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Open-source Licensing: BSD or GPL?

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the six-on-one-hand dept.

GNU is Not Unix 631

BSDForums.org writes "Mark Brewer of Covalent Technologies argues BSD is better for the enterprise. As open source licensing models, both the Berkeley Software Distribution license and the General Public License have advantages and disadvantages. But in the end, the BSD offers more benefits to enterprise customers. Matt Asay of Novell makes the case for GPL. He says, no one open source license is ideal in every circumstance. Different licenses serve different ends. Berkeley Software Distribution-style licenses have been used to govern the development of exceptional open source projects such as Apache. Clearly, BSD has its strengths. However, all things being equal, he prefers the General Public License (GPL ). The GPL is one of the most exciting, innovative capitalist tools ever created. The GPL breaks down walls between vendors and customers while enabling strong competitive differentiation. Which is a better licensing model for open-source applications: BSD or GPL? What do you think?"

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Danger Will Robinson, Danger! (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011191)

The GPL is one of the most exciting, innovative capitalist tools ever created. The GPL breaks down walls between vendors and customers while enabling strong competitive differentiation.

Buzz word overload! Take cover! Buzzword overload! Take cover! Buzz...

* Robot's head EXPLODES in a shower of sparks!

Would it kill people to speak in normal sentences instead of Market Speak(TM)? This entire article is just silly. Of course businesses prefer the BSD license. It places fewer restrictions on them, and allows them true ownership of derivitive works. That gives them something to later sell or use as a barganing chip.

Of course many OSS authors prefer the GPL. It forces companies and other users to help pay for development by giving back. The benefit to OSS authors is very clear. The benefit to businesses, however, is still questionable in many circumstances.

In the end it comes down to the usefulness of the software. If a business can't build upon BSD licensed software, they'll go with GPLed software. But if they can help it, they'll just go for the public domain stuff. ;-)

Re:Danger Will Robinson, Danger! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011202)

Don't forget that we are talking about Novell. The company that would have dificulty giving away pills that cured cancer and gave you great orgasms.

Re:Danger Will Robinson, Danger! (3, Interesting)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011232)

I've seen a bunch of projects that chose to go with the BSD style licence and it's bit them in the ass. People are using their code left and right, but hardly anyone is contributing back since they don't have to. Eric S. Raymond argued recently that we don't need the GPL anymore because OS is a better model, but the problem is human nature... As long as there are human beings involved, there's going to be people taking advantage of you...it's pessemistic, sure...but it true. The GPL is the only reason most projects, including Linux have come as far as they have. Is the GPL too strict? Maybe....but BSD is clearly too loose.

Re:Danger Will Robinson, Danger! (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011249)

Care to provide a list of thoese projects?

Re:Danger Will Robinson, Danger! (2, Informative)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011292)

How about ODE [ode.org] ? You see tons of commericial/proprietary projects based off it, but you don't see very much development work on it there on the site do you? This may not be the best example, but it's the first one I thought of... I guess another good example would be how much code have you seen Microsoft contribute back to BSD even though they use some of their network components? ..or so I've heard...

Re:Danger Will Robinson, Danger! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011326)

My current company makes extensive use of a BSD-licensed product (PostgreSQL), and contributed nothing back.

Our excuse - we don't see the value in spending the time or money to do the legal review to write a policy about employees contributing code back.

Re:Danger Will Robinson, Danger! (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011256)

I'm certainly not arguing your point (although one needs to expect users to exercise their licensing rights to the fullest extent), I'm only arguing that businesses and developers have differing goals.

Where the BSD license really shines is in areas like the Apache project. Businesses donate to the project so that they don't have to reinvent the wheel every other day. They are then free to take the resulting work and bury it deeply inside the code where they don't worry about it any longer.

In the case of GPLed code, a business must make an up front decision to accept the change in business procedures that the GPL requires. This is good for GPL developers because they see a return on their work other than money. It's bad for a business because it may invalidate their business model. (i.e. How they make money.)

As with all things, everyone has to meet in the middle on this stuff.

Re:Danger Will Robinson, Danger! (1)

HMC CS Major (540987) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011467)

The FreeBSD + Apple relationship is as good, if not better, than the Apache project.

Danger Will Robinson, Danger!-GPL Spaceship. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011272)

"Would it kill people to speak in normal sentences instead of Market Speak(TM)? This entire article is just silly. Of course businesses prefer the BSD license. It places fewer restrictions on them, and allows them true ownership of derivitive works. That gives them something to later sell or use as a barganing chip."[1]

As oppossed to the bargaining chip one would have by taking GPL code and using it internally. Plus the simply using it "as is" in embedded systems.

"Of course many OSS authors prefer the GPL. It forces companies and other users to help pay for development by giving back."

KHTML-Apple.*

Plus as mentioned previously you can't force anyone to release anything as long as they keep it internal, were they can use it as a competitive advantage (shades of the BSD lockin argument).

*I should also point out that Nvidia and others demonstrate that one can gain some of the GPL community advantages without giving the good stuff away.

[1] The "web services" issue is also a big loophole.

IMHO I find the BSD license more straightforward and honest, and not filled with so many "but.., but.."s

Re:Danger Will Robinson, Danger! (5, Interesting)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011329)

Your analysis is blindingly oversimplified. Most companies would rather GPL their own code than release it under a BSD license, but would rather have others release their code under a BSD license.

Actually, most companies don't care! Most companies aren't in the software market, don't want to be in the software market, don't care about the license as long as they can freely use and copy the software for their own purposes, and think all this arguing is insane. As far as they're concerned, the BSD and GPL licenses are functionally equivalent.

