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Round Table On Approaches To Source Code 157

Posted by timothy
from the deep-thoughts-thought-deeply dept.
Gandalf61 writes: "On siliconvalley.com, they've opened up a roundtable discussion concerning MS's Craig Mundie's recent attacks on the GPL. It's titled 'Code War,' and a panel of other-than-MS luminaries is on-board, and attacks on Mundie's the over-the-edge 3 May speech have begun. Mundie started the discussion, and one reply is now posted by a panel member, shredding the MS view of reality ... This looks to be fun." Since this submission rolled in, a number of posts have appeared in this moderated discussion set to continue for the next few days; RMS withdrew from the panel shortly before it began, though, and the result is a discussion which is engaging but perhaps not as fiery as it would be with Stallman in the ring. It's downright civil so far, in fact; hopefully it's a good environment for FUD-busting.
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Round Table On Approaches To Source Code

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The roundtable only includes discussion by "luminaries". What about the rest of us? Those of us who actually do coding are apparently not invited. This is precisely the MS model where tight control by "experts" lock out anyone else from contributing. What exactly will a /. reader get from this? We know Mundie's full of crap and MS's attacks on the GPL simply exposes their fear. Frankly I like hearing them attack the GPL, it means we're on the right track! Better still, their attacks give the open source movement the type of publicity none of us can buy. The roundtable seems more like an exercise in intellectual onanism then anything else.
  • Granted, we'd have to teach Katz how to post to Slashdot first (as opposed to emailing copy to another editor and never browsing the thread)

    That's not true, Katz has certainly been known to post replies to comments on his stories. However you may have missed these replies because many moderators (correctly) believe that it is extremely amusing to mod anything by Katz down as "Troll" or "Offtopic".

  • [in deep baritone] I like to use my RAM alot!
  • Just to clarify, I think he/she is thinking of the license [gnu.org] for Guile [gnu.org], the GNU extension interpreter/library based on the Scheme [mit.edu] language. The FSF added an exception to the GPL in this case, hoping that it would promote the use and development of guile by allowing proprietary software developers to link guile into their apps without requiring the software to be put under a GPL-compatible license. Guile may one day replace Emacs Lisp as the standard extensibility language for GNU Emacs.
  • It (or something like that) was on Slashdot last week, claiming that authentication (specifically Hailstorm/Passport) was the real issue. here [slashdot.org] is the /. article, and here [infoworld.com] is the actual article.
  • "In their view, government and universities (funded by taxes and philanthropy) should do fundamental research, which should then be placed in the public domain where commercial interests are free to exploit it. "

    Except that's not what's been going on in the last 20 years. I will leave private universities out of it, as they can do what they desire. But the trend has been for government agencies (can you say National Weather Service) and public universities to spend taxpayer dollars doing research and collecting information, then turn around and license the results of that research to private entities such that taxpayers have to pay the licensee to use the information.

    Pretty neat trick: charge the taxpayer twice for the same stuff. This is the model that Microsoft wants to keep alive, and which the GPL threatens.

    sPh
  • That DeLong is admitted to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. I "cross examined" him and beat him! I sure had fun with that one.

    Bruce

  • No. What you are reading is the rules where you can do *anything* with the source code, such as put it in a closed-source program (ie one that is not linked with the library). The intention is to keep useful functions that are inline in the headers from being put into closed-source. However if you use the inline function for purposes of calling the library it is considered a work that uses the library. If this was not true, the library writer either has to avoid long inline functions (a restriction that would be unacceptable to many), or they effectivly would have eliminated all reason to use the LGPL over the GPL.

    My problem with the GPL is the "dynamic link requirement", which is still unconfirmed but believed by many people. Requiring dynamic linking is a source of bloat, instability, defeats the ability of the programmer to modify the library, and also is an enormous bias against "small" libraries that are not popular enough to be included with distributions. I have had to modify the LGPL with my code to explicitly say that static linking is allowed, but I consider this a somewhat evil, and even MicroSoftian tactic, to force things like the Gnome and Qt libraries on programmers.

    Quoted releavant parts:

    5. ...If such an object file uses only numerical parameters, data structure layouts and accessors, and small macros and small inline functions (ten lines or less in length), then the use of the object file is unrestricted, regardless of whether it is legally a derivative work. (Executables containing this object code plus portions of the Library will still fall under Section 6.)

    6. As an exception to the Sections above, you may also combine or link a "work that uses the Library" with the Library to produce a work containing portions of the Library, and distribute that work under terms of your choice, provided that the terms permit modification of the work for the customer's own use and reverse engineering for debugging such modifications.

  • What you want is to explicitly state that the code is "public domain". This has been done millions of times before, perhaps more often than the GPL has been invoked!

    MicroSoft has somehow made people think that the only alternative to closed source is GPL? This is not good...

