back to article Are you an open-sorcerer or free software warrior? Let us do battle

The Open Source Initiative, a non-profit that advocates for open-source software and coined the term, celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. It's difficult to conceive of where the internet, indeed the world, would be today were it not for open-source software and, perhaps more importantly, the free software movement that …

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Megaphone

Before the suits show up

I have said it before and I will say it again.

Open/Free/Libre licensing is about the business model, it is not a software thing. Go find the suits who are not in the software business and sell them the idea of taking back possession of their own business model, that proprietary licensing stole from them.

Until that is done, this whole issue is just geek-vs-geek irrelevance to the rest of the world.

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Sorry...

For me, Free means it costs nothing.

Open Source means you can see the source code.

Free can be propriety or open source and I would think that's how 99.9999% of regular people would also see it (not that many would have a clue what OS is)

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Anonymous Coward

"Open Source means you can see the source code."

To me, "open" source means one can copy, reuse the code, modify and republish it freely - within the license limitations.

The availability of source code may not give you those rights - often, but not always, you can modify it only for internal needs, and you are usually bound to keep it more or less "secret".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sorry...

Perhaps part of the perception problem in the UK/US is the English word "free" which has two basic meanings. There are two distinct words in French with different meanings "libre" which means free as in freedom (to do as you wish) and "gratuit" which means free as in beer. So the distinction is more apparent.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sorry...

Particularly misleading is this:

> free software is open-source software, but open-source software is not necessarily free software

There is plenty of "free" (as in beer) software out there which is not open-source. You can download the binaries, use them, maybe even distribute them, at no cost; but the authors provide no source code.

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Re: Sorry...

Free means ‘without’; hence terms such as ‘bug-free’. So since unqualified ‘free’ might actually refer to:

• free of charge,

• free of restrictions,

• free of wombats,

• free of anything, really,

those who use it so get what they deserve.

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Devil

Re: Sorry...

"For me, Free means it costs nothing."

As in free beer.

The problem I have with 'Free', as defined by the FSF, isn't "free" at all. If something is truly "free" as in freedom, you'll be able to do whatever you want with it. GPL licenses, in the name of 'freedom', put a whole lot of restrictions on what you can do with something. I wouldn't call that "free".

A proper "free as in freedom" license protects the author from getting sueballs thrown at him because his 'free' product didn't perform properly or allegedly broke something. Anything beyond that is too much.

I'll avoid making the left vs right comparison on the concept of 'freedom'. I supposed you could call FSF vs OSI as "left vs right" though. And the obligatory civil war begins!

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Re: Sorry...

"For me, Free means it costs nothing."

How do you regard yourself? I like to think of myself as a free man. Seriously, what kind of greedy person thinks of freedom only in terms of money?

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Big Brother

Re: Sorry...

You've been reading George Orwell's nineteen-eightyfour.

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Re: Sorry...

"You've been reading George Orwell's nineteen-eightyfour."

There is a huge number of people in jails all over the world. Freedom is a thing.

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Anonymous Coward

@bombastic bob - Re: Sorry...

No, Bob. FSF is all about end-user freedom.

You may very well charge the user for the software but you may not take away his freedom to use the software as he pleases (copy, modify etc.). However, in order to prevent him from taking an unfair advantage of your work, you request user does not impose any additional restrictions to those already in place. Like for instance if the software you develop is slurping my personal data and spying o me, free software will force you as a developer to allow me to extirpate the malware from your software and use it as I see fit.

If you don't like this, there's a wide range of proprietary software you can use and nobody will stop you.

See, no neural cells have been hurt during this exercise.

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Re: Sorry...

free of wombats

Well that one at least usually doesn't apply to code, at least if "wombat" is taken in the Rossetti sense.

I have seen code that is not obtuse, and I have seen code that is not furry; but only rarely, and almost never neither.

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JLV
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Re: @bombastic bob - Sorry...

>However, in order to prevent him from taking an unfair advantage of your work,

As I see, that is the core difference between permissive licenses and GPL. It's a reasonable difference of opinion, but the people choosing permissive licenses are aware that they "can be taken advantage of".

There are 3 possible actors in open source projects

- the original developer(s) and contributors

- end users, meaning anyone who will not release derivative works

- other developers/corporates that want to base their offerings on the project

End users who use a BSD project have the same abilities to play with the code as under the GPL. So do the original developers.