But for the tiny percentage of all companies that actually are in the software or computer services market, the BSD license is something they only want to see applied to other people's code. So, saying they "prefer" the BSD license is hopelessly naive and misguided. They prefer to give away as little as possible, while getting as much as possible. And, in general, many of them seem to find the GPL or other copyleft licenses to be a reasonable compromise.

The benefit to businesses of the GPL is quite obvious (at least to smart companies, of which there are an increasing number). They can release their own code without worrying that their competitors will abscond with it, improve it, and not share those improvements.

Me, I tend to prefer the BSD license for my own code, as it's simpler, and there's less to worry about. But it's a very mild preference, and I happily contribute to GPL'd projects as well.

IMHO Creative Commons is better than either. (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011367)

The Creative Commons [creativecommons.org] license wizard [creativecommons.org] lets you choose exactly what protections you want to enforce with your license (allowing modifications; requiring sharing; etc).

They at least deserved mention in TFA.

But regarding the specific GPL-vs-BSD troll; I must say I prefer GPL; because every GPL'd project I worked on at previous employers, I can still find that code out there if I ever need it again. With the BSD'd stuff I saw at a previous employer, there's no way for me to get the same version I had used there.

Yawn... (1, Redundant)

Hack Jandy (781503) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011192)

Because this has never been covered on slashdot before. Ever.

HJ

MAY THE FLAMES BEGIN (-1, Troll)

payamchee (743476) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011195)

...and may the best license win.

fp! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011196)

fp

And he is right too. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011197)

The GPL license is perfect for developers.

The BSD license is perfect for everybody else.

Re:And he is right too. (1, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011209)

Except the consumers.

Re:And he is right too. (2, Interesting)

sycotic (26352) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011214)

Why is it bad for the consumers?

Re:And he is right too. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011228)

Cause proprietary software makers who use BSD software do not contribute back their changes. I guess you gotta share the belief that proprietary software is inheriently bad for consumers to truely appreciate that argument though.

Re:And he is right too. (2, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011419)

Cause proprietary software makers who use BSD software do not contribute back their changes.

Instead, they contribute usable products sooner and having jumped through far fewer legal hoops, which, if the consumer decides to, they can add to their library of tools, thus enabling them in some manner.

An important benefit here is that the costs of the product drop because lawyers are cut out to a considerably greater degree by BSD as opposed to GPL. BSD is a "no-worry" license, insomuch as such a thing is possible these days. That decrease in costs can be passed back to the consumer, or turned internally to fund more development or sooner development. Or not. But there are benefits to be had that can accrue to the "community", whatever that might mean to you and yours.

Certainly not all "giving back" has to be in the form of code to OS developers. The market is more than happy OS developers, you know. It may be that in some cases, the OS developers end up using the closed-source tool that has their work in it.

I've written a lot of code and given it out; I always did it as PD, because I'm not in the least interested in "getting a return" on that code. Of any kind. Write it, kick it out the door, and forget about it. I don't even sign it. Zero ongoing cost and annoyance are nice perks. Not everyone uses a "gimme-gimme-gimme" model for everything they do, and for that reason alone, the GPL gets kicked to the curb by many people who contribute to the community.

Re:And he is right too. (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011490)

Yep, pretty fundamental in my way of thinking about open software development is the concept that users of proprietary software are getting a raw deal. If you don't share that idea then I'm sure you'd have no problem actively helping people to make proprietary software. Of course, there are times when doing so has advantages. A project [sourceforge.net] I started and is still actively developed is licensed under a two clause BSD license with the outright intention that it help proprietary software makers enter a hard to define market. The idea being that if they can base services on this software they won't have to invest so much to get started. They can keep their changes to themselves and hopefully when there is some competition we'll see some innovative things. But when you're talking about free software in already established markets, you really are just throwing away your work.

Re:And he is right too. (2, Insightful)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011301)


The GPL license is perfect for developers.

The BSD license is perfect for everybody else.

As a software consumer who never ever wants to be forced to agree to a EULA just to get better performance from my software I have to favor the GPL. Screw those who want to screw others, if you want to charge me for something then make it yourself from scratch.

Re:And he is right too. (1)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011403)

Screw those who want to screw others, if you want to get better performance from your software, make it yourself from scratch.

Re:And he is right too. (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011414)

Parent wrote:
The GPL license is perfect for developers. The BSD license is perfect for everybody else.

I'd say

  • GPL is what I want when my company is *buying* software - ensures we'll always have access to any upgrades & updates without having to pay recuring fees.
  • BSD is what I want when my company is *selling* the software - it ensures that we can always charge our existing customer base for upgrades and get a recurring revenue stream that our investors love

Re:And he is right too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011477)

And SGH is perfect for the dumpster!!!

Ha ha ha ha ha!!! I know you don't get it, but others do!!!!

GPL.... (1, Troll)

PeterPumpkin (777678) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011198)

The GNU General Public License, the African General Public License, or the European General Public License?

Re:GPL.... (1)

PeterPumpkin (777678) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011235)

Perhaps I should clarify. Neither the OP nor the pro-GPL article specify what General Public License they are talking about. I have no idea what the GPL is. I do know what the GNU GPL is however.

Re:GPL.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011364)

Ugh. Fuck this. The old Slashdot for nerds has been replaced by Slashdot for otaku. I'm -1, Troll and this post [slashdot.org] is untouched. Redundant contentless post anyone? Mine had a point at least!?

Fine, I'm a troll apparently, might as well join the GNAA. Fuck Slashdot.

I know... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011200)

tastes great!!

less filling!!

tastes great!!

less filling!!

