Subject: Re: Sun, BSD, and GNU
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 10:52:15 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "Juergen" == Juergen A Erhard <> writes:

    Stephen> But to me, a free software business is any business that
    Stephen> as part of its normal profit-oriented practices produces
    Stephen> or distributes free software or free documentation for
    Stephen> software.

    Juergen> So, if Microsoft would release one of it's products under
    Juergen> GPL (to pick the most extreme scenario), they would be an
    Juergen> FSB?

By that definition, yes.  I do not intend to stay with that
definition, even as a tentative hack; I'm trying to come up with a way 
to say that a "real" FSB has production of FS as a core part of its

This easily confused with (what somebody else termed) Brian
Bartholomew's "charity software firm", and I do _not_ want that.

    Juergen> Or do they have to still tr to make money with it?

No.  Not directly, maybe not at all (is a charity software firm not a
free software business?)

    Juergen> Okay, pick one of their server products... say they'd
    Juergen> release a state-of-the-art (Microsoft? ;-) cluster
    Juergen> product or such under GPL, and selling service for this
    Juergen> (well, I guess they *do* make money selling support... I
    Juergen> don't know how big a part of their total revenue that is,
    Juergen> but still...)

    Juergen> Would Microsoft then be an FSB?

Definitely, assuming it's not purely a marketing ploy.  But they would 
still be mostly a proprietary firm.  Ie, _that server_ line would be
an FSB within MS.  I think I would prefer using that phrase.

This is all tentative hack; here I will adopt whatever definition
people want to give it, and I will choose another name for my eventual 
concept if using "free software business" would cause confusion.
But I think it's close enough to be worth honing in this venue.

    Juergen> I would consider Aladdin close to a pure FSB (which would
    Juergen> be: 100% of total business is Free Software) than, say,
    Juergen> Cygnus (their Source Navigator is what irks me most).

Almost none of Aladdin's _business_ is free software as I understand
it.  The AFPL is not a free software license because of the terms
about commercial use.  Is that now "inoperative"?  Almost nobody but a
few Linux distributions uses the GNU version, again AFAIK.

Aladdin's _mission_ is almost 100% free software, though.  I don't
know how to resolve this terminological oddity....

    Juergen> It really is a continuum...

Thank you!  A co-believer!

University of Tsukuba                Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
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