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Feature:GPL vs BSD

CmdrTaco posted more than 15 years ago | from the compare-and-contrast dept.

News 359

Joe Drew wrote in to give us his perspective on a debate that is quite the rage these days: the BSD License vs the GPL. He has written up a summary of why he prefers the GPL, and I think it might be worth a read- especially if you have been wondering about this stuff (and according to my INBOX, many of you are).

The following was written by Slashdot reader Joe Drew

The GPL vs the BSD License: A GPL advocate's perspective

Recently, there has been a lot of anti-GPL sentiment in the BSD camps. A cynic would say that they are simply jealous over the GPL's (and Linux') success; however, with a careful examination of reality one notices that the BSD license is no less, perhaps more successful than the GPL, and the BSD variants are thriving in their own niches. So why the anti-GPL sentiment? Personally, I believe it's two things.

  1. BSD advocates are maybe just a little, tiny bit bitter over the fact that Linux is perceived to be more successful than BSD. Everyone with his head screwed on straight knows that neither of these two factions are going away, but nonetheless, there may be some resentment there. By creating awareness of their OSen, they can draw attention to it.
  2. Some BSD advocates mistake the anti-proprietary slant to the GPL as pro-communist or anti-capitalist, both of which are blatantly foolish and incorrect.

The GPL exists because Richard Stallman, rms, wanted to ensure the freedom of software forever. Free Software, of all its types, thrived then and thrives now; however, the GPL is one of the only licenses which guarantees that Free Software cannot become non-Free. This doesn't mean that money can't exchange hands over Free Software, only that it can't become proprietary.

When using the BSD license, your software is just as Free as when you use the GPL. However, a company can take your code, incorporate it into its own proprietary product, and (depending on the type of BSD license, with or without advertising clause) you can receive no compensation for your work, perhaps not even credit. If that's exactly what you want, then the BSD license is for you. However, it seems just a little bit dangerous for a lot of Free Software authors.

This isn't possible with the GPL. It's always there, blatantly in your face, telling you ``You may not use this code in proprietary ventures.'' If a company takes your work, repackages it and sells the repackaging and service for it, your code is still available. It isn't legally permissible for them to take your code, incorporate it into another product and sell that product.

The BSD license is a fine license. It does exactly what it's meant to do, which is get the software out there. For a lot of Free Software authors, that's exactly what they want. However, for some people, that's not good enough -- they want to give everyone the freedom to do with the code what they will, but they don't want to give people the right to make the code proprietary.

The GPL is very popular, and very effective, because it protects people's Free Software, while still allowing them the freedom to do with it essentially whatever they want. Many people make a living selling and creating Free Software; this number will only increase as its benefits become more publicised and well-known.

The bottom line is, the GPL is not anti-commercial or anti- capitalistic; it is only anti-proprietary. The BSD license, on the other hand, is very unrestrictive, and allows proprietary knockoffs. Which you choose depends on what you need and what you value. There's nothing more to it than that.

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The best part... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837124)

all that was said here has the best ending


The bottom line is, the GPL is not anti-commercial or anti- capitalistic; it is only anti-proprietary. The BSD license, on the other hand, is very unrestrictive, and allows proprietary knockoffs. Which you choose depends on what you need and what you value. There's nothing more to it than that


and I agree. GPL protects source from becoming proprierary, hence its restrictive for all of poeple who would like to create proprierary stuff.

Sometimes I wander if its all the PHBs who say that BSD is better cause they get free stuff without rewarding anyone... Sometimes I think that its the big corporations that made BSD and they laugh at us, but now we got GPL, and they are scared.. Uhm.. I guess I should lay off the coke...

Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837125)

Welll I didn't know that I was a BSD fan... now I do...

Thanks for clearing that up...
I'll probably install NetBSD now... :u)

Re:The flip side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837126)

"The *real* disagreement between the two camps is over whether that's a good thing or a bad thing."
Depends on the intent of the beneficiary.


BTW:LGPL helps a bit with the co-exsistance of proprietary and GPL code.


restrictive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837127)

that's exactly the key point:

" it is restrictive for all of people who would like to create proprietary stuff."

So, since creating proprietary stuff is restrictive itself (it restricts the freedom of free reuse and distribution), the point of GPL is to restrict the restriction.

GPL is too complicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837128)

Another argument against GPL is that it is quite complicated.

I have strong opinions against something I need a lawyer for to understand fully.

Regards, Marc

Re:The flip side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837129)

The point is that the GPL is like humanity: humans
are free, but not so free to choose not being free. You are a slave of your own freedom.

BSD allows you to become a slave, if you want to. GPL does not. Whether this is desirable or not... much philosophy involved here...

Re:Oh God, NOT AGAIN!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837130)

Good god man... I'm so tired of hearing you bitch and complain. No, not the slashdot community, you. Every almost post you make you bitch, moan, complain, or insult the slashdot community.

If you don't like it here, don't come. If you don't like the articles, don't read them. But none of us want to listen to your complaning. If you want to post, try adding something to the conversation.

This goes for everyone out there. Quit your moaning, griping, or complaining. If you're upset that some article was on another news site an hour before it was here, then fscking submit it yourself. This is one of the best sites on the internet. Get over it.

-Anony moose

Re:The flip side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837131)

We also are not free to go and shoot anybody whose face we don't like. Complete freedom is.. not as good as it sounds. I vote for GPL.

