Subject: Re: Studies
From: "Joel N. Weber II" <devnull@gnu.org>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 1997 20:30:19 -0500 (EST)

   Someone said that one of the big differences between the GNU developer
   community and the Linux developer community is their attitude toward
   commercial software.  If I understand correctly, the FSF was founded on
   the premise that proprietary software is immoral, and should be stamped
   out, if possible.  This attitude seems to be almost nonexistent among
   people whose introduction to free software was Linux.

Yes.

   I think that the current amazing commercial acceptance of Linux is due, to
   some part, to the Linux developers' openness to commercial software.
   Schlumberger and Corel are two well-known examples; I suspect that there
   are many, many more companies who are closet Linuxers.

But I often wonder why it is that people seem to think that the Linux kernel
is the most woderful thing in the world.  It is certainly a useful program,
but I doubt it is any significantly better than the *BSD kernels.  Having
a goal of simply running everything on one particular kernel is not really
worth gettingg into religious wars about.

I think that having the source code for all the software on your computer
and being allowed to freely share and change it is a much more worthwhile
goal.

If anything, the freebsd community may care more about having the source
available than the Linux community does.  Apparently, you can rebuild the
entire freebsd system by doing `make world'.  I'm sure you can't do that with
Slackware, and I doubt that it is easy with the other distrstributions,
either.  I know that RMS wanted debian to come with biaries that were
compiled with the -g flag so they could be debugged, and the feeling of the
debian developers was that it would make the system bloated and most users
wouldn't know how to use a debugger...

Another difference is that the GNU community tends to try to write its
userland so that you can run it on any Unix kernel.  This often turns
out to be useful if, for example, you have an hp300 running netbsd, and
you like the improved syntax that GNU find supports.

   I think licences like the kermit, tkman and nvi licences, which prohibit
   sale of the software while otherwise allowing free distribution, is to
   enormously reduce use as soon as alternatives are available.  tkman is far
   better than GNU man; kermit is far better than minicom; I don't know
   whether nvi is far better than vim, but I imagine so.  But many more
   people use GNU man than tkman, simply because their distributors were able
   to install GNU man legally.

Is Tkman superior?  My guess is that tkman is completely useless without
X.  I often use machines that don't run X...

I was also under the impression that there isn't really a GNU man program,
althogh I may be mistaken.

Your paragraph also has the implication that software with a more restrictive
license is generally superior...