Subject: Re: Sun, BSD, and GNU
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
Date: Sun, 30 May 1999 17:40:35 -0700 wrote:
> John, thanks for the great write-up explaining the situation!  As I could
> only speculate based on my sketchy knowledge of Sun's history, I tried
> to put the most positive BSD "spin" on what might have happened, so
> it's interesting to get the opinion of One Who Was There, and that
> opinion being, no, having BSD'd vs. GPL'd code was not a major factor
> in making billions of dollars.

The point remains that regardless of whether code under the GPL
*might* have had big commercial impact, it was code under the
Berkeley license that *has* had the impact.

And while I just gave Sun as one example, the reason I suggest
that you can see the whole internet as an outgrowth of software
under the Berkeley license is because of programs like Bind and
Sendmail and the various news servers, without which the whole
shebang (including the GNU project and Linux) wouldn't have had
the fertile ground in which they have come to fruition.

I guess my biggest point is that licenses, per se, are not as
important as people seem to think they are.  The GPL is important
because it is a counter to business practices that are hostile to
the kind of collaborative development that is the real engine of
everything we're collectively so excited about.  But as people
realize that the real source of the golden eggs isn't some magic
license, but collaborative development, I think we'll see a lot
of people experimenting about the best ways to encourage that
development, because it works, not because it is some kind of
moral imperative.

I continue to feel that a lot of the original UNIX/UUCP/Usenet
development was just as much a part of the movement that is
coming to fruition now, despite the lack of an Open Source
license, as the stuff that gets talked about all the time.

Burley's discussion of the Grateful Dead is extremely appropriate
here.  The movement is bigger than software; its about network
effects and ways to create and build on them.  

Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.  
101 Morris Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472   
707-829-0515 ext 266, Fax 707-829-0104,