I look forward to all our bases belonging to M$.

If we keep arguing about stupid stuff, all our bases *will* belong to someone else.

Here is some sweeeeet OPEN SOURCE!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011201)

Heheheheheeheh

muahahahahaahaa

Taco's Wife [goatse.ca]

My beauty...

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OMFG, they actually asked what we think about this (4, Funny)

Fox_1 (128616) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011204)

I swear to god my jaw dropped when I read the article summary, at first I was excited by the idea of some differing views being presented on the different license models, but then I hit the last line
"Which is a better licensing model for open-source applications: BSD or GPL? What do you think?"
Please for the love of god remember the children when you post.

Licensing Jeans. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011379)

"Please for the love of god remember the children when you post."

So should we license our children under the BSD license, or the GPL one?

What a retarded question. (1, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011205)

The GPL motivates development because DEVELOPERS are enticed by the idea that derivatives of their code will REMAIN open, and that their projects will flourish.

If corporate consumers of free SW prefer BSD licensing, then they're free to choose from the tiny subset of free sw that's licensed under BSD. Their demand is NOT going to motivate the creation of significant additional BSD software.

Re:What a retarded question. (1, Insightful)

kimanaw (795600) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011295)

The GPL motivates development because DEVELOPERS are enticed by the idea that derivatives of their code will REMAIN open, and that their projects will flourish.

It may be a retarded question, but not for the reasons you describe.

I've seen GPL projects that die because they target a commercial audience that won't touch a GPL. The GPL, in and of itself, is not going to spur development. And neither is the BSD.

BTW: theres a lot of non-GPL OSS out there to choose from these days. I, for one, try to avoid using GPL'd source as much as possible, simply to limit my exposure to its potential "virulent" impact. I develop truly free OSS (usually under a Common Public License, or an Artistic License), as well as proprietary solutions.

I think the ultimate difference is the notion of truly free software, vs. the appearance of freedom. If you develop open source with the notion that a license is somehow going to cause your project to succeed by forcing those that want to use your code to keep the derivatives open, I'm afraid you're sadly mistaken. The scrupulous are likely to take a pass (there are usually nonGPL'd solutions to most problems these days), while the unscrupulous don't care what license you use.

Tyranny, regardless whether monarchy, oligarchy, or communist dictatorship, is still tyranny. Bottom line: if you want control, keep it closed, and don't call if "free". If you genuinely want to make a contribution, use some other license to eliminate liability, and learn to just let go.

Cuts both ways, but I am sick of license wars. (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011311)

For example, software contributors (corporate or otherwise) don't have to worry about contributions being used to subsidize competing proprietart software.

For example, if IBM contributed code to FreeBSD, then Sun would be able to add that to Solaris.

But in the end, the license doesn't matter as much as community-building. Apache, *BSD, BIND, PostgreSQL, etc. all have very large and vibrant communities behind them. And once the community reaches a certain size, then proprietary competition simply doesn't matter. This is because one is competing with Free either way.

My firm mostly uses the GPL. This is largely because a lot of our work involves extending other GPL'd software, so we are required to do so.

Also, our original projects are licensed under the GPL simply because it avoids subsidizing the competition as mentioned above. However, we really don't care that much one way or another, and if a project requred a BSD-style license, we would be happy to use it.

Re:Cuts both ways, but I am sick of license wars. (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011394)

For example, if IBM contributed code to FreeBSD, then Sun would be able to add that to Solaris.

Not a chance. If IBM contributed code to FreeBSD they would do it in a distro they forked internally and sold. Why the hell would they give it to one of their most direct competitors!?!

Re:What a retarded question. (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011481)

The GPL motivates development because you are retaining the copyright over your work, and can still do things with it that other people cannot.

You can do things like start a little company that develops some GPL'ed program, and then later be taken over by a larger company for $$$ which makes proprietary verions of that program.

That's because, luckily, the GPL wasn't invented by Stallman, but by a bunch of lawyers kind of working for Stallman.

If you want to contribute to a Free Software Foundation project, your use of GPL won't be good enough for them. They want copyright assignment so that /they/ can put it under the GPL.

The reason they want that is that the program isn't free just because you put it under the GPL. It's still a proprietary program that you, or anyone you wish to license it to under alternate terms, can roll into a machine-language binary with no source code.

Copyright assignment is the real stupid move in free software, not the placement of something under the GPL.

Never assign the copyright for anything non-trivial to /anyone/ without being paid a decent wage for every hour you spent developing it.

And note that putting something under the BSD license is effectively like assigning the copyright to the world (public domain). Consider that if you put something under the BSD license, a GNU project can borrow your stuff without asking any copyright assignment from you!

So BSD licensing would be the second most stupid move in free software. It's not as stupid as assigning the copyright to someone specific, because at least you left freedom for yourself to make arbitrary use of your own work.

Which is better? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011207)

I wish to edit my open source license files. Which is a better editor for this purpose, Emacs or Vi?

Re:Which is better? (1)

HG Slashdot (895363) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011285)

Notepad

Re:Which is better? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011304)

A Symbolics Machine [wikipedia.org] running vi.

* Me waits for the heads to explode

Re:Which is better? (1)

ErichTheWebGuy (745925) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011385)

Clearly, VI is the obvious choice. I can't even believe that you need to ask that question.

Mod article Flamebait (-1) (-1, Troll)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011208)

Wow, could an article have been more obviously flamebait?

Wow, that is pointless. (3, Insightful)

Toba82 (871257) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011212)

First you say they work to different ends and then ask which is better. Isn't that like comparing swiss cheese to nuclear physics?

