Subject: Re: "I've got more programmers than you" reprise
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2001 10:58:15 -0800
Wed, 31 Oct 2001 10:58:15 -0800
on Wed, Oct 31, 2001 at 10:03:03AM -0500, Mark Eichin ( wrote:
> Excellent article.  
> > I can't say what the difference would have been if Berkeley DB 1.0
> > had been GPL'ed instead. I can't point to any single early user who
> > would have declined to use Berkeley DB under the GPL.
> Just a minor aside -- and I don't know if we counted as "early" -- but
> the MIT krb5 release would not have switched from depending on native
> dbm's to *including* berkeley db if it had been GPL'ed - kerberos
> always took the X11 strategy of observing that having vendors ship it
> as part of their base operating system was key to real
> adoption/usefulness.  Thus MIT avoided including any "interestingly
> licensed" components.

I call this the "technology promotion" bent of the BSD/MIT licenses.
The terms of use are liberal.  This allows adoption under proprietary or
free software terms.  Though there's a risk of fragmentation, this isn't
a particular concern with a technology standard -- the standard exists
independently of the implementation, and in general the implementation
is (relatively) trivial compared to task of getting a standard adopted.

For quick, broad, adoption of a particular protocol, the BSD/MIT
licenses are well suited.  If a particular implementation is meant to be
kept viable as free software, dual licensing under BSD/MIT, and a
copyleft license such as the GPL, will go some distance toward this

> (Actually, if native dbm's hadn't been so horribly buggy we wouldn't
> have done it either - we did not need yet-another-included-subpackage.
> But db was good, and effectively unrestricted [GNU gdbm at the time
> served the technical needs but not the licensing ones.])

...which is a handy refutation of the assertion quoted at the top of
your post.  GPL does a good job of promoting the ideal of free software.
Depending on the licensing environment, it may or may not constitute
acceptable terms for a broad spectrum of adopters.  Though I'd argue
that its acceptability is higher now than at any time in the past, and
likely increasing.


Karsten M. Self <>
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