Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Fri Jul 18 19:07:42 UTC 2008

Antonio Olivares wrote:

>> For reasons I've already covered, I'd
>> rather see distributions 
>> minimize the GPL-encumbered code and use things from the
>> *bsd or 
>> opensolaris projects instead - except for gcc which I
>> don't think has a 
>> less restricted counterpart.  Then the GNU project could
>> just go its own 
>> way in the isolation the GPL demands while the rest of the
>> world 
>> cooperates and interoperates at the component level.
>> -- 
> While ideally that would be nice, it won't happen :(
> Which license should be used then, if the above happens?

Licenses are difficult to change on existing works, so like now, you'd 
have to keep the license as is on each component that you choose.  It 
only becomes an issue when you start combining components, and then only 
with the GPL'd ones since the others don't care if you link with someone 
else's library or vice versa.

> There are other free licenses/open source licenses around, but which is the best one to use?
> As I understand, if one uses Linux
> Linux <===> GPL

Yes, that means you can't swap driver/filesystem code with old-style BSD 
or cddl licensed versions, but it doesn't specifically mean you have to 
use GNU/GPL'd userland code.

> *BSD <==> BSD/GPL(for KDE/Gnome other DE)
> Solaris  <===> CDDL

Pieces can keep these licenses and still be redistributed together. 
GPL'd parts can be aggregated in the distro and under certain 
circumstances, certain GPL'd things can be linked with others (there's 
the weird standard OS component exception but then you have to 
distribute the parts separately).  The *bsd's tend to avoid including 
GPL'd work wherever there is a choice since their philosophy is to avoid 
the restrictions but it's not a strict requirement at the standalone 
program level.

> A license that is often mentioned indirectly is the Beerware license
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beerware
> Would that one be accepted as an appropriate license?

As long as it doesn't place requirements on other components it works 
for me.

> People have to pay bills, support their families, gas up their vehicles, from where would the motivation come to continue giving up some work for no $, Which is the best way to continue and support your favorite OS and applications at the same time?

That's why commercial licenses exist, and why it's good for code that 
you wish to be distributed freely to play nicely with them.  There are 
plenty of people who appreciate having affordable commercial software 
choices that may be better than the free alternatives.

> There are many revisions to the GPL as of now, and I believe that one was posted on this list, how can cooperation be achieved and also protect the code as well?  

Code that is freely available doesn't need protection as nothing can 
happen to it other then someone else using and improving it which is a 
good thing regardless of what else happens to that copy subsequently.

Long ago it might not have been completely predictable that many end 
points of the longest-developed paths of unix development 
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Unix_history-simple.svg) would be 
open-sourced but it was never out of the question either.  Having that 
big chunk isolated by the GPL and unable to share components is just bad 
for everyone.

    Les Mikesell
     lesmikesell at gmail.com

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