

We fly people all over the place to do installs, but we can't charge what we ought to for it, because if we did, our competitor would trounce us.

There you go, perfect example of how the system works. You are charging exactly what you ought to be charging. Charging more would send you out of business because your competitor(s) would get more business. Charging less would lose you too much money, but you might get more customers. So, you have found the level at which you can charge. Not all companies may be able to turn a profit in this market of yours, but then again, not all of them have to. Thus, the market economy works perfectly fine in this case, causing the price/demand ratios to levitate to where they belong.

It's simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957373)


Now, take software. Initially, they sold the software. Now, the (are beginning to...

This is not how (i think) the hole thing started, and this is important for understanding the effects of the open source initiative.


IBM, Honeywell and other pioneers coporations did not "sell" the software to their clients. They gave it bundled with a dinosaur as a kind of "open software" and sold to their clients services for developing the software with support agreements.


When the machines started to appeare in other places than big computer rooms in major foundations, and a new market started to emerge, the IT corporations inveted a "new" way to increase their profits: write once, sell everywhere.


Given the unquestionable benefits of the net economy model, it started to spread rapidly. The propriatary code

became the most valuable asset of a company. It was also deadly weapon for competitors.The closed specifications of the propriatary systems enforced them selfs, particularly in the areas where the un-elastic needs demanded compatibility. I.e, the operating system area gave birth to the fastest growing company of the planet (??), Microsoft.

But at the same time, the new opportunities cripled the freedom of the human/computer interaction. The tools that were supposed to change our lives didn't belong to those who used them. Most readers agree that this was a bad thing.


I believe that the moral lesson of all this is that profit is neutral. Profiting might prove to not. So long as the "Open Source" initiative does'nt address that dilema, "free software" stands for a better intelectual product of humanity.



---I'm an Anonymous Coward....
---obviously, the aliens have invaded /.

Beliefs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957374)

I think it's too early to say that this license or that license is better.
I also think that if your belief in a certain license
requires you to personally attack someone who believes in another
way of licensing, then maybe you shold reexamine
your system of beliefs.

XFree86 should be GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957375)

If XFree86 were GPL, they could just absorb
the Mesa code via the LGPL-to-GPL feature
of the LGPL.

Also, I would feel safe contributing to XFree86.
The XFree86 project complains that people see
them as having closed development (they do) and
that people won't help. Duh. Use the GPL.

License Proliferation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957376)

If we don't mind ourselves, we will end up having to deal with the exact same marginalizing effects as we did before. Licence Proliferation is a BIG problem in this respect because it causes confusion. For the same reasons you don't want to fork off free software projects, you don't want to fork off and splinter licences.

Definitive licences from trusted sources serve a very useful purpose. Just the notion of one or a very small group of standard licences is very useful even forgetting freeness.

They're like the distributions. They allow one to have a very useful shorthand for all of the things you might be trying to accomplish.

Also, some people draft rather poor licences. Troll did whereas Apple did not. Actually, their licence was quite good from that standpoint.

Basically, we need someone trustworthy to come up with one or a small set of useful commercial/free software hybrid licences. So, instead of the OSI merely being some marketing arm, it can actually give something concretely useful to those that seek council from it much like free software projects do wrt the L/GPL or fbsd licences.

Between GPL and BERKLEY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957377)

That would be the LGPL. You can and should use
the LGPL for apps. You get:

1. Protection from the exploitation that BSD
licenses are vulnerable to.

2. More freedom than the GPL, with everyone
allowed to link stuff to your code.

The LGPL is just great. It works with everything.

Yes... and the LGPL too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957378)

Don't forget the LGPL option. It sits right
between the GPL and BERKELEY licenses.
It is a standard free software license.
It can be used by BERKELEY-like projects.
It can be converted to the GPL if needed.
It can be used on both apps and libs.

much better than nothing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957379)

So we should shut up and stop advocating Free Software because MSFT shareholders might get upset - is that REALLY your argument?

I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957380)

I don't understand how you can make money that way. Say I make my nifty program available under the GPL, but people have to pay for it. Now, Bob from across the street buys my program. Why would anyone pay me even a small ammount of money for my program if they can get it from Bob for free, no strings attached? Now I know the whole world doesn't know about Bob, but people could put it up on their web sites and stuff couldn't they? And alot of people might go to their friend who has my program and say, "Where can I get that awesome thing?!" And then their friend says, "From me, let me compile the source. There you go." I won't be making money then. Sun's license on Java makes sense to me that way. As I understand it, they say you can look at the source all you want, but if you want to modify it and distribute it, then you have to pay. I want to make money... I have to stop being so repeditive.

Right problem but no answer..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957381)

Free Software is good for users, there is business model right there in that statement. We should not be selling the idea of Free Software to software producers, but to software consumers. Free Software in not necessarily good for developers, but it is always good for users (customers).

Define your goals (YES!!!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957382)

I think a lot of the hubbub over different licenses is due to differing ideas over what people want to do with the code...
It's the nature of business. Let's face facts, people. If you were one of Apple's major shareholders, you would be the first at Jobs' door with a pitchfork if he GPL'd OS X.
I think what is happening here is not a disaster in the making. It's the future in the making.


Applause!!!

There's still hope for /.

This is one of the most balanced views I've seen on the whole business. And there are other great comments here on this topic... keep on!

Making Money with Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957383)

Don't write any. Take other people's hard work, put it on a CD, sell it for a few bucks and keep every single cent of it for yourself.

See also: CheapBytes, 99% of any Linux distribution.

License Proliferation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957384)

Maybe we should be promoting an "Open License" for software rather than specifically.. an open licence is one which conforms to the ideals of the GPL (etc.) and hence directly benefits the community.

This is bull**** (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957406)

You know what? I don't care if these companies release source code under some "non-totally-free" license. Why? Because it's their source code. I'm perfectly happy that they're releasing it at all. Not only that, but it annoys me to the extent that I've stopped making stuff I write GPL and instead release under licenses that are specifically NOT open-source.

The thing that pisses me off so much about uneducated blather like this guy's is that on the one hand, he is saying that "All source code must be free so that all users have the same rights to use and abuse it as any other" and then turning around and saying, "and anyone who doesn't believe exactly this is undeniably, inarguably WRONG." He doesn't seem to understand that by trying to force everyone to believe what he believes, he is contradicting his own statements that users should be able to do what they want.

Don't shove your beliefs down my throat.

Cry me a river (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957407)

However, it's not Netscape or Troll doing all the work... however, they do derive the lion's share of the benefit.

That's the way of things with API's especially. Everyone builds value on top of it, yet others still insist that it is the core library vendor that has done all of the real work and deserves the only controlling interest.

The whole point of Open Source is to get more contributors. Of course they're going to want something in return.

That's how this all started: one very pissed free developer.

How I believe it should be (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957408)

I believe software should be divided like this:

1.) There is the "free software" (GPL/BSD/etc.) category. This includes Linux/gcc/Apache/etc.

2.) There is a "half-free software" category. This would include things like Mac OS X/Netscape/etc.

3.) Finally there is a "non-free software" category. This would include games and multimedia software like Quake, various dictionaries (whatever else could be considered more "art" than technical works).

"Free software" category is the current GPL/BSD/etc. licensed software. Like now it would allow you to modify, redistribute, and sell (with source provided of course).

What this "half-free" category does is allow software to be owned by a company, but we can fix bugs and see how it all works. We can not use source from "half-free" software in other software. "half-free" software does not masquerade itself as being free software (much like Open Source can/does). Its honestly not free, but close to it.

"Non-free" category is closed source. This category is comprised of software which has to remain closed for it to sell (This category could be in the "half-free".. like Quake could have their source code released yet the data files would remain non-free).

The reason for categories like this is to avoid confusing software with each other. Currently "Open Source" is easily confused with "free software" which is bad. If the software was labeled as being "free software" then you would instantly have a general idea of what the license allows you to do. If the software was labeled "half-free" you would instantly know that the software can be modified for personal use, but a company has the rights and "owns" the software. There may not be a need for a "non-free" category as most games and multimedia programs use data files to do anything useful (so source code could be released via internet/whatever while the data files you would have to purchase). There is no "Open Source" in this scheme as it is considered just "source code" again. There is no other way I see possible for companies to make money and let us be happy. I'm fine with being able to fix my programs and allowing companies to own their software. If you can find a better middle ground I'd like to hear it.

Tim

It's simple... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957413)

It's called, "The Service Industry".

We've seen it happen with various types of hardware. Take Cell Phones for example. Initially, they sold the hardware. Now, they give away the hardware, and make all their money in service and support. Take PCs for example. Initially, they sold the hardware. Now, they (are beginning to) give away the hardware and make all their money in service and support.

Now, take software. Initially, they sold the software. Now, the (are beginning to) give away the software and make all their money in service and support.

Replace one product with another, and you get the same thing. Give away the opening in the door, and make money on 'em once they are inside asking questions. It's called the service industry, and that is what the computer industry will most likely turn into to make the most profits.

