Subject: Re: Can open source cost money?
From: Craig Burley <burley@gnu.org>
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 1998 00:14:41 -0400 (EDT)

>I don't have religion on this subject, but "channeling" what I've
>heard from FreeBSD advocates, the real reason was that development
>was suppressed for several years because of the AT&T lawsuit; once
>that cloud was lifted, they argue that they've shown roughly the
>same growth curve as Linux.

Sorry, I keep forgetting about that lawsuit.  Perhaps that's because
my general impression is that, even after it was lifted, people
were claiming on g.m.d that Linux was, and would always remain,
behind FreeBSD in terms of features and such, because it used the GPL
while FreeBSD used BSDL.  But I'd have to explore my g.m.d archives
going way back to figure out whether that impression is correct.

>I don't know if that's true, but it's certainly credible.  It 
>also makes the point that there are many possible reasons for
>any particular success or failure; that's why historians still
>argue about things that happened hundreds of years ago.

Absolutely.  In fact, even accepting the AT&T-lawsuit-drag idea
illustrates an opposing fact: that FreeBSD started out with a
code base that was unavailable for use in Linux, which had to
start out from "scratch".  The disadvantage for Linux turned
out to be an advantage, entirely fortuitously IMO (though perhaps
Linus and/or others might have been aware of the BSD sources and
chosen not to use them because they were possibly "risky" from
a license-taint POV).

Even though I started using Linux fairly early on, I certainly
don't know enough to be sure about just why Linux is so popular
now compared to FreeBSD, in terms of the pertinence of the license
governing each.

But, based on the frequent anti-GPL rants over the years that I've
followed, there sure seem to be fewer and fewer arguments put
forth that make sense...other than the obvious ones, like "Linux
is GPL'ed, so certain people are willing to volunteer for it" and
"Linus did a great job running the project".

After-the-fact analyses aren't always useful, nor useless.  It
depends on whether they are based on measurements that were
similarly understood beforehand, and measurable.  Linus turning
out to be a good project manager is an example of a useful
after-the-fact analysis, I think, because it was hard for people
to understand either *how* his style would be useful in a project
like Linux or *to what extent* he successfully embodied it.

>It's a good argument, though.  It would certainly be a good idea
>to catalog case where the particulars of
>licensing did or did not seem to play a significant
>role in the success or failure of an open source
>product.

I agree, but I think most of us interested in the outcome of such
a catalog would rather spend our time improving our respective
products, so we might not be of much help creating it....  :)

>I can certainly see a lot of VERY successful products under
>each type of license.

That's certainly true.  I still see it as an embarrassment of
riches that the free-software community has both Linux (GPL)
and FreeBSD (BSDL) available, and competitive.  It's wonderful
that people have choices as to which source bases deserve their
contributions.

        tq vm, (burley)