All depends on what you want. (5, Informative)

jon787 (512497) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011215)


The purpose of the GPL is to ensure that the code will always be open.

The purpose of the BSD license is to ensure the authors are given proper credit, not necessarily to keep the code open.

Re:All depends on what you want. (1)

qaffle (264280) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011273)

I agree with this but would add that this isn't really the argument that generally gets made for GPL. A lot of the time you see arguments that by using a GPL style license you're helping to promote code sharing and you're doing good for the sake of doing good, which I entirely disagree is occurring with that style license.

Yes you're providing something potentially useful for someone out there, but you're also imposing your viewpoint on everyone else by requiring they do the same thing you are. Which doesn't sound like doing it for the greater good which open source software is many times made out to be.

With a more BSD style license I think that initial argument holds more ground, yes you may need to include an extra license file or some credits, but you don't impose yourself on others code/products.

Re:All depends on what you want. (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011308)

The authors still gotta get credit with the GPL to you know.

Re:All depends on what you want. (1)

quarkscat (697644) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011393)

Does it really have to be boiled down to the stark choice between one and the other? Why not accept that each OSS license has advantages and disadvantages, depending upon which side of the table you are sitting on.

Personally, I am conflicted on this issue. As a grateful user of OSS, the GPL guarantees that the software I use will continue to improve, even if I have to make the improvements myself or pay someone else to do the same. However, as a software developer in the USA, with all the bullhockey from the USPTO regarding software patents on what is either clearly "prior art" or nonsensical "limpet mines" placed by would be monopolists, I like the idea of keeping my code private, via the BSD license.

The real underlying question that needs to be asked is this: "By what process can the mess made by the USPTO regarding software patents be corrected, while still rewarding those few innovators whose genuine software patents can be acknowledged?"

Re:All depends on what you want. (0, Flamebait)

Sheepdot (211478) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011400)

The GPL is one of the most exciting, innovative capitalist tools ever created.

I would imagine RMS might actually take offense to the GPL being labeled as "capitalist". Your definition of the GPL being accurate, and RMS's personal comments, would lead me to believe he's anything but "capitalist".

Oh dear Lord... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011219)

Why not mark the entire post and resulting thread as -1 flamebait now and get it over with? While it's an interesting question and I'm sure there are places where people could have a nice mature and rational discussion about it, /. is just NOT one of those places...

Anyways, as an encore, I think the next posting should be "VI vs. Emacs: Which is the best text editor for your needs?"

Re:Oh dear Lord... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011268)

> "VI vs. Emacs: Which is the best
> text editor for your needs?"

Appleworks.

What? My needs are very modest.

Get with the 90s! (1, Offtopic)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011290)

notepad.exe!!!

OMFG, dudex0r!

Which do you see being used more in the enterprise (1)

Nailer (69468) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011221)

Which Open Source Operating System do you see being used more often in the enterprise? Which has more development momentum?

BSD? Older than GNU/Linux, and people can do whatever they want, including take someone elses work and make it proprietary.

Or GNU/Linux, the younger OS where the GPL creates a snowball effect?

BTW (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011222)

Furthermore, software containing embedded GPL-based code must be licensed under the GPL.

This is incorrect. The GPL does not require that derivitive works be GPLed. The key is that the restrictions placed on derivitive works (you must give up the source code and exclusive rights to redistribution) makes the resulting code effectively like the GPL. You can still use some other license for the derivitive code, and once you stop redistributing you can stop giving out the source code. Plus, nothing prevents you (as the copyright holder) from reusing the source that is yours in a non-GPL-derived product.

Clear as mud? Good.

Run away!!! (-1, Redundant)

fiori (45848) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011223)

Next on Slashdot: vi versus emacs

Re:Run away!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011238)

That would be a dup. vi is BSD-licensed and emacs is GPL.

Re:Run away!!! (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011263)

Why would we debate a text editor vs an operating system?

Chocolate or Vanilla??? (2, Funny)

RobertKozak (613503) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011224)

Vi or emacs

Windows or Linux

Replublican or Democrat

Development or Systems

Apache or IIS

Apple or Intel

Oh wait.... geeze...

Re:Chocolate or Vanilla??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011284)

Replublican or Democrat

You did that on purpose, Democrud Swine! :-P

Re:Chocolate or Vanilla??? (1)

SPY_jmr1 (768281) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011428)

Did intel ever make a complete product?

Now i'm curious, would be interesting trivia if they did.

Otherwise you'd be comparing Apples to Strippers. Both good. Both for lusting after. Just. Not. The. Same.

GPL helps programmers get paid (4, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011226)

When I do programming for myself, with my own money, I do it under the GPL. That way, I can share my software, and if someone doesn't want to share they can pay for a commercial license. When a customer pays me to do BSD-licensed software, I do it happily.

The BSD license is great if you are a big company and lots of little folks like me are contributing BSD software that you can use in any proprietary way you wish. But it's not so great for those little people, because they are functioning as sort of unpaid employees. GPL gives the whole situation a balance.

If you take the range of GPL, LGPL or GPL + exception, and BSD, you have a range of licenses for essentially any business purpose. Each has their strong and weak points.

Bruce

Re:GPL helps programmers get paid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011375)

"But it's not so great for those little people, because they are functioning as sort of unpaid employees. GPL gives the whole situation a balance."

Really? How so? Redhat and IBM has access to a huge amount of free labour because of the GPL.

English garden or tightly maintained lawn? (2, Funny)

puzzled (12525) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011233)


I'll get beaten down for posting this again, but having used FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Redhat, and SuSe extensively over the last ten years:

The Linux distro cloud is like an English garden - wild stuff going on all over the place, very easy for someone with a new idea to break in and produce a distro, and in general there is a frenetic level of innovation.