  • What about console games? Just speaking anecdotally for myself, I haven't found a genuinely fun PC game made within the last year.
  • Actually, those two are prime examples of games I found dull to tears. I want to see another X-Wing Alliance or Homeworld...
  • free software has advanced in some areas but I have yet to see a GPL game (or any open source licensed game) that rivals even commercial games from 5 years ago let alone today's games. So unless you're satisfied with pingus, you're going to have to reboot to Windows for games for a very long time.
  • you're assuming that open sourcing is some magical process that instantly turns crap to gold. That's not true because there's a lot of open source crap out there and there's a lot of good stuff that is very proprietary.
  • Do you think that there's a chance that perhaps you're looking at the article with completely pre-formed opinions and you want nothing more than to find reasons to attack Craig? Sorry but this whole discussion just seems ridiculous, and so far I've seen several messages like yours that attack that Mr. Mundie isn't directly addressing every single comment every single person might make, and that is absolutely absurd. Of course he focuses on things that he thinks are the crux of the issue, and if he skips point 7.2.7.12b perhaps it's because they're not writing a contract, but rather they're discussing philosophies and development contexts. Mr. Mundie is giving his belief and he is not INDEBTED to any of you to answer each and every point put forth

    Do you have any idea how many MS development newsgroups/webboards/user groups there are? It's amazing how the Linux community with throw rocks at Microsoft for "FUD" when you're all just as guilty of it yourself.

  • As for FUD, I'm just picking up on fact here. Why do you think Mundie didn't respond? You obviously haven't looked at the discussions since you mention the concept of "7.2.7.12b" - the responses I was talking about where the most prominant points raised after Mundie's opening comments - surely that deserves some discussion?

    My point # was being facetious, however my comment was more in regards to a number of posts regarding Mr. Mundie's failure to respond to each and every point made by any OSS advocate either inside of or outside of the roundtable.

  • You've just contradicted yourself buddy. Why don't you put a little more thought before you start typing.

    Uh, no I didn't "buddy", and obviously that point flew right over your head. My point was that to most people a computer is a tool that facilitates a means and nothing more, and the obscure and ridiculous has no merit for them. So when Linux wankers try to portray a sense of elitism by portraying Windows as being the current leader merely because of the average Joe being "ignorant", compared to Linux users who are of course 31337 hackers who'll ownz j00, that is offensive and grossly incorrect, and the laughable part is that this ridiculous arrogance is so common here on \. The reality, and it was the reason that I made reference to Apache, is that if you have the motivation, curiousity and time Linux is not at all insurmountable (anyone with an average intelligence can easily be a super elite Linux master given the motivation), it's merely not efficient so to people without a religious belief in OSS or other such nonsense, Windows is just fine and it's the logical choice for them. For all the gobbling that goes on on Slashdot about all those "ignorant" Windows users, there are millions of users who are getting their work done day in and day out extremely efficiently. At the same time though for advanced programmers and administrators Windows is extremely complex, though only because the needs facilitate it: The vast majority of Slashdot regulars don't know the slightest bit about the advanced workings of Windows 2000/NT4 (though they'll certainly proclaim themselves as experts).

    Parallel: I like a standard transmission in my car because I like the feeling of control it gives me. However I would never walk around yapping about how those dumb normal people with their automatic transmissions are too stupid/lazy/whatever to handle a standard (and damnit they're even paying a $1000 premium for it! Those dumb people!): Instead I realize that to them the car is merely a tool that gets you from point A to point B, and the more convenient the better, and neither choice is inherently the better choice but it depends on the person: I enjoy driving, but that's a personal trait that I happen to have that a lot of other people don't have. By the same token to the vast majority of people the computer is nothing more than a tool: They don't give a shit about OSS, the GPL, or how ESR or Stallman are trying to get themselves in the news today. They don't care about KDE, Gnome, or file systems. They care about results. This is something that so many Linux fanatics fail to understand: It's a tool people, not a destination.

    Did you notice the recent story about the lines of code required to write different operating systems? Linux has made most of it's recent progress in the last 3 or 4 years.

    Wow it's pretty sad when lines of code is held up as a standard of progress, however tell me: What exactly is the "lines of code" metric? The kernel? Every included utility? Every product that runs with Linux or comes with a distro? There are _HUNDREDS_OF_THOUSANDS_ of Windows developers out there plugging out code for the Windows platform, and there are tens of thousands of extreme expertise, full-time, professional programmers at Microsoft and partners working on the core OS and components. However in the land of open source I have found (through being involved in a couple of projects) that almost always the overwhelming majority of the work was done by a few people. We're talking >95%. Even ESR, in his Cathedral and the Bazaar, basically touts about his accomplishments with a sidenote it appears to a couple of people who offered some help here and there.

    Thank you for giving me your completely `objective' "score" on my points though.

  • BTW: Before I get misinterpreted (understandable given the wording), when I said "the reality is that if you have the motivation, curiousity and time Linux is not at all insurmountable, it's merely not efficient", note that I'm talking about the average desktop user. For a lot of purposes such as setting up a firewall, DNS or web server it is very efficient because of the process one normally goes through and the nature of the goal.

  • As for the suggestion that the existence of free software is dangerous to business, this also is clearly refuted. Sleepy Cat and Reiser which are both referenced offer commercial liscenses. And other (BSD, MIT) liscenses can be used if the author just wants his or her software to be as widely used as possible. The other thing is why I like Perl for example, or any of the other tools in GNU/Linux. They work. I can get the job done, and get into a wide development community of leading edge technologists with minimum investment. I also don't have to pay MS money every time I need to do something, just remembering someone I know who had to pay $2000 for VB to get a little component that would let him download a web page. I know a bunch of ways to that with Perl/GNU/Linux. So I respect the desire of a company to make a profit but not if the only company allowed to be successful is Microsoft.

