Subject: Re: Cygnus and proprietary software
From: "Joel N. Weber II" <devnull@gnu.org>
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 1997 18:02:27 -0500 (EST)

   I feel
   that Cygnus software is becoming effectively proprietary despite the
   GPL because, today, in reality, I can't ftp their software for a very
   low price.

So do you think that the FSF should not sell $5000 deluxe distributions?

   I find it alarming that adherence to the GPL does not
   necessarily advance the FSF agenda.  Maybe the FSF should write a new
   license that does require advancement of their agenda.  Maybe they
   already tried that with the virus aspects of the early GPL, and the
   market rejected it.

There are some people who have contributed code to the GNU project who
don't completely agree with the FSF's agenda.  L. Peter Duetsch obviously
doesn't completely agree with RMS.

Despite the fact that Cygnus is becoming very uncooperative, they still do
help free software to some extent.  As far as I can tell, the code that
Cygnus puts in their gcc release will eventually appear in the FSF release
if the gcc maintainer feels that it is well-written.  Strictly speaking,
Cygnus would not have to give the FSF access to their changes.

RMS is sufficiently unhappy about Cygnus's selling proprietary software
that he recently had me remove links from the gnu website to Cygnus.
I assume that the next GNU bulletin will remove some reference to Cygnus
(although they still help in some ways, so they might get mentioned in the
Thank GNUs section.)

I certainly would be reluctant to work for Cygnus.  (I'll be looking for
a job in about six months.)  If Cygnus was not selling proprietary software,
I'd be more willing to work there.

   I believe monopolies to be morally and economically repugnant.  I
   don't find non-monopoly, non-freely-redistributable software repugnant
   like the FSF does, but I feel freely-redistributable software is
   better.

non-freely-redistributable software generally implies that someone has
a monopoly on controlling the distribution of the program.

I think Microsoft's Internet Explorer is freely redistributable, by the way.
But there is still a monopoly, because only Microsoft can change it.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that when RMS created the GPL,
he wanted to get companies which were selling proprietary software to
switch to free software.  It is unlikely that you could design a license
which would allow companies too gradually move from proprietary software
to free software without allowing a company to move in the opposite direction.

Is your license going to mean that I can't run the software on top of
a proprietary kernel?  It happens that using an ultra sparc at school,
running solaris, bash, gnu emacs, gnu make, gcc, etc, works just about
as well as running a gnu/linux system would.  actually it is better, because
thee sparc is very fast.  Not knowing the root password on the machine gets
in my way a *lot* more than the system being proprietary.

There have been times when the only unixoid machine we had a school was
the solaris machine...