The BSD systems are more like the lawn of the base commander at Camp Pendleton - each blade named, serial numbered, and rarely do they get out of line.

I'm running FreeBSD most everywhere because I don't have to jack with it. I've got SuSe on my desktop because I've got a captive Windows thingy with accounting data and people around here pay me to touch SuSe, so its worthwhile to be up to speed.

Each has their place - I love the massive amount of GPL stuff in /usr/ports, but I'm really glad I'm no longer stuck in RH binary dependency hell.

Yes, I've heard of portage, no, I haven't touched it yet - consider enlightening without flaming if you're a guru ...

Re:English garden or tightly maintained lawn? (1)

setagllib (753300) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011424)

Portage is convenient and simple to use (even if very complicated under the hood), but my experience has been that a Gentoo system will often degenerate over time, especially if you're not super-careful about your upgrade procedure. FreeBSD with Ports seems to be much more tolerant and self-maintaining.

Typing from a Gentoo system, I can tell you that my XMMS randomly segfaults and my Firefox gives random xul errors if I even try to create a directory. This is only after a few weeks of the install existing. Before anyone can be clever about CFLAGS, I'm using -O -march=i686 -pipe, and a fully x86-marked tree.

BSDs don't have these problems unless you introduce them, but Gentoo seems to introduce them for you. In fact, some things are marked as tested even if they're known broken - wdm's PAM login script does not work at all, libusb does not create a symlink it should, and sometimes for no reason syslog-ng will reconfigure itself to show STATs every 10 minutes instead of hours. All of this in the tested branch.

Whatever ESR says... (1)

X (1235) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011240)

...just kidding!

I gotta say, the GPL strikes me as being a far better bargain for whomever is producing copyrighted works (which might be a developer, might be a business, who knows). It gives them the one thing that might be as valuable as the copyrights to their own code: access to the source of derivative works.

depends who your target "customer" is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011242)

The project/company should decide if they want the product to be used by businesses or not.

For example.. if Eclipse wants everybody to adopt SWT, then they better chose a BSDish license. jEdit for example had chosen the GPL, thus limiting its appeal as a general purpose platform... but maybe that wasn't their "business plan".

Conversely, MySQL wants to be the only MySQL player. They want to dominate the MySQL vendor market (and want a big piece of the DB market). So GPL is a good way to keep themselves as the main player. GPL is good if you want a closed source sales model while staying open source. MySQL understands that many people will want to link to closed source products so they charge for that privilege.

I vote BSD style (but LGPL's ok)... (4, Insightful)

qaffle (264280) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011246)

I work for a government lab that develops both free software and private software (specifically when under contract with private companies) and we have to deal with this issue constantly. We try our best to not reinvent the wheel and to use pre-existing libraries that are out there, but sometimes you find a perfectly fitting library only to find its GPL'd, which kills any possibility of using it since not all of the work a company like ours can do is able to have a GPL style license.

It is not logical to expect (IMO) that a company contracting another company is always going to want (or be willing to accept) a GPL style license, so GPL'ing something limits its use in corporate sectors (again IMO).

Now many times if you go and ask the library authors' they'll grant special permission especially in a case like this, but it's a hastle to work with. And you can argue that you should fight for free software all over, but it doesn't make business sense in every case, especially when your company is not in the business of providing support.

Also the LGPL solves this sort of issue to some extent, but I'd say the LGPL is more BSD then GPL, but that's a bit of an overstatement...

If the private company... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011350)

If the private company is not distributing the software beyond themselves; they are under no obligation to provide the source to any but their own employees and only on request and only at the cost of media. Once you factor in all that, the GPL is just heavenly for compiled-in libraries for internally-used software. Methinks your lab has a basic misunderstanding of the GPL?

Re:I vote BSD style (but LGPL's ok)... (4, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011399)

You see, as a GPL developer, thats exactly the reason why I only use GPL. You want to be able to take my work and sell it. Ok, thats fine. You want to be able to do so while not contributing back and improving the software for the rest of the users- you want all the benefits of open source with none of the responsibilities. Thats not cool.

My goal in life is not to be your free development resource. My goal is to produce software to help my fellow man. If your company can benefit too, thats a bonus. But if you aren't willing to do the same thing, then you can pay for my work to replicated on your own dollar. You can't have it both ways. Pay me in code, or pay me (or other developers) to do it in cash. But you will pay for the use of it in another project.

well, duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011260)

YES! FREAKING YES! BSD IS BETTER FOR THE ENTERPRISE! Companies can take the code as their own and sell it without giving anything back! It's obviously better for those enterprises!

Man. What some people get paid to say.

BSD is better.. (1)

PFAK (524350) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011265)

I believe that the BSD license is a better license then the GPL because the BSD has less license restrictions and enables software companies/developers the ability to link their software product with a library under the BSD license without having to release their source code.

GPL reminds me of a virus, only license wise.

Re:BSD is better.. (1)

msully4321 (816359) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011383)

By the definition in your sig, BSD licensed software is not free either, since it places the restriction that you must credit the author. By that definition, only software in the public domain is truly free. The GPL is free in that the source code is open and can be redistributed and modified freely. The restrictions serve only to *preserve* the freedom. And by the way, I prefer the BSD license as well. That doesn't make the GPL any less free.

Re:BSD is better.. (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011429)

Really, it's not the GPL that's the problem...