A fundamental difference (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957414)

This touches on a basic difference I have with RMS and the GPL. The driver cross-pollination you mention is only 1-way: if the FreeBSD people were to adapt a Linux driver for their own kernel, they would have to GPL their entire kernel. Of course, the Linux people can use whatever they want. There's something fundamentally wrong about that. I realize that there are pragmatic (rather than just political) reasons for using the GPL, but I'm afraid that in many cases it ends up getting in the way of things. People seem very quick to use the GPL, as that is probably what they've had the most exposure to. I wish more people realized what a radical and extreme measure GPL'ing their project is. I don't mean to imply that people shouldn't use the GPL, rather that more people should be more educated about what sorts of licenses are available to use.

Example: when Brian Paul first started Mesa, did the LGPL really reflect his intent, or did it just seem like what everyone else was doing? Did it occur to him that this would prevent his OpenGL implementation from ever being integrated into XFree86, and elsewhere? Was that really what he wanted? Probably not.

I don't mean to put words in Brian's mouth, and I have no idea what his intentions were. But I'd be really fascinated to hear his views on the matter.

Revalation of the GPL! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1957415)

Brothers and Sisters, it is with great honor and privlige that I speak to you today. I come to you as a humble pilgrim, searching for that which we all seek, that which has eluded us for a thousand millenia, that whcih is furthest away when it seems the closest: Truly free software!

Last night, after attempting to eat a falafel that had had gone HORRIBLY AWRY, I found myself in a walking dream, one full of the greatest BEAUTY I had ever seen, as well as vile HORROR to chill mens souls!

I have SEEN the promised land! I have warmed my skin in the sunlight of PEACE, and bit deeply of the beautiful fruit of LOVE! I have juggled the thousand eyeballs of burning PASSION, and drank my fill of the wonderous waters of FREEDOM.

And as I enjoyed these wonderous MIRACLES, I found myself being PULLED, TORN from this HEAVEN, and cast down in to the deepest, darkest, most VILE pits of HELL!

AND I CRIED OUT! Yes, I did! I SHOUTED at the devil, at SATAN, at the MOST UNHOLY defiler of all that is GOOD, and I asked, NO! I DEMANDED to be returned to that GOOD PLACE, where all the workings of NATURE interacted with one another, brought together to produce a place of true WONDERMENT.

And the devil did speak to me, speak to me with a voice like TEN THOUSAND MILLION fingernails on a THOUSAND MILLION chalkboards, he spoke to me from the depths of his depravity, I shivered to my soul to hear him speak. And he did say, the devil, "You, fool, may return the good place, but only after you GPL your soul."

"What the hell?" I thought, "Sounds safe enough."
So I did, I signed my SOUL to the GPL.

And I was returned to the GOOD PLACE.

Only the GOOD PLACE was not returned to ME. When I went to raise a bright red rose to my NOSE to partake of its sweet scent, I found myself BLOCKED, unable to smell the ROSE. I Cried out once again to the DEVIL, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?".

And with the burning of BRIMSTONE and the FIRES of DAMNATION, ol' Jack Scratch appeared before me and said: "I have done nothing to YOU. You cannot smell the ROSE because it is NOT GPLed! Hahahahahahahahahahah!" and he dissappeared with some little hottie down a back alleyway.

And I could NOT feel the light of the SUN, I could not eat the APPLES of Peace! I could NOT, for the LIFE of ME, figure out what the THOUSAND EYEBALLS were SUPPOSED to REPRESENT, though I had a good idea when I started. MOST of ALL I could not drink from the TRUE waters of FREEDOM.

And when I looked around, I saw that I was not alone, seated in the HEART of HEAVEN, but unable to touch a THING. What I saw was SEVEN MILLION helpless BASTARDS, like me, who had done what they thought was RIGHT, but CLOSED all the DOORS open to them in the PROCESS.

They were BUILDING a house of CARDS, eyes glassy, their trembling hands almost knocking their structure OVER with each ADDITION. Somehow it stayed aloft, but the GENTLE winds of HEAVEN almost toppled it at every TURN. Then one of their number, a small lad, with one hand covered in black ANGER the other holding a card, a card that was marked with DEATH, ran from the middle of the pack and said "I SHALL PLACE THIS ON THE TOP." and as he thrust the card with all his might into the house of cards, and it did EXPLODE, caught on the breeze before any of the S.O.B's could do a thing about it.

The ROAR that came from their collective throats sounded like FORTY TWO SEVEN THIRTY SEVENS all lifting off from JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT all at ONCE.

And with that I awoke to find myself lying on my kitchen FLOOR, with dried hummus stuck to my EAR, and a chunk of Pita up my NOSE.

The laughter of the devil still reverberated in my ears, despite the hummus.

--As channeled by the Rocket Jesus

Re: A fundamental difference (1)

Gleef (86) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957419)

I don't see that as the difference between RMS and ESR at all. You make it sound like RMS wishes to exploit software, when what he wants is a community of hackers, sharing Free Software. He pushes his principles and the GPL so strongly because he feels that it is the best chance we have of ever seeing his dream. ESR, on the other hand has a different dream, he wants to see big business sitting at the same table as hackers, on equal footing. The trouble is ESR has shown himself to be willing to compromise on his principles to achieve his dream. Worse, he has positioned himself so when he compromises his principles, it appears as if we compromise ours. I am glad to see him retiring, he was much better as the anthropologist of the hacker community than as the spokesman of Open Source.

I certainly agree that if BSD and Linux used a license like some of the recent ones we've seen from the companies, neither would be as good as they are today.

We're having an argument!(In thick English accent) (1)

Caleb (319) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957420)

Unless the mere act of hearing a postion causes you to believe it, he is not shoving his beliefs down your throat. He is just stating his understanding of the relative merits of free code with no single party getting special preference versus free code with one or more parties getting special preference. He thinks the first case is better for the users of that code. Of course individuals and companies may do as they please with their code! No one is suggesting otherwise.

Personally, I think that we can afford to try both ways (GPL and BSD/NPL/APSL) with each programmer choosing their favorite (Mine's the GPL). In a few years, we ought to have a more complete understanding of the merits and faults of both directions based on the status of the different projects under the different licenses.

Lack of standards (1)

Caleb (319) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957421)

And thats why old Al (the first guy) found it finnancially viable to hire a Genuine, Certified Star Office Complient Mechanic so that customers like yourself would come to him and not to Billy-Bob. The standards would still exist, they will just be enforced by consumer economics rather than committees.

At least, I think it will. With Linux/BSD servers powering half the web, I guess we'll find out soon enough :)

Different levels of programming (2)

Caleb (319) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957422)

Which is cheaper? Hiring a local mechanic to customize your truck by adding a sun roof and fog lights or calling General Motors and setting up an appointment with the original engineers of your truck to redesign the body and electrical systems of your car to handle your specific requirements?
Clearly, there is a big difference between original design and implemenation of a program and ensuing maintenance of that code. What we are missing in the software industry today is the mechanic class of programming positions and this class is gained by having source open to arbitrary modification.

Assuming normal capatlisitc influences, there should be no reason why we don't start seeing a plauge of Al's Custom Apache Shops in the near future making a buisness of working on your personal code. Sure they might charge an arm and a leg but I'll bet you Bob's down the street will offering a deal on Apache modules next week.

Making Money with Open Source (1)

Jordy (440) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957423)

I guess this goes along the lines of the methodology I mentioned of corporations footing the bill for software they wanted and the software then becoming free to everyone else except in this case, the changes becoming free to everyone else.

This model does seem to be logical... if you can get companies to invest in you that is, and not their own programmers.

--

Making Money with Open Source (2)

Jordy (440) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957424)

You know, every time someone answers a question on how to make money with Open Source software, the answer seems to always be the same, technical support.

So, I should make my software blatently difficult to use and slightly buggy so that I get support contracts with companies?

Also, exactly how does an individual programmer (there are still a few of us left) make money with Open Source? It's not like we have the resources to write the program and do the commercial support by outselves. With the old shareware method this was easy, you provided documentation and sold the program...

I always liked the methodology of having a few major corporations who need the software finance it, and giving it away to everyone else. At least this model could be accomplished by an individual or a small group of people.

In a utopian society, Open Source * would be a perfect solution, unfortunately some of us need to live in capitalistic societies which exist today.

--

A fundamental difference (1)

Aaron M. Renn (539) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957425)

Unfortunately, it is difficult to contribute to a a non-copyleft licensed project such as FreeBSD in a way that prevents proprietary software developers from using your code. Projects like FreeBSD and XFree86 made the choice that they wanted their work to be made available to proprietary developers, thus they lock out contributors who aren't willing to donate their work to that cause. (XFree86 is very explicit about this, I believe).

In the specific case of using GNU/Linux drivers on FreeBSD, have you considered asking the developer of the driver if he would permit that? He might be willing to license his driver under a second license that specifically permits linking with FreeBSD without bringing the whole thing under the GPL. I would certainly be willing to consider such a thing for my code.

Define your goals (5)

Analog (564) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957426)

I think a lot of the hubbub over different licenses is due to differing ideas over what people want to do with the code.

Some people want access to the code so the programs that they like and use will work better. Licenses like the APSL are no problem in this case.

Some people want access to the code so they can learn coding techniques from "the big boys". Again, the APSL is perfectly serviceable.

