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The GPL Impedes Linux More Than It Helps?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the cutting-into-fun-time dept.

Linux Business 386

Anonymous Coward writes "Linux ought to be even more successful than it is. On ZDNet, Paul Murphy ponders the reasons why. For one thing: The GPL impedes Linux more than it helps. Licensing issues, coupled with patent and copyright FUD, have caused developers and VCs to think twice before committing to Linux. Murphy also suspects that desktop Linux is stuck on stupid." From the post: "Basically, legal issues, or the threat of legal issues, caused some key applications developers to back off Linux while the general negativism of Linux marketing caused many of the individuals whose innovations should have been driving Linux adoption to hang fire until MacOS X and Solaris for x86 under the CDDL came along."

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Subject (0, Flamebait)

GET THE FACTS! (850779) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713910)

Comment

Re:Subject (0)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713971)

Yep, ZDNET and Microsoft Get The Facts - 2 sources of dependable information ...

Guess the editors are [tt]rolling the readers - must be Troll Tuesday again.

This old man, he played one,
He played knick-knack on my thumb
With a knick-knack paddy-wack, give a dog a bone
That old pedaphile now has jail for a home.

Burma shave

Re:Subject (2, Insightful)

arkanes (521690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714142)

So I have to ask. Do you compose each jingle as you write the post, or do you have an archive of them you pull from? I suspect the latter as they don't seem to have any clever reference to the discussion topic in them.

Actually (3, Informative)

overshoot (39700) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713915)

The author admits that the headline was inadvertently applied from a post he intends to do tomorrow.

Re:Actually (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713977)

> The author admits that the headline was inadvertently applied from a post he intends to do tomorrow.

Tomorrow's headline will be under GPLv3. Today's headline is still under GPLv2. It's OK to dupe today's headline tomorrow in order to get pageviews today, as GPLv2 headlines can be grandfathered in, and the revenues derived from the pageviews would be legit. But if he posted it tomorrow, he'd owe royalties to RMS - no, wait, nobody's supposed to owe royalties to anyone - but if he posted it tomorrow, I'm sure RMS would do something nasty to him! Maybe even start singing some of his poetry or something!

SLASHDOT SUCESSFULLY TROLLED BY ZD (0, Troll)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714032)

Dupe story at 11.

Re:Actually (1)

HeroSandwich (920245) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714240)

Huh?

Who needs Linux when you have OSX? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13713919)

FreeBSD for the Enterprise
Mac OSX for the desktop ... that's all you need

Re:Who needs Linux when you have OSX? (4, Insightful)

bedroll (806612) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713938)

FreeBSD for the Enterprise

The low profile of FreeBSD when it is used in the enterprise (I'm talking servers, not OSX) is evidence that the GPL does nothing to hinder Linux. With a BSD-style license Linux would have no advantage to developers over BSD and wouldn't be in the position it is now.

Re:Who needs Linux when you have OSX? (2, Interesting)

ispepalocacoc (592651) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713978)

Because OSX isn't for everyone. I use it everyday at work, but when I get home I much prefer using kde on my linux box. I can configure it pretty much any way I want it and in my opinion most of the software is better. I prefer Amarok to iTunes, digikam to iPhoto, gaim to adium and so on.

OSX looks pretty and does work well (especially expose), but I have my desktop at home set up exactly how I want it, where as with OSX I'm always conforming to their way of doing things.

Re:Who needs Linux when you have OSX? (2, Informative)

anagama (611277) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714178)


Because OSX isn't for everyone. I use it everyday at work, but when I get home I much prefer using kde on my linux box.

I understand this. I got a powerbook last January or February. At first I was amazed at the eye-candy .... but then I started turning things off, like the icons that enlarge when you mouse over (cool at first, then annoying). I found myself missing things that I discovered I had really come to depend on (like multiple desktops -- in OSX you can get 3d party apps which work OK but not perfectly). Then highlight to select -- no dice (at least universally). No sloppy focus -- keep foreground up and scroll a different application in the background (e.g., terminal in foreground, firefox with Howto in back) -- linux does it but I haven't found a way in OS X 10.3.

Anyway, as the year has worn on, I'm liking OSX less and less. I've played with Tiger on other people's computers, but I don't see any improvement - just gimicks. These annoyances really start to add up -- I suppose it's time to check and see if the trackpad issues have been resolved yet. That's the only thing that's held me back.

Re:Who needs Linux when you have OSX? (1, Flamebait)

bonch (38532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714030)

That's a troll, but I think it's also true for a lot of people. Many I know switched to OS X after years of waiting for the true "Linux desktop" to appear.

Linux and GPL (4, Insightful)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713925)

As for the GPL being blamed or targetted for restrictions on Linux, the same could be said for a number of necessities regarding Linux. For example, the requirement of purchase for some distributions and/or support restricts Linux. The inability for xxx piece of hardware to work restricts Linux. Both of those hurt more than help. The GPL is needed, IMHO, to protect Linux from growing in a proprietary status. Look at Unix: Solaris, AIX, OpenServer, QNX, etc.

Re:Linux and GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13713975)

the requirement of purchase for some distributions and/or support restricts Linux

Well said. Could you imagine what would happen if microsoft tried to get people to buy its OS? People would back off in droves, running madly from such a crazy money-based product.

The inability for xxx piece of hardware to work restricts Linux.