Consider that when an author releases a copyrighted work, _ANY_ copyrighted work, the only way you have the right to copy it is either for personal/private use, within the parameters permitted by fair use, or else you must obtain permission from the copyright holder. That's it. Plain and simple. In fact, in a nutshell, that's exactly what the GPL license says.

It just so happens that if an author chooses to GPL his work, then he is willing to _grant_ permission to copy the work to anyone that is willing to agree to the terms of the license. Don't like the terms? Then you don't have permission to copy the work... which is fundamentally no different from how any other copyrighted work would be handled.

So the GPL only differs from the more conventional form of copyright control in the sense that there is far less paperwork in the permission-to-copy granting process.

When looked at from this perspective, the BSD license is actually inferior to the GPL for a developer, because the BSD license would permit another potential (competing?) agent to take control of the code, without regard for what may have been the original author's intentions.

Really, the only place where the BSD license is preferable for a developer is in situations where the developer wants to take some code that somebody else wrote and do something with it that might not be in the interests of the original author.

Oh, dear... (1)

tempest303 (259600) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011276)

BSD vs GPL: FIGHT!!!

Seriously, didn't Matt Asay already explain this, only a couple lines above this "Which license is better!?!OMGWTFLOL!!!

"...no one open source license is ideal in every circumstance. Different licenses serve different ends..."

It doesn't get any simpler than that, and I can't believe that anyone could believe that either license is 100% better, or better in any application than the other. Christ, even Richard Fucking Stallman has agreed that the BSD license is more suitable for some uses [vorbis.com] than the FSF's own Copyleft licenses.

That being said, I'm an LGPL or "GPL+exception clause" person, myself. If you want to change the community's code, you have to give back. However, simply building on top of a Free platform, like GNU Classpath, or GNOME is different. Building on platforms like these expands that platform's usage, so it's still of benefit to the community that built that platform.

Depends on where you are (3, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011281)

The BSD license offers more advantages to companies looking to sell software derived from existing software. They can take BSD-licensed code, do what they wish with it and treat the results as their own proprietary code.

The GPL license offers advantages to end-users long-term. Anyone wanting to take advantage of the starting point GPL'd software offers has to return the favor in the form of their code. Essentially it makes developers let other people take advantage of their work in the same way they took advantage of others' work. It also guarantees that, as an end-user, you're never in a position where you can't get fixes and modifications to the software.

Which one is better for you as the author of the software who has to decide on the license to release it under depends on your goals for the software.

GPL is capitalistic ? (1)

a3217055 (768293) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011291)

Ok GPL is really a free socialist "copy-left".
It is far from capitalistic you cannot capitalize on GPL based appilcations etc.. becasue it is almost free ( you must pass on what you recieved ).

Anyway besides all this jazz, I am just against building weapons for offensive strikes or actions that are made from GPL based products. Example cannot use Linux for the guidance computer of a missle that is used to strike civilian targets etc..
Or a robot that goes into battle using open source apps etc...

The GPL good when ownership is well-defined. (4, Interesting)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011294)

An enterprise can always approach the author of a GPLed software component and license it. Then they can do whatever they want, according to the alternate license, like shipping binaries with no source. He would be a fool who would not take money from someone who wants to ship proprietary binaries containing his program or library, under alternate licensing!

But, if there are are too many joint authors, that's a problem. It may be impractical to get everyone to agree to set up the alternate licensing.

If all the authors have assigned their copyright to some organization that is politically against proprietary software, that's also a problem for you. (That's why those FSF people want copyright assignment. They know too damn well that the GPL by itself isn't enough!)

These aren't inherent problems with the GPL, though, only with the specific situation involving the GPL.

Under the right conditions, when there are only a few authors or maybe just one, the key difference between the GPL and BSD is that you have to obtain permission from the authors of the GPLed program for proprietary use. When you do that, you have a bit of advantage too, because that program remains non-free to your competition. If they want the technology, they have to approach those authors and buy it separately from you. Heck, you could even buy the complete, exclusive rights to the GPLed program. Afterward, none of your competitors could make proprietary use of the technology, only the uses permitted by the GPL'ed public releases (which you can continue to make, as the new owner!) So you see, it's pretty damn smart to write GPLed software: you leave yourself open as a nice acquisition target for someone who wants the technology.

That's what kind of makes the BSD license stupid; the authors have just given away the permission to everyone to do anything. It's a good license to put on the smallest possible piece of code that will make a name for you as a great hacker and help you secure future contracts. It's also good for your reference implementation of some spec that you are trying to push onto everyone else, whether it be a data format, protocol, or what have you. Otherwise you're just doing free work for some software venture capitalist, which is stupid. I mean, if you want to help people, go spend time with sick children or something. Doh!

Re:The GPL good when ownership is well-defined. (5, Insightful)

Sheepdot (211478) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011437)

Otherwise you're just doing free work for some software venture capitalist, which is stupid. I mean, if you want to help people, go spend time with sick children or something.

Apparently there are some mods who only read half of the comments.

So I suppose the Apache Foundation should just give up the work they've done? I suppose name-recognition for a popular BSD project isn't enough for you?

If anything, licensing under BSD instead of the GPL is the most selfless act a software developer can make. It means they are coding for the love of coding, not because of a political or philosophical agenda. Is there something wrong with that?

Likewise, is there something wrong with working for Habitat for Humanity, the Peace Corps, and The Hunger Project?

