Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Gordon Messmer yinyang at eburg.com
Sun Jul 20 19:40:47 UTC 2008

Les Mikesell wrote:
> Alexandre Oliva wrote:
>> Or...  Microsoft would have used that code and used it to control
>> people in just the same way it does with every other piece of software
>> it touches.
> The only software that they can use to control anyone is their OS, and 
> they can only do that as long as no one ships something competitive 
> enough to attract application development.  That hasn't happened, 
> largely because of GPL restrictions on code that might otherwise have 
> been used in such products.
> Anyway it is the GPL that has kept them rich and in control.

You've got to be trolling me.

I can't remember when I've ever heard a statement about the GPL or 
Microsoft that was so far removed from reality.  There are numerous 
alternatives to Microsoft which aren't licensed under the GPL: OS X and 
FreeBSD being two examples under very different licenses.

You seem to be asserting that if we all used the BSD license, or 
something else that doesn't require distribution of software to include 
source code and redistribution rights, then *someone* (or everyone) 
would have taken the Free Software that's available and ... done 
something ... that challenged Microsoft, reduced their market share, and 
created a competitive system.  If you believe that, then explain how 
that hasn't happened, despite high-quality systems available from 
FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and the like?

The truth of the matter is that GNU/Linux is dominant among Free 
Software unix-like platforms *because* of the license, not in spite of 
it.  People contribute to GPL licensed products because the license 
protects their investment.  If they put money into improving a GPL 
licensed product and attempt to make a living from that, they know that 
someone else won't reduce the value of their investment by selling a 
proprietary derivative that offers features that they can not.  When we 
improve a GPL product, we benefit from that, and so does everyone else 
who uses the product.  If we allow proprietary derivatives, we reduce 
the incentive to invest in Free Software.  When someone builds a 
proprietary derivative, they're not investing in Free Software, they're 
investing in their proprietary product.

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