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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First of all, let me state that I will capitalize the words Free and Freedom when talking about FSF, to differentiate the software license terminology from the general usage of free and freedom.

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.

That's the old war between the GPL and BSD licenses. I prefer to look at the meaning of Free as "something can not turned into un-Free". Regarding AGPL, you can of course use it to provide a web service and you might even not need to release changes because you haven't actually made them. And even if you made them, it might not even be a problem to release these changed if requested. I've successfully used AGPL software in the past, no problems there per se.

So, the concept of private, unreleased software would disappear. In the AGPL world there's no privacy.

This has nothing to do with privacy. It's software code, same as GPL, but plugging a so-called loophole. It's mostly looking at the problem in a different light, really.

But wait, the GPL says you can't release modified software binaries without the source.

Actually no. The GPL says you must provide the source code when requested. It's a subtle, but very profound difference.

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.

No, you can't always reverse engineer the binaries. It's awfully hard and time consuming and sometimes it's even illegal to do so.

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?

You don't need free lessons, you just need the tools to study the software, thus the source-code requirement.

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.

I would agree with you, but I didn't found that million dollar condition anywhere on Opa's website or source code.

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