FSF's stance on linking (3, Interesting)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011296)

My biggest problem with the GPL is the FSF's position that even dynamically linking against a library under GPL is enough to make the resulting code a derivative work (and thus also subject to the GPL). The BSD license affords much more flexibility. The LGPL is also not so encumbered. (http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/lgpl.html [fsf.org] )

Note also that the FSF's interpretation may not be binding, but it hasn't been tested in court (that I'm aware of, and I recently attended a symposium on this very topic). So, in my mind, it creates an unacceptable exposure for anyone who wants to develop software but not adopt the GPL. The BSD license is substantially safer.

More discussion on this point: http://www.oslawblog.com/2005/01/static-linking-gp l-and-lgpl.html [oslawblog.com]

Re:FSF's stance on linking (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011346)

What I wanna know, is if this is so dubious why doesn't someone go to court and request a clarification from a judge? Surely someone somewhere must care enough about this issue to spend some discovery money on it.

MPL is a compromise (1)

mr_tap (693311) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011366)

My biggest problem with the GPL is the FSF's position that even dynamically linking against a library under GPL is enough to make the resulting code a derivative work (and thus also subject to the GPL). I agree. It was largely this clause that inspired me to recommend the use of the MPL instead of the GPL for a product that my company intends to release in the future.

Re:FSF's stance on linking (3, Insightful)

JanusFury (452699) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011451)

The dynamic linking issue is probably my only real gripe with the GPL. It makes it almost impossible for me to realistically consider using the GPL for any of my code. The LGPL is much easier to work with and still provides almost all of the same benefits as the GPL for me as a developer, and my users get the same basic freedoms from it as they would from the GPL (theoretically, they actually get more), so most of my projects are licensed under the LGPL (or occasionally just the plain ol' zlib license).

On a side note, I recently asked one of the XviD developers about including the XviD codec with a LGPL application I had written. I don't directly use the XviD codec; I use the standard Win32 VFW API to load video clips and play them back. I wanted to include XviD in the installer so that my users would have a quality codec ready to go without having to pay any license fees. The developer stated that because XviD is GPL, all of my code (and any scripts my users wrote, as well) had to be GPL, otherwise I would be violating the GPL. Because of this, I ended up having to include a commercial codec with a less insane license instead.

Sensory Overload! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011297)

"The GPL is one of the most exciting, innovative capitalist tools ever created."

Capitalist?! If Richard Stallman plucking bits of tuna fish sandwich from his beard is the new face of capitalism, I suppose the suit and tie I wear to work makes me a Ferengi...

What about the...? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13011322)

Gay nigger license.. Doesn't the GNAA have a license for lastmeasuere...? How does it compare to the GPL AND BSD....? Is it suitable for commerial software....?

WTF? (3, Insightful)

orz (88387) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011336)

The article submitter should be flayed alive. The /. editor should be drubbed soundly.

Use the GPL if you're going to get upset if someone uses your code commercially without paying you. GPL won't quite prohibit that kind of thing, but it will make most business models involving it impractical.

Use the GPL if you have strong philosophical objections to the basic idea of intellectual property. If, eventually, a sufficiently large portion of code is GPLed, then it might become prohibitively difficult for anyone to make non-GPLed code without re-inventing the wheel. Dream on.

Use the BSD license if you just want your code to be useful to as many people as possible.

Businesses sit on both ends of the table... (2, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011337)

...as providers of code, they hardly want to release under the BSD license. A GPL license is often acceptable where BSD is not. As consumers of code, they love the BSD license. As for OSS authors, I think the requirements of the GPL are excellent at promoting OSS. So I think the contributors should be release under the GPL (except where reasonable such as standards you want everyone to follow). What the consumers want is really irrelevant since they don't contribute in the making. Why should you aim to please someone where you have nothing to gain?

Kjella

BSD good for selfish companies only (2, Insightful)

tehanu (682528) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011344)

How many companies, as opposed to not-for-profit organisations have actually released software as BSD? For a company, *releasing* software as BSD makes no sense. Here, take my work. Oh, Mr Competitor, of course you can use my money and research to help you compete against me. No, you don't have to give me any improvements you make. With the GPL the company is assured of getting any improvements back. It's taking the gamble that while its money could be used to help its competitor if they use the code for anything it has to release *that* as GPL so that it can use it. Also if its competitor makes an improvement it will be able to use that improvement itself. For a company *releasing* software under an open-source license BSD has no real advantages and many disadvantages.

For a company that *consumes* open-source software - and by this - I don't mean using Linux on the desktop but say taking open-source software and using it in their own programs or repackaging it, BSD is obviously superior as they can take as much as they like for free, profit from it and not give anything back.

Personally I think if BSD was the predominant open-source license you won't be seeing nearly as many companies releasing their work as open-source. For for-profit companies, BSD gives all the benefits to the selfish companies and penalises the generous companies. GPL is more fair from a for-profit perspective.

Re:BSD good for selfish companies only (1)

Chuck_McDevitt (665265) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011489)

Hmmm... The Company I work started with PostgreSQL (BSD) and releases *some* of what we do back to the comunity under BSD license. Only the core of what make us different is kept proprietary. If we couldn't do it that way (for example, if PostgresSQL was GPL), we wouldn't do the development at all, and nothing would go back to the community because it wouldn't be worth our investor's money to develop the software at all.

"BSD or GPL? What do you think?" (1)

Chordonblue (585047) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011349)

I think a flamewar is in order - Vi/EMACS style!

free (1)

slashdotnickname (882178) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011356)

the ultimate solution is neither, i.e. absolutely free code... with no required assignments of credit... no required delivery of source code... no strings whatsoever... once you put your code out there then anyone can do anything with it.

coming to a concensus over any other solution is just squabbling over people's different preferences.

