Subject: Re: proprietary -- a truism
From: Brian Bartholomew <>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 03:51:11 -0400

> I think it's almost a truism that a free software business has to
> keep something proprietary.  Unless you keep something proprietary,
> you have nothing to sell.  You wouldn't be in business, then, you'd
> be a non-profit foundation.

How far can the proprietary grasp extend before you won't call it a
free software business?  Even Microsoft gives away code examples with
their compilers.  How do you quantify the freeness of companies?  Here
are some of my metrics:

	Committment.  Whether the interesting bits are free (Red Hat)
	or just the trash (Apple's proposed re-release of BSD).

	Trust.  How likely the company is to become a lot more
	proprietary as soon as users are locked in.

	Reputation.  Do they do what they say?  Are things they've
	claimed to be good values turned out to be good values?

	Advantage.  How much of a special advantage the company has
	over code contributions.

	Truth.  Whether the proprietary hooks are identified up front,
	or hidden in a cloud of handwaving.

I would rather the term 'free software' be reserved for those things
which are truly managed as donations to the world.  Some other term
should be invented for things which are mostly free.

League for Programming Freedom (LPF)
Brian Bartholomew - - - Working Version, Cambridge, MA