Some people want access so they can use the code in their own projects. Of those, some want it to avoid duplication of work. Some want it to avoid doing work. In these cases, the APSL can be a real problem. But then again, so can the GPL, depending on what your goals are. It's all a matter of perspective.

This is slightly complicated by the fact that someone has tried to put a strict definition on the words 'open source'. And that term now has some cachet. So you're going to see companies trying to cash in on that by giving as little as they possibly can. Noone should be surprised at this. It's the nature of business. Let's face facts, people. If you were one of Apple's major shareholders, you would be the first at Jobs' door with a pitchfork if he GPL'd OS X.

I think what is happening here is not a disaster in the making. It's the future in the making. Mistakes will be made along the way. Maybe trying to define 'Open Source' was a mistake. We'll see. But none of this is going to happen overnight. It has to grow in fits and starts, just like everything else. It's just that in this case, we all get to see it happening and in whatever way, participate. You may think it's a disaster waiting to happen, and it may be from your perspective. Personally, I'm kind of enjoying watching it evolve.

amen (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957428)

Posted by Art Pepper:

This article seems to clearly define the problem with various licensing agreements of late. There does seem to be a problem with them, n'es pas?

Of course, I am hopelessly uniformed in these matters.

Lamentations (2)

pohl (872) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957432)

Whatever happened to the days when "Free" and "Open Source" were used interchangeably to mean the same thing?

I don't think those days ever existed. People were debating the subtle semantic differences between those terms since day one. Even if I grant your view of the past, it's pointless to mourn semantic flux, for no two people on the planet have identical sets of semantic bindings. If you ever think you've found two such people, just have them get into a discussion about the fundamentals of their spirituality. You'll soon find that they're not speaking identical languages. This always has been, and ever shall be. It is the way of things.

...but what I think we should fret about more is the Linux community fragmenting into different little sects. The sad thing is that it's already happened, and I can't see any way to reverse it.

Thou shalt not fear diversity, neither shalt thou long for homogeneity. That is the path towards evil. Rather, grant each other status as individuals, and respect the effort required to bridge the linguistic distances, however small, for fragmentation need not imply non-interoperability. That's what protocols are for.

And who will protect our {free|open source} software interests from Big Business then?

No protection is needed, for the world will be a place where the lowest levels of the software infrastructure are free and open, and specifications for protocols are available to all. Proprietary software will live atop of this substrate symbiotically, powerless to upset the common planetary foundations. That which has been given cannot be ungiven. It is destiny.

Rejoice! 8^)

Open Source causes more problems... (0)

sterwill (972) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957440)

Free software works.

Poor article (4)

Stu Charlton (1311) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957443)

- This guy is way too cynical and condescending. ESR deserves a little better than this flaming.

- His comments about Apple and Troll Tech are rather extreme. Apple's licence has problems - they can and probably will be fixed. Troll's licence does NOT have any "non-free" problems according to RMS. I don't see what the debate is over.

- I thought FUD was a Microsoft tactic. Now I'm hearing FUD about Apple, ESR, Troll Tech, OSI, etc. Isn't it lovely how human nature has turned a community based on sharing into a community based on cynicism and flaming?

- Let's try to be constructive! The world is not going to beat a path to our doorstep forever. We have to stand on our own merits, and cynicism like this is not going to help matters. We have to work *together* with companies if we want to see open source spread further. The name of the game is *increasing personal freedom*, not living in an insular community that fears outsiders.

Let's debate what's wrong with these new licenses, but let's not persecute these companies for dipping their toes in the ocean.

Furthermore, while it conflicts with the free software ideal, it's worthwhile to watch these companies experiment with direct-revenue model licenses that aren't "quite" open source. Sun's "pay if you play" licence is a good example of something that 'might' work. While it doesn't benefit *THIS* community, there might be a whole other community (I.e. commercial Java developers) who will benefit from increased access to Sun's source code. If THAT community wants to accept Sun's restrictions, so be it - it still increases their personal freedom, which is a step in the right direction.

Do the math - number of jobs. (2)

gaj (1933) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957452)

>> How many employed consultants are there in North America?

I've got no clue. Lots.

>> How many employed programmers are there in North America?

Again, I don't know. Also lots. Sh*t loads, even. However, most of them are in-house programmers. The kind of programming that will *never* be Free Software, because it never get distributed outside the company. Trade secret, as it were. I don't have numbers right now, nor time to look 'em up. This point needs to be made, tho.

The bottom line is that programs that are _distributed_widley_ are best as Free Software. I believe that there would be a net *increase* in the amount of custom programming being done if the apps & OS were Free Software. For that matter, some of us on the "outside" might very well get work on some of those internal projects as they more an more often make use of free software.

Companies are scared right now, because they are reacting emotionally rather than rationally considering the situation. Even if ACME Widget uses Linux and Gnome to build an internal process management system, they don't need to release their modifications to the code, no matter how pervasive, unless and until they distribute the system outside their company. On the other hand, bug fixes and improvments that are of a general nature will likely be released back to the original projects.

Everybody wins.

If they choose not to release the bug fixes back, we are't any worse off than before they chose to use the code. In fact, likely *better* off, since some of those internal programmers (who may or may not have used the Free Software before) are likely to "come into the fold", as it were, during their off hours.
--
"First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they fight you.

Sun's Jini license not Open Source (1)

nelsonrn (2165) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957454)

Sun's Jini license is not Open Source. AT&T's DjVu license is not Open Source. IBM's Jikes license is not Open Source. I feel that we are being discriminating, and not accepting just any old source-available-with-some-restrictions license.
-russ

Drop the GPL (0)

Wheely (2500) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957456)

Any large and successful movement has a small group who hijack it for their own obsession. Much as I respect RMS, I feel it's time to let the amazing amount of lawyers the GPL has created go back to working on the Hurd. Leave Linux to the vast majority, who just want a good Unix-like operating system that does the job and allows us to play with the code. Seems the GPL comes with too much baggage and perhaps Linux should be QPL'd/NPL'd or just plain LPL'd.

Lack of standards (1)

KFW (3689) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957458)

Sure, I could get a custom word processor from Billy-Bob's House o' Words. Unfortunately the really cool formatting can't be read by StarOffice--they haven't gotten around to that filter yet, and Billy-Bob isn't interested in filters for other apps.

Arbitrary modification may not be for the best.

>K

Ok thats it! (5)

Odinson (4523) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957460)


How dare Christian Schaller tell me what is right for me! If I want to use Netscape with what he considers to be a bad licence that's my business.

And I quote,

"I heard many people saying we should be grateful to these companies for allowing us to see the sourcecode and even fix their bugs. Many even said that it would be very unkind of us to try to make competing products to be released under true free software licenses, when these companies had been so gracious towards us."

How come I have never met anyone like this? I have not once heard anyone take such a pathetic groveling position. Why should I, who isn't as picky about my apps as my OS(no I don't use Mac OS), be grouped in with such a shortsighted person.

If the term "Open Source", comes to mean garbage then people won't use software that brandishes it. They will just ignore it.

Learn from Gorbechev's revolution, if he had said, "I am going to end communism in the USSR.", at the begining of his term he would have been dead by morning! This moderate approach is what ESR is good at. A little finesse, and moderation please.

In case you are wondering where I stand I insist on GPL and LGPL for libraries, for my kernel, shared libraries, common tools, and desktop. I do this to prevent companies from holding me hostage.

I can then in turn use common file types, network standards, and OS malibility to protect myself from unruly apps. I prefer more open licences for apps but if a closed app does a better job, so be it.

Don't try to group me in with a bunch of shortsighted morons who want to do someone else's work with no protection for their efforts, I don't believe in, or approve of your "My way or the high way" approach.

Let people know everyone has a choices. We have enough big brothers.

Now (1)

Samhailt (4891) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957464)

I was talking more along the lines of the people who use the code. it is the masses that move things and their voice counts. It is the people that drive an application and it is their voice that matters. I know alot of hackers will say they produced an application for themselves but if the Linux kernel had not recived such widespread use would it have so many features?

I don't think it will make anyone stop coding. But if we are to get past this point there needs to be a realization that attacking people for their belifes will getus nowhere.

if in the end no one said thank you and only attacked you would you bother releasing your code? would you add features the people who attacked you wanted?

All I'm saying is that we need to stop this bickering it's making us look bad and hurting people. And fellings do exisit even if we try to ignore them.

Now (2)

Samhailt (4891) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957465)

Now we come across the problem of the infamous Thinking about what your going to say next instead of listening paradigm. We all have opinions but why should we tear ourselves apart because they differ? why should we "Fight with ESR" if we don't agree? why should we destroy ourselves with our own arogance?

We are at a crossroad now. Many people proclain FUD as our worst enemy when what it quite simply comes down to it that we our our worst enemy. For great movements usually do not fall from outside pressure but from an internal inability to comprimise built out of arrogence and disrespect for each other.

If we do not stop seeing these ideas we hold as "the one true way" then we are no better then microsoft or any other closed freedomless system. We become the enemy and in so doing create in ourselves everything we stand against. for when there is only one true way then freedom and choice go out the window.