- Rainy

Don't forget the 'obnoxious' advertising clause (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837132)

Another reason a lot of people using the original BSD license don't like people using the GPL is because the do not want to be reminded of the
serious problems the advertising clause causes.
And people advocating the GPL mostly take their freedom very serious and see this as an added restricting on the flow of free software.

Read the article The BSD License Problem [gnu.org] for a good explanation.

Although most modern BSD licenses don't use the advertising clause (Xfree, FreeBSD, W3C, etc.) there is still software out their that does use it.

I have a question! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837133)

Ok, I was wondering about this. Since I can supposedly do anything I want with BSD code (at least the stuff without the advertizing clause), could I take the code that someone else wrote and re-release it under the GPL to link it with originally GPL'd code?


BBS wannabes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837134)

You remind me a lot of the lusers who used to hang around on BBS's just to rant and rave in the message bases. Usually a 14-16 year old with nothing to do with school out for the summer. You've simply moved from what used to be dial up boards to web based "BBS's". Grow up a bit and stop your bitching.

Re:BBS wannabes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837135)

Wow, a lot of people bitching about bitching. Who's the real bitch here?

Re:The flip side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837136)

Derivative 'closed source' work done to extend software covered by a BSD-type license does not preclude people
from cotinuing to use the base code. It does not prevent them from extending the base code in a fully disclosed fashion
if they so choose. Nobody has the base code 'taken away from them' by the closed extension of the code.


Right, what the GPL is really trying to do is not keep the origional code free....but make sure everyone else HAS to do the same....What it really does is try to enslave anyone who might want to enhance that code beyond what it is. Your trying to TAKE someone elses code, not protect your own....

Re:I have a question! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837137)

> Ok, I was wondering about this. Since I can supposedly do anything I want with BSD code
> (at least the stuff without the advertizing clause),
> could I take the code that someone else wrote and re-release it under the GPL to link it with originally GPL'd code?

Yes, as long as it doesn't contain the advertising clause, since that would be an added restriction to the GPL), you can. But why would you? The only reason for this would be if you are taking over the maintenance of the program. Otherwise you just have the same problems as somebody who rereleases the code under a proprietary license. You have to keep merging your code when newer versions are released and you cannot easily contribute back to the original project whitout reverting to the original license.

Re:I have a question! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837138)

Yeah, isn't that cool that the BSD licence doesn't restrict the use of code with other free licences?

Re:Vote with your code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837139)

I use BSD, don't like it fine -- USE my code.

Close enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837140)

Its not a feature, its not even a post, its a link....but I guess it as close to unbiased as /. gets in these topics.

Re:Almost correct... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837141)

Technically a project with any code borrowed from a GPLed project must be GPLed as well. Hence the quoted statement is correct, and one should not be able to sell any project with GPLed code in it.

Re:The flip side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837142)

I write code cus I happen to like writing code,
not because I want to make a religion out of it.
Because of this I prefer the BSD license over the
GNU license. People say that you don't receive
recognition with the BSD license. The license
requires you to credit those who wrote the code
although admitted it's easier to hide that inside
a proprietary product. Last of all there's the
whole talk of GNU keeping the code free. That's
not true at all either, just because somebody
makes a proprietary product using BSD licensed
code as a base, doesn't mean that you can't use
the original BSD licensed code for free.

Re:The flip side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837143)

You certainly *are* free to shoot anybody you want... *IF* you are willing to face up to the consequences! Just as the previous poster said, you are free to be a slave if you want to... and there are, of course, consequences to that choice too...

But, its your choice. I don't like GPL because it removes my choice on any coding I decide to add or integrate with GPL'd code... True, 99.999% of the time I will probably give the code back to the community... but its *MY* choice, not forced down my throat by GPL.

Re:The flip side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837144)

whoa, you scare me

Re:Its not if they use it, its if they improve it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837145)

Bold microsoft, not sharing, no dinner for you tonight

Re:More often BSD, sometimes GPL.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837146)

But so many of the BSD-ish licenses don't have the advertisement clause any more, so where are they required to give credit that anybody would notice?

More often BSD, sometimes GPL.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837221)

GPL is good in a world where everyone plays by GPL rules. We don't live in such a world yet. At present we have a significant non-GPL world.

What I really hate about GPL is that many people seem to believe that the success of Linux is due to the GPL and thus GPL must be a good thing. I am convinced that Linux using a BSD license would have had the same success. The success of Linux is a success of free software, not of GPL.

An argument against BSD License is that someone might fork the code or takes advantage somehow. I ask the readers to give me an example where something like this hurt the various BSDs..

Regards, Marc

Re:The flip side (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837222)

Not even that. Yes, it can be incorporated into proprietary products. It can also be incorporated into other free software products (including GPL'd stuff). I prefer 2-clause BSDL (as used in FreeBSD and elsewhere) or the X license not because I want to give proprietary software vendors the freedom to use my code (although I don't care if they do; fine by me). Rather, I prefer such licenses because they don't discriminate against other free software licenses. GPL'd code does not coexist with other licenses, period. If you use GPL'd code, your own code must also be GPL'd. If someone wanted to use GPL'd code in some project using some perfectly acceptable DFSG-compliant license (such as Artistic), they couldn't do that. They would have to GPL their own code. The benefit of shutting out potential use of my code in proprietary software is far outweighed by the sheer irritation of shutting out the rest of the free software community. I prefer very lenient, non-GPL licenses because I want my code to be as useful to as many people as possible, and I want a minimum of legalese, and I consider myself to be a programmer rather than some political activist/extremist on an anti-IP crusade.