Indeed. Just the other day, I threw out an older modem. Even though it ran fine in my Linux box, Windows XP could not detect it, no matter what drivers I threw at it. Obviously, something is wrong with the modem, since Windows XP should support pretty much all hardware that exists in the world today. I wonder why Linux claimed I could use it? Heh, it even let me connect to the Internet. Clever fakery!

Re:Linux and GPL (1)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714023)

Well said. Could you imagine what would happen if microsoft tried to get people to buy its OS? People would back off in droves, running madly from such a crazy money-based product.


Their market proliferation was not from people buying their OS directly. You purchased an x86 machine, you got a bundled OS at a markup by default.


Indeed. Just the other day, I threw out an older modem. Even though it ran fine in my Linux box, Windows XP could not detect it, no matter what drivers I threw at it. Obviously, something is wrong with the modem, since Windows XP should support pretty much all hardware that exists in the world today. I wonder why Linux claimed I could use it? Heh, it even let me connect to the Internet. Clever fakery!


I should have clarified that what I meant was xxx hardware not being compatible with Linux. Specfically, the manufacturer developing hardware, locking certain OS's for bundled software, licensing, marketing, and the sharing of technical specifics.

Re:Linux and GPL (1, Interesting)

Slashdot_Gandhi (912342) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714068)


I think the issue is that GPL does not fit with our style of doing business. Linux has been more sucessful in some european countries than in USA, because in america we are not used to (what some call) a "gift economy" outside universities. Some european friends I know have been using Linux sice they were 13, and it is not uncommon to find students who started with Linux in 1993 or 94. Back then, they didn't distrust or back off from software that was not manufactured or supported by a software giant. Instead, they embraced the challenge that Linux presented. In america on the other hand, people are largely used to the capitalistic way of doing things: i.e. you earn money and you find someone who can sell what you need. Anything new (like GPL) that breaks this line of thinking immediately puts people on the defensive.

I think Linux should be distributed with different licenses in different countries.

Re:Linux and GPL (1)

xrz1138 (917194) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714083)

One distinction that should be made is the difference between the platform employees use to develop on and the platform that users develop for. Linux as a desktop, replacing windows, and used for sending/receiving email, composing documents and presentation, and such should not involve a company in licensing issues. It is when a company developes software for Unices, and uses open source software, that problems arise. What scares companies is the idea that they might face lawsuits when they (inadvertantly) include OSS in their product. I have had to do "legal searches" against my companies sources, in order to protect against this possibility. POINT: Using Linux instead of windows for employees desktops is a totally separate thing!

It does help (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714174)

In fact, if not for the GPL, IBM, HP, etc would never have signed on to it. They do not mind sharing source code, but they want to know that a company such as MS can not come in and hijack it.

Right now, MS could support BSD and kill the market from under Apple. That is what happened in Unix, after it was closed. The big players slowly killed off the little guys by adding closed source that was unavailable to them.

Besides, keep in mind that only Windows is a moneymaker (and that is due to the monopoly in Office). No other OS makes a direct profit. Not even Apple, or any of the linux distros.

Forgetting development. (5, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713926)

Yes, all FUD asside (and this is mostly FUD) if linux switched NOW to another license it MAY be usable in some situations where it isn't now. But what makes Linux itself is its license. If it had a different license it would simply be another UNIX clone would it not, and most likly it would still be sitting in Linus's FTP server right where he left it many years ago.

Re:Forgetting development. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13713997)

Yup completely agree. The GPL is what makes linux the threat it is today to M$. Slow and steady wins the race! This article is complete FUD motivated perhaps by someone with a proprietary/control freak background.

Re:Forgetting development. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13713999)

Most software developers simply don't beleive in the businessmodel:

1: Make free stuff.
2: ?
3: Profit!

And rightfully so. Therefore, lots of developers use linux but dont make software for it.

And just to clear the abvious, free as in speech also means free as in beer for the vast majority of developers.

Re:Forgetting development. (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714211)

Therefore, lots of developers use linux but dont make software for it.

Thing is, it's not difficult to make commercial software for Linux. For example, Trolltech offers Qt with a commercial license. If purchased a developer can create a commercial app that they can sell for Linux (or OSX or Windows - if they purchase the appropriate licenses).

Your 'Make free stuff' step isn't a requirement for an app the runs on Linux.

Re:Forgetting development. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714119)

What is holding back Linux? Its Linux.
If there was a single distro that was easy to intall and use that was designed for the basic home user, it would be great. It would need Open Office, FireFox, Email client, *simple* Wifi setup, firewall and not much else (maybe a calculator). Good support for both desktops and laptops.
This would be the perfect distro for an older PC for parents, uncles, aunts, etc.
Does this exists? Lord knows, its like trying to find a needle in a hay stack.
Can I mod some debian/mandrake distro for this, SURE I could but will I, no, I dont have the time and most dont have the skills or time.

If OSX ever goes the way of being sold on the shelf and not attached to hardware, it will all but kill Linux.

Re:Forgetting development. (1)

penguin_mafia (917774) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714203)

Have you tried Ubuntu.

The message is clear: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13713932)

Hippy involvement has failed!

The ensuing flamewar is brought to you by... (-1, Offtopic)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713937)

Murry's asbestos underware - it keeps you cool when things get hot...

Seriously, I wonder what the hangtime will be until this degrades into a KDE vs. Gnome thread?