Grateful to companies? (1)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957466)

The old harmony project list archive included a few threads of the form "You know, I don't think we should hurt troll by continuing harmony, since they're being so cool in letting people use their code." If the old archives are still out there, you can see for yourself.

The sentiment is out there, even if it's not on slashdot.

I still don't understand... (2)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957467)

I disagree that production apps are a good place for proprietary software. When you're using something in production, that's exactly where you want the robustness that comes with open-source/free software, and where the ability to fix bugs yourself matters.

Even if a company doesn't want to fix bugs in-house, it would be a lot easier to hire bug-fixes if you could call any number of consultants to work on the source, than if you had to call the original vendor and wait for the next release.

A fundamental difference (3)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957468)

I guess it boils down to the fundamental difference between RMS and ESR. RMS wants to be able to do whatever he wants with software. ESR wants the source to be visible so that people can see the source, learn from it, and fix bugs. But it doesn't seem that the ability to reuse code in other applications is as important to him.

The article makes a good point in describing a lot of the new open-source programs as very project-oriented. The recent licenses encourage fixes, reading the source, etc, but make certain that it's all directed towards a single project, the project the company is sponsoring. Patch-only releases are great, for instance, if you're working on (eg) a mail application. But you won't be able to use the mail handling code if you'd like to add a "Mail document to" to your word processor.

These licenses will satisfy ESR's pragmatic motivations (making software better), but won't help the common good as much as freer licenses. For example, if Linux and BSD were licensed in a patch-only form, for instance, I don't think there would be as much driver cross-pollination, and both systems would be less for it.

GPL does not restrict author from relicenseing (1)

MenTaLguY (5483) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957469)

> No, there really needs to be something in
> between GPL and BSD. Something that says that
> the code can be used in proprietary projects
> only if the authors of the code agree to such.

The authors (copyright holders) of code that is released under the GPL are perfectly free to allow proprietary use if they want; it basically amounts to relicenseing the code. It just requires the unanimous agreement of the copyright holders of the affected code -- exactly as in this mythical license you describe.

Scenario:

I write a GPLed app.

Company X approaches me, asking if they could use such-and-so portion of the code (or even the whole thing) in a piece of proprietary software.

I say "yes", and negotiate some special licensing agreement with them that allows them to use the code. That's perfectly legal, because I hold the copyright to the code. With multiple copyright holders, you do need to reach a consensus first, oc.

The copyright holder(s) has/have complete control over the way their software is licensed, no matter what license(s) is/are involved.

Too early to tell (1)

David Ishee (6015) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957472)

I think it is too early to tell if all these licenses are bad. I can imagine a situation with too many conflicting licenses, but I can also imagine a situation where all but a few wither away and you have a small set of standard licenses that people use.

XFree86 should be GPL (0)

jtn (6204) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957474)

Why should they dump their perfectly acceptable license just to use yours? So much for "freedom".

A simple, if dangerous, solution (2)

Harmast (6975) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957477)

This is a somewhat valid point. These new licenses can bring freely provided source into a corporate code base and then log the users out. There is however a simple solution: don't use it. If companies want to get money from software you've made better by your bug fixes or new features demand royalties.

My theory works something like this: There is such a thing as IP. Some people like to share, so they copyleft their software. Fine, if you copyleft, I'll copyleft as well, fair is fair (Note, the copy left does acknowledge IP...it is designed to protect the author's IP and how he has choosen to use it, in this case as free software).

If a company wants a one time fee (such as Sun or Troll Tech) then we should expect the same from them. If I fix or add to QT and Troll Tech folds it into their code, I should get a one time fee.

Finally, more limiting licenses should be ignored. If I can use my contributions to your system by the same rules for the overall system I won't play.

To be honest, I think the long term future of Open Source is more long the lines of one time fee to use, but a one time royalty to fold in my changes. It's not quite RMS's dream, but a lot closer than current practice. It allows for ESR's dream of better software, it allows for mainly free source (if I pay my one time fee, I believe my source can be GPLed, correct me if I'm wrong). It allows us to make a living. To be honest, I see it as an evolution of the LGPL.

Well, thats my two cents.

Herb

Straw Man: oops! (1)

AppleJuice (7359) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957479)

"Schalling" should be "Schaller"

My apologies to the author.

Straw Man (2)

AppleJuice (7359) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957480)

I heard many people saying we should be grateful to
these companies for allowing us to see the sourcecode
and even fix their bugs. Many even said that it would be
very unkind of us to try to make competing products to be
released under true free software licenses, when these
companies had been so gracious towards us. One of the
casualties of this opinion was of course the Harmony
project, which aimed to make a LGPL'ed Qt clone.

Well, now that we have this Open Source OS from Apple I
guess these people feel that we should bury the Linux
project. I mean to follow your logic it is only fair that
Apple is allowed to make money on their system, and
Linux and FreeBSD are a direct threat to that.


I have yet to encounter the above attitude among the posters here on slashdot (arguably the largest single clearinghouse for linux/gnu/free-software/open-source opinion)!

It seems more like Schalling needed a bigger barn to target. Don't just claim that "you've heard" something. Such a claim is best left on alt.folklore.urban. Back it up with examples! Further, don't fabricate such a stupid argument (if indeed, this is fabricated) just to have an easy time countering it, go after the real opposition.

service (1)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957487)

I've seen the software that support-oriented companies tend to produce... It's horrible, often full of bugs, and not intuitive to use. It's left this way for an obvious reason, to sell more support.

Ahh, but... (1)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957488)

Not everybody is capable of fixing their own bugs, and you will probably end up paying more hiring your own program, because you will have to pay him to come up to speed on the code.

GPL, BERKLEY, or proprietary (1)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957489)

No, there really needs to be something in between GPL and BSD. Something that says that the code can be used in proprietary projects only if the authors of the code agree to such. This way companies could not leach the way they can with a BSD license, because they will probably be required to give programmers something, and it would be up to the programmers to decide what this would be (not necessarily money).

Service (The Bull services the cow) (1)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957490)

That's fine for a big company like IBM, but my own company is having to do more "service" than we have the resources to do. We fly people all over the place to do installs, but we can't charge what we ought to for it, because if we did, our competitor would trounce us.

Service (The Bull services the cow) (1)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957491)

You are charging exactly what you ought to be charging. Charging more would send you out of business because your competitor(s) would get more business. Charging less would lose you too much money, but you might get more customers.

Wrong, you misread what I said.



We are losing money on these service calls. We are trying to improve our product so that they will not be necessary. The only reason we get away with it now is because we are a well-funded startup

Open-sourcing our product will not help our company either.

I'd like to believe that, but (1)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957492)

When I go over the fsf or gnu websites, I see arguments against "Information ownership", and little propaganda bits like "control over your own ideas is really control over other people's lives." which leads me to the impression that the FSF believes that the author has no more rights than any other user of the code, and by extension, cannot re-license the code.

Of course it's possible that the GPL isn't as extreme as the other writings on the GNU sites.

GPL does not restrict author from relicenseing (1)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957493)

Company X approaches me, asking if they could use such-and-so portion of the code (or even the
whole thing) in a piece of proprietary software.



I say "yes", and negotiate some special licensing agreement with them that allows them to use the code. That's perfectly legal, because I hold the copyright to the code. With multiple copyright holders, you do need to reach a consensus first, oc.



Yes, that's exactly what I had in mind. When I go the the fsf web-site, I see arguments against copyright, and IP, so I assume that the GPL gives the authors no more rights than others

"Free" software is bad (1)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957494)

"Free software" is a bad term because in English (The FSF's primary language) it usually means "no monetary cost"

Free Software advocates have spent an enormouse amount of time and energy explaining that when they say "free" they mean freedom, not "free of charge".

There are other words in the English language that have the same approximate meaning as free that could have been used, like "liberated software", that I wonder sometimes if the FSF is intentionally trying to cause confusion.

It's interesting, that when I see RMS interviewed by foreign journalists (specifically a certain Japanese interviewer) who speak langauges that have different terms for "no charge" and "freedom", they still make the mistake of translating "free" into "no charge".

I've always thought that "Open source" was a better term because of this.

License Proliferation (2)

eponymous cohort (8637) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957495)

The real question is, what do we want? Do we want to have a popular platform that becomes as mainstream as Windows and Mac? Or do we want to forever be marginalized?

I know that there are some in the free software community that would be happy if the Oracles and IBMs of the world would pack up and leave us alone, but there are others who welcome things that commercial companies bring us.

The issue raised in this article is "The licenses that Troll, Apple et al bring us aren't free enough." We should be proud of the fact that we got companies to even start thinking in terms of Open Source.

At the end he says that ESR is leading us down a path of destruction. I don't see it as a path of destruction. I'd rather go down that path than end up in a world where I have to boot into Windows to get any work done.

i don't really agree (1)

schani (8889) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957497)

there are three reasons why i don't agree with this article:

1. i don't think that the release of mozilla and a lot of other products are related to the renamer to 'open source'. nor do i believe that the respective licences would not have come into existence would it still be called free software by most people. i believe ESR would rather have them release it under the GPL but those companies (Netscape, Troll, ...) just would not do it.

