Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: "R. Brock Lynn" <>
Date: Fri, 28 May 1999 07:05:53 -0500

Brian Behlendorf wrote:
> (focusing on the biz q's)
> On Thu, 27 May 1999, R. Brock Lynn wrote, quoting me:
> > > To illustrate this, let me point out that there is *no* such thing as a
> > > "non-free" "version" of Apache.
> >
> > What about the IBM Web Sphere product? Is that not proprietary?
> It is proprietary, and it is not a version of Apache.  This may sound like
> a quibble to you, but it is central to my point - we in the Apache group
> have never been asked, and I expect never to be asked, to support,
> enhance, fix, or talk about anything in IBM's WebSphere line.  So it
> represents no additional load on us Apache developers

Very good.

> meanwhile we
> benefit from people knowing that it's our code being used there

True, a big company is using your software. It adds a bit of "credibility" to
the superior design and implementation.

> and in
> fact we may see contributions that otherwise wouldn't have happened (had
> IBM not chosen Apache).

Very true, Apache benefits from having a solid NT port, (AIX and AS/400 and
other IBM architecture ports also?) and additional input in the form of good bug
reports, and good feature requests.

> As it turns out, IBM has realized early on the value of not forking the
> code, so all HTTP-server specific enhancements to the code are being fed
> back to the Apache Group.  This is a Good Thing

Yes, I agree.

> of course; we're well
> into an Apache 2.0 prototype thanks to their help (among others).

Well, good for IBM. I'm glad they understand free software as well as they seem
to do.

> Could
> IBM have used Apache if it were under the GPL?  I can't speak for them,
> but I'm pretty confident the answer would be "no", because there *are*
> parts of WebSphere that aren't open-sourced.  Maybe over time, they will
> be - but an all-or-nothing approach would have meant that IBM would have
> chosen "nothing", and kept to their proprietary "Go" server platform.

Hmm. If Apache is merely aggregated with other non-free software, that happen to
work together on a client-server basis and Apache is not itself extended in any
way (except in ways that go back into the main distribution) then I believe that
the GPL would work here. Or does the Web Sphere make use of the internal Apache
API, and then only the LGPL would make it work in that context?

Remember Linux, the kernel, is GPL'd but you can run non-free software on it,
'cause Linus said so. He considers use of the kernel API by programs as "normal
use of the kernel" and does not consider programs that use the kernel API as a
"derived work". Apache could be licensed under a similar GPL + Clarification to
allow Web Sphere to use Apache and not be considered a derived work...


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