KDE vs Gnome (2, Funny)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713982)

Seriously, I wonder what the hangtime will be until this degrades into a KDE vs. Gnome thread?


Most likely quicker than the time it takes pizza to go from roof-of-mouth scalding hot to zero-Kelvin cold...


I see no reason to squabble about it. Everyone knows that Gnome is better. Of course, I am typing this from KDE on Knoppix...

Re:The ensuing flamewar is brought to you by... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714009)

Knock it off, Hitler. Only Nazis like you would point out the obvious flamewar potential of this article.

Stay tuned for:
- Simpsons quote
- "In Soviet Russia..."
- Old people in Korea
- Overlord welcoming committee
- Step-3-Profit!
- Netcraft confirms Linux is impeded
- More people listing all the usual /. jokes

Re:The ensuing flamewar is brought to you by... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714045)

I am definitely against old people in Korea. I mean, if God meant us to be old, we'd have been born that way.

Perhaps you're right... (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714165)

The real argument is whether it's Linux or Gnu/Linux.. ..or is that whether Linux is an operating system or just a Kernel?

I forget

Seriously though, I have both SuSE and Ubuntu at home. I use the SuSE install for entertainment and for the family to use and Ubuntu for my work at home setup. I like both KDE and Gnome but I find I prefer KDE for the "entertainment" system and Gnome for the "work" system.

I hope they both stick around. I also hope both sides agree on a login manager that works equally well with either one. Call it "IDM" since I is halfway between "G" and "K".

"Ought to be"? (4, Interesting)

oGMo (379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713952)

Why should Linux "ought to be" anything other than what it is? If Linux were something else, it would not be Linux. If that were the case, it might not even be as popular as it is.

This is typical ZDNet FUD. Is there any evidence that intelligent, well-informed businesspeople (i.e. those who have clueful lawyers) have a remote concern about licensing when choosing Linux?

Re:"Ought to be"? (1, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714060)

Why should Linux "ought to be" anything other than what it is? If Linux were something else, it would not be Linux.

That's a pretty circular argument, almost like saying "everything that's sucessful can't be improved".

It's entirely possible that licensing isn't one area of Linux that is in dire need of improvement, but don't use the argument "this is what got us here" to back it up.

your fat wife (0, Offtopic)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714215)

Why your fat wife "ought to be losing" 50 pounds? If she were anything else, she would not be your fat wife.

Stuck on Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13713953)

"stuck on stupid"

judging from his picture I'd say that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Impedance... (5, Insightful)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713955)

Well, you know, that's kind of like saying that air impedes an airplane. That's true, but it also flows over the wings and provides lift.

Note that we could also say the same thing about proprietary, commercial software too: that licensing restrictions and costs impede its adoption. But they also create the circumstances in which that software is created.

The goal of the GPL has never been rapid adoption of software, but rather adoption under particular circumstances.

Anyway, has there ever been a time between 1991 and now when Linux and free software in general have not grown in user base?

Re:Impedance... (5, Insightful)

sootman (158191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714244)

"Well, you know, that's kind of like saying that air impedes an airplane. That's true, but it also flows over the wings and provides lift."

Exactly. Very, very well put. (Bonus: air is also needed by the engines.) It's like he's saying "Ferraris are great, but they won't be popular until they're less than $10,000." You can't have it both ways. What makes a Ferrari great can't be done for less than $10,000. Yes, there are places where Linux being non-GPL would help, but Linux would not be where it is today if it weren't GPL in the first place. Everything has its pluses and minuses.

And desktop Linux is not stuck on stupid, the author is stuck on stupid:
"...Linux growth didn't slow because of competition - something else must have caused it and we need to understand what that was before we can work up a plan to do something about it."
Um, maybe Linux just got to the point where everyone who wants it, has it? There are such things as saturation and natural limits. Just because Linus jokes about world domination does not mean that Linux is a failure if it isn't the only system in use on every computer everywhere. Would he consider it a success if humans killed off every other species on the planet?

linus on GPL (1)

Coneasfast (690509) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713956)

i dont think linus is to keen about the GPL, he never actively promotes it.
i dont know if he regrets using it for the kernel, but he is smart and rational and will never speak out against it.

even at the top of linux kernel LICENSE, he added some extra notes of his own.

Re:linus on GPL (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714229)

Linus likes that license. He has said so a number of times.

But have you seen him push anything? He does not push Linux or GPL. He has a libertarian type attitude about all this.

My desktop it's stupid, I never noted that. (0)

cuerty (671497) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713957)

I never noted that my Linux desktop is stupid. I use it everyday to work and chat with friends but I seems stupid now.
Firefox and Opera both seens like a bad option to use, I mean... it's stupid, any person with brain will use that, and ofcourse Abiword isn't a great text processor that do the work.
With Gaim you just can't chat... I mean, its stupid.
Thanks god I'm not running Windows [slashdot.org] .
I mean, what are the basics to say it is ready or stucked, I've seen things in Linux years before other operating systems and it keep growing.

Re:My desktop it's stupid, I never noted that. (1)

Shut the fuck up! (572058) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714005)

Huh? Do you have retarded markov syndrom?

Desktop stuck on Stupid? (4, Interesting)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713959)

So how's that look-like-Windows thing working for the Linux community? Is the wave of desktop adoption far ahead of where it was in 2001 and 2002 when this started? And, if not, why don't we stop doing it? Is it because we're stuck on stupid?
Maybe some of the commercial ones are looking to limit the retrain time, but I don't think that Gnome looks a bit like windows (or acts like it), and I guess he certainly hasn't seen http://www.symphonyos.com/ [symphonyos.com] . And, yes, I read that article.

