Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Tue Jul 15 21:14:38 UTC 2008

Gordon Messmer wrote:
>> I ran across a surprisingly perceptive description of the confusion of 
>> GPL restrictions with freedom here:
>> http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/07/08/1832255&from=rss.
> I quit reading that the first time after the second paragraph. 
> "Perceptive" is not what I thought of the author.  The entire article is 
> a pompous straw-man argument.  Find one place in that article where the 
> author cites any person who actually evinces the attitudes that he 
> attributes to the group he describes.

That's the point - the people who argue the point don't understand it 
this way.

> From my perspective, the difference between BSD and GPL authors is much 
> simpler than he describes.  An author who chooses the BSD license has 
> decided that there will be no cost to other developers who want to reuse 
> his work in a work of their own. An author who chooses the GPL license 
> has decided that there is. 

Which has the unavoidable side effect of making it impossible to reuse 
that code in many situations.

> The cost of using a GPL licensed work in 
> another work is reciprocation.  We share with those who share with us.

And the side effect of this unneeded restriction is that much of the 
code we all have to put up with is not optimal.  And it ignores the 
point that much of the best code we currently have would not exist if 
any part of it had been GPL'd during development. That is, there is 
plenty of code that is shared without GPL restrictions and plenty that 
is shared now but wasn't always.

> Asking a price for your work is hardly Communist.  That idea has always 
> been absurd.

The price isn't the point at all, it is the restriction on reuse and 
improvement in a large number of ways.  And the real cost to society is 
the lack of the things the restrictions prevent - at no gain to anyone.

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at gmail.com

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