Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: "R. Brock Lynn" <>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 19:10:10 -0500

Brian Behlendorf wrote:

> 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.

Well, but the proprietary or non-free software company can take off with added
proprietary "closed" extensions that can become tempting to users to give up
their freedoms... and helps to fragment the user community. And then later when
the "free" version catches up and surpasses the non-free version it will only
spell grief and problems to the gullible who chooses to go with the non-free
version initially, as they spend extra time and money to the process of
switching over. What a WASTE... Why do you want to allow non-free versions to
fork off anyway??? What GOOD does it do??? Answer me this question, about why
allowing non-free forks is better than not allowing non-free forks to my
reasoned satisfaction, and I'll leave you alone from then on, but otherwise with
no good reason to back this position, I will continue to believe that not
allowing non-free forks is the best route to travel.

Free Software is just plain better than proprietary software. Isn't that why we
are all here talking about it... (well I'm aware some of you may still have
doubts, but I am thoroughly convinced, at least on an emotional level. And I've
glimpsed enough of the facts to see that they back my feelings. :)

Why do you want to allow a back door through which non-free software can sneak
back in, and mess everything up?

Proprietary software has the following effects:

Helps to create non-compatible standards, helps to fragment the user community,
allows the company more leeway with being greedy, it hurts everyone involved,
including ultimately the company itself, as eventually the free versions, I
sincerely argue will *always* catch up to and surpass the proprietary versions
given enough time. 

The free versions will almost always be based on openly developed standards,
will almost always have a fairly unified user base, and a whole slew more
positive effects overall for all people involved, including a company who helps
foot the bill for the development.

> 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? Or is it a
proprietary "shell" that allows for a free Apache to slip in and fit snugly? (I
honestly don't know that much about the involvement of IBM with the Apache
group, so I don't mean to be insulting, but isn't it true IBM is building a
proprietary software product using Apache as the "cornerstone"?)

[I could have written another 'masterpiece' but I kept it short as many have
requested :]

And as I stated in a previous post:

To allow the freedom to restrict the freedom of use of the source code is worse
that to restrict the freedom to allow non-free versions of free software.

Does anyone disagree with this? Agree with this? Neutral?

--Brock Lynn

---------------------  PGP key ID: FED76A3D <> 4 / 5 / 1999

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