[discuss] Reuters: Novell could be banned from selling Linux:
karfai at gmail.com
Mon Feb 12 12:19:05 EST 2007
On 2/12/07, Andrew Kohlsmith <akohlsmith-clue at benshaw.com> wrote:
> So tell me: is the Free Software movement about liberating software in the
> same sense as the extreme left-wing animal rights groups liberating caged
> animals, or is the Free Software movement more conservative, recognizing and
> educating that open source and freely licensed software results in better
> code, stronger code and superior software in general? There's a world of
> difference between willing to use the license in a court of law in order to
> ensure that those who don't agree don't walk all over it, and writing a
> license that is so "strong" that it divides the community and is used in so
> few places that it doesn't ever get serious use.
Neither of these match my perspective on "free software".
AFAIK, the goal is not to go into a shop which does not publicly
release source code in order to acquire and exchange that code on the
Internet. That is, to "liberate" the code from it's "cage".
I also don't think the goal is to propagate the "many eyes" principle.
While this is an interesting (and effective) software design concept,
it's not so useful for the widespread adoption of the principles in
the Free Software Definition.
In many cases, I have directly observed this to be a limiting factor
in the adoption of Free Software. Free software might be adopted in
the software development groups within an enterprise, but not within
the enterprise as a whole. Often, this enterprises find themselves on
a plateau where they cannot continue to climb and cannot return back
(once their code is public, it's hard to make it private again).
IMHO, Novell is currently in this position: they're trying to sell a
"petrified tree" (software on a CD) that is freely available in the
Internet. Conversely, Michael Tiemann's chapter in _Open Sources_
probably a good example of where a business can go with "free
The goal of "free software" is quite succinctly explained in the Free
Software Definition (http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html). The
goal of the free software license (the GPL) is to communicate and
guarantee that the four freedoms continue to be met downstream of the
The changes introduced in the GPLv3 have been to clarify the language
in order to improve the programmer's ability to communicate their
original intent. Some sections have been perceived to be more
"restrictive". Typically this is Section 11 - Patents. Many of these
"restrictions" are direct responses to actual instances where one of
the four freedoms of downstream participants had been "restricted" by
an upstream distributors who was not the original programmer. The
"DRM" section is another that is classically misunderstood by some
For what it's worth, this post is just the classic semantic division
between "open source" and "free software". That's why I use "free
software" (or "logiciels libre") rather than "open source".
karfai [AT] gmail.com
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