The 3rd bunch is what irks the FSF. These are free-riders if they don't release the code back to the community.

And that includes people just viewing the code, which by some interpretations would be a GPL violation if they then based a non-GPL product on what they had seen.

Choosing BSD is a conscious decision by the first group that they give up the control to compel the third group to release code back. It may happen or it may not. To proponents of permissive licenses, lowering the barriers to code adoption is more compelling than preventing unfair advantage. There is a risk, and an opportunity, for group 1 in leaving group 3 unfettered.

Going back to the FSF's cherished user freedoms, there is one additional risk, to the second, user group, in using BSD products. Anyone with sufficient influence can take un-BSD a project or a part of it. They can't stop forking, but they could easily stop publishing their future code and place paywalls or restrict code visibility from that point on. And that includes taking in any contributions that users make and incorporate them into their now restricted-source offering. Or the developers could easily build a freemium model where some of the stuff is open source, some is not. Yes, you can do that with GPL, but are more legal restrictions around that process.

But I would expect that BSD/MIT projects lacking transparency and fairness will lose mindshare rapidly so there is a natural community-driven limit to how much group 1 can "rip-off" group 2.

I don't object to the GPL per se, but it aims to compel people to behave by its rules once the code is released under it. That's a totally valid and acceptable choice. And we should respect that when we interact with GPL code.

But it's not something I am interested in doing with my own code, both because of the limits it puts on code adoption and on the limits it puts on how I can get paid for my work. That's a conscious decision on my part, not just some ethical oversight as some would have it.

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blacklash against GPL viral clause

I think this is an oversimplification. Open Source was mainly a backlash against the viral clause in the GPL advocated by the FSF, which was difficult to live with if you sold software for a living. The FSF had some story about a service related way of capitalizing on GPL software which always sounded like an afterthought excuse to deliver when GPL was called business-unfriendly.

So people wanted to collaborate, just not on FSFs terms and vision.

Yes, there was the LGPL, but it was weakly advocated in the beginning, and shared the name with the GPL which was considered a poison pill. (and not just by Microsoft, as revisionist freetard historians will want you to believe)

And this was not just about the suits, it was for the self employed developer too. Even more so, since big business was more likely to have a service organisation in place. (queue IBM that promptly invested heavily in Linux)

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Re: blacklash against GPL viral clause

Meanwhile the FSF stayed still while the world moved on. Nowawadays the vast majority of open source code is permissely (BSD, MIT, Apache, etc.) licensed. Not only does this faciltate the use of such code in commercial products and services, it has also encouraged businesses to participate more actively in its development. Every restictive clause only means calling the laywers.

I met Stallman once, briefly, and while he's committed to the cause, he's also unable to admit he lost the argument. I guess there's an argument to be had that the FSF and the GPL helped encourage open source for a while and Linux might be cited as a case in point. But, of course, Linux would probably have gone nowhere if AT&T hadn't sued over BSD so it's as much historical accident as licence.

More important for everyone concerned is, I think, the potential aspect of liability despite what all the licences say.

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Re: blacklash against GPL viral clause

@ Charlie Clark

When someone is a slave, the meaning of freedom becomes important. Stallman didn't 'lose' the argument. The fact the argument exists is enough. The fact that the concept of 'software freedom' exists is enough, it's the irritant that constantly reminds the money grubbers and the wall builders that their ways are not the only ways, and they can never claim that they own the field of play.

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Re: blacklash against GPL viral clause

The fact the argument exists is enough.

I think you should look more carefully at the licences of modern software projects: the GPL is for many developers becoming an anachronism. Many young developers have grown up with open source and need no convincing of its value. There is an irony that the GPL undoubtedly contributed to this environment but is no longer considered desirable or perhaps even necessary.

But these people also expect to be paid for their work: open source shouldn't hinder commerce, it should enable it.

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Unhappy

Re: blacklash against GPL viral clause

"More important for everyone concerned is, I think, the potential aspect of liability despite what all the licences say."

Exactly. Too many are more than willing to throw sueballs, in a "biting the hand" moment, because they are the same ones who would complain about a gift. "That gift horse has bad teeth, get me another".

I think we've all seen enough well-written license disclaimers to pretty much know how to word them for our own personally contributed stuff. If it weren't for those "sewers" (sue-ers) the world would be a much better place, perhaps with a bit more "please" and "thank you" thrown in.