Like this? (1)

ph0enix (87965) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011453)

/usr/share/misc/license.template on OpenBSD: /*
* Copyright (c) CCYY YOUR NAME HERE
*
* Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software for any
* purpose with or without fee is hereby granted, provided that the above
* copyright notice and this permission notice appear in all copies.
*
* THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE AUTHOR DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES
* WITH REGARD TO THIS SOFTWARE INCLUDING ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
* MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR BE LIABLE FOR
* ANY SPECIAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY DAMAGES
* WHATSOEVER RESULTING FROM LOSS OF USE, DATA OR PROFITS, WHETHER IN AN
* ACTION OF CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE OR OTHER TORTIOUS ACTION, ARISING OUT OF
* OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR PERFORMANCE OF THIS SOFTWARE.
*/

Re:free (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011476)

"the ultimate solution is neither, i.e. absolutely free code... with no required assignments of credit... no required delivery of source code... no strings whatsoever... once you put your code out there then anyone can do anything with it."
Hooray for common sense. It's about time somebody said this.

Recently there has been much debate and discussion around the GPL due to the the work being done on GPL v3. And it's all a load of crap. Why is the GPL so complicated? Seriously. There are these constant arguments and debates that go on forever --

what you can/can't do when using GPL code.
what you have to/don't have to do when using GPL code.
what about this situation.
what about that situation.


The same arguments and debates, over and over and over again. Why? Because the GPL is as complicated and restrictive as a Microsoft EULA. It's just complicated and restirctive in a different way. If all the advocates of "Free" (as in Freedom) software truly believed in "Freedom", then they would throw the GPL in the trash (along with BSD and all the other licenses) and endorse a license containing exactly two sentences:

You can do whatever you want with this software.
You can't take any action against someone else for the purpose of preventing them from doing whatever they want with this software.


THAT is free software. Anything else is just phoney bullshit pretending to be free.

Is purple better than GPL? (1)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011372)

I think it's about time we hash this out once and for all: is purple better than the GPL? The colour purple has several significant advantages over the GPL. For example, a woman can wear a purple dress, but they can't wear the GPL. You can paint your walls purple, but can't paint your walls GPL. Purple grapes are quite yummy, whereas the GPL (in hard copy) leaves a paper-cut-like after taste, and has little nutritional value.

Still, the GPL is a better software license than the colour purple, which isn't a license at all. Especially if you want to ensure that derivitive works are also GPL'ed.

Next week: which is better? Mr. T, or the GPL?

* * *

Okay -- this is silly. Neither license is better than the other. They have different purposes, and which is "better" is completely subjective, and depeneds on ones view-point. If you're a company which wants to get some free source code to implement a complex feature set, but who doesn't want to have to share their enhancements, modifications, or any source code at all, then you'd probably like the BSD license better.

If, on the other hand, you're a corporation in an area which isn't directly computer related, and need to create some custom software which you can't realistically afford to develop on your own, than GPL (or LGPL) is a significantly better solution, as you can crate a community of others with the same needs to develop a standard solution. Or you can help to improve an existing piece of GPL'ed software in order to make it work better for your customers by ensuring it will work well with your data sources/applications/operating systems/hardware.

In the end, which one is better depends on which one aligns better with your goals, and often depends on whether you're a producer or a consumer of the software in question.

So can we now stop the insanity?

Yaz.

-1 Troll (0, Offtopic)

TardisX (15222) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011386)

Where do I moderate slashdot stories as trolls?

Which is a better licensing model for open-source? (1)

guygee (453727) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011404)

It all depends on whether you are Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, right?

BSD and businesses (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011416)

while it's true there are lots of people taking BSD code and not contributing anything back,chances are they aren't doing anything you'd want anyway. BSD is obviously worthy, look at apache and all the *bsd os's. all highly successful

Viral Open Source (1)

adolfojp (730818) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011421)

The GPL is what I like to call the viral open source license. If you use a GPL database or library you must automatically make your code open source. In a secret Coronel Recipee Scenario this makes no sense.

Re:Viral Open Source (1)

HeliumHigh (773838) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011491)

Since when is open source bad? I don't care if it has to be virus like to get the means. If you don't want to use open source code, then go buy something from someone.

If open source is the matrix, then plug me in baby!

Consultant Point of view (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011422)

From the point of view of people actually choosing to roll out a Linux or BSD, most people don't really care about the licence. They only care about how secure it is, how flexible it is, and how much it's going to cost.

From one point of view, BSD is superior to Linux as a server - which is why I'd probably choose BSD over Enterprise RedHat where I could get away with it.
The only time I have to resist using BSD is when there's some proprietary software that's supported under Linux and not BSD.

What do I think? (1)

GileadGreene (539584) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011447)

Emacs. Definitely Emacs.

Wait, which pointlessly divisive question were you asking again?

Original BSD/GPL Incompatibility (1)

msully4321 (816359) | more than 9 years ago | (#13011470)

This is mostly on topic: I don't understand why the original BSD license is incompatible with the GPL. I understand why the FSF thinks the "obnoxious advertising clause" is a problem (and somewhat agree with them), but I can not grasp why that could possibly make it GPL incompatible. I've read through the GPL, and unless my memory is fading, I'm pretty sure that there is nothing that says "derivative works may not include obnoxious advertising requirements" or anything like that or "the FSF can place arbitrary restrictions on how this software can be used for their own convenience". Indeed, if the latter case was true, people would (rightfully) avoid the GPL like the plague. What gives Richard Stallman and the FSF the power to dictate that you can not mix GPL and original-BSD code even though there is nothing in either license that suggests that? I'm not trying to troll. I've got nothing against the GPL and I dislike the original BSD license. I'd really like to know.
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