    That component was most certainly a third-party company (not MS. I am unaware of any extra "components" that you can buy from MS for any of the MS tools, yet there exists a huge swath of healthy development companies making components and employing thousands of programmers) that is in the business of writing little components to help VB programmers, and obviously that little component saved your friend over $2000 worth of development, etc. because he paid for it. At the same time there are COUNTLESS freeware components for Visual Basic, Delphi, etc., however because they're free you get no guarantees, minimal support, and almost always a lesser grade product. Your example is pretty bad anyways though as the MSXML (free) kit allows you to grab webpages through SSL, with authentication, and in an asynchronous manner. Of course it's free from MS.

  • With the headway made by GNU/FSF, I find it hard to believe that in ten years, the average computer user will still be the same old ignorant follower. I don't blame people for using what's easy, Windows IS easy. But with the curve of advancement of free software, I don't think the closed-source model will be effective at creating top-tier software.

    BULLSHIT. You know you open source fanatics spout far more FUD than MS ever does. 3 years ago pundits from far and wide were proclaiming that MS was dead and open source was going to ride the wave to the top and take over the world. 2 years ago pundits were saying the same thing. 1 year ago the same thing. This year the same thing. Yet while Linux marketshare actually is dropping in several areas, Microsoft continues to sell more and more software each year. Remember Mr. Stallman and friends have been at this for a long, long time (this is not a new initiative): This whole crazy FSF/open source thing has been going on for at least two DECADES now. Of course most open source fanatics just don't realize that this isn't a great new ideology they've joined, but rather it's some old ideas by a lot of educational welfare recipients who have no grasp of the real world (as many of those living under the umbrella of academia are prone to believing. Most of the most hilariously unworkable and unreasonable ideologies come from ivory towers). At the same time open source fanatics like to geometrically map progression of software into the future to dream of the great world of amazing software, yet in reality most open source software starts with a bang and then either dies, or settles into an extremely slow update cycle. Linux is currently at that point.

    In addition the comment about Windows being "easy" just makes me laugh: It's the classic UNIX elitism that tries to correlate inefficient with skillful. For most users Windows does exactly what they want in a very efficient manner, and as not everyone is a "computer professional" the computer is a tool not a hobby. For Tom the CEO he wants something that will let him send emails and pull up a spreadsheet. Perhaps you might say that with certain installs Linux offers this functionality and ease, yet that makes the whole elitism "Widnows IS easy" bullshit. Guess what: You're not special. It took me about 30 minutes to have an advanced install of Apache going with PHP & P5 webpages, yet it's amazing how often something as trivial as this as held as some great accomplishment of the supposed super IQ masses of Linux fanatics (I would love to see a study done at a Linux expo to clarify this. Of course if it points to the opposite of what you all want to hear it's "FUD").

    Seeing as Microsoft is at an inherent disadvantage, I don't expect their software to rise to the level of OSS. It's just not feasible for them; They don't have the manpower.

    Another hilarious piece of FUD based upon that bogus belief that there are millions of selfless programmers out there working like busy beavers making open source perfect. In reality most open source projects are ~4 primary developers (if not a single one that is responsible for the overwhelming majority of it: This is the case with most well known projects) and a couple of random people who look at the source for a day or two until they get bored and move onto something more exciting. Microsoft doesn't have an awful lot to fear except in the realm of trivial services like HTTP.

  • Actually, Brett IS savage. Check out that crazy crazy hair! [siliconvalley.com]
  • What? You honestly believe that all that profit they make comes from their software?.

    Try again.
  • Hrm ... given the source of your inspiration, "Python code" woudl have been more apropos.
  • It's actually worse than the propietary characters. I had to go to an NT box and use IE in order to avoid seeing nothing but a page with an error message when I tried to follow the link to the roundtable.

    ``Inside the Tech Economy''? The tech economy is more than Microsoft and its cronies. I suppose one day there'll be a site that is more inclusive in the technologies that it allows to access its web pages but, hey, I'm a dreamer.


    --

  • However, I also can't see what actual purpose Craig Mundie's recent speech and Microsoft's recently inflamatory (IMHO) license agreements serve. To me, they are both not just FUD, but blatant flamebait.

    Perhaps that's what it is supposed to be? Giving the flamebait and then waiting for the rabid Open Source supporters to show up ranting and raving would be much better for MS than any ad campaign would buy.

    If there's one thing to learn from the anything vs Windows wars was that "anything and everything you say will be used against you."

    The above is just bait.

    Vip

  • With the headway made by GNU/FSF, I find it hard to believe that in ten years, the average computer user will still be the same old ignorant follower.
    I think you undersetimate the stupidity of the majority of the population. The average slashdotter has an IQ over 120, the average person has an IQ of 100, and (obviously) half of them are dumber than that.
    They have neither the interest in or the capability to understand computers on anything more than a very surface level.
    _____
  • Microsoft's business is making money selling bits of software. Freely available software is probably bad for this narrowly-defined business.