True to an extent... (2, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713983)

The GPL claims to protect the user's freedoms, but that's plain wrong. The GPL protects other users freedoms at the expense of any one individual's ability to use a piece of code completely freely. Corporate lawyers have a hard time coming to terms with that, and for good reason. The GPL is as much an ethical statement as a license, and it's not something that a commercial producer of software should take lightly. The modified Artistic license and modified BSD license are much more user friendly, and if Linux and most Linux software used those instead adoption would probably be greater. It's not clear that would be better though.

Re:True to an extent... (4, Insightful)

arkanes (521690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714075)

On the other hand, an enourmous amount of development happens exactly because of the GPL, because individuals agree with the ethical statement implied by the GPL. A lot of business people really dislike any talk of ethics or morality or correct action and prefer all relationships to be defined soley by a line item on an accounting sheet. And they call us nerds anti-social!

I don't think takeup would neccesarily be better with a BSD license, either - as evidenced by the fact that BSD takeup lags far behind Linux.

Re:True to an extent... (2, Interesting)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714134)

Indeed. That's why I said it's not clear that it would be better.

I disagree that BSD takeup lags behind Linux. BSD licensed code ends up everywhere. Places you wouldn't even think to look. It just isn't called BSD anymore when it gets there. Again, up for debate/personal opinion whether this is good or not.

Re:True to an extent... (3, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714239)

BSD code is, but the *BSD OSes are not. They have much lower market penetration than Linux.

Re:True to an extent... (5, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714219)

I think it would be worse. Would IBM or HP put out big chunks of code under BSD, where their competitors could add it to their proprietary products (like Windows or Solaris)? Nope. The GPL allows them to do so without fear it will be used against them.

I know I personally do not develop for anything that isn't GPL (or, occasionally, LGPLed). GPL is a way of using copyright law as a weapon. Company X wants to take the card I wrote, stick it in their proprietary code, then sue me when I make a copy of their program? I don't think so, I'm not playing that game. The GPL levels the playing field- if they want my code, they can have it, they just have to give theirs to me as well. If tyhey don't want to do that, they can rewrite it on their money. Sounds good to me.

Re:True to an extent... (5, Informative)

Entrope (68843) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714076)

The GPL protects other users freedoms at the expense of any one individual's ability to use a piece of code completely freely.

That's absolutely wrong. The GPL allows you to modify and to use GPLed code in any way you please. What the GPL does not give you is the right to give the GPLed code to someone else without giving that person the same rights you got.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714094)

A wish for mod points when I need them...

Re:True to an extent... (3, Funny)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714110)

It's funny, that you can say I'm absolutely wrong followed directly by saying exactly wy I'm absolutely right.

Re:True to an extent... (5, Insightful)

Entrope (68843) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714182)

You said "use completely freely" when you mean "use and redistribute without restriction". Perhaps in your world, bait and switch is a common or acceptable tactic, but some of us prefer to use words according to their meaning. The use of software is entirely separate from its (re-)distribution.

Re:True to an extent... (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714209)

You said "use completely freely" when you mean "use and redistribute without restriction". Perhaps in your world, bait and switch is a common or acceptable tactic, but some of us prefer to use words according to their meaning. The use of software is entirely separate from its (re-)distribution.

Kinda like music?

Re:True to an extent... (1)

dasil003 (907363) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714207)

It's funny, that you can say I'm absolutely wrong followed directly by saying exactly wy I'm absolutely right.

You're blurring the issue. Distributing derivative works is not reasonably known as "freedom of use". "Using" software tends to mean running it and perhaps making modifications. If you want to take any piece of commercial software and sell modded versions you're going to have to pay through the nose. So in effect your argument is saying that the only safe software to use is BSD-licensed software. In fact, if a company has no intention of distributing the software, then the GPL is a complete non-issue.

Re:True to an extent... (1)

bebing (624220) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714259)

The point is, before you changed the code, you were one of the 'other users' you were talking about.The reason you were able to change that code in the first place is due to the GPL.

Re:True to an extent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714141)

The GPL protects other users freedoms at the expense of any one individual's ability to use a piece of code completely freely.

This is an incorrect statement. You may use GPL code in whatever way you please, except you may not distribute it to others in a more restrictive way than you received it.

Re:True to an extent... (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714155)

This is an incorrect statement.

You must be unclear on the meaning of the word "incorrect." Otherwise, you could never follow that sentence with this sequence of words:

You may use GPL code in whatever way you please, except

Re:True to an extent... (4, Interesting)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714148)

The modified Artistic license and modified BSD license are much more user friendly, and if Linux and most Linux software used those instead adoption would probably be greater. It's not clear that would be better though.


It seems to me that we don't have to just speculate here -- we more or less have an example of what Linux would look like under a BSD license; just look at the FreeBSD/NetBSD/etc. Those OS's are fairly similar to Linux, and are BSD'd, not GPL'd. And it seems to me (feel free to tell me if I'm wrong) that Linux has rather more momentum/popularity/support than they do. Why is that? My feeling is that it is largely due to the GPL. Because Linux is under the GPL, people (and companies) feel more willing to contribute their time towards improving Linux, because they feel that their work is going to "the commons" and is more likely to benefit everyone and less likely to benefit only certain parties.