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Re: blacklash against GPL viral clause

@ Charlie clark - '...the GPL is for many developers becoming an anachronism.'

That perfectly captures the complacency and lack of understanding of those who take for granted something they depend on, but have never given any thought to why it actually matters.

The GPL isn't perfect -- nothing is -- but it does pretty well capture and uphold the principle of 'freedom' as applied to the generation, use, and transmission of software, in the same way that we all breathe air without anyone being able to lay claim to the lungful that I just breathed in, breathed out, and allowed someone else to draw on.

If I am involved in research or development I might find proprietary code 'good enough', but I may easily find that I need to be free to build on someone else's work, but in a way they never needed to or thought of, and then someone else is free to do likewise with the code that I have passed on.

The GPL is not a replacement for proprietary code, it's not even much of a competitor, but it fills a role that that proprietary code at best fills only partially and at worst fills in a toxic and destructive way. 'Open source' licences fall somewhere in between, but in the end they fall short in what they offer when it comes to 'freedom' to use, adapt, and pass on, but it requires a generosity of spirit that 'business' struggles to share.

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Anonymous Coward

@Marco - Re: blacklash against GPL viral clause

You are entitled as a developer to sell software for a living. Just sell your own software don't sell other people work you took for free at zero cost. If someone is offering free software doesn't mean you are free to plunder his work saying "yeah, that sucker is giving it for free anyway so why would he care what I'm doing with it".

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Anonymous Coward

@Charlie Clark - Re: blacklash against GPL viral clause

GPL is (and always) was an anachronism. All the developers you mention are looking to lock-in the user in a way or another and GPL prevents that. It's by design.

That's why open source licenses have been invented. The message for the big corporations was and still is, no panic, we can still lock-in the user to better monetize him.

Remember when Canonical came up with that brilliant idea to send your search to Amazon ? GPL insured that you can say no thanks by offering a way to neuter the beast. Yes, open source allowed you the see the offending code but GPL granted you the freedom. On my Android phone I am not allowed to turn off notifications from weather app, the developer doesn't like me to do that. How's that for open source software ?

You say that Canonical developers deserve to be paid for their work ? Sure, but they should come up with a proprietary software like Microsoft does and convince people to buy it.

Your last paragraph reminds me of those constitutions that protect citizens right to own slaves.

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Re: @Charlie Clark - blacklash against GPL viral clause

Your last paragraph reminds me of those constitutions that protect citizens right to own slaves.

Statements like that make me hate "free software" zealots for trying to make developing open source software an ideological crusade, which for the vast majority of us it isn't: peer review, forking, etc. all scratch different itches.

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Re: @Charlie Clark - blacklash against GPL viral clause

True, but then we get other 'zealots' jumping up and down on the GPL like it's the devil incarnate, when in fact it's just another way of 'doing software'. No one is forced to use it, and if they encounter it attached to software they really want to use in a way that denies the spirit of the GPL, well that's just tough -- the same as with any other licence when it doesn't suit a would be 'user' (abuser).

There is never anything stopping someone going off and writing their own code, if it really matters that much to them, and then they can stick any licence they like on it.

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Re: blacklash against GPL viral clause

Stallman "lost the argument"? Really? I find it thoroughly amusing to read this on a site where so many people apparently understand (and often fierily advocate) the need for privacy in spite of there not being much in the way of horror stories to illustrate their point. GPL is rather like that - it is very much needed in spite of remaining unnecessary most of the time; it protects against things that lie in wait on roads the proprietary software world simply ended up choosing not to walk down most of the time.

That is not to say I believe any piece of software, no matter how modest, absolutely needs to be GPL. If all you care about is having your code used as widely as possible - by all means, go Apache / MIT / BSD / public domain / whatever. More power to you. Then again, when you go to all the trouble to freely donate a collectively ginormous amount of man-hours to build an operating system only to see a hardware manufacturer tack its proprietary stuff to it and sell it back to you as a black box you are not supposed to be able to mess with as you please, you might understandably get a bit miffed.

Also, you may choose not to care what others might build and hoard from code they were given freely, but you only have that choice as long as you truly need nothing from the world outside. Out here in the real world that essentially never happens for any collectively developed project of any significant size; who else might try competing for whatever you need (whether it's visibility, donations, contributor support or something else) using your own work against you can easily become an issue you cannot afford to not deal with.