    But most companies don't sell software, they sell hardware or services that use software. If those companies can make use of low cost freely available software in their products, it will increase their profits rather than decreasing them.

    There will always be a place for proprietary software in areas where there isn't enough interest to develop a suitable free alternative. But I think we're about to see the end of a market where proprietary software is all that people will consider for their business needs.

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • Just out of curiosity, why? Hasn't Emacs always been open source? Or were you paying to get a compiler license to build Emacs?

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • You might want to avoid Black and White, unless your idea of fun is equivalent to most people's ideas of crushing tedium. All the worst parts of Populous combined with a Tamagotchi. Whoo-fuckin-hoo. I hear Deus Ex is good though.
  • I think I understand Mundie's/Microsoft's argument re: GPL software. It basically comes down to their view of what they call the "ecosystem" of software. In their view, government and universities (funded by taxes and philanthropy) should do fundamental research, which should then be placed in the public domain where commercial interests are free to exploit it. In this view, the GPL (at least if used by these groups) is indeed a threat, for it prevents the commercialization (at least in the Microsoft way) or this research.
    First, remember that Mundie is not speaking to geeks, and he's not speaking to political policy-makers, either. His audience is composed of people who are authorized to spend tens of thousands of dollars at a pop on Microsoft software ... or on a Red Hat support contract.

    Mundie doesn't really care about government-sponsored GPL work. He doesn't want to say it directly, but he wants his audience to think that the GPLed software that threatens Microsoft's growth (i.e., Linux) was primarily developed with government funds, and therefore (a) there's something unfair about that software being under GPL; (b) if Linux is better than Windows at some things, that can be chalked up to the government's investment in it.

    More importantly: He has to put some kind of wrapper around the "GPL is bad" idea so that his audience will pay attention long enough to swallow the FUD. After all, if he tried to argue that it's unfair for private intellectual property owners to place the software that they wrote under the GPL, people would just scratch their heads and say "huh?"
    --

  • For example, why did Microsoft become involved in a highly public argument with the Justice Department? Was that really necessary for profit?
    Joel Spolsky explains [joelonsoftware.com] that Microsoft is projecting an "antitrust laws? what antitrust laws?" attitude as a way to prevent competitors from outflanking Microsoft the way Microsoft outflanked IBM.
    --
  • I have to dump the core-a-lot!

    --
  • Can you give me some citation of the "pundits" of whom you speak? Do you think the average pimply-faced teenager on /. is a pundit?

    I fail to see how one can infer the diminution of Free Software just because some hot and bothered enthusiasts engage in a little self-congratulation.

    And even if such "pundits" exist, which I doubt, why should you give them any more credibility than say John "Java: A Born Loser" Dvorak?

    I'm also curious why you feel compelled to tell us all how stupid us li'l chilluns is being? Why don't you just dismiss such fools and walk away? Are you hoping to "save" a few "fanatics?"

    I'm afraid there are millions (well, tens of thousands) of selfless programmers, however the fact that you put it this way shows that you just plain do not get it: Writing Free Software is not a selfless act! It is about receiving payment in kind. It is about the idea that "devil take the hindmost" is not the philosophy that maximizes the individual good. It is about taking a longer view of benefit. It is about understanding that when everyone gives, you receive. It is not about some sort of selflessness. Quite the reverse. It is about receiving payment in-kind.

    What, precisely, can you do with Windows that you cannot with Linux? Also, what, precisely does Microsoft offer above trivial services like HTTP that Linux does not? I can't think of a single one. Sure you can say "DCOM, ASP," but these are just proprietary implementations of techniques first developed on Unix systems.

    Microsoft enjoys their dominant position primarily from their control of the marketing channel, not from innovation. I share with you your belief that Linux is unlikely to dislodge Microsoft's stranglehold, but I think this is due to their continuing control of the channel, and to the sheer inertia of the marketplace.

    Do not underestimate the power of price and the power of mindshare, however. Linux and various other Free and Open Source Software are the basis of a great deal of IT/CS education these days.

    Sure, there are overzealous advocates. Sure there are snobs and elitists. So what? Who cares? At this point there is only one piece of software for which I haven't an adequate Linux replacement. I use Linux for everything else. Not from a religious zealotry, but because it does everything I need. It gives me a multi-user network server OS, perl, C, C++, Java, Python, fortran, and Lisp development enviornment and tools, Web servers, file and print, encryption, multi-use transactional database, word processing, spreadsheet, e-mail, web browsing, you name it. How much did it cost me? $0.00 (okay, I bought a cheapbytes disc, so it was more like $4.95). Now why would I write Free Software? Because I got all that.

    Don't tar me with the overbroad brush you are using. I'm an experienced IT professional with over a decade in the business, and, as far as I am concerned, Microsoft is dead. On the other hand, since my career has involved real enterprise scale systems in insurance, finance, healthcare, and government, Microsoft was never really alive. The only serious thing I have seen it used for is file and print. I know some people do a lot more, but I think it is just as foolish as using Linux (on x86 PCs) would be. Linux on other architectures, now...
  • Point by point:

    1) Try doing this with Windows on an unformatted hard drive. Not easy, is it? Could it be that Microsoft's control of the OEM channel is the source of their leg up? Nah, that couldn't be it.

