Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Mon Jul 21 01:48:41 UTC 2008

Mikkel L. Ellertson wrote:

>>> Maybe that is because you are looking at it as a developer, and not 
>>> as an end user. It is the freedom of the end users that is being 
>>> preserved.
>> No, that is exactly backwards.  Since the GPL only prohibits 
>> redistribution, a developer is perfectly free to combine components as 
>> he wants for his own use.  Or companies that can afford it can hire a 
>> developer to do this in custom code that is not redistributed.  It's 
>> the end users that aren't developers and can only afford things 
>> distributed at mass market prices that lose any chance of benefits.  
>> They just never even see it.
> Explain the problem.

End user needs code containing many GPL'd routines plus some routines 
only available under different licensing.  The functionality of windows 
media player would be one such example - or perhaps the netflix player 
that depends on it.  Sometimes you can work around this with a 
plug-in-interface (which still leaves the GPL requirements in question); 
sometimes you can't.  When you can't, the end user pays the cost of 
re-implementing all of the functionality that might otherwise have been 
provided by well-tested code under the GPL.  And even when this can be 
done with a plug-in interface, it is still problematic for an individual 
  end user to obtain the needed licensed modules compared to a vendor 
obtaining a bulk deal and rolling it into the price of the product.

> If it is for his/her own use, then he is an end 
> user. The company is also an end user, and because the source is 
> available, they can afford to develop custom code. It is just the 
> developer that wants to take GPL protected code, modify it, and sell it 
> that faces restrictions. In the cases you list, the GPL does not make it 
> more or less likely that the code will be released.

Do you believe that OS X could have been built on Linux instead of 
freebsd code?  I don't know the internals but would assume that they 
have added parts that are under license from others or covered by 
patents and cannot be released under the GPL.  In any case it would not 
seem wise for any business to start a project knowing that they would 
never be able to include components licensed from third parties under 
any terms they might find agreeable.

    Les Mikesell
     lesmikesell at gmail.com

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