For example: Do you think IBM would be so willing to throw developers at Linux if they thought Microsoft could just come in and scoop up all of that nice code into the next version of Windows?

Re:True to an extent... (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714195)

We do need to speculate, for two reasons. First, it's impossible to tell where modified BSD licensed code ends up. Second, Linux started from scratch, which left lots of interesting development to do that was already complete on BSD. That brought a lot of talented developers to the table that would have been bored working with BSDs existing framework.

It's impossible to tell what Linux would look like under a different license... So it's impossible to tell if it would be better or not.

This is not hard (3, Interesting)

Gogo0 (877020) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713993)

For a large company looking to create software for Linux, all they need to do is write their own software and not link to any GPL'd code. This is no different than any other software (except that some might use win32 libs for gui, but I'm just guessing -I'm no programmer). There is no legal question in that, and I find it strange that a company would think there is one.

Re:This is not hard (4, Interesting)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714261)

write their own software and not link to any GPL'd code

I think this answers what I've been wondering for a while. That is: If I write my own program nearly all from scratch, but use a single call to some Linux API (let's say a simple network call) do I then fall under the GPL and have to give up all my code? Or do I only have to release the part where I make the network call? Or is it only if I statically link the network call in as opposed to a dynamic call?

from a user's perspective (2, Insightful)

vlad_petric (94134) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713994)

I actually think that GPL is perhaps one of the best licenses around from a user's perspective (i.e. somebody that doesn't actively develop the GPL'ed code). When adopting a technology, the biggest threat for a company is for that technology to die/become discontinued/etc. GPL, by mandating source code availability, works to a certain extent as an insurance. In the worst case scenario, a company adopting a GPLed technology would basically need to pay somebody else to maintain it. It's still much better than a binary-only, discontinued software, that, let's say, suddenly has a buffer overflow discovered in it.

As for Microsoft FUD - that's simply directed against any competitor. GPL is rallying banner for most of the opensource community, so naturally they're targetting it with their immense advertising budgets.

Not surprising (4, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#13713996)

Having ethics is an impediment to success in many fields. If the GPL weren't there to enforce the ethic of keeping the source open, of course it'd be more readily adoptable.

You'd maybe see software technologies developed for linux integrated into proprietary commercial closed-source applications, just as they did with the BSD implementation of TCP/IP in MS Windows, or BSD/Darwin into Mac OS X.

It wouldn't bring about the desired effect of keeping software Free, though. What do we want Linux to be?

Ratios (0)

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea (3441) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714002)

Murphy:Sun == Dvorak:Microsoft == O'Gara:SCOX

Interestingly, neither Linux, *BSD, nor Apple/OSX seem to have doltish lapdogs in the same way. Sure, proponents of Linux, BSD and OSX sometimes say foolish things. But there's no single figure from those communities who can be so relied upon to unthinking chant trollish drivel.

Re:Ratios (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714183)

Interestingly, neither Linux, *BSD, nor Apple/OSX

You're kidding, right? I'll introduce you to Eric Raymond sometime.

Clueless (1)

NaCh0 (6124) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714006)

So he is saying that Solaris under the CDDL is more successful than Linux??? I'm glad we have experts at ZDNet to tell us these things. *sigh*

Very poorly written and reasoned (1)

NatteringNabob (829042) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714014)

Which is unfortunate, because at times it seems that Paul Murphy has finally caught a glimmer of a clue, but it keeps dancing away just out of his reach. FWIW, the GPL only gets a minor mention, and Murphy seems to recognize that to the extent that Linux growth has slowed, it is primarily due to FUD over imagined legal issues, not over any actual legal issues. In addition, the adoption rate of Linux will naturally slwo just because the more of the market you have, the harder it is to grow.

Yawn, same old FUD, rehashed (1)

Entrope (68843) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714016)

I have to wonder why people think the same old UNIX-vs-Linux flame war is interesting. One side claims that BSD-style licenses were responsible for UNIX forking incompatibly during the 1980s. The other side claims that strong copyleft licenses keep people from contributing. Both arguments contain some truth, but it's impossible to say that one or the other license is right for all applications because there are so many other factors that go into whether software ("free", "open source" or "proprietary") is successful. Unless you have a universe simulator and go back to re-run the last 15 years using a different license, arguing BSD vs GPL for existing software is Monday morning quarterbacking.

Re:Yawn, same old FUD, rehashed (1)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714154)

No. Forks can happen and are done with either license. But the GPL does have its problems with contributed code. There's the case of graphics drivers and other binary kernel modules, which are tolerated but illegal.

That said, there are cases where the GPL (or LGPL) make sense, but IMHO the kernel isn't one of them.

Don't underestimate the power of the free side (4, Insightful)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714017)

Even if the GPL is slowing corporate adoption, an assertion proved by nothing more than the statement "I think" and a fun little example of the post hoc fallacy, that's no reason to ditch the concept. Sure, more corporations might adopt Linux if it were a closed-source program, but why they'd want a relatively unsophisticated OS by some Scandinavian kid instead of the more robust UNIX is beyond me.

Do you see what I mean? You can't separate the success of Linux from its community and core ideal. They rise and fall together. One of the things I respect about ESR is his realization that good code alone won't win adoption for a GPL'd program. This is about ideas as much as code--and philosophers and salesmen are as much combatants against Microsoft and chattel software* as any F/OSS programmer.