    2) "Reverting" to the command line? It's not like this is hard. Also, take a look at your command prompt on Windows 2000: You'll find the same utilities. SuSE's yast2 gives you GUI setup of setting up a modem, network card, and (something Windows doesn't offer out of the box) packet-filtering NAT firewall that is every bit as easy as anything in Windows (othe distros offer similar tools, but SuSE's is the best one for the willfully ignorant)

    3) What, exactly, is an "internet font?" If, by this, you mean TrueType fonts, yes, if you have an older distribution, you'll have a hard time getting this going if you aren't an expert in XFree86. Newer distros have a TrueType font server up by default. Knowing where to download things is some fairly basic system knowledge. Just because IE knows where to put things by their file extension (and not by MIME type as it should, by the way), I would not lay claim to superior technology. I'll grant you an ease-of-use point here over Linux, but how much easier is this than an ATM machine, a TiVo, or a PalmPilot?

    4) This is the old "there's no software for it" canard. Is it possible that games are written for Windows and not for Linux because you cannot buy a PC without Windows preinstalled? Could it be that Microsoft's control of the OEM channel gives them a leg up here? You can't have commercial software without a market and you can't have a market without commercial software. Catch-22. Note, however, that this argument has moved from enterprise software to office software, and now it is pretty much only games you can point at.

    5) What a shock! An open source operating system can't play closed proprietary media formats created to be deliberately incomaptible with common, open formats! BTW, you can get a realplayer Netscape plugin for Linux. It is a version behind, but it is there. Most of the codecs out there have Linyux versions. I'll definitely give you another ease-of-use point here, but not a "doesn't have."

    6) Here I have to concede that it is MUCH better to have no idea what files are on your system, where they are, what their interdependecies are, what they do, or what will break if a second or third product you install saves a different version of one of these mysterious files on to your system. Definitely MUCH better. Anyone who has used Windows for more than running MSOffice has been in "DLL hell." I'm sorry, but I just don't buy this.

    It all boils down to choice, you see. If you want to use Windows, hooray! More power to you. Enjoy. Microsoft hatred (at least amongst those informed on the subject) doesn't come from their products. It comes from their ability to force their products on all PC users, whether they want them or not. Windows2000 is a good (if bloated) PC OS. Use it in good health. Just don't call me names because I don't want to use it and I don't have the problems you have with the product I want to use.

    Before you assign me an excrementary mantle, check your own scalp for colonic by-products. Also remember that it costs nothing to be polite.
  • What about Tux Racer? :)

    Very true. And I can understand the frustration of Open Source game developers. Open Source has yet to see an abstraction layer as quick and easy as DirectX.
    Yes, I don't really like DirectX at all, but it's true that it is a really quick and semi-portable method of designing some really kick-ass games.

    Yes, that's what Linux needs.
  • No, not instantly. It took many years for Open Source software to get where it is. But all it takes is enough developer interest to make something better. True, there's a ton of OSS crap out there. But there's even more Closed-Source crap out there.

    Every methodolgy has it's good and bad cases. Some more than others.

  • You know you open source fanatics spout far more FUD than MS ever does.

    That's highly unlikely.

    But, your right: Open Source is not a new idea. In fact, it's an older idea than the closed source model.

    In addition the comment about Windows being "easy" just makes me laugh:

    For most users Windows does exactly what they want in a very efficient manner,


    You've just contradicted yourself buddy. Why don't you put a little more thought before you start typing.

    It took me about 30 minutes to have an advanced install of Apache going with PHP & P5 webpages

    Does this somehow make YOU feel special? Anybody can do this. It's easy. Try getting SSL/Apache/Mysql/Perl/PHP to work together. Now thats bitchin.

    most open source projects are ~4 primary developers (if not a single one that is responsible for the overwhelming majority of it: This is the case with most well known projects)

    Wrong again, you are 0 for 2. Look at projects like XFree86, and the Linux Kernel. There are literally hundred(thousands?) of people at any moment working on it. Did you notice the recent story about the lines of code required to write different operating systems? Linux has made most of it's recent progress in the last 3 or 4 years. Windows has been a work in progress for almost 20, yet by the number of lines of code required to make each, Linux is larger by a factor of 2. No, Microsoft cannot keep up.
  • You have to think, what will come of Open-Sourcing windows? Good things. First and foremost, many current OSS developers might change over to windows. Second, with the influx of new work, it will become more featurefilled than it already is, and hopefully an order of magnitude more stable.

    What else would happen? I think the casual user would find Linux less attractive. It's strongest points are reliability and multitasking. If Windows had it all, I doubt Linux would have made it this far on the Desktop front.

    Microsoft doesn't just make money off of Windows. They make money off of their corporate customers. They sell Office, BackOffice, SQL server, IIS, and a plethora of other development and commercial software. Without the revenue generated by Windows, I think they would still be a veritable software company.

    Windows on every computer merely provided them a VERY broad platform to deliver their other goods.

