Subject: Re: Sun, BSD, and GNU
From: Arkin <>
Date: Mon, 31 May 1999 07:20:36 -0400

Tim O'Reilly wrote:
> 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.

Is that a proof that one license is better suited than another for
whatever purpose, or is that just a fluke? I tend to disagree and vote
for the Apache license as having the greatest commercial impact.
Figuring that Apache deployment in Yahoo is worth more to the business
side than the choice of BSD as the underlying operating system.

> 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 think people reliaze that by this time. Linux, Apache, BIND and Perl
all came out of people working on solutions, reusing existing code base,
and collaborating on advancing the state of software. In retrospect the
license issue was immaterial.

But now a lot of projects are trying to repeat the successful formula,
and an important factor to that is attracting people that are interested
in collaboration. And even though in retrospect it makes little
difference, it is usually selected before a single line of code is

I know that GPL is selected for three uses, and while I agree with Tim
that its counter to business use, I would like to stress that no other
license makes the same point as GPL to the uneducated open source

* GPL has a good mindshare -- it is concieved as part of the success of
Linux. BSD is not part of that, neither is Apache that conviencing.

* GPL protects against commercial interest -- admit it or not, a fair
share of the movement today is anti to some large corporation we all

* GPL protects the developer's investment in the project -- so does most
of the other licenses, but the GPL makes it very clear.

When new projects start, the developers spend less time talking about
the past and more time talking about the future. In their search for a
license, the GPL is known, presented, and easy to understand (just read
the copyleft manifesto). And until this situation is corrected, the
point of discussion history is rather moot.

> 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.

Open Development seem to be the key word. If you do not get the mind
share of people, then your code may be fully OpenSource(tm) compliant,
but going nowhere. This is a movement about people, about the ability of
people to communicate, and the removal of boundaries so people can
freely associate regardles of limitations.


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