Linked by snydeq on Wed 1st Feb 2012 21:36 UTC
General Development InfoWorld's Rick Grehan takes an in-depth look at Opa, MLstate's attempt to provide a single language for Web app development, and one of 10 cutting-edge programming languages that could shake up the future of IT. "With Opa, you write your Web application as though it were a single-tier program, and the compiler handles the knotty details of partitioning your program and deploying the resulting components to their proper domains. The compiler also builds the communication infrastructure among application components, and that infrastructure is invisibly managed by the runtime. The security weaknesses inherent in today's Web applications are virtually eliminated."
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wannabe geek
Member since:
2006-09-27

I know, the FSF says it is a free license, but I think they are wrong, by their own definitions. I discussed this issue with Stallman when he visited my town and IMHO he didn't provide a convincing argument to the contrary.

Look at freedom 0:


The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).


Well, if your purpose is to provide a web service, you are out of luck with the AGPL. You are not free to do it unless you release all your private changes, and any other program that connects to it. If there are conditions, then you are not free, period.

It comes down to who is the user of the software. If you run this software on your server, you are the user. Those who use your web service are users of your web service, not users of the software.

Of course you can say that they use it inderectly, but
the same can be said of the customers who buy bread from a baker who is using a database to keep track of sales. So, the concept of private, unreleased software would disappear. In the AGPL world there's no privacy.

If you take a step back, the problem with proprietary licenses is that the user has the software in his hands, but he's not allowed to share it, or even look at it too closely and build something too similar (a modified copy). With unreleased software this problem simply does not arise. So, there's no loophole to plug here.

But wait, the GPL says you can't release modified software binaries without the source. So it puts some restrictions on freedoms 2 and 3 (freedom to release copies). This apparent contradiction is solved by stating that source code is a precondition of freedom 1 (to inspect and study the program). I think this statetement is false, becase you can always reverse-engineer the binaries.

It's also an unfortunate confusion of negative and possitive freedoms. For instance, to really understand the software, you don't just need the source code, you also need some knowledge of programming. Should the distributor give you free lessons?

Despite all these caveats, the GPL in practice does what a free software license is supposed to do, which is promote an environment where legal restrictions don't get in the way of people who want to use, inspect and modify software, and release their findings whenever they want, where every user has those freedoms, whether they are private individuals, nonprofits or companies.

In contrast, look at the conditions to use the AGPL-licensed Opa framework: according to the article, it's free until you make one million dollars with your web service; then you have to pay. It doesn't sound like free software at all.

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