Subject: Re: Cygnus and proprietary software
From: "Joel N. Weber II" <>
Date: Wed, 24 Dec 1997 18:14:04 -0500 (EST)

   I don't believe "Linux" (whatever that means; kernel, utilities, or
   whole distributions) offers a non-freely-redistributable profit
   opportunity because the copyright is too dispersed.  Apparently Larry
   Wall, like the FSF, chooses for his own reasons not to take perl
   proprietary, even though he could profit wildly from it.  Or perhaps
   the perl copyright is too dispersed, too.

Could he have sold it?  I suspect that perl has 1000 times more users because
it is free than it would have if it were not free.  I use one program,
automake, that's written in perl.  The Debian GNU/Linux system has some
crucial parts written in perl; I'm sure that Debian would not use perl if
it weren't free.

Furthurmore, many people use perl because their friends use it, or they
bought some book about CGI programming that recomended using perl, or whatever.

Then there is the question of whether perl would have happened if only Wall
had worked on it.  I'm not that familiar with the details, but there seem
to be a handful of people who are a lot more helpful on usenet with perl
questions.  These people probably also contribute to making perl popular.

And I get the feeling that a lot of people have been involved in porting perl
to verious platforms.  The cost of Wall getting access to all those platforms
himself could have been very high.