[K12OSN] Scary article from Russia (w/o love)

David L. Willson DLWillson at TheGeek.NU
Wed May 20 19:22:48 UTC 2009

Somebody else called this a repeat of a Linux vs. BSD debate.  I'm sorry for engaging, but I was unaware that it was a repeat.  Call me lazy, but I want to ask or re-ask what I think is the fundamental question of the debate, at least from the Linux side:

In the previous debates was the BSD proponent ever asked why they rail at the GPL/Linux for problems that are resolved in BSD, rather than just switching to BSD?  IOW, if you want BSD, why don't you use it?  By your own reasoning, it's free-er, and the model produces, or will produce, better, more complete, more popular product.  Let Linux be Linux and BSD be BSD, and no hard feelings?  It is every author's right to choose their target platform(s) and license(s) for distribution.  I don't gritch that MS uses the license they use; I just decline to load their .....  Their choice; my choice.  No hard feelings.


----- "Les Mikesell" <lesmikesell at gmail.com> wrote:

> David L. Willson wrote:
> > I certainly understand part of your point of view, but not the
> coercion part...
> Start from the perspective of having once built a piece of software
> that 
> combined freely available components, then being prohibited from
> sharing 
> it because the GPL-covered component, deceptively calling itself free,
> restricted distribution with the other parts unless its own
> restrictions 
> could be imposed on them.
> > What point is there in Linux's existence, in your perspective?  What
> is it's key differentiator?  Is it just another MacOS or another
> Windows, or is there something more to it?  Is Linux an integral part
> of the Free software "thing" or is it just a free (as in cheap)
> operating system?
> Linux gained its popularity because *bsd code was involved in a
> lawsuit 
> from AT&T at the time.  The bsd base was clearly a better design and 
> work on it benefits everyone - including all the parts that were
> copied 
> into Linux.  However, that's a one way trip.  Developments for Linux
> are 
> restricted by the GPL from being used in many other situations and
> thus 
> can't be combined with concurrent work in other components like zfs.
> As a user, I consider affordable and complete software to be the real
> objective and the GPL is an impediment to that since it prevents the 
> covered works which could be used to reduce the cost of competitive 
> alternatives from being combined with anything else as a derived
> work.
> > For my part, I'm pretty sure there's an important principle being
> protected by the GPL.
> At the cost of keeping a monopoly in business.
> > 
> > I'm really confused about your last statement, with regard to your
> use of the word "forced".  You said: 
> >> Or, you can simply be forced to continue to support the proprietary
> >> monopoly business because the GPL restrictions prevent covered
> works 
> >> from being improved to a point where they are competitive.  Like
> 95%
> >> or 
> >> so of the population does...
> > [...]
> >> With the GPL, only one person actually gets the freedom to choose.
> >> Everyone else has to follow its restrictions which prevent any
> other 
> >> choices.
> > [...]
> > 
> > I think you're just plain wrong on the first one.
> Statistics?
> >  Many GPL products are beautifully done and very competitive.
> But as the posting that started this thread correctly stated,
> incomplete.
> >  Let's take Red Hat, for example.  They seem to be providing a
> worthy product.  Same with Ubuntu and OpenSUSE.
> Don't confuse the contents of a distribution with GPL-covered
> material. 
>   You can aggregate separate programs in the same distribution and all
> distributions include bsd/mit/mpl/apache/cddl covered material too. 
> The 
> restriction is on any single thing that might be considered a derived
> work under copyright law, and if those contain any GPL code at all, it
> must all be covered by a GPL-compatible license.
> >  But that's where we have that difference of opinion.  You seem to
> think GPL'd products suck, because of the defining principle, and I
> think they rock, for exactly the same reason.
> No, I don't think GPL'd products suck.  I think it sucks that the code
> that comprises them is restricted from being improved and reused in
> many 
> other potential ways.  Imagine if the *bsd networking code had such 
> restrictions - we would almost certainly not have anything like the 
> interoperability we see on the internet today.
> >  I ~like~ choosing my desktop environment.  I don't want KDE or
> GNOME to fold into the other.
> That's not particularly relevant, but what if also you had choices
> where 
> new teams could combine the best elements of both?  You can't ever
> have 
> that choice where one part is GPL'd and the other not.  While it is
> the 
> author's right to keep it from you, I don't understand why anyone
> likes it.
> >  I ~like~ the fact there are some restrictions on packing in
> proprietary code.  I also like the fact that I can buy and install and
> run all the proprietary code I want, after the fact.
> First, the restrictions are not on 'proprietary' code - they are on
> any 
> code that doesn't exactly meet the GPL restrictions and affects code 
> which actually is free as well.  Also there are things that belong in
> the kernel that are covered by other terms and you can't add them on.
> >  If all Linux was, was freeware, or public domain, if authors
> couldn't protect their work from proprietization, if it ever goes
> there, Linux has lost, even if Microsoft goes away and the thing that
> is then called Linux has 85% (or 95% or whatever it is).  Linux is
> Free and protected to remain so.  If you want something "free-er", by
> your definition, try BSD or something else.  There is a lot of product
> out there that is freeware/public-domain/LGPL/etc...
> The only reason anyone would need to 'protect' against other improved
> works would be if you expect them to be enough better than the
> original 
> that everyone would switch.  And why would you not want people to have
> a 
> choice to use a better product?
> > I also think you're mistaken about the 95% of the people that use
> Windows.  They're not forced ~and~ they don't choose intentionally.
> So what was the alternative over the last 10 or 15 years?  What is it
> now if only proprietary drivers are available for a hardware
> component?
> > They just take the default, by and large.  Most people want a
> McComputer, and they don't care about the computer or the OS.  They
> don't realize (or care) that cars and McComputers are fundamentally
> different, in that car sales are competed for, where OS sales are (by
> and large) not.
> Yes, the non-competitive situation has been maintained by the GPL 
> restrictions as much as anything else since that code can't be used to
> lower the bar to building a compete alternative.
> > And last, how does an author's choice of license restrict anyone but
> those that agree that his product is worth using, under that license? 
> Do people 
> In a large software project, getting the first working code released
> is 
> about 10% of the job.  If that code is covered by the GPL, the other 
> people who want to contribute to an actual usable version have no
> choice 
> about the terms on their own work that will eventually constitute the
> other 90% and there is no choice about the use of other library 
> components that might be used for additional features.
> -- 
>    Les Mikesell
>      lesmikesell at gmail.com
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