For a BSD lincense advocate's view... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837223)

There is well written essay by a BSD style license advocate in http://www.daemonnews.org/199906/gpl-e vil.html [daemonnews.org] .

The flip side (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837226)

The flip side of your argument is that the GPL is less free than the BSD license. The BSD license retains the freedom to incorporate the code into proprietary products, and that's a freedom which the GPL does not allow.

The *real* disagreement between the two camps is over whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

The software is free, not the people. (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1837227)

I was all set to write a long essay in response, but most of the readers here would probably just appreciate a summary:

The GPL license is conducive to liberating software.

The BSD license is conducive to liberating people.

With the GPL license, the software maintains more of the freedom than the programmers who work on it.

With the BSD licenses, the programmers maintain more of the freedom with what they are allowed to do with derivative code.

Re:The flip side (1)

Zack (44) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837228)

Good point, I hadn't considered that...

But let's take another look at this... Say we have some project... Say this project is building a Snarfblat... Joe Coder starts building the snarfblat, and releases it (in true OS fasion) as version 0.1.

Now Bob downloads the source, plays with it, finds some broken things, and send Joe a patch. Joe incorperates this patch into release 0.2.

So now who owns the code? I'm assuming that our helper, Bob, didn't state that he was putting his patch under the GPL, but rather just sent it to the author. Would this be public domain, and hence the copyright for release 0.2 would still remain to Joe Coder?

Man... I think I blew a gasket on that one ;)

Re:The flip side (3)

Zack (44) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837233)

The orginal author of the GPLed code still has full copyright of it, correct? And they can change the copyright on any subsequent version (i.e. they can make it proprietary in the next version but can't stop people from distrubiting the GPLed code.)

As such, any company that really wants to use GPLed code in a proprietary product would have to get the permission of the author, who could in turn demans payment, royalties, credit, or something else.

It seems to me like the GPL protects the interests of the coder as well as the general public.

Re:More often BSD, sometimes GPL.. (1)

bamf (212) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837235)

>For those of you who will say "Well, they didn't
>snatch up BSD code" I say "How do you know")

So basically your saying that MS used BSD code without giving credit (which contravenes the BSD licence) yet hasn't done the same with Linux code just because of the GPL?

You really haven't got single a clue have you?

well.. (1)

drwiii (434) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837236)

The bottom line is, the GPL is not anti-commercial or anti- capitalistic; it is only anti-proprietary.

One could also argue that the GPL makes code proprietary to freedom.

Re:The flip side (2)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837248)

Posted by konrad72:

Well, but using this so called "freedom to incorporate the code into proprietary products" takes away exactly all freedom the GPL tries to preserve. It's a one time freedom, usable only by the one person or company creating a proprietary product. Once this is done, all freedom will evaporate. So comparing BSD and GPL it seems obious to me that only GPL can /guarantee/ that freedom will stay.

Re:Emacs vs XEmacs -- NetBSD vs OpenBSD (1)

Doug McNaught (668) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837249)

There are several examples of where code forks in BSD projects have hurt. Emacs vs XEmacs is one example, and the split that created OpenBSD from NetBSD is another.

Er... Emacs and XEmacs are both GPL'd. I don't see that the BSD/GPL issue has any relevance to forks (except that you could look at the BSD license as an invitation to 'fork' off a proprietary product with no adverse consequences).

-Doug

Re:"Shroud" utilities (1)

Doug McNaught (668) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837250)

The purpose of this product was to make it possible to distribute source code that could be built and
linked with other code (extendable) without it being possible for people you didn't want to poke around
in the code and figure it out. Unless there are readability standards imposed in any licencing sceme (i.e.
the GPL) I think this would be an excellent vehicle for organizations hostile to the GPL to incorporate
GPL'd code in their products, extend, the code, but totally snarl up and render unusable the source they
are required to release with their product. It seems like the inevitable endpoint of arrogant licenses like
the GPL.


From the GPL:


The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For an executable work,
complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus
the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable.

I read this to mean that a 'shrouded' version of the source is not acceptable, since your company would make its modifications to the 'unshrouded' version.


-Doug

Re:Can someone help me here? (1)

Doug McNaught (668) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837251)

...releasing your software under GPL effectively stops you having control over it.

Not true. You are free to release code that you write under any license at any time, and under different licenses to different entities. Perl and Ghostscript are both examples of this freedom.

-Doug

Re:Oh God, NOT AGAIN!! (1)

Brian Knotts (855) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837254)

And how! That guy has been trolling for weeks now, posting anti-Linux, anti-GPL screeds, and attacking this site and its readers/particpants. Indeed it makes you wonder why he sticks around here. Some people just like to be miserable, I guess, and want to spread their misery around.

--

Vote with your code (0)

MikeO (951) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837257)

We can argue about licenses until the cows come home and not get anywhere. I say vote with your code. Release it under a license you are happy with.

I use the GPL. If you don't like it, fine -- don't use my code. That's your choice.


--

Not a problem (1)

MikeO (951) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837258)

> there is no way you can include that code into
> another closed product

You are missing the distinction between copyright and license. If I write code, I own it and can license it as I see fit. Users of my code have to abide by the license, but I, as the copyright holder, do not. I am free to release under a different license if I want to.

--

Re:The flip side (1)

pb (1020) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837261)

Nope. The app is under GPL. If you modify the source, then that is GPL'ed too. If you don't want it to be, then you should have read the license before you started tinkering with the source code.

