Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: Brian Behlendorf <>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 09:50:26 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 27 May 1999, Richard Stallman wrote:
>     Yup, and it's hard to get "more free" than BSD.
> That depends on how you measure freedom.  You can measure by what is
> permitted by the license of a specific release of the program, or you
> can average the freedoms that the users of the program have.
> If you use the former method, the BSD license is certainly more
> permissive than the GNU GPL.  But if you use the latter method, you
> will find in many important cases that the average user of the
> non-copylefted program has less freedom.
> BSD is an example of this.  When you think of "BSD", perhaps you tend
> to consider only the free versions of BSD.  But there is also a
> non-free version of BSD.  I don't know what fraction of the users of
> BSD systems use the non-free version, but it could be substantial.

Richard, this is FUD.  The fact that there is a non-free derivative of the
BSD line (one of several, actually) produced by a company that is using
the "BSD" name in its business and products is completely separate from
the question of the freedoms granted by the BSD license.  That fact that
one company can do this in no way detracts from the freedoms associated
with the original BSD code.

To illustrate this, let me point out that there is *no* such thing as a
"non-free" "version" of Apache.  Unlike BSD, unlike Linux, we have been
very tight on controlling use of the name Apache, even so far as to make
the point to vendors selling servers based on Apache (or even simply
including Apache + their own patches on their own systems) that they can
not call it a "version" of Apache, because that implies that the Apache
development team is responsible for it - only "based on" or "a derivative
of".  We want to incent the companies to stick with the mainline code
tree by using the strong Apache brand name - as IBM, Apple, and many
others have agreed to do.

> X11 is another example; in its heydey, I am pretty sure that most
> users were using non-free versions.  

X11 wouldn't have made it at all had vendors decided to not use the code
they were given for free.  Instead, we'd have an even worse hodgepodge of
different windowing systems on different Unices, and it's likely Unix
would have been vanquished on the desktop far sooner.  Do you think GNOME
would be around if that had happened?

> Apache is also an example.

See above.

> Non-copyleft license don't directly take away anyone's freedom, but
> they reduce the community's commitment to freedom, by encouraging
> business to tempt all of us each day to give up some freedom for some
> added convenience.  To resist the temptation takes strong will, which
> not everyone has.  I think it is a mistaken strategy.

I can't see how your argument above, which is to take away freedom of
choice between alternatives, is consistant with your use elsewhere of the
term "freedom".