*I asked RMS about that phrase. He didn't think it was all that good, but I still kind of like it. What do you think?

Re:Don't underestimate the power of the free side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714180)

*I asked RMS about that phrase. He didn't think it was all that good, but I still kind of like it. What do you think?

I think RMS informing you it wasn't all that good is about the most useful thing he's said in twenty years.

Linux-GPL = BSD (4, Insightful)

redelm (54142) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714019)

Of course one can hypothesize and value whatever one wishes, but within some approximation, Linux without the GPL is just *BSD.

Yes, Linus is a talented manager. But he also started without the tremendous codebase that BSD has always had.

Personally, I'm getting a little fed up with the anti-GPL griping. I suspect the gripers of wanting to abuse code they didn't write. People married to the commercial commodity model of software so successfully exploited by Bill Gates. I have yet to hear an objection I find balanced. Most are just "I want more".

they don't care and no one enforces it anyway. (1)

vena (318873) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714020)

owners of OmniFi DMP1's can testify to this at length [sourceforge.net] .

Is this in an alternate reality? (2, Insightful)

kRutOn (28796) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714035)

It seems to me that companies have always had a choice of other operating systems that would allow them more freedom to change the source code and not worry about having to contribute back to the community. Witness the BSD license.

I believe that Linux has been significantly helped because of the GPL. Anybody that is worried about licensing issues with the GPL can just use a BSD derivative and call it a day.

As for the CDDL I have a feeling it will get little attention since it is not compatible with the GPL. It's like creating their own little island community of developers. Yeah, it's nice that they're opening their source code, but there's not much use in everyone dabbling in it because you are unable to take the work elsewhere. I remember IBM trying the same thing with their own incompatible license and it went absolutely nowhere.

For me, it was the documentation. (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714037)

Licensing didn't drive me away from Linux. I am not a huge fan of the GPL - I agree with the FSF's goals, but I would rather Free Software win because purchasers realise the intrinsic value of freedom from any potential vendor lock-in than from thinly veiled coercion - but I still use things like GCC, Vim, and a number of other GPL'd programs. The thing that drove me away from Linux (and to OS X, and Free/OpenBSD) was the documentation. I've read Linux man pages that are terse to the point of containing no useful information, written in such appalling English that I wonder how the author could have managed to write a single line of C, or just plain wrong. In the BSD camp, the documentation is orders of magnitude better (and Apple also does well, by importing the FreeBSD man pages - and sending some corrections back).

The other thing was stability between versions. Linux is notorious for changing kernel APIs between minor versions. This is fine if all of your hardware has maintained open source drivers, but if not then upgrading becomes a game of Russian Roulette - seeing which devices will stop working (it was USB mass storage devices in our department's Linux lab last year, for about a month, with SuSE Linux). Any unmaintained drivers eventually find themselves using a no-longer-supported API and stop working, while closed drivers are often not updated often enough to notice the kernel change until users have started complaining.

Re:For me, it was the documentation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714098)

Fuck you.. seriously fuck you.. What were you thinking? That doesn't even make sense.. so just fuck you and your horse you prick!

Hidden assumption (2, Insightful)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714056)

From the article:

IBM's endorsement of Linux, the SCO law suit in response, and Red Hat's negative market stance as the Sun killing would be Microsoft of the Linux era combined to destroy the automatic assumption among key innovators in the United States that Linux was "the place to be" -eventually moving many of them to the BSD and Solaris camps where they're now driving the fastest installed base expansions in the history of computing

Murphy talks about an automatic assumption but he's hidden one of his own in this para: that the only key innovators in the US are vendors and venture capitalists. GPLed software lets just about anyone with half a brain and an itch to scratch be an innovator.

Pointing out the Obvious (1)

KarmaBlackballed (222917) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714070)

There would be no Linux if there were no GPL, or a licensing scheme like it.

And the Microsofts of this world don't like GPL or anything like it.

This is not a problem for Linux. It is a problem for companies like Microsoft. End of non-story.

Linux and the GPL (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714071)

the GPL is the only thing keeping Linux from forking, face it between official kernel releases the distros play games with it. When the new kernel is released they all come back. If they could keep their changes from feeding back into the kernel they might not go back to the official release and we will end up with the mess UNIX has had to deal with

Software Freedom (2, Insightful)

Teresh (911815) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714073)

Without the GPL, Linux would not be prevalent now. Indeed, the BSD license provides absolute Freedom, Freedom such that software can then revert to being non-Free at the drop of a hat. Mac OS X is an example of this. Linux, however, by means of the GPL, will always be Free. Because of this, we do not have to be concerned that our software, our operating system, the very way we use our computers, will ever change. Rather than anarchy, the GPL respects and includes many Freedoms while ensuring that future users, and indeed our future selves as well, will continue to benefit from the software forever, rather than saying 'OK, here it is, do what you want with it, we don't care.' With the GPL, we can't be exploited by opportunistic software firms that want to release a product without much work. And we'll still be able to churn out superior software long into the future.

Muddled and Meaningless (5, Insightful)

M00NIE (605235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714079)

I don't know about anyone else, but I felt like the man's arguments were muddled and meaningless. He posited lots of opinions with very little actual evidence, facts, or solutions of value. How about an example even?