The BSD licenses don't have to worry about this. Anyone can fork the tree and change the license. With a GPL'ed product, anyone can fork the tree, but it'll stay GPL'ed, which means that reincorporating changes like this doesn't run up against any licensing restrictions.

Basically, if MacOS X was built on top of Linux and used lots of GPL'ed code, then most if not all of it would be released under the GPL, and people would be furiously developing it, and incorporating the (good) changes into Linux as well. It isn't, though, it's proprietary, and whatever Apple does release is done out of the goodness of their little corprorate heart. BSD got forked again, and they're happy about it.

So pick the license you like best. I like the GPL best because I want to see what people are doing with my code. I don't want any license that takes *that* right away from me.

Re:Oh God, NOT AGAIN!! (1)

Pretender (3940) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837283)

To be honest, so far (at comment 13 at any rate) the comments have been insightful and thought-provoking.

Maybe Slashdot is growing up a bit...?

Of course, the tide may turn as soon as people start logging in...but all in all I'd say it was a good sign (I was expecting a bit of a war too).

Re:Oh God, NOT AGAIN!! (1)

Pretender (3940) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837284)

How many times do we have to go through this?

***

Its a message board you moron. People come here to sound off.


Excuse me for hoping for intelligent discussion on this topic (as one could find in plenty of other articles on Slashdot). Just because you can't provide any...


You can lump yourself into the same category...read your own post. At least I assign a name to mine.


What category? Name?


Clearly "sounding off" is to the complete exclusion of comprehensibility.

Sorry, thought you were talking to me (1)

Pretender (3940) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837285)

I apologize, I totally missed the "BBS Wannabe" reply.

I concur 100%.

Can't incorporate code into another product? (2)

Pretender (3940) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837286)

If a company takes your work, repackages it and sells the repackaging and service for it, your code is still available. It isn't legally permissible for them to take your code, incorporate it into another product and sell that product.

Stricly speaking, I thought they could do just that - as long as they released the new code as Free Software in the same sense. As the author states elsewhere, it keeps it from becoming their intellectual property in any real sense.

Not meaning to nitpick, just hoping to clear up some confusion.

Charlie

Re:The flip side (1)

Scola (4708) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837287)

Well, it depends on how you define freedom. With a BSD license no one can take away the code you released under the BSD license. However, they can add on it and make the add-on code non-free. I consider the BSD license more free, personally, because it does not impose restrictions upon the way others release their own code.

FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, MicrosoftBSD... (2)

kevin lyda (4803) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837297)

I originally didn't like linux because I first started with BSD based systems (SunOS). But linux eventually won out because of more drivers, some more BSDish userland tools, and the fact that it's a level playing field. The last part is due to the license.

Joe Schmoe and Company X are on equal ground with the GPL. Anyone makes a change, everyone gets to see it. No "Embrace and Extend" for Linux and the GNU utils.

Contrast this with past experience with X and BSD. The Open Group almost took over a decades worth of patches and contributions and restricted their availability. They stopped, but they could do it again. Sun made changes to the BSD base of SunOS - the BSD community didn't get those changes back. BSDI has done the same, though they're pretty good about feeding back patches from what I hear.

The GPL makes people be kind, benevolant dictators. RedHat's recent IPO said they needed to keep the good will of their users/developers - when has any company ever said that in their IPO? The BSD License just assumes people will be good citizens of developerland. Don't get me wrong, I like that assumption more, but experience shows the GPL is needed for the morally challenged.

As for Microsoft BSD, it's quite possible. It's very possible. And they can easily make it incompatible with the other *BSD's and Linux. And if they get their way wrt the US Universal Product Code, they can even stop people from reverse engineering the results. So they'll be able to build off of the ideas free software developers create without having to share those ideas back. And we'll be back to reinventing the wheel all over again.

Re:More often BSD, sometimes GPL.. (1)

howardjp (5458) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837299)

And how did that hurt BSD?

Re:FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, MicrosoftBSD... (1)

howardjp (5458) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837300)

Sun and BSDi have given many, many patches back to the BSD community. The DOS emulator in FreeBSD came from BSDi. The math libraries, NFS and others have from from Sun. Sun has made huge contributions back.

Selling GPL software. (1)

larien (5608) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837302)

It isn't legally permissible for them to take your code, incorporate it into another product and sell that product.
I may have this wrong, but I thought you could modify GPL'd software as much as you want and then sell it, but you had to make your changes available. While this prevents it becoming proprietary, you can still sell it on.
--

Can someone help me here? (1)

Psiren (6145) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837306)

They way I see it (and I may be wrong, and please tell me if I am) releasing your software under GPL effectively stops you having control over it. There is no way you can include that code into another closed product (that perhaps you may want to sell - a guy's gotta eat y'know) at a later date, even though you probably wrote most of it. Is this correct? If so, thats a possible reason for not using GPL. All IMHO of course.

Re:The flip side (1)

jtn (6204) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837310)

How? I'm sure the most rabid GPL advocates can't point out how it actually harms the existing codebase when somebody else integrates their code into a value-added "proprietary" commercial product. Why? Because it doesn't.

Re:The flip side (1)

jtn (6204) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837311)

Even if somebody were to integrate your GPL'd code, how does that diminish the existing available codebase? It doesn't. It's not like they "stole" it and hid it from you. You still have your code.

Re:The best part... (1)

jtn (6204) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837312)

Yeah, I'm sure all the companies that gave back to the BSD community were laughing as they got free stuff without rewarding. Oh, wait. They gave back. Gee, seems to actually be a trend among people using the BSD codebase as a basis for their products.. So instead of trying to force morality, which I find repugnant, the BSD-style licenses do a better job at representing the spirit of a free software community by allowing totally free use of an existing codebase, and allowing everyone to make their own moral decision.

