Subject: Re: the walls have ears
From: Brian Behlendorf <>
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 23:28:17 -0700 (PDT)

(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, meanwhile we
benefit from people knowing that it's our code being used there, and in
fact we may see contributions that otherwise wouldn't have happened (had
IBM not chosen Apache).

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

> 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"?)

They are taking an existing software product line and gradually increasing
the %age of code which is built from Open Source.  This is significantly
different.  The amount of non-Apache code in WebSphere is far greater than
non-Apache code, and forcing all of that to have been released open-source
would have been a much tougher internal sell.  Again, I can't speak for
them, I can only speak from my perspective.

> 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?

I think it's a pretty poorly phrased question.  The BSD license does not
allow someone to arbitrarily close down the guarantees to other
users of the BSD-licensed code, only of its derivatives that this someone