  • by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunityNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @12:34AM (#127952) Homepage
    With the headway made by GNU/FSF, I find it hard to believe that in ten years, the average computer user will still be the same old ignorant follower. I don't blame people for using what's easy, Windows IS easy. But with the curve of advancement of free software, I don't think the closed-source model will be effective at creating top-tier software.

    With the recent move [slashdot.org] by Red Hat [redhat.com] I'd guess that "Enterprise" solutions will include Red Hat Linux far more often in the future. As GUI's improve, the useability of Linux(or BSD) will reach the grasp of people who really know little or nothing about computers. At this point, Microsoft will be at a head: Either change their business model or improve their software.
    Seeing as Microsoft is at an inherent disadvantage, I don't expect their software to rise to the level of OSS. It's just not feasible for them; They don't have the manpower.
    You're right, they're not going away. But I'm hoping for some positive changes with their policy(lack thereof, really) on Open Source software.
    digitalunity
  • What about the Scheme license?

    It's very close to the intent of the LGPL, and many of the old GNU libraries that were GPL+exception.

    I don't have much of a problem with the GPL for applications. But I have a real problem with it for libraries. For users of other free software licenses, those libraries are unusable. Use whatever license you would like, but extend that same courtesy to users of your library.
  • > Open Source fanatics will never come to terms with the corporate software environment and the corporat software people will never come to terms with giving away there "property" for free.

    Any particular reason for the choice of "fanatics" for one group and "people" for the other? I.e., could we swap them around without changing the meaning of your post?

    > There "bread and butter" is closed source software.

    We need to make a distinction here between software producers and software consumers. Not all companies are software producers. Most are not. For them, the "bread and butter" lies in using the software, and sometimes in getting the darn stuff to work. For them, the "bread and butter" may ultimately lie in open source software.

    --
  • > Too bad only Mundie is there to defend the closed-source model

    The thing is... the closed-source model doesn't need defending. Lots of people think open-source is "better" for one reason or another, but I'm not aware of anyone saying that "closed source is evil; no one should be allowed to keep closed-source software".

    The issue is, why can't CM take a similar live-and-let-live attitude toward open-source software?

    And we don't need a forum to answer that question.

    --
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @03:11AM (#127957)
    > There are companies like Trolltech (http://www.trolltech.com/) for example who are developing a proprietary product, and have made the following statement: if our company ever goes belly up - the whole software will be released open source.

    Think of it as an insurance policy. The kings of Roman "client kingdoms" used to will their kingdoms to Rome in the event of untimely death, in order to prevent usurpers from offing them. (The usurper would be disappointed in his aspirations when a couple of legions showed up on his doorstep to collect the imperial inheritance.)

    Maybe Trolltech has something similar in mind? "Cut off my air supply and your problem gets even worse."

    --
  • Well, I guess I should have put more of an emphasis on the "commercial interests [being] free to exploit it" part. At any rate, the attitude has basically been that the ultimate purpose of research is to enrich some company, and if it doesn't in some way serve a corporate interest it probably isn't worth much and isn't worth funding.

  • by flimflam (21332) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @04:23AM (#127959) Homepage
    I think I understand Mundie's/Microsoft's argument re: GPL software. It basically comes down to their view of what they call the "ecosystem" of software. In their view, government and universities (funded by taxes and philanthropy) should do fundamental research, which should then be placed in the public domain where commercial interests are free to exploit it. In this view, the GPL (at least if used by these groups) is indeed a threat, for it prevents the commercialization (at least in the Microsoft way) or this research. It is certainly consistent with a certain world-view, and makes a certain amount of sense, however I think it is really an outdated view. Traditionally this made sense because one of the roles of government has been to promote the economic prosperity of its country's industries. One way of doing this was to fund research that would give a competitive advantage to companies within its borders. Now, however, most large companies are transnational, with less loyalty to their home countries than they once had. From a public policy point of view, the question is does funding the research of these corporations still provide the maximum social benefit (for our country)? I would have to say that increasingly the answer is no. I would say that the benefit of having freely available (as in GPL) research now outweighs the benefit of whatever economic benefit a company such as Microsoft would receive from the ability to commercialize such software. This benefit is both in the increased intellectual freedom that free software provides, and in the economic benefit to thousands of businesses that can improve their bottom lines by using free software.

    P.S. I hope this made sense, because I slept late and now I'm late for work and writing this way to fast when I should really be eating breakfast and getting dressed (though not at the same time).

  • While I can't speak on his behalf, my guess is it was one of the following...

    a) Time constraints

    b) Enough people present quite capable of a decent arguement against Mundie.

    c) The chances of Mundie even trying to be open minded enough to entertain the arguments Stallman would present are too small to bother.

    You'll notice Mundie didn't even respond to Bruce's almost perfect response to the opening message. Why is that Craig? I think Stallman probably predicted the level of over protective "media trained" drones checking over what Mundie writes and deciding which points are 'strategically viable' to answer.

    From Microsoft's view, none of the interesting issues are viable. They'd lose every time and so won't bother. Look at the postings. See?

    I can't say I blame RMS.
  • How could he be off-topic? He only replies to threads about his articles. He's, by definition, on-topic. His posts aren't really trolls either, that's the article.

