Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Mar 2009 18:02 UTC, submitted by google_ninja
GNU, GPL, Open Source Eric S. Raymond is one of the three big figures in open source, together with Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman. During a talk for the Long Island Linux User Group, he made some interesting statements about the GPL, namely that the GPL is no longer needed due to the way the open source movement works.
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StephenBeDoper
Member since:
2005-07-06

Mr. Stallman has absolutely nothing to do with the open source initiative. He's an important figure in our free software movement.


"We're NOT the Judean People's League - we're the People's League of Judea!"

Reply Parent Score: 5

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Mr. Stallman has absolutely nothing to do with the open source initiative. He's an important figure in our free software movement. "We're NOT the Judean People's League - we're the People's League of Judea!"


To be fair ... that is not really a valid criticism.

Open source software ~= everyone has permission to read and use the source code.

Free software ~= everyone will always have permission to read and use the source code.

A small difference, perhaps, but nevertheless an important one.

Reply Parent Score: 6

JMcCarthy Member since:
2005-08-12

Not to play into the JPF v PFJ, but I disagree.

The motivation behind open source is its proponents believe it produces superior software. That's it.
The motivation behind free software is -- free software. Superior software would be nice, but the aim is to be free.

I don't really consider it an insignificant difference, but that's just me.

Reply Parent Score: 6

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

To be fair ... that is not really a valid criticism.

Open source software ~= everyone has permission to read and use the source code.

Free software ~= everyone will always have permission to read and use the source code.

A small difference, perhaps, but nevertheless an important one.


Oh I know, I was mainly just being a smart-ass.

That said, yours is probably the most succinct explanation of free software that I've read - and the most hyperbole-free.

Reply Parent Score: 2

sbenitezb Member since:
2005-07-22

Free software ~= everyone will always have permission to read and use the source code.


And GPL is not the only license able to assert this. In fact, any license that allows you to read source code and modify it, at least once in the time is all you need to make it free software. If you don't think so, I can point you to the Firebird database, once closed and known as Interbase by Borland, then open sourced (forever) and then closed again. The source of that first open release was forked to give life to Firebird, which is free. The license sucks horribly.

There is a false asumption that GPL gives more freedom. What it gives, if anything, is more contributors (even extorted ones). But this is also highly dependent on the project. I doubt Postgres has/had any problems with some company selling a fork (EnterpriseDB was the case, I think).

All in all: you get your freedom the first time the project is released. After that, it's up to the developers to keep maintaining it, improving and merging contributions. GPL guarantees further improvements are also released, even by greedy companies. But if the project is worth its salt, BSD/MIT licenses will keep any project running and updated.

Many say GPL keeps companies honest (by extortion, they aren't really honest, you just happen to have something they need, but it comes with a price to pay). I would prefer to think BSD keeps honest companies within a project, they really don't have to contribute, but they still do, so they are good and valuable. Sometimes it's better to acuse them of greedy players. Big companies don't like bad PR.

Reply Parent Score: 1