GPL is that basic lock on your door - it might not keep someone with a bump key out of your home if they're devious and determined enough, but it does at least spell out where you stand, and should at least keep honest people honest...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: blacklash against GPL viral clause

> Stallman "lost the argument"? Really?

Stallman lost his original argument when the LGPL was created.

Personally I loathe the viral aspect of GPL: if I take 1000 lines of someone else's code and add 10 lines of my own then I'm perfectly happy to release my additions. But if I write 1000 lines of unique code but incorporate 10 lines of GPL I don't see why I should be *forced* to make mine free as well.

So the result is I don't ever incorporate GPL code into anything I write - not quite what Stallman was hoping for, I assume. And, for the small items that I have made 'free' I've simply put them into the public domain.

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Re: blacklash against GPL viral clause

This is a dangerous, and false, re-imagining of the intentions behind the GPL. There has never been anything in any version of the GPL that prohibits authors of code to sell said code.

The so-called 'copyleft' clause ensures that people other than the author must distribute derivative works of the code in question under the same license. There is always the option of obtaining a different license from the author by way of.. paying some money for a license.

Without this clause, companies would be free to modify, distribute and sell derivative works with no obligation to contribute their changes back nor to seek permission to sell or distribute their derivative work. The clause, therefore, is solely intended to protect copyright owners, the authors of the code - ie, developers.

Without the copyleft provisions in the GPL, no hardware manufacturer in the world would be putting resources into writing code for the Linux kernel - they'd just modify in house and force everyone to buy "Linux" from them if they want support for their hardware. This hurts both users and developers but hey, it means the hardware companies can charge whatever they feel like for hardware support like in the good ol' days of mainframes and proprietary human interaction devices. Yay for business, boo for collaboration, competition, and the free market.

If "new" developers are less inclined to use copyleft licenses, it is most likely from a poor understanding of what it offers them. Worse still are examples of non-open source licenses like the EPL (Eclipse Public License) being used for "open source" projects, which are then used in derivative works licensed under an actual open source license which is explicitly not allowed by the EPL - https://www.eclipse.org/legal/eplfaq.php#USEINANOTHER

These projects are lawsuits waiting to happen. Choose your license wisely and RTFM.

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Re: blacklash against GPL viral clause

@AC - 'But if I write 1000 lines of unique code but incorporate 10 lines of GPL I don't see why I should be *forced* to make mine free as well.'

To be blunt, you're being a whiner. Why did you choose to incorporate 10 lines of GPL code - you knew the deal (and under the law ignorance is not an excuse). You deliberately chose to flout the intent and spirit of the GPL, and now you're complaining about the GPL!

Attitudes like that are exactly what the GPL is designed to confront, expose, and defend against for the sake of people who put time and effort into creating code that offers genuine freedom to contribute and share.

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What's in it for the user?

That's always been the fundamental question that Stallman never really answered in a way users could understand.

Users understand "free as in beer". Free beer is easy to explain.

However, why should the user care about the freedom to modify?

Can you explain that to your CEO?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in it for the user?

@Richard_12 "However, why should the user care about the freedom to modify?"

*

The freedom to modify the software is attractive if the original software is not close enough to the user's needs. The availability of the source code is also attractive after years of software package vendors charging a fortune for customisation.

*

But my problem with "freedom to modify" is that the user who does this may also have taken on the burden of SUPPORTING the forked software. Of course, the modifications may be passed back to the originator, and may be included in the next release. But if they are not accepted, how many users want to accept the responsibility for supporting their fork? In many cases this might be a freedom too far!

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Re: Free beer is easy to explain

Do you mean that I don't have to pay for a bottle/glass of beer? Or, do you mean that knowledge of the ingredients and brewing method is available for me to use as I wish?

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Megaphone

Re: What's in it for the user?

"why should the user care about the freedom to modify?

"Can you explain that to your CEO?"

>Sigh<

Yes. The code forces its business model on you (Active Directories? Insecure mail client? Bwa-ha-ha-harr!) If it's a bad fit, you need to change it to the way you want to do your business. That is only possible if YOU have control of the code.

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Devil

Re: What's in it for the user?

"why should the user care about the freedom to modify"

most users don't. however, a company that ties its success to others' efforts is going to want to be able to protect itself, should the author die or (worse) get sued out of existence. Open Source does a VERY good job in mitigating that kind of risk.

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Anonymous Coward

@bombastic bob - Re: What's in it for the user?