    He's long-winded, and rambles a bit, but he does answer questions and responds to comments about his articles.

    I tend not to read his articles, but I wish all the editors who posted articles would actually read the discussion afterwords.
  • That's all fine and well, but it is not an accurate portrayl of Microsoft's position. They are not limiting their criticism of freeopengpl software to university or government developed software; they limit it to ALL software developed under a freeopengpl license, be it from RH, RMS, me, or universities and governments. Otherwise interesting.

    The other problem with this viewpoint is that I don't see Microsoft arguing that Merck, et al. should give AIDS drugs (I cringe to use this example, but it is SO appropriate) away for free. Or argue against the private holding of the human genome mappings.

    It would be nice (and perhaps even rational) to argue that government/university funded research should be public domain. It probably should. But Microsoft is only interested in this limitation as it pertains to software and algorithms, and would like to extend it to you, me, and IBM.

    (Yes, I know the Bill and Melinda Foundation gave a bunch of money to give AIDS drugs to various African countries. But wouldn't that money have been better spent lobbying Congress to change laws such that government funded research is in the public domain? Or to throw a swanky yacht party for the heads of Merck, Pfizer, etc. and convince them to cut their margins to 0?)
  • I don't have the linkage, but I think Cringely or someone like that mentioned that it was/is probably a feint or slight of hand to get people to avoid the real issues. I'm not sure that this ISN'T a real issue, but if it is lesser than some other issue that Microsoft is interested in, than their tactic to draw our attention elsewhere has worked marvelously.

  • Somebody mod this post up, as he provides the linkage I was too lazy to find.
  • Craig Mundie doesn't reply too often; also, he doesn't answer the things that I'd like to hear about, namely Bruce's statements on how MS uses their power to prevent free standards (Office file formats etc.) instread of supporting or creating them. So while the discussion gives MS a forum, it's relatively hard to get real news. Craig says MS doesn't have anything against open source. Well, great, then what's the big deal?

    The problem with any discussion on the topic is, IMHO, that the really smart people at MS - and I don't doubt they have quite a few - know about their own dirty tactics and they know about free software being something that everybody can more or less directly profit from (at least, nobody gets hurt), with the possible exception of MS itself.

    So while it's nice to tell an MS representative in his face (or as close as an email roundtable comes to that ;-)) what is to be thought about their view of the software world, nothing is gained from the experience.
  • I'd say Microsofts strategy here is quite simply to try to scare companies into not using free software, in addition to now making it illegal (via Microsofts new licencing terms) for them do do so.

    Note that Microsoft have at least been successful in getting a lot of press for their POV and starting discussions about educating people about the "problem" of free software!

    Of course it's intersesting to note that the only free software licence NOT on Microsoft's banned list is BSD since their own TCP/IP stack is based on the free BSD licenced one.
  • The way copyright law is written copyright is implicit for any written work. (Forgive me if I am wrong, I'm not a lawyer.) Therefore, if anyone comes across your code (which doesn't have *any* license), they can not legally distribute it at all in any way shape or form except for fair use.

    The purpose of a license (GPL, BSD, Public Domain, etc.) is to explicitly give users of code rights that are restricted by law to the author.

    Another handy provision if most licenses is they disclaim warrantability. If some fly-by-night security company incorporated your simply encryption program into their product that got cracked, it is possible that your name could end up on a list of defendants in court.

    I think what you want to do is to put a notice in your code that explicitly puts it into the public domain and disclaims any warrantability for any particular purpose. Then, users can do whatever they want with your code, but you aren't responsible if a bug causes them injury.

    Regards,

    b

    have a day,

    -l

  • But most companies don't sell software, they sell hardware or services that use software. If those companies can make use of low cost freely available software in their products, it will increase their profits rather than decreasing them.

    There is another part to the "free" in free software. Users are free to alter it to suit their environment. Rather than having to bend the way they work to the way some company (which may be thousands of miles away and not even speak the same language) thinks things should work.
  • I, and apparently ~85% of all other worldwide desktop PC users, would much rather pay the extra for something that suits my needs directly than waste time trying to make it do what I need

    Then why don't you actually do that. Actually buy your own machine, whilst you are at it you can buy your own desk or even your own office.
    Please get a clue. Corporate users are issued with computers to use. The vast majority of them (especially those who think they know how to set up a modem) have utterly no clue about networking.
    Anyway your comment about not wasting time trying to make something do what you need is exactly the situation with Windows. For the vast majority of situations it is more clumsy than a right hand drive car would be in the US.
  • by cansecofan22 (62618) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @12:19AM (#127981) Homepage
    I am not sure if this will actualy help anything. Open Source fanatics will never come to terms with the corporate software environment and the corporat software people will never come to terms with giving away there "property" for free. I know companies like Sun and IBM have come around but I dont see companies like Microsoft turning around because they dont sell PC's or Servers or Workstations. There "bread and butter" is closed source software. Some companies that can afford to open up some software to gain a new market for there hardware will come around and see the light of open source software but I dont see companies like Microsoft ever coming around. It is very good to discuss the differences but I dont think much will come out of it.
  • Some companies that can afford to open up some software to gain a new market for there hardware will come around and see the light of open source software

    Amazing how MS is trying to make room for XBox isn't it. Moving towards a hardware development arena wouldn't be so hard for MS, but they'd stand to dish out a heck of a lot of money to do so, so it might be easier to buy someone... Say SGI?