I was reading opinions like Linux is failing because of the GPL and kept thinking "in what particular way? Give me an example where the GPL is failing Linux - a hard real example such as 'technology professional X reviewed Linux and found this failing in the GPL so decided to go with another choice'". Or the opinion that Linux should try to be something other than a WinDOAs look alike - such as what precisely? I mean it's really easy to point out flaws, but just a tad more of an undertaking to provide real answers and solutions.

Reading all this felt a bit like someone saying they think my shoes are ugly without any real information on how they could be better or why particularly they're ugly. I mean he has a right to his opinion of things but ultimately, if he was hoping to actually keep my attention, I would think he would try to at least give me something concise, with real value and of some interest to me. Ultimately I was left with the impression that he can insult Linux, and the point in that exercise is what? Was it just me who was left feeling that way?

The US Constitution (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714084)

The US Constitution impedes your rights more than it helps. Let's just get rid of that annoying little document.

Open Source Licensing is COMPLICATED and obscure (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714085)

I did due diligence once when a company was assimilated by VC investors. We had to list every OSS package we used and its license. For starters, look here:

http://www.opensource.org/licenses/index.php [opensource.org]

It's a long, tedious list of legalspeak. You may end up depending on "Akbar and Jeff's Semi-artistic Hut License" for a critical piece of SW. Kind of gives a VC the willies, especially if he can get a new Hummer by forcing your company to buy his buddy's crapware instead and pocket the kickback. (Not that that happens in real life, no sir.)

Re:Open Source Licensing is COMPLICATED and obscur (1)

Nichotin (794369) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714137)

Umm. So if that was so much hassle, why didn't you write all your stuff yourself?

Desktop Linux is Definitely "Stuck on Stupid" (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714095)

While Desktop Linux has been improving, it is stuck because of a lack of interest and motivation to make it a desktop replacement. If you look at this article with Mark Shuttleworth of Ubuntu: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MarkShuttleworth [ubuntu.com] , it's fairly easy to see that people don't particularly care about the perspective of Linux for anyone except developers and those to whom "source code" even means something. It's generally the same thing with the GPL, where it's written from and for a programmer's perspective. Sure, I as a "user" like the source code and completely understand the "freedom" in that context because I actually appreciate and use the source code.

From a real "user's" perspective, however, source code is useless. Unless they have the technical knowledge to change something, or the resources to hire someone to change/configure something for them, it's a total non-starter. From that perspective, Windows, while bad in many respects, actually offers more "freedom" to an end user in terms of what it allows them to do by themselves without having to go through a steep learning curve and specialize in something that should be a tool.

I have been using Linux for well over thirteen years, and I absolutely *loathe* how hard it is to do simple things. I want a fully integrated GUI. Sure, I can do it the hard way, and I like that the power of the CLI is there when I *choose* to go into it, but for the most part, it completely sucks. Apt-get my !@#$. ./configure your way to hell. I want something where there is a standard way to install something.

If source code is the way, then make a completely GUI-oriented, extremely simple, build tool that will take the source as a package and install it without having to type a single command. I would say that perhaps Gentoo was on to something, but from what I understand the community is even more elitist than most.

MOD PARENT UP! (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714144)

Yay for user friendliness!

What he really means is . . . (1)

Dausha (546002) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714096)

So long as Linux relies on GPL, Microsoft cannot co-opt the code into Windows. SCO can also roll Linux code into its Unix and not apologize.

I agree with the above poster's comment that GPL gives Linux life as well as drag--but more lift.

How about a stable ABI? (1, Insightful)

FullCircle (643323) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714099)

Linux works great, but you have to recompile for every little change to the system.

Notice how on most OS's you can own a CD of an application and just install it? Because there are STANDARDS! That's what hurts third-party support.

Flexibility is good, but if they would make a usable standard and stick with it, we might not have to worry about recompiling so often.

But that doesn't explain... (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714100)

So why is BSD dying?

tech bubble bursting maybe? (4, Interesting)

cowscows (103644) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714101)

I think he's trying to hard. He starts by asking why all of the momentum that Linux built up during the late 90's is hard to see today. I'm just going to take a guess and say that maybe a lot of that enthusiasm went down with the dot com crash. You know, when the big tech bubble burst, and pretty much everyone's hype fell through? When businesses finally realized that just throwing more and more money into their IT departments wouldn't magically increase their productivity by 600% each year, perhaps that something to do with it?

I don't think it's been a problem with Linux as much as a more realistic take on the tech industry. Plowing ahead at the blistering pace of the late 90's was fun, but it resulted in a whole lot of wasted money, and it's recent enough that people are still remembering that. It's just a little bit harder to sell that kind of hype right now, so we don't hear as much of it. Meanwhile, Linux is continuing to do what it's always done, there's plenty of development going on for it, and new people continue to adopt it. It might be a little slower right now, it's definitely quieter at the moment, but progress hasn't hit a brick wall.

I think this guy is looking for a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.

Who benefits from a change? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714133)

Solaris isn't even as 'free' as Linux. MacOSX isn't free at all. So I wonder why are they even brought up. Abolishing the GPL would benefit M$ only. I think it is quite good that we have Linux AND the BSDs. Everyone can pick the best for their taste, and shut up about the licenses. Who cares if Linux doesn't work for everyone, it works for me :)

We're further ahead. (1)

dieman (4814) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714145)

Just look at Ubuntu. It is an evolution of Desktop Linux, is closely tracking Gnome, and is defiantely not trying to be a Windows-Work-A-Like.