Re:More often BSD, sometimes GPL.. (1)

jtn (6204) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837313)

How does this diminish the value of the STILL existing FREE BSD codebase? It doesn't. I wish rabid GPL advocates would stop trying to use this against the BSD license.

Re:FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, MicrosoftBSD... (1)

jtn (6204) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837314)

As a developer, I'm more happy deciding my own "coding morality" than having it decided for me with a license.

Re:Don't forget the 'obnoxious' advertising clause (1)

jtn (6204) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837315)

Obnoxious? What is obnoxious is trying to track down all the contributors to GPL'd code to get permission to do something to it. I fail to see how a file containing code contributors is so "obnoxious". Are you against giving credit where credit is due?

Re:More often BSD, sometimes GPL.. (1)

Glith (7368) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837332)

Windows 95 did. It uses the BSD TCP/IP stack.

Re:The flip side (1)

SimonK (7722) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837334)

Only if the author retained copyright and can demonstrate this. In the cases where the hypothetical benefit of open source has been exploited and the code has been revised and reviewed by many people and these changes integrated into the main stream that will not be the case.

Au contraire (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837335)

"It isn't
legally permissible for them to take your code, incorporate it into
another product and sell that product. "


That people still believe this (even people who are advocates of the GPL!!) is alarming.
It is definitely permissible to do this, as long as source is made available.

The author of this makes it sound like "no way no how" may GPL code be incorporated into a commercial product.

Of course, it taints your product such that you must be very careful about the license (and that
pesky open source requirement must be what he
is referring to...)

Re:"Shroud" utilities (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837336)

There's always the difference between the
"spirit" and the "letter" of a law, contract,
or license.

In the suit, one of the arguments might be that
such obfuscation violates the spirit, but not
the letter, of the license.

These cases are why you pay the lawyers the big bucks!

Re:FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, MicrosoftBSD... (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837337)

. And we'll be back to reinventing the wheel all over again.


YOU will be back to reinventing the wheel :-)

WE will be happily running linux!

Hint: It already does not matter to many people that linux won't run office, quicktime, etc.

Re:Can someone help me here? (2)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837338)

The original author, who is the copy(right|left)
holder, can do whatever he pleases, including
putting it into a proprietary system. Nobody ELSE
can do that, and it's an important distinction.

GPL is all about redistribution.

The original author can release the same code under multiple licenses.

check it out (2)

cody (11975) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837351)

There's a pretty good article discussing some of the short-comings of GPL in this month's daemonnews [daemonnews.org] from the view of *BSDers.

It seems to me like the main difference between the two licenses is that one gives you enough freedom to screw yourself over, while one tries to protect you from that, even if it seems like it is infringing a bit on the freedom you'd want as a developer. It seems like that's the source of a lot of anti-GPL angst.

Capitalism (1)

mattc (12417) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837353)

Anti-capitalism is a GOOD thing! Put an end to one dollar = one vote

Speaking as one who prefers the GPL . . . (2)

Venomous Louse (12488) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837354)


. . . it seems unfair to frame the debate in GPL terms, from the GPL point of view, and I think the essay above drifts off in that direction a bit. Even if it were perfect, though, I really can't see how it could result in anything but yet another moronic flamewar.

So why bother? As the man says: Choose your favorite. I know it's heretical to say this on Slashdot, but choice is a good thing. Being able to choose between GNOME and KDE is a good thing; being able to choose between BSD and Lignux (or between Linux and Lignux, for that matter :) is a good thing -- and to hell with all the zealots who preach otherwise.


"Once a solution is found, a compatibility problem becomes indescribably boring because it has only... practical importance"

Yes, you can. Your peer respect dies though...... (1)

Rahga (13479) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837357)

Taking BSD liscence stuff and repackaging and GPL'ing it isn't a good move for those looking for respect in either community. Those are the breaks :)

Too bad they don't come close to the lGPL..... (2)

Rahga (13479) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837358)

You see, I believe one of the best liscences out there is the "lesser" GPL, which was completely ommited in this comparison. The lGPL gives ALL software writers freedom to integrate libraries and programs into proprietary code, but those lGPL'd libraries and programs must still be freely availiable from the software writers in source code form. In other words, both proprietary-nonGPL'd software and free software benefit. Free software like Gtk+ can gain much greater support, and as more proprietary software houses jump onto the linux bandwagon, they will have things to add to and improve in Gtk+ itself.
Straight GPL has always beeen to restrictive in this area. GPL'd (not lGPL) libraries and programs can not be used IN ANY WAY in proprietary software. The GPL is for the advancement of "free" software, but only for "free" software authors. If it can't be used to help everyone, including evil proprietary coders ;), it seems to me that the GPL actually is more geared to "free beer" rather than "freedom".
Isn't it time we re-name the "lesser General Public License" :)?

Re:The flip side (2)

ethereal (13958) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837360)

You are correct, there is no harm to the existing codebase. However, the GPL isn't really as oriented towards preventing proprietary add-ons themselves as it is with encouraging improvements to the code base to be non-proprietary. It sounds like this is splitting hairs, but it makes sense when considered in terms of the goals of the FSF and the GPL: to encourage better software through the availability of source code.