2. don't fight ESR. oppose what he says. stand up for the term 'free software'. argue. but don't fight. and especially don't fight ESR. don't mistake me: i'm not on ESR's side in the open source - free software dispute. i'm on RMS's. but it's not like this dispute would end if ESR would shut up.

3. i believe that most new projects will still choose the GPL or a BSD licence. the only projects with new licences are 'converted' proprietary products.

bye
schani

Now (1)

schani (8889) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957498)

i don't think that 'we' are our worst enemies. at least not if you define 'we' as the hacker community. by this i mean not the community of people TALKING about writing code but the community of people WRITING code which i consider myself an (insignificant but what the hell) member.

i for myself don't care about people having nothing better to do than to rant on slashdot about who is right or who is wrong. no matter what they say, it won't make me stop coding. do you think it will stop RMS, ESR, Linus, Alan, ... just to name a few? i don't. not in a million years.

bye
schani

It's simple... (1)

scrytch (9198) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957501)

The parallel with cell phones is Microsoft's future strategy: pay nothing for the product, pay a yearly fee for use, and extra for premium features. You REALLY want software to follow the pricing models of telecommunications companies?

Cry me a river (2)

scrytch (9198) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957502)

Oh, God forbid that we can't just "cut'n paste all interesting source code from Netscape into our own software projects". God forbid that we don't make Netscape do all the work so we can create our own competitor to reward them for their hard work by putting them out of business. God forbid Sun or Troll Tech collect a one-time royalty if you sell work that builds off of theirs.

Would you rather go back to no source at all? Commercial software houses are neither hobbyists nor humanitarians.

amen (1)

jcarlson1 (9376) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957503)

The reason that free software has gotten so far
is because of the GPL, LGPL, BSD, XConsortium
licenses. Huge projects that work are built
around them. There should be no need for new
licenses. These other licenses just seem to be
capturing the hype of free software and then
warping them to the companies benefit not to the communities.

Software Licensing (2)

FWMiller (9925) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957504)

The last year to eighteen months have seen a huge amount of energy spent on debating software licensing. This debate seems analagous in many ways to the pundits on the Sunday morning talk shows discussing what should be done about the President's indescretions, it smacks of proselytizing.

The license for a piece of software is decided by its author and noone else. If you don't like the license associated with a piece of software, you can either use a competing piece of software that has a more attractive license to you or you can write a competing piece of software and decide what license you want apply to it. Short of that, the rest of it is just so much hot air.

I still don't understand... (3)

craigly (10129) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957506)

My employer makes money with a free software strategy because they are smart enough to see that software and the things you do with software are service driven. We GPL the tools we make for ourselves to provide these services, and we also ask customers to let us GPL toolz we write for them, because it will reduce our cost of developing and maintaining them in the long run if we GPL them.

Customers do not want to buy a static peice of software which performs some job, they want to have software which does exactly what they need for their business or hobby or whatever. If you change your business model so that your revenue is made on the customization of the software environment to the user's needs, you no longer need the artificial restriction on use of the software which proprietary licenses are about. In fact, free software is beneficial to your work because you can get into it's guts easily, and you can mix and match peices of code and customize it with ease.

In my experience you will find customers balking at the 5k dollar license fee, but not even thinking twice about the 10k dollar custom development and installation costs. They want a solution which does exactly what they need, no more, no less. Shrink wrap proprietary software simply cannot provide this in a maintanable and cost-effective way.

I agree that presently and in the near future there will be a mix of proprietary and free software, any transition takes time. I also agree that there will always be markets which will have some proprietary elements, usually ones tied to other patented or otherwise secretive business process or technology. But do not under-estimate the force with which proprietary software will be pushed out of popular markets, in particular markets for commodity software services.

So? (1)

Slarty (11126) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957507)

So? So does un-free software.

No one's claiming that it doesn't work. Only that there might be problems with it, just like everything else.

- Slarty

It's (not so) simple... (1)

Slarty (11126) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957508)

Unfortunately, not everything NEEDS service.

What about the utilities of the world? There are plenty of nice, simple programs that do something valuable but are fairly intuitive. In many cases, it took a LOT of work to be able to GET them that way, but if they succeed, not much support will be needed... and the programmers will starve.

I agree that support is the way things are going, but it can't work for everything. I strongly believe that if someone puts a lot of time and work into their software, and it serves a useful purpose, then they deserve payment for it. In many cases, that payment may HAVE to come upfront, or not at all.

In a perfect world, everything WOULD be free... but commercialism isn't going anywhere. If Linux becomes the world-dominating success people many people hope it will be, then y'all are just going to have to accept the fact that lots of the better software will eventually be shrink-wrapped, and maybe not OSS at all. Things will change, but not enough to prevent that.

- Slarty

Making Money with Open Source (1)

smileyy (11535) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957509)

No, not tech support. Service. This means more along the lines of implementation -- fitting a product in with other products/needs in a business setting.

Really, how many programmers are coding shrink-wrapped/commercial software? And how many more are working on custom implementations? Would this really change the software market that much? The software will still be needed. Someone will still find ways to make money off of it. It'll just be better software because it's open source.

Do the math - number of jobs. (1)

Christopher Thomas (11717) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957511)

Service does not necessarily mean technical support of end users. Service can mean things such as Consulting services for new installs of large user bases, networks, etc. It can also mean providing other services, i.e. Internet access, storage services, etc.


There is a glut of ISPs already. The only software-related service industry that I know of that makes real money is consulting, and it's easy enough to demonstrate that this won't keep most of the former programmers off the street:


How many employed consultants are there in North America?


How many employed programmers are there in North America?


Whatever scheme is put in place, you have to end up paying the same number of programmers the same amount of money. Either the programmers themselves have to change jobs (and I'd like to *keep* getting paid to program), or else the service-oriented companies have to make enough money to pay the programmers to keep upgrading the product. I have yet to see a realistic scenerio presented that would do this.


The best scenario that I've seen yet was a suggestion that users wanting applications form user groups and hire programmers to write them. However, I am a bit too cynical to think that this kind of coordination is likely among the masses of users out there. There are a host of auxiliary problems, also, but I've already posted at length on this subject in other articles.


I think that free and/or open software is _good_, but I also think that the proprietary software industry is here to stay. At best, free and open software can keep them honest (still a worthy goal).

Making Money with Open Source (2)

Christopher Thomas (11717) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957513)

No, not tech support. Service. This means more along the lines of implementation -- fitting a product in with other products/needs in a business setting.


There are very significant problems with this:

  • There isn't enough demand.

    Very few of the people that I've seen advocating alternate systems for making money by programming seem to appreciate how _many_ programmers there are. If every company that used software needed constant software firefighting, then I could see there being enough demand, but hopefully our software is better than this. The market for customization is much smaller than the market for software in general (and the latter is the market that you have to find an alternate means of paying for).

  • Companies have a vested interest in not paying for _open_ customizations.

    As that would let their competitors use the same customizations for free. Heck, that might also give their competitors insight into what they are doing. They would be the sole entities paying for something that benefits many people; as companies are and always will be money-driven, it makes far more sense just to let someone else take the plunge. The same applies to most users, who would rather leech than fund (say) game development. How much of your shareware did you actually register? How much of your freeware did you send in donations for?



I'm not trying to be hostile here; I'm just trying to make sure that all arguments are firmly grounded in reality. There may well be ways to make this fly, but I haven't seen any presented yet.


Really, how many programmers are coding shrink-wrapped/commercial software? And how many more are working on custom implementations?


Very many and relatively few, respectively. Remember, it is applications development that rakes in most of the money for most software houses. By and large, this is done by writing an application, seeing it take off, and writing progressively better versions of it. Customization sometimes occurs but is rare, as there has to be enough of a market to justify putting in the effort to customize as opposed to improving the main product.


I say again - I would be overjoyed if someone could demonstrate an open and/or free software system that employs the same number of programmers for the same wages; it would be a win/win situation for me (I could code and look at other nifty code, and I'd still get paid). However, I have yet to see a system presented that could be implemented in practice (good ideas notwithstanding).

Different levels of programming (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957517)

And what's cheaper still is to have general motors produce a production line version of cars with sunroofs.

This argument has more to do with the difference of business models between (say) Sun and Microsoft than it does with Linux

Sun will charge you $50 for a GUI PPP program or $10,000 for their application server.

Microsoft makes a crappier PPP program and application server, but their both free with the OS licence.

The Linux "market" (I don't mean students and hackers!)involves waiting around until someone writes a GUI PPP program or application server, because if you really, really needed it you'd probably buy it off the shelf before you'd write it yourself.

If Linux takes hold, the consulting possibilties are huge to fill in these missing pieces. And it will probably be mostly commercial. (Take a look at the price of a NT disk quota package. It's pretty high, but it hasn't stopped many from installing NT. Again, if a company needs it, they'll pay for it. Human Nature will take care of the rest.)

But all of this Linux consulting is all essentially lost consulting buisness for the NT/Novell/Unix shops. At one time, a good chunk of EDS (which is #1 system consulting/outsourcing, I think) was Certified Novell. Now they are all Certified Microsoft. You don't think they would quickly get Certified RedHat, if the market started to shift?


