Subject: Re: Thoughts on GPL
From: ian@cygnus.com
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 00:25:02 -0500 (EST)

I work for Cygnus, but I don't speak for it, or for anybody other than
myself.  I'm also not John Gilmore.

In fsb jsshapiro@earthlink.net (Jonathan S. Shapiro) writes:

>Someone in private mail suggested to me that they felt Cygnus had
>"sold out" (note: *their* words) by shifting focus to non-GPL add-ons
>that build on a GPL'd base.  

``Sold out'' does seem a bit harsh.

>I'm not sure I agree with that critique, but from an outsider's view
>of the web site, the Cygnus positioning *does* appear to have shifted
>primarily to traditional software sales.

From the inside it doesn't seem like Cygnus has shifted focus, or has
shifted primarily to traditional software sales.  Perhaps ``expanded''
might be better than ``shifted.''  Cygnus has clearly changed, but
Cygnus's dominant business remains GPL code.

I think that Cygnus positioning, by which I mean specifically how
Cygnus describes its products, has shifted away from free software
over time, as it's become clear that most potential customers don't
really care whether the software is libre or not.  That is a change in
description, though, not in the software itself.

It is of course true that Cygnus now sells a non free product (Source
Navigator, not really an add-on to GPL code), and plans to sell
another one (Foundry, definitely an add-on to GPL code), and that is a
change.

>     + whether (if you can say) you think that Cygnus's leadership
>       role in the GPL world will survive the change?

That's really up to the rest of the world, isn't it?

The egcs project and, to a lesser degree, the cygwin32 project, seem
to indicate that people will continue to work with Cygnus developing
GPL code.

My personal feeling is that whatever leadership role Cygnus has had in
the past in the free software world has been due more to individuals
than to company policy.  Cygnus has produced GNU releases, but has
not, as a company, tried to lead the code base anywhere in particular.
In this regard, the egcs project, which Cygnus is sponsoring by
donating a machine and programmer time, indicates a move to a larger
leadership role.

Ian