A proprietary addition to a BSD-licensed project doesn't harm the base code, but it doesn't add anything to that code base either, because the source code for the additions is not available. In that case, the only winners are the company who can now sell the enhanced product. A GPL'd addition to a GPL-licensed project actually adds more code to the code base, which can lead to better software for everyone since anyone can use the additions in their own projects. Of course, no one individual or company can derive all the benefit from the improvements, because anyone can try to sell this code. There's a trade-off between the good of those who write additions to an existing codebase, and the good of the software community as a whole. So it doesn't harm the existing codebase to write closed-source additions, but a lot more is gained (according to the FSF, at least) by writing open source additions.

Re:The flip side (2)

ethereal (13958) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837361)

Well, technically you can enhance GPL'd code all you want as long as you don't distribute those changes. This is specifically stated in the GPL, so the GPL doesn't enslave your new code at all. The GPL does make certain requirements upon your distribution of GPL'd software, which makes sense because the authors don't want just anybody changing the license of their software and redistributing it. So really the only problem you have is how to keep your additions proprietary while distributing them along with and integrating them into GPL'd software. This doesn't seem too enslaving to me - you can do what you want with your code, as long as the original GPL'd code remains free as it was licensed to you. Of course, it may be very difficult to distribute your proprietary software in this manner (while keeping it proprietary), but RMS never promised you a rose garden :)

Why do we need licenses at all? (1)

BillWhite (14288) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837367)

This is something I have never really understood. Can someone give me an example of how, with whatever license, someone can take a project, P, amend it to create a new, proprietary project, P+, and then restrict access to P as a result of having created P+? If P has either BSD or GPL licenses, isn't it going to be around forever? For that matter, if P has no license at all, but is just released into the public domain, how can it be restricted? I can certainly see how someone could restrict the new part, (P+ - P). However, that's the P+ creator's work, and she should get whatever credit and value she wants out of it.

How am I confused?

Re:The flip side (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837368)

Clearly, it doesn't, but I think there's an intellectual property issue that make most GPL advocates feel a little queasy.

Specifically, I think that the notion that someone can make a profit of someone's code without rewarding them in any way. Speaking personally, I wouldn't mind seeing my code used in someone else's project, but I might if I didn't receive some kind of recognition, monetary or otherwise. The GPL protects that interest by ensuring that others using the code must treat my code the same way I did, rather than making a few bucks off it and hiding it.

Anyway, that's my only beef with (some of the versions of) the BSD license, and why I tend to prefer the GPL. YMMV.

Re:The flip side (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837371)

I think the disagreement is more over whether the right to use someone else's work for your profit is your freedom or an usurpation of their original intent in releasing the code freely. I will admit to being biased, I prefer the GPL.

Re:Almost correct... (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837372)

Not quite. If you incorporate the GPLd code into your program, you have to release the program under the GPL as well. If you don't, you're violating your license to use the GPLd code. Code under the LGPL is under different terms, but someone still needs to be able to rebuild your app against a newer version of the LGPLd code or you're in violation of the license on the LGPLd code.

You're right in that you don't have to actively give your code to anyone you don't give the binaries to if you incorporate GPLd code, but you can't prevent them from giving it to anyone else per the GPL either.

Re:The flip side (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837373)

For me, the problem would be that they are benefitting from code I released freely without contributing anything back. And because they aren't releasing their version of the code freely, we can't even know if they have made modifications that could benefit everyone else if released freely.

I guess it boils down, for me, to the fact that part of the reason I would release code freely is to contribute back to the code base that I've benefitted from. If someone wants to benefit from my code, they can either come to me and negotiate terms that benefit me in return for use of the code, or contribute to the code base themselves ( which I consider to be of benefit to me ).

Re:More often BSD, sometimes GPL.. (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837384)

If linux had been licensed under the BSD license instead of the GPL, Microsoft would have snatched a ton of the code up into windows by now. (Guaranteed there would be no credit given.)

Take this as a good or a bad thing...

(For those of you who will say "Well, they didn't snatch up BSD code" I say "How do you know")

Re:Selling GPL software. (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837385)

What he means by this is that they can incorporate the code into a non-Open Source product, and sell that without givig the real author the credit he requested. (i.e. making what his code was incorporated in freely available) In other words, you don't have to make your changes available if you don't use GPL.

Re:Almost correct... (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837386)

You're confused. If you release the changes as freely available, then it's no longer propriatary. (The changes also have to be GPLed, so the people you give teh changes to can give them to whomever they what to.)

Re:check it out (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837387)

This link has not won me over to the BSD license, but as reminded me how wrong RMS is most of the time!

Re:Capitalism (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837388)

Anti-Capitalism would be a good thing if everyone would contribute to society's needs without compensation. However, most people would sit on their ass if the didn't need to work for cash. Also, if you wanted to ever have that computer you're reading this in in a non-capitalisitc society, you'd have to learn yourself everyting involved in making it and do it yourself. There wouldn't be any people (or groups of them called companies) specializing in making them good and inexpensive. Point being that if there were never capatialism, we'd all be farmers or dictators. (Mostly farmers). Ending capitalism would just start a slow decline to the same.

Why bring up the GPL again? (1)

warpeightbot (19472) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837400)

I'll tell you why /. should keep bringing up the GPL ad infinitum nauseumque, and pretty much ignore BSD:

The fine folks at UC Regents aren't going to change the BSD license anytime soon. It's been thru two decades of crucible, they own it, and nothing we whine or complain about is going to induce a bunch of bureaucrats to change something that already does just exactly what THEY want it to do.