Hardware support (Totally Rad Laptop Support!) is also greatly improved.

For someone who actually works with Desktop Linux every day in a reasonably large (~300 computer) installation, it has improved hands down. Applications are getting better and third parties

We get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714149)

You could make more money if Linux were BSD. Well, we don't care. Linux is not your money machine. Now shove off and use what IS available under the licenses you want. Do I have to tell you that it's the GPL which made Linux what it is today, the OS that you want to get your dirty hands on without being annoyed by that stupid return-the-favor license?

GPL Protects Linux More (2, Interesting)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714193)

IANAL, but I think the GPL protects Linux rather than hurts it. Without the GPL, there probably would not be the free and open Linux we see today. It would likely be just another struggling proprietary OS destined to disappear once its owner was bought out or went bankrupt or just gave up on it (see OS/2). I really don't care if giant corporations adopt Linux or not, I just want a good tool that helps me get work done and helps me have fun on occasion as well.

The fact that Linux is free and open means, almost by definition, that it cannot have "success" in the usual sense. It cannot be easily sold shrinkwrapped for profit. And it cannot be closed up to thwart competitors either. By the same measure, it also means that it cannot fail either, for there will always be someone for whom it is the right tool at the right time even if MegaCorp Inc. can't make a dime off of it. The GPL makes this possible. Linux isn't going to die anytime soon, but it probably isn't going to be the OS of your grandma either, that is until it's widely used in cell phones, but that's another story!

Re:GPL Protects Linux More (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714241)

There are other free licenses, you know. GPL wasn't the first open source license.

Re: The GPL impedes Linux more than it helps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714205)

Probably mostly Microsoft impedes Linux more than it helps.

GPL vs non (1)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714220)

We all yell at ATI & Nvidia to "open-up" their drivers. As in release it under the GPL.
ATI & Nvidia don't want to because they say that the competition will learn all the cool tricks.

I know nothing about programming. Can't the competition just download a driver, decompile it and see all the tricks inside? It's not like they can hide the 1's and 0's.

How would releaseing the drivers as GPL make the drivers better?

The FUD from ZDNet is thick. Could this video card issue "prove" that the first company to open up the code will win?

---Clueless in Canada

The desktop (3, Interesting)

ardor (673957) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714224)

ah, the ultimate goal: Desktop Linux. He is right, its stalled. Distros like Ubuntu *almost* reach competitive usability. Almost because there is always some stuff that doesn't work properly. But this is rapidly being cured out.

Two potential reasons for the stall:

1. Lack of self-explaining software.
Software should not require the user to read the manual for the most basic tasks, the user should be able to find them out easily. KDE apps usually are self-explaining, GNOME apps too, however most other opensource projects aren't.

2. Application installation. This is a nasty one. The immediate answer is usually that the distros all have such a nice package system. Yeah, but what if software XY isn't in the package database? Tough luck, have fun compiling (if its not a binary-only version). This is where Windows is lightyears ahead: setup screens all look the same, behave the same way, and are easy to install. Linux? ahem... The only ones who got it right were Loki, who created their Loki installer. It is dead easy to install UT2004 in Linux. ALL apps should have self-extracting graphical installers, and the installation system should be *DE*centralized.

3. Hardware support. Despite the advances in the last years, hardware support still sucks sometimes. Try to get a TwinkeCam to work with Ubuntu 5.04. Its impossible unless you want to downgrade the KERNEL to a 2.4 one. Compiling the driver is not possible because of broken code that is incompatible with the 2.6 kernel (even with the 2.6 patches to the Makefile).

4. The community. Look, if you want people to choose Linux instead of Windows, you have to change something. "RTFM" is intolerable. Questions like how to mount a network share should not end in some obscure /etc/fstab editing instructions, this should be possible with a nice graphical app. In fact, NOTHING regarding desktop usage should ever require xterm usage and/or configfiles editing.

To sum it up: People like stuff that "Just Works". Linux desktops rarely just work. The moments when they don't are far more frequent than with Windows and OSX desktops.

FWIW (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714245)

The author ("Paul Murphy," "Rudy de Haas") makes no bones about being a Solaris partisan.

Make of that what you will.

bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13714247)

If you want to carve a mountain, you need the patience of a glacier. By whose metric has Linux been "held back"? What with the near ubiquity in servers, companies like Nokia moving over on their handsets, states like Peru and Brazil, and harware like MIT's $100 laptop I think it's clear that the 8-ball that is Linux is accellerating.

As with the desktop... The GPL isn't "holding it back". X is holding it back. Lack of information architects / human interface experts is holding it back. I've used Linux as my primary operating environment for 2 of the 4 machines I've relied on in the last 5 years. What's kept me coming back to OS X wasn't the lack of applications. I always found a solution for everything I needed to do. It was the general crappiness of X windows and the ugly, klugy UI that drove me away (I've used both KDE and GNOME... they're both guilty).

I think that Linux as a whole has been and will continue to be a spectacular success and this is due in part to the GPL. The Human Interface and graphical layer have a LOT of room for improvement... but that's not the GPL's fault and I think that in time those areas will themselves become spectacular successes as well. Likely as a result of the Free and Open licensing which surrounds them.

Viva la Public Domain (1)

John.P.Jones (601028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13714249)

The Public Domain cannot be improved upon. The notion that copyright can be used to help free software is incorrect, based on an invalid definition of 'free'.
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