Unlike Open Source, GPL provisions come into play only if that company tries to distribute the software.

Oh, and a company that ties its success to other people efforts without any form of payback smells fishy to me.

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Re: What's in it for the user?

All versions of the GPL grant the freedom to modify as well as the freedom to distribute the modified product (if you wish), but no obligation to support it. You have the freedom to obligate yourself to support the modified product you distribute, or not, just as do vendors of other open or closed source software.

One thing "in it" for the user of GPL software that is not (required to be) there for users of proprietary software and a great deal of software derived from other open source projects is a somewhat enforceable right to obtain the source code and either take on maintenance yourself or hire a contractor to carry on maintenance when the provider no longer does so. That is possible of open source software generally, but not necessarily of products based on open source software that are not themselves open source. For closed source software, it generally is not possible even if the software is as fit for purpose now as it was when acquired years earlier.

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Re: What's in it for the user?

> Can you explain that to your CEO?

You cannot explain technical things to CEOs, in general.

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Re: What's in it for the user?

@Richard 12 : However, why should the user care about the freedom to modify? Can you explain that to your CEO?

Certainly: to avoid document lock-in. Look at Microsoft Wrod –vs– Open/Libre Office.

Each new version of MS Office had/has a new document format, incompatible with the old one, and readable by no other software. On the other hand, when OpenOffice begun to suck, the code was forked and LibreOffice carried on. All ODT documents are easily readable by all Open/Libre Office variants, and also have many alternatives to switch-to.

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Unhappy

Complete failure of stated objective

From the article "The OSI wanted to make free software "more understandable to newcomers and to business". They felt the term "free software", with "its seeming focus on price", was distracting."

Well - they are a complete failure are they not?

Look at the funding shortfall for even the most popular OSI software like OpenSSL. It only got addressed as a 'once off' and only after a helluva lot of publicity.

Free software has never been about price. It's like saying the Free Press is about having a free paper to read on the tube.

Free Software is more valuable than non-Free Software, and you should be paying for it. Or you know, don't pay, and find the software stops being supported suddenly because the programmers which were maintaining it had to go and get jobs at Tesco because they were about to be evicted, whilst their software was being used in mission critical and customer facing systems in 9 out of 10 fortune 500 companies. I wish I was making this up.

The Free Press is far more valuable than the non-Free Press. It's why we watch and PAY FOR the BBC for our international news, and not 'Russia Today'.

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Anonymous Coward

"and you should be paying for it"

And how do you pay for it? Buying unrelated product/services, which I may have no use for? Most open source code is the by-side product of other ways of making money.

Very few, maybe only Linux, are products able to focused on the product itself.

So instead of focusing on their customers need, they care about their patrons needs first. That's a bad model.

Someone has to pay professional developers, and if the money don't come from the product itself, they have to come from other sources - but those sources will then dictate what developer should do - sometimes it can be aligned to other users needs, but sometimes it can't be.

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Re: Complete failure of stated objective

Free software has never been about price. It's like saying the Free Press is about having a free paper to read on the tube.

The thing about the "free press" in the UK is that the commercial press is essentially controlled by oligarchs and the "impartial" media only exists because of government fiat so it isn't a form of freedom that shifts the balance of power between the many and the few.

Free/open software has undoubtedly given a leg-up to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google, but the consequence of that has been to concentrate power/wealth in a smaller number of hands.

"Free" is not necessarily a social benefit if it simply means "free-for-all".

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Anonymous Coward

"has undoubtedly given a leg-up to the likes of Facebook, [...]"

Unless someone setup scriptoria where code monks will churn out code in exchange for a bowl of rice, a cell where to sleep in, and other monks supplying directly that rice, money has to come from somewhere.

You can exploit the never ending supply of university serfs students, and some amateurs who makes money in different business (lucky them) where nobody asks them to give their work away fro free.

But many pros will want to be paid adequately, and only the big corporations have the resources to pay them, or maybe the startups burning money from VCs waiting to be acquired by some big corp - as long as they didn't open source too much IP up to the point of making it of no value.

Thereby many projects are still the property of big corps. that can still kill them easily, sure, the code will be there for others to take on, but without the resources to do it, those projects are effectively dead.

You're right in saying open source had helped actually many big monopolies to arise, reducing their investment, their need of developers, the pay for the lower ones as well, and letting them exploiting the work of others too.