The GPL, on the other hand, is OURS. Anyone who cares enough can use it, or even (Larry Wall) come up with their own similar kind of thing. And slashdot is the crucible in which we flame the hell out of it, and what is left is the pure gold we were in search of. Yes, there's much more heat than light. Such is the nature of things. So it cheeses off the BSD'ers. Well, I say, nuts on'em if they can't use a filter... or write content of their own, as was done here. But this is bazzar-mode, the way things get improved, and since Usenet is all but unuseable, we choose to get blood all over Taco's floor instead, and he seems to be cool with that. In short, we're actually trying to improve the darn thing here, whether we know it or not. Not gonna happen to BSD, and IMHO it doesn't need it. So of course, GPL will get brought up again and again, and BSD will get short shrift.... because nothing's HAPPENING with the BSD license, and won't. 'Tis the nature of the news, folks.

If you don't like what Taco and the rest of us are up to, you can vote with your feet... but don't expect your whining to make it past my threshold....

--
We can't legislate against every stupid thing people will do.
-- Jesse "The Governor" Ventura

Too biased (3)

GeneralTao (21677) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837402)

I'm a GPL partisan myself, but I think that when someone sets out to write an article, they should decide whether they are going to examine both sides of the argument or just advocate one side.

This article is GPL advocacy, not a genuine look at "both sides".

Though it's true that the BSD license allows code written freely to become proprietary, history has shown that companies that do take advantage of the BSD license have a tendency to give back to the community even though it is not compulsory.

The BSDites argue that the GPL's giant "no-no" clause regarding proprietary rights scares companies off. You know what? They are right. Although we've seen alot of free software emerge lately from the corporate world, almost all of the contributors have opted OUT of the GPL.

I think that both licenses have their place, and ultimately I think you'll find GPL'ed software running somewhere below BSD'ed software as a common support infrastructure. The spiffy "add-ons" and extras may be open sourced, but I don't think the corporate world is ready to accept relinquishing the rights to their intellectual property.

Calm down :-) (2)

Stephen Williams (23750) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837413)

How many times is /. going to promote this flame thread by featuring all these GPL biased articles?....this is the second time I have seen this same phenominon and not once have I seen a comment for the other side

Here's a link to a Slashdot story published last month, about a pro-BSD article. I think this answers your point.

http://slashdot.org/articles/99/05/13/1317239.shtm l [slashdot.org]

Not even close (2)

mrbnsn (24209) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837415)

"but they don't want to give people the right to
make the code proprietary."

This is the problem BSD'ers have with the GPL: the overwrought drama over the possibility that someone, somewhere might hide some code.

Most BSD'ers support free code, and they have full confidence in the relative merits of free code. What they don't have is the compulsion to coerce others into involuntary compliance with this view.

If people take free code and turn it proprietary, then they automatically suffer all the increased costs and headaches associated with developing, debugging, and maintaining a closed source tree. That's their karma. BSD'ers are willing to let it go at that, and not make a religious crusade out of the issue.

If a certain small niche gets served by a proprietary solution, that's fine too. But overall, the fact is that the cards are stacked against largescale exploitation of BSD code. People will figure that out eventually, and in the meantime, there's no point in alienating present and future allies in a fit of ideological intransigence.

Re:Why do we need licenses at all? (1)

tdm8 (25283) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837420)

P source code will still be available under either license, but under BSD, the changes made to create P+ may not be open source. So, P can continue on, but P+ may offer features that P cannot "borrow". Eventually P+ has the potential to become proprietary and you lose the benefits of source code that would have been kept if P was GPL'd.

Re:The flip side (1)

suranyip (25422) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837421)

With GPL'd and other open source projects usually there's no single author, so getting everybody's agreement can be very difficult (if not impossible).

Emacs vs XEmacs -- NetBSD vs OpenBSD (1)

l4m3 (25501) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837422)

There are several examples of where code forks in BSD projects have hurt. Emacs vs XEmacs is one example, and the split that created OpenBSD from NetBSD is another. There most certainly are more, but those were two big projects that had rather nasty code forks. Depending on how you look at either of these code splits you may think they helped the project, but nevertheless, these code splits left both the new project and the existing one to have fewer developers, which is not good for the community.

Its not if they use it, its if they improve it (1)

l4m3 (25501) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837423)

If it is true that Microsoft used the FreeBSD tcp stack in WinXX, the worst problem is not that the person who wrote it does not get credit, the problem is that whoever uses the BSDed code can make it better and not have to share their improvements.

The WinXX tcp stack *could* be 5 times more efficent than FreeBSD's, but Microsoft (or anyone else) not only does not have to give credit/royalties to the developer, but they don't have to share their improvements.

Re:Too biased (1)

Shafik (29058) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837430)

It is biased but, the point to GPL is not to have companies jump on it but to protect code that authors want to keep free and open to everyone. I don't anyone really has a problem with a company using BSD style licencing it is at least a step in the right direction. Basically GPL protects those who wish to their code to be protected.

The Advantage of Belief (1)

scruffy (29773) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837431)

I think one advantage of the GPL is that many developers believe that the GPL preserves freedom substantially better than other licenses, and this belief gives them greater motivation to develop free software. Whether or not this belief is true [this essay is no help at all], I am happy to use the results of what developers believe.

I think the real issue is less about freedom, and more about whether you are anti-proprietary and/or whether you care about somebody else making money off of your code.

Almost correct... (1)

Andrew Gilmore (32369) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837434)

>This isn't possible with the GPL. It's always there, blatantly in your face, telling you `You
> may not use this code in proprietary ventures.' If a company takes your work, repackages it and
> sells the repackaging and service for it, your code is still available. It isn't legally
>permissible for them to take your code, incorporate it into another product and sell that product.