--

Making Money with Open Source (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957518)


Right. Companies don't like paying for "service and support". For every $500 NT licence that a company buys, it spends thousands of dollars supporting that NT box.

Linux advocates may scoff at the "supportablity" of NT, but one of the reasons that NT has taken over the workgroup server market its that it is supposedly much cheaper to support than Novell or Unix.

Linux has solved the $500 software licence problem, but I'm not sure they've solved the $50,000 "service and support" issue. People want "easier" and "cheaper", in most cases much more than they want "better".
--

Open Source = Bad? (2)

James Thompson (12208) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957521)

I too thought that Open Source would be a wonderful thing. I had even hoped to use the "Open Source" title as part of a business automation project I'm working on(to appeal to the PHBs that might have read about Open Source in the mags). But now I'm no longer certain that being associated with "Open Source" is a good thing.

It seems that the recent release of numerous "Open Source" licenses is thining out the number of programmers available to create actual free code. These companies get free labor and debugging of their code while they continue to pay full time people to improve their code base. They get all the benifits of free source development as well as the rapid development provided by paid full time programmers. It seems that over time they'll have a product that can eclipse any truly free, volunteer product. And since these licenses contain "we own it" and "you must stop using it when we say so" clauses, they can then release a new version with the new features as closed source while making no new open source versions available. They could then legaly force users to upgrade to the new version or discontinue use of the free version. All the free development, new innovations, and debuging provided by the our community would not only be lost but could be patened by the company as well (it's their code now), preventing the same programmers that provided the original code from reimplimenting it in a free version. Their greatly enhanced (via free labor) programs coupled with a marketing department and ad budget could capture mindshare from corporate buyers thus hurting the chances of a new free projects from taking hold.

I'd like to think I'm being paranoid, but I've seen too many cases of corporate greed screwing people over for the almighty dollar.

It's simple... (Service bad) (2)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957523)

Service is bad for the computer industry.

Imagine this situation...

Why bother making things easy to use/understand if the only way you make money is from the clueless people??

If Linux wasn't so damned hard to install, Red Hat wouldn't have much of a business. Oh sure companies would still have service contracts and stuff, but isn't the goal of this entire industry to make computing so easy that we no longer even think about it? Isn't that where all this is heading? Why bother making new window managers for X. Why not just shut down Be, Inc. Eliminate the MacOS. If service is how money is going to be made, then ease of use will simply be ignored. Oh sure, we could all just be assholes and say "Hey, you don't know how to recompile your kernel? Move back into your cave". That's not how it should be. The entire WORLD does NOT need to be geeks/nerds.

It's very simple, really. If it's all about service, than you can forget about ease of use. You can forget about "general" OSes. You can forget about the general population. I'm sure that's what some of you would LIKE to see. But then you can forget about the entire computer industry since the folks that spend the money are the folks that don't have a clue. And if things get too hard, support gets too expensive, and the people in charge get too powerful (and inflated egos), they will just stop using it. As unlikly as that may sound, the world did work before computers and there's no reason it won't again.

Get real.

Service-only is NOT going to work for anything but Linux. And the only reason it works for Linux is because it's still too damned hard for the non-computer/geek person. Once some of the window managers, etc. get farther along, and someone spends the time to make a solid, small, super-easy distribution, service isn't going to matter as much.

And, just in case someone thinks I'm a troll or something, here's my play toys:
At home:
2 Linux boxes
1 Linux/Windows 98/BeOS box
1 Windows 95 box
At Work:
1 Windows 95 box
1 Linux box
(and Sun servers)

Poor article, poor us (3)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957531)

A year ago, I was thoroughly amazed at what was happening. With Netscape going open source, I thought, we had some really great things to look forward to.

Funny, but that's about how that fellow began his article--and it's honestly the way I felt, too. It felt almost like the dawn of a new era. Sadly, I'm not so optimistic now, but the reason is diametrically opposed to the article's diatribe.

Whatever happened to the days when "Free" and "Open Source" were used interchangeably to mean the same thing? Whatever happened to the days when, if a piece of software was to be open source, it went without saying that it would be either BSDL or GPL, not something somebody took out of a "Software License Mad-Libs" book and filled in some blanks their own way? Everybody has his own license...are they compatible? And which is compatible with which?

Aiiigh. People have been worried about Linux fragmenting into myriad distributions...but what I think we should fret about more is the Linux community fragmenting into different little sects. The sad thing is that it's already happened, and I can't see any way to reverse it. The spotlight has been shown on people who, heretofore, behaved like perfectly rational (if eccentric) human beings, and all their prejudices, beliefs, failings have all been amplified and heightened as they've begun to play to that spotlight. Stallman, Perens, Raymond...who can honestly accuse Raymond of playing more to the media than they? Stallman with his loud and boisterous "GNU/Linux" assertions (correcting every reporter at a press conference, for crying out loud!), Perens with his split from OSI and his Open Letters sent this way and that... While I think all three (and the others who've been doing similar things) honestly believe they're doing what's best for the community, they're pulling their respective fragments of the community in different directions, and we'll end up, by the time it's over, with several much-smaller communities, who can't even agree on something as basic as what the operating system they advocate should be called!

And who will protect our {free|open source} software interests from Big Business then? If we can't present a unified front, they'll roll right over us like a steamroller with the Microsoft logo emblazoned on the side.

Sadly, achieving unity is not so easy as simply calling for it. I fear it may already be too late. When it's all over, I'll mourn the loss of a once-great movement to many little not-so-great movements, and continue on with my life.

confused (1)

kaisyain (15013) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957533)

The reason that free software has gotten so far is because of the GPL, LGPL, BSD, XConsortium licenses

GPL - funded by MIT
BSD - funded by UC Berkley
XConsortium - funded by the commercial members of the X consortium.

When I look at the above I am hard pressed to conclude that free software is anything other than a huge welfare project that refuses to show gratitude to the commercial interests that spawned it. Talk about the biting the hand that feeds you. Free software has gotten so far for the same reason that rich, spoiled kids like Bill Gates get so far ... they sponge off their rich parents and don't face the same obstacles and pressures that your average company does.

Maybe we should call it MIT/GNU emacs?

I agree ... service is a red herring (1)

kaisyain (15013) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957534)

Who is going to pay for service for a computer game? Who is going to pay for service for a stupid little utility like WinAmp? Look at how few people register for shareware. I'd imagine even fewer would get "service contracts" for those apps. Or what about "finished" apps? Something like, say, cp? And what would the transaction cost of a service contract compared to the service contract itself be like?

When people start talking about using service to pay salaries I can't help but wonder why they never actually do anything but wave it around like a banner.

Production software (1)

kaisyain (15013) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957535)

But then everyone else in your field has the same systems. So long competitive advantage. Sure, you can find other areas to get a competitive advantage but why would you throw away one complete area? And if you can't get a competitive advantage from software then why should I, as a CEO, bother to spend anything other than the bare minimum at maintaining it?

It may be easier to hire bug-fixes but then you just threw away all of that economy of scale that shrink wrapped used to have. And you have to give your competitors (who didn't pay for it) that same bug-fix.

GPL, BERKLEY, or proprietary (1)

Master Switch (15115) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957536)

Either it should be GPL, BERKLEY, or keep it proprietary. Too many licenses will cause confusion, headache, and unecessary litigation. If you can't afford to release under one of the two above mentioned Licenses, then keep it to yourself. Anyhow, that's my 2cents worth.

much better than nothing! (2)

grossdog (15657) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957540)

For now, corporatations with large investments in their source see themselves as having two options:
1. release the code with a restrictive license.
2. don't release the code.

The primary point of these corporations is to make money and truly free, unencumbered software hasn't been around long enough to conclude that it can be part of a viable, profit-maximising business model. Imagine if Microsoft GPL's Windows and a magazine started distributing it for free with every issue. I think it's safe to say that many shareholders would be very upset.
I like the idea of free software. From the user's standpoint it's a great thing, period. Maybe not, though, to the developer who wants to increase revenue next quarter.
Open source is the next best thing. It's much better than having the source code locked up and unavailable. Why would one want open source? To look at and evaluate the program, to check for bugs, and to customize the software. Open source software fulfills these needs which is great for the vast majority of users.
I'd love to see Mathematica or Quake III(which will be eventually, so I hear) go GPL, but it's just not going to happen, for potentially good reasons. We (most of us) live in a capitalist society and companies are just not going to put their crown jewls in the public domain, in both perception and reality. Open Source is much better then no source at all.

--Andrew Grossman
grossdog@dartmouth.edu

Right problem but no answer..... (2)

Mynok (16117) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957543)

The problem with these new OSS licenses is that they aren't truly free...an indisputable point except to the raging-hormone-infested teeny boppers among us. These companies have only bitten on half of the OSS/FSF argument: software should be free because it is more reliable that way. The ugly part (and the part RMS gets chewed on for) is that software should be free because it is good for users.

The problem is that we have presented no alternative economic model for companies who truly want the advantages of the bazaar--but still have bills to pay. Unfortunately, I see no panacea for the problem, although there are certainly options.