But of course all those who look at open source just a way to make a quick buck selling rebranded open source product to unaware customers - in in our security review we've spotted not a few of them, or avoiding to pay for their tools while having other to pay for what they sell, look it as a big gift - just a gift they'll never return.

I would like to see what's the ratio between open source users and contributors...

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Re: Complete failure of stated objective

Free/open software has undoubtedly given a leg-up to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Google, but the consequence of that has been to concentrate power/wealth in a smaller number of hands.

"Free" is not necessarily a social benefit if it simply means "free-for-all".

At least FSF free maintains the legal requirement to provide source on distribution, which is left to merely as an ethical and moral decision on some OSI compatible licences.

Previous poster is right about english and it's indistinct and nebulous use of 'free'.

I am often tempted to conclude that to many companies (including charities) 'Free' makes them think it's not worth having.

I'd also be tempted to concluded that the 'Free Press' of today is a warped corruption down to badly managed control over the worst inclinations of the predatory corporation.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC - Re: "and you should be paying for it"

Hey, if you can't pay the developers from the product itself, why don't you try some other kind of business. It's immoral to expect to make money from something nobody wants.

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Sigh

I did not even get to reading the article -- the title alone makes me want to strangle the author...

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Anonymous Coward

GPL is not freedom at all.

GPL fits only Stallman vision that you have to be forced to open source your code, and relinquish any copyright on it. It has a very restrictive meaning of "freedom". The only real freedom is you can avoid GPL at all.

Just, not anybody is so lucky to be paid by some institution regardless of the results, and thereby having no issue in giving stuff away for free.

That's returning to patronage - or state-owned economy - when you had to find someone willingly to pay for you at his whims and who owned your work, because you didn't have a market to sell you work. You were just a notch above a slave.

Actually, whoever believes open source is the future, is just turning the clock back.

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Re: GPL is not freedom at all.

You do not have to use the GPL. If you do use the GPL, you can retain the copyright. You can sell GPL software, but more common business models involve selling support or selling improvements.

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Re: GPL is not freedom at all.

"GPL fits only Stallman vision that you have to be forced to open source your code, and relinquish any copyright on it."

The GPL depends on copyright. If you relinquish that, say by putting the code in the public domain, you can't apply the GPL.

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Anonymous Coward

"you can retain the copyright"

Ask those who were required to relinquish their copyright to FSF - and "copyleft" is not real "copyright".

Still, it is true that GPL tries to use copyright laws to achieve its copyright-less world. Just look at the anti-DRM clauses in v3.

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Re: GPL is not freedom at all.

Well, there's more nuance to it than that. The Stallman political vision of "freedom" for the end user necessarily takes away freedom from the developer, who is restricted in how she/he can reuse the code.

I think the problem with Stallman's vision is that its all about the 60s / 70s world where there was no real boundary between developers and end users. Most IT users these days couldn't give a flying **** about modifying the application, nor could they if they wanted to, they only want the bloody stuff to work. Thus Mr Stallman's freedom to modify is essentially worthless to them. By contrast Mr Stallman's restrictions on reuse limit what fellow developers can do with the code.

By contrast the much less restrictive licenses like NCSA are about payforward. You benefited from studying or reusing code other people made freely available, and where possible within your working environment you have a moral duty to pay forward by making your code freely available, but there are not the restrictions on what you can do with the code that there are from GPL. But the point is that because its pay forward you are not seeking to put restrictions on what your sister/brother coder does in the future. Your moral duty ended with the act of paying forward.

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Re: GPL is not freedom at all.

You can sell the software (and any later improvements) only once, since they can ask for the source and redistribute it. Or license it per ratio of usage. (number of copies)

Such constructs do happen of course in custom software that is not to interesting for others, but it is too limited in most cases.

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Re: GPL is not freedom at all.

But be careful about copyright - copyright is essential to the Stallman vision. Without the copyright on the code the restrictions in the Stallman vision cannot be enforced. Copyright makes the GPL vision work, which is awfully ironic when you consider how ardently Google's anti copyright useful idiots trumpet open source. Yes, Stallman wants you to hand your copyright over to his foundation, but that's again about enforcement - we as individuals are virtually impotent to enforce restrictions on our copyright, which is why its more or less essential to have co-operative or support organisations like the FSF to enforce the restrictions by means of copyright. Or for another example of such an organisation (in order to get a lot more downvotes from Google's useful idiots) the RIAA.

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