But not quite... as I understand it, it IS legally permissable for them to take your code, incorporate it, and sell that product. They ARE required to give the altered version of the code to everyone they sell it to, or to everyone that uses it. This is important, not only for this commercial case, but also for internal uses by companies. If I alter a GPL'd product, but only give binaries to people inside my company, I just have to give them the code as well, or tell them where to get it.

This is a point that I see sometimes missed or downplayed. The GPL does not mean that you are required to release your code to the public always, but only to those you give the product to!

As far as the comparison between the licenses, I have to say "no opinion."

Share and Enjoy!

Oh God, NOT AGAIN!! (0)

L1zard_K1n6 (39154) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837446)

How many times do we have to go through this?

Why not set up "flamewars.slashdot.org", where people can debate GPL vs. BSD, KDE vs GNOME, RedHat vs. Debian etc etc until they are blue in the face.

As usual, 99% of responses will be from fanboys who can't even find the source code on their boxes.

Re:Oh God, NOT AGAIN!! (1)

L1zard_K1n6 (39154) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837447)

Its a message board you moron. People come here to sound off.

You can lump yourself into the same category...read your own post. At least I assign a name to mine.

Re:FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, MicrosoftBSD... (1)

cmc (44956) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837453)

As for Microsoft BSD, it's quite possible. It's very possible. And they can easily make it incompatible with the other *BSD's and Linux. And if they get their way wrt the US Universal Product Code, they can even stop people from reverse engineering the results. So they'll be able to build off of the ideas free software developers create without having to share those ideas back. And we'll be back to reinventing the wheel all over again.


Incorrect. SCO will not allow Microsoft to do this. In fact, it would be illegal.

Re:well.. (1)

cmc (44956) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837454)

:%s/freedom/openness/

GPL vs. BSD (3)

cmc (44956) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837458)

The BSD is a very concise and free license that allows the licenser to allow the source code to be free and also be availible to companies provided they follow the following conditions:


1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.


The BSD license is also much, much less complicated:


$ wc -l bsd-style-copyright
27 bsd-style-copyright
$ wc -l /usr/src/gnu/COPYING
339 /usr/src/gnu/COPYING


The BSD license has far fewer catches and companies that are interested in being able to profit off of their product will be happily able to integrate that into their source code provided the integration and distribution goes under the above conditions.

There are a few `mistakes' that have gotten out somehow that the BSD license is not what it is. Here they are:

  • The BSD license allows a company to make a small change to the code and say they wrote it.

    This is not true. The original author is the one who gets the credit for it, not the person to make the last change.

  • The BSD license is less free than the GPL.

    The BSD license allows for distribution with less catches and it allows the licenser (usually the author) to decide whether or not he or she wants to distribute the source code.


Hopefully this clears up some of the misunderstandings that people on the GPL side may be having.

Re:The flip side (1)

fete (61267) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837470)

So a guarantee that we are all equally unfree can now be redefined as a form of freedom. Interesting.

Derivative 'closed source' work done to extend software covered by a BSD-type license does not preclude people from cotinuing to use the base code. It does not prevent them from extending the base code in a fully disclosed fashion if they so choose. Nobody has the base code 'taken away from them' by the closed extension of the code.

Re:restrictive... (1)

fete (61267) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837471)

the point of GPL is to restrict the restriction
Watch out there, you'll enter into an infinite loop and we'll have to hit the reset button...

"Shroud" utilities (1)

fete (61267) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837472)

I seem to remember that a few years ago (maybe as much as five to ten years ago) a vendor advertised a tool called "Shroud for C" in magazines like the C Users Journal. This product basically was an obfuscator. It's function was to strip all comments and globally replace all variables with horribly difficult to remember meaningless strings.

The purpose of this product was to make it possible to distribute source code that could be built and linked with other code (extendable) without it being possible for people you didn't want to poke around in the code and figure it out. Unless there are readability standards imposed in any licencing sceme (i.e. the GPL) I think this would be an excellent vehicle for organizations hostile to the GPL to incorporate GPL'd code in their products, extend, the code, but totally snarl up and render unusable the source they are required to release with their product. It seems like the inevitable endpoint of arrogant licenses like the GPL.

When people start distributing code in such a fashion, what can the gnu people do in response? Establish mandatory requirements that comments be left in code? Establish standards for meaningful variable names in all code? That doesn't sound very 'free' to me. Where would it end?

Does anybody know if "Shroud" products like this are still available? Is there an "open source" version of a utility like this available? *grin*

Re:Can someone help me here? (1)

fete (61267) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837473)

Who is the "original author" of a work? If the work includes functions written by others, are they the original author?

Just about every C program I have ever seen is essentially derived from the original "Hello world" program from K&R. I guess we're lucky that program isn't GPL'd, or it would be the only GPL'd C program anybody could ever possibly 'own.'

Then again, out on the commune, the loyal serfs want it to be impossible for anybody to own anything...

Re:"Shroud" utilities (1)

fete (61267) | more than 15 years ago | (#1837474)

If this clause of the license holds, then it makes sense that it should be prohibited to GZIP or in any way compress GPL'd source code before distribution. There's no distinction made here between reversable or non-reversable obfuscation, and I don't know ANY coder who works directly with source code that's tarred or gzipped in any way or form.

I don't see that it's possible to 'draw a line' here creating a distinction. Therefore it's impossible to police.
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