Selling expertise is the most viable. Yes, it is far more costly than simply selling software, because expertise comes from people (us). On the other hand, we are fairly rare in the grand scheme of things, so we become more valuable to companies, and to the software industry as a whole in this scenario--a Very Good Thing IMO, and certainly worth relinquishing this antiquated and dubious concept of "intellectual rights" on software.

This model is generally how the business software industry works right now. Yes, there are license fees and maintenance costs at the moment, but the vast majority of revenue is in consulting services to clients. Source code often comes with the licensing fee (sometimes without additional cost) to allow the client to make modifications on site. In other cases, source code is placed on site to increase responsiveness to problems, as the software company can make quick fixes right on site. This is almost a necessity for production systems and the argument holds completely true for the operating systems these production environments run on. I can't even count the number of times that an OS bug brought down a production server and the answer was a "workaround". How much cleaner (and better for the customer) if the fix could be applied directly and the workaround avoided.

The end result? Companies selling software as their main business model would make a lot less money and possibly go under (the Symantec's of the world). Others would change their business model and move toward the consulting model--possibly making a lot less money, but surviving (the Microsoft's of the world). Some would concentrate on the hardware business and forego the software side completely (ala Sun). In any event, those employees who become extraneous at the software companies would most likely find employment at a business using his former software product where his expertise would be invaluable to daily operations. In the big picture, more of the software money would be going to us rather than to the MBA grads running these software companies. Also a Very Good Thing, IMO.

ESR saw that companies weren't going to bite off both ends, and thus tried the approach of selling the quality side without pointing out the ugly corollary--perhaps hoping it would sneak in on the coattails. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked, and we have companies trying to use the bazaar to pay for the cathedral. It isn't going to work that way. In fact, it's going to fail horribly with all the naysayers pointing their fingers and laughing at us.

We have to sell both points, gentlemen, and we have to provide alternative economic models. Until we do, we won't get what we really want (Free software), and users won't get what they need (reliable software).

Right problem but no answer..... (4)

Mynok (16117) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957544)

The problem with these new OSS licenses is that they aren't truly free...an indisputable point except to the raging-hormone-infested teeny boppers among us. These companies have only bitten on half of the OSS/FSF argument: software should be free because it is more reliable that way. The ugly part (and the part RMS gets chewed on for) is that software should be free because it is good for users.


The problem is that we have presented no alternative economic model for companies who truly want the advantages of the bazaar--but still have bills to pay. Unfortunately, I see no panacea for the problem, although there are certainly options.


Selling expertise is the most viable. Yes, it is far more costly than simply selling software, because expertise comes from people (us). On the other hand, we are fairly rare in the grand scheme of things, so we become more valuable to companies, and to the software industry as a whole in this scenario--a Very Good Thing IMO, and certainly worth relinquishing this antiquated and dubious concept of "intellectual rights" on software.


This model is generally how the business software industry works right now. Yes, there are license fees and maintenance costs at the moment, but the vast majority of revenue is in consulting services to clients. Source code often comes with the licensing fee (sometimes without additional cost) to allow the client to make modifications on site. In other cases, source code is placed on site to increase responsiveness to problems, as the software company can make quick fixes right on site. This is almost a necessity for production systems and the argument holds completely true for the operating systems these production environments run on. I can't even count the number of times that an OS bug brought down a production server and the answer was a "workaround". How much cleaner (and better for the customer) if the fix could be applied directly and the workaround avoided.


The end result? Companies selling software as their main business model would make a lot less money and possibly go under (the Symantec's of the world). Others would change their business model and move toward the consulting model--possibly making a lot less money, but surviving (the Microsoft's of the world). Some would concentrate on the hardware business and forego the software side completely (ala Sun). In any event, those employees who become extraneous at the software companies would most likely find employment at a business using his former software product where his expertise would be invaluable to daily operations. In the big picture, more of the software money would be going to us rather than to the MBA grads running these software companies. Also a Very Good Thing, IMO.

ESR saw that companies weren't going to bite off both ends, and thus tried the approach of selling the quality side without pointing out the ugly corollary--perhaps hoping it would sneak in on the coattails. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked, and we have companies trying to use the bazaar to pay for the cathedral. It isn't going to work that way. In fact, it's going to fail horribly with all the naysayers pointing their fingers and laughing at us.


We have to sell both points, gentlemen, and we have to provide alternative economic models. Until we do, we won't get what we really want (Free software), and users won't get what they need (reliable software).

Reality Czech (3)

Snibor Eoj (16725) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957545)

I'm afraid that the author of this article really needs to do his homework before he writes again.

First off, let's call a spade a spade; the opening paragraphs really seem to just be a lead-in to attacking the APSL. Unfortunately, several of the points that the author then goes on to make aren't really valid.

But the best of them all is the latest; Apple taking a bunch of software released under the BSD-license, re-releasing it under an all power to Apple license, and expecting us to thank them for it.

Here's where he first gets to his point. "Look!" he cries, "Apple slapped their own license on code that wasn't even theirs!" Alas, my friend, this is just not true. Yes, there is some code in there from BSD; even Apple won't deny it. But there is much more than just that; Apple has added significantly to this code base, and the source code they released is for a much-modified (and improved, IMNSHO) OS.

Many even said that it would be very unkind of us to try to make competing products to be released under true free software licenses, when these companies had been so gracious towards us.

Who said that? We shouldn't make free software, just because some companies are charging for it? Then what about Linux distributions? Should we stop giving away any free distributions just because Red Hat is charging money for their version? I'm afraid this argument doesn't hold water.

Some might claim that the release of all this software will lead to something good, that all the best ideas and best code will end up being melded into one great piece of software.

Again, I ask, who? I don't think that anyone thinks that MacOS X, Linux, and *BSD are going to merge into one UberOS. But the open source code means that we can learn from it, and we can fix it where needed, and we can improve it if we have ideas that they haven't had at Apple. I don't know about you, but I'd rather have 2 good OSes that grew from a larger unified community than 2 lesser OSes that grew out of a fragmented developer community.

Software needs to be free, not just open.

I'm afraid I have to laugh at this sentiment. Software does not need to be free; you want it to be free. I believe (as do many) that a person should be rewarded for good work, if he will accept a reward. You're welcome to give away your own code for free, but I will continue to happily pay for the MacOS, because it is an excellent product, and my payment rewards those who made it. (Yes, I actually pay for my OS, and I'm happy about it, because it's worth the money!)

-Snibor Eoj

Why I like comercial (not GPLed) software. (1)

papi (18516) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957547)

First thing I'd like to say. I like programming, and, some day I hope to make a living off it.

Don't get me wrong, I use free software, and I like to peek at the code from time to time, and I like to recompile some to better fit my computer and stuff.

But, some of it HAS to be comercial. Also, I beleive that it is perfectly normal that comercial software shouldn't come with sources.

First of all, think of all the expenses paying a whole team of hackers costs. We don't work for 5$ an hour, you know... If they release they're code, use code and algorythmes expressed in the code for free. And, many people out there don't give a rat's ass about licenses. How many of you don't know at least one person who has an illegal version of office (or windows)???

Also, even if I like free software, and have a few projects in mind to release some (when I have a less hectic schedule), in many cases, comercial software is far supperior.

The reason is simple. People are paid to do it, and impelment evry feature (not just about 70%-90% of them), even if they don't feel like it. They are also paid to provide adequate documentation about it. Therefore, it more usable to the "naive" user. They can't just go to they're bosses and say "I don't feel like it".

Also, I feel that Linux cannot grow much more if there aren't more companies that port comercial versions of they're software to it. For some reason, when something costs a lot, poeple think it is better. For an example, I hate doing web pages. But, some times, I have to. When I started to charge more (a lot) for them (higher prices = less customers), for some reason, I kept getting more contracts, and I suck st html "programming".


Papi

Very Good point (2)

Vampyl (19028) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957550)

I think the author makes a very good point. Open source should be free. I understand that companies dont want to lose there bread and butter by releasing all of their source code as free. But what it seems these companies want is for the open source community to fix all the problems with there software and not give us anything back! I do applaud the companies for taking that first step and releasing part if not all of their source code. But come on can the open source community be expected to fix all their problems and then have them yank the license out from under us(Hypothetically of course!)? I just hope that companies will learn that open source and gpl is the best option out there and begin to use it.

I agree... (1)

Black Cardinal (19996) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957557)

...and is the reason why my company puts clauses in our contracts that give us the rights to the source code for the software in our manufacturing equipment. It's not truly open-source, because we often will sign a non-disclosure agreement to satisfy the vendor's requirements, but we reserve the right to bring in outside consultants.

Of course, true open-source would be better for everyone in the long run, because companies that have equipment with similar functions or data handling requirements could leverage off of each other. I think it will take a while for that way of thinking to take hold in companies, though.

The goal of such software is not to make a profit on it, however (at least not directly). When people talk about "Open Source" or "Free Software" they are usually thinking about commercial applications. I agree with a previous poster that the way to make money in that arena is support. But even software released under the GPL can be sold for a price. The only restriction is the source code must be made available without additional cost. This usually has the effect of causing prices to be low (because the first customer who actually paid $$$ for it might share it for free, which is allowed under the GPL), but I can see a scenario where it doesn't for a limited distribution product (e.g. specialty CAD or simulation software).

