Subject: Re: Free Software vs. Open Source
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: 18 Feb 2002 22:30:29 +0900

>>>>> "ralph" == ralph  <> writes:

    >> I don't see how this could be done.

    ralph> Splitting an application into a library and an application?

Obviously this is trivial with libtool.  OK, if libtool is involved,
it's non-trivial.  ;-)  But I was referring to the leveraging.

    >> In fact, even if your program naturally contains library
    >> components, GPLing them may provide very little leverage.

    ralph> In Sleepycat's experience it has.  I guess it isn't worth
    ralph> it for most users of their library to `server wrap' it in
    ralph> such a manner compared to the cost of the non-free licence.

The point is that Berkeley db's important functionality is _in_ the
library.  I doubt effort is the main reason not to "server wrap" db.
I would suppose the real reasons have to do with the run-time
inefficiency and lack of robustness of IPC as opposed to function

On the other hand, if you have a standalone application, I don't see
a general method to break out libraries so that people will just fall
over themselves to link them to their apps.

Hm.  Actually, come to think of it there are a few examples.

1.  GNU readline (IIRC, this was originally part of bash).  AFAICT
    people just ignore it, or complain about its license and then
    ignore it, if they're not GPL already.
2.  The GIMP toolkit, aka GTK+.  This has certainly generated a fair
    amount of new free software.
3.  The XEmacs external widget.  Negligible usage level AFAIK, so no
4.  Mozilla's Gecko.  Has spawned at least one additional browser.
5.  Apache's mod_interpreter_du_jour.

I don't think any of them has generated business for their vendors,
Apache works in the opposite direction (an app that sucks up libraries
spawned from other projects), but maybe that's a useful example for
exactly that reason.


Institute of Policy and Planning Sciences
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
              Don't ask how you can "do" free software business;
              ask what your business can "do for" free software.