Subject: Re: open source definition
From: kragen@pobox.com (Kragen)
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 22:20:47 -0400 (EDT)

On Wed, 22 Apr 1998, Craig Burley wrote:
> Why is it that anti-free-software zealots seem to inevitably end
> up claiming those of us who support the free-software model
> necessarily are akin to cults hypnotizing hordes of naive masses?

Well, certain people -- not any from gnu.org that I know of -- tend to
be extremely nasty about proprietary software and to proprietary
software developers.  Go read the comments on any article on
slashdot.org if you don't know what I'm talking about.  Chances are, at
least one out of ten comments will boil down to "Windows sucks",
"proprietary software is useless", etc.  Sometimes it's more like nine
out of ten.

This seems to give non-proprietary software a bit of a bad name among
people who are just starting to encounter it, much as Jimmy Swaggart
and Robinson Crusoe give Christians a bad name among those who are just
starting to learn about Christianity.

I'm guilty of a bit of this myself, actually -- which is why Mr.
Shapiro is on this list in the first place, because I tried to talk him
into GPLing EROS.  He responded with the objections we've all read
thirty posts about today.

> What *is* certain is that, when rms asked me to write g77,
> . . .  No cult leadership here, and as far as my
> perception of the value of what I do and what I've done, it's
> gone only further and further upward, which is why I turn more
> and more work down offered at greater and greater dollar amounts,
> getting paid, now, a fairly decent amount for pretty tiny amounts
> of part-time work.

Can you elaborate?  The more concrete an example is, the better for
convincing skeptics.

It would also be interesting to hear what proprietary-software firms
you've worked for, and what copyright rights you signed over, if you're
free to give that information.

> For myself, given my knowledge of how proprietary and free-software
> organizations actually work, how pretty much all the tools work,
> how things like license managers and copy-protection schemes work,
> how much time and effort must be spent to keep things secret vs.
> simply publishing them, and the directions most of these areas
> are headed as things like the Internet and an increasingly
> inter-dependent global economic and social community progress,
> it's *quite* clear to me that there are *substantial* economic
> benefits to free software.

Mr. Shapiro is proposing giving source to all licensees, while still
retaining copyright control over the software, kind of like the early
years of Unix academic licensing.

If your users have source, you could still use flexlm or whatever, but
it would be easy for your users to disable it, so there would be little
point.

Kragen