Other licenses have other terms.

This whole mess (2)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957560)

I really hate to see this happen.

ESR was a great help to the cause. No, he was not perfect, but then, show me a perfect human being. He put free/open/whatever software *on the map*. He has done more to make sure open source gets attention and actually *continues to exist* then most people I know of. Yes, there are bad apples (read that as a pun if you want), but they are not ESR's fault. Linux and other free/open software being taken more seriously, and ESR *did* contribute to that.

Personally, I am rather sick of RMS whining about "GNU/Linux". Apple takes a bunch of BSD-licensed code, changes a little, and slaps their name on it. That is bad, I agree. But somehow, it is okay for RMS to take credit for something which is not his, either? I am really starting to believe RMS is another Henry Ford. "You should run free software, as long as it comes from GNU." There is *not one word* in the GPL about giving credit where credit is due - in fact, I believe GNU left such restrictions out on purpose. So how come RMS gets to do it, but Apple does not?

Important Note #1: Do not misunderstand me. I think RMS has contributed a fantastic amount to the cause as well. He did "invent" it, he formalized it and codified it, and most of all, contributed to it. He helps. But so does ESR.

Important Note #2: The GPL is a great concept. Software that is not only free, but legally required to remain free. I am as wary of these "semi-open" licenses as the next guy. However, ESR seems to be being blamed for them, and I really cannot abide that. If you want to blame someone, blame Bill Gates.

In short: United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

analysis (2)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957562)

Alright, just to offer my own $.02
Netscapes release of their source code for the mozilla project was under the complete understanding that it would eventually have to be modified, and released as a closed source executable for the final release as Communicator 5.0 This is due mainly to the fact that the RSA encryption that needs to be included for secure transmittion, is neither owned by Netscape, nor does Netscape have the right to release its source. But the accual mozilla engine, primarly the NGLayout/Gecko will be completly open for many people to use and incorperate into their own projects. This will create a whole new world of interactivity, offering top quality browsers to any device.
This article goes on to imply that any open source project created with the intent to eventually makea profit from its final code, is destroying the community.
While I must admit That many such projects and licenses may have thier problems *cough**fruit**cough* I don't believe that the entire idea is one that should be discarded. The community just needs to be allowed to progress and change. Hopefully developing a license that works for all parties involved. One that gives credit where credit is due, and not only encourages inovation, but rewards it.
While I know I will get flamed for this, but a socialist view of software, like reallife, can only exist on a limited scale. Now that we are becoming a global market. One can't expect to compete, when there is no initiative for competition. Yes I will admit the ideas and thoughts behind the linux movement are a great motivation. But what happens a generation or two down, when people are raised to expect their software for free. And told to let those techies fix it for them. Eventually resentment among the ranks occurs, and all hell breaks loose.
While I don't admit to having the answer, I envision of model in which each individual can profit from their works if they wish, but yet allowing the community as a whole to use their ideas in developing thier own solutions. Much like the web itself is today. You can easily view a pages source. But yet while still allowing that page to profit off its own existence. We expand our own understanding, and can use such ideas to help the Greater Good.

Right problem but no answer..... (1)

floopy (28552) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957565)

Fabulous comment. It had puzzled me for a while that an extreme license (like GPL) is very incompatible with businesses that try to profit off of software development. It is basically the problem of the commons/prisoner's dilemma that is often mentioned in introductory philosophy or microeconoms courses. If software company A and rival software company B both release their code, both will benefit in the long run through offering tech support and custom solutions. But in the short run, if company B uses a standard open-source license and company A doesn't, company A can benefit at company B's expense. Although I do think (and hope) that if the new open-source licenses (like apple's or sun's) restrict software development for a large enough niche, a hobbyist open-source project will provide a replacement. (By hobbyist I'm not being pejorative. I mean that as programmers who contribute unpaid time to the open-source community.) (e.g. It's difficult and cost-prohibitive to develop plugins for Photoshop -> Gimp, a MUCH better and more customizable program imho.)

Right problem but no answer..... (1)

lazzaro (29860) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957568)

> The problem is that we have presented no
> alternative economic model for companies
> who truly want the advantages of the bazaar
> --but still have bills to pay.

It's imporant to note that several types of
occupations, from airline pilot to modern
dancer, have become harder to justify doing
in purely economic terms, because there are
enough people who want to do them who aren't
primarily concerned about total monetary
reward amortized over the career. As a result,
people for who the "bills to pay" issue is
significant simply do something else for a
living. Maybe a part of what we're seeing here
is certain types of computer programming entering
this territory ...

I still don't understand... (2)

mhm23x3 (30474) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957569)

...how business is supposed to make money with Open Source strategy, and how there is going to be any incentive (outside of the "look at me, I can write appz!" crowd) to create new technology if we somehow eliminate IP.

Of course, the one glaring couter-example to this is all of the fine work that GNU and Linux have done. But, where would all of the GNU developers get a living wage in order to write free software, if it weren't for for-profit business?

I see, in the future, OSS and proprietary software working hand-in-hand. The basic platforms and protocols will be open (as if they aren't already), but there will always be a place for proprietary software: production apps, multimedia apps, games, etc. This will be a Good Thing, and profits made from proprietary software will then be turned around to fund OSS projects that will benefit everyone.

That's my Utopia, right there.

Making Money with Open Source (1)

gbr (31010) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957571)

I have to agree here. If someone can show me how to make money with Open Source/Free Software, then please tell me how. I can't figure it out.

GPL does not restrict author from relicenseing (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957573)

Well, the FSF has a lot of arguments against copyright and IP, and in a lot of cases they make a good point.

That does not change the fact that the GPL in itself is based upon copyright law, and the author, for as long as he or she retains copyright, can license it anyway they want to anyone.

Cygnus does this with their Cygwin32 environment, for example. You write GPL code, fine, you can user it. You want proprietary code, you buy the the rights from Cygnus. Another example is Be, who bought out some GPL drivers from the copyright holders.

A fundamental difference (2)

Znork (31774) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957574)

Actually, I think most developers *do* realize what they do when they place their code under GPL. I most certainly do.

I think most free software developers are not anti-commercial. However, I do not want my GPL work to be a free lunch for whoever wants to proprietarize it. I write GPL code to be free at release and remain free in the future. Not to be 'embraced and extended'. The GPL is a guarantee for the codes perpetuated freedom.

The GPL also prevents something else we've witnessed several times in the UNIX world. The old not-so-enjoyable proprietary competetive forking, closely related to embrace-and-extend. With X and BSD we ended up with multiple proprietary versions supporting their own features with the end result that only the bare minimum was possible to use with any crossplatform certainty.

I have nothing against the BSD people. I just believe that perpetuated 'code freedom' is more important than 'developer freedom' for code I donate. If they changed the BSD license to prevent proprietarization of free code I'd be pleased to have them use my code... but of course, that wont happen. So the one-wayness remains.

Of course, with your example about Mesa, it's easy to solve. Simply integrate XFree86 into Mesa rather than the other way around :). Seriously tho, I think you could probably co-distribute them under an LGPL license with XFree86 retaining it's licensing, but the Mesa extensions, loaded through an object interface, would remain LGPL. Of course, that would mean that any commercial implementation would have to be LGPL/XFree licensed or they'd have to do their own implementation for GL.

GPL, BERKLEY, or proprietary (1)

rking (32070) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957575)

But GPL does exactly what you describe. the authors of the code can always release it under other licences as well, including proprietary ones. So the ocde can be "used in proprietary projects only if the authors of the code agree to such", just as you wish.

Of course, if your code builds on the work of existing GPLd code then permission must come from the authors of the original work as well as the later development, but that's inhernet in a requirement to have the authors' permission to include the code.

I'd like to believe that, but (1)

rking (32070) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957576)

Read the GPL, shouldn't be too hard to get hold of :)

Seriously, the GPL does not prevent the author from issuing the same code under non-GPL licences. In a large project though, or one built on GPL roots, often there will be too many authors for gaining agreement to be practical. i don't think that's a problem that can be overcome without compromising te whole authors-must-agree principle.

The FSF might prefer you not to issue multiple licences that way but the GPL doesn't stop you.

GPL does not restrict author from relicenseing (1)

rking (32070) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957577)

"Yes, that's exactly what I had in mind. When I go the the fsf web-site, I see arguments against copyright, and IP, so I assume that the GPL gives the authors no more rights than others"

Just for clarity, the GPL does not give the authors this right, but they already have it and the GPL does not take it away.

Making Money with Open Source (1)

Steeldrivin (32368) | more than 15 years ago | (#1957579)

No, not tech support. Service

The problem with this is that it demonstrates
the technical bias of the OpenSource community.
It's easy to charge for service related to software that is
useful to business, which has the money and
incentive to hire consultants. Compilers, developer
tools, web servers, perl scripting, etc.
Marketable skills all.

But this only covers a small portion of the
software market. A lot of software is designed
for users who simply are not going to
pay you $200/hour for services.

Take, for example, educational software. Do
you expect parents will pay $200/hour for
services related to a first-grade reading
program?

Of Course They Won't!
They already complain about paying for tech support!

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