    What would the computing world think if MS did go out and do something similar, surely they could capture the attention of everyone, and SGI (although not at its height anymore) has some kick ass servers, Origin, Onyx.

    I don't think MS is against open sourced software because they're afraid of losing revenue to the software/hardware companies like IBM, and Sun, personally I think they're afraid someone will gain insight to where they're going with their OS and create something more stabler, robust, faster, and cheaper.
  • by joq (63625) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @02:06AM (#127983) Homepage Journal

    If Microsoft's main intention seemed to be to create good software, I think that most people would be less opposed to closed source. But Microsoft's intentions seem to me to be extremely hostile
    • (ii) Recipient shall not distribute the Device Adapter Code, or any portion thereof, on a stand-alone basis or otherwise permit further distribution of the Device Adapter Code and/or derivatives thereof by third parties.

    If this is Microsoft's desire (and it has the right to require this; it owns the code!), it is clear already -- without going farther -- that the code cannot legally be incorporated into software for which source is made available to everyone, since it would violate these requirements. There are sensible reasons for such requirements. If Microsoft intends to support developers who use the code, releasing it to anyone could potentially increase its developer support costs without bound. (And developer support can't be done with minimum-wage employees; those who support developers usually have to be skilled programmers themselves.)

    [source [siliconvalley.com]]

    We're hearing the same arguments over and over about how evil MS is for being anti GPL. To each their own, but in MS' case, their bread and butter comes via the way of the developers, whom they pay top dollar to develop.

    In opposition to this you have the GPL horde (and I don't mean it in a negative sense) that are mainly doing this on their own free time, with little to no support being offered. They are not as concerned with showing revenues gained to those who invested money in their stocks to make products to get the jobs done.

    Sure MS may have issues via way of security, and bugs, but don't kid yourself cause many open source programs have those same bugs hence all those advisories on Bugtraq.

    Why is everyone against someone else making money with their business model? No one tells the GPL developers what to do with their code, in fact some make money off of writing Unix based apps, albeit miniscule in comparison with MS. IBM, Sun, HPUX, all have variants which is pay for play *Nix, and Sun is similar to MS, so what's all the rage about.
  • I almost felt bad for Mundie when it seemed he was getting pushed into doublespeak to defend Microsoft's right to run a business.

    But of course that quickly evaporated as he completely ignored most accusations of rapacious business practices. This is obviously more of the same, too bad he (Microsoft) cannot screw up the courage to just tell the truth, that they can make up any liscense they want and print it as long as they can get away with it.

    But it was really a neat trick, to say the GPL sets up a wall when Microsoft, through this liscense as well as through its entire business history, has done exactly that. They have intentionally made a liscense which is incompatible with the GPL and immobilizes users of both. But it really takes guts to be so blatant as to attempt the "cleansing" of free software from the development environment including tools which are just there to get the job done. If they want a holy war they can get one (spoken as a Perl Monk [perlmonks.org] :).

    Supposedly someone who purchased software with this liscense would be agreeing with their MS operating system and MS applications spying on them for the presence of gcc or Mozilla on network drives.

    As for the suggestion that the existence of free software is dangerous to business, this also is clearly refuted. Sleepy Cat and Reiser which are both referenced offer commercial liscenses. And other (BSD, MIT) liscenses can be used if the author just wants his or her software to be as widely used as possible. The other thing is why I like Perl for example, or any of the other tools in GNU/Linux. They work. I can get the job done, and get into a wide development community of leading edge technologists with minimum investment. I also don't have to pay MS money every time I need to do something, just remembering someone I know who had to pay $2000 for VB to get a little component that would let him download a web page. I know a bunch of ways to that with Perl/GNU/Linux. So I respect the desire of a company to make a profit but not if the only company allowed to be successful is Microsoft.

    If Microsoft spins the liscense they are analyzing into more of its software I and lots of other people will transform into vengeful consultants who will do everything possible to remove Microsoft's products (now viral due to their new liscense) from our places of work and those of our clients. I was about to spend time getting an open source system of mine to work well on an NT box. Well, can I even do so? If someone installs this Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit on their system, it sounds like they no longer can install a Windows port of Mysql, Perl, or any other piece of open source software including my own. I can only imagine this will be ignored by users but will remain as a gotcha which MS could use at whim. Microsoft doesn't just sound like the monopoly run by the richest man in the world, it's beginning to sound like an enemy. They'd better backpedal fast.. There are still more of us than them.

  • Thanks for correcting me. I am not a VB programmer and this was last year, though it is just likely that my friend wasn't aware of the existence of the free components you mentioned.

    This was for a Cold Fusion based website, and he was building a section which needed to grab headlines off a partner site to display in our news section. We didn't have Visual Basic, he had to buy it. Was this free MSXML kit available a year ago? Another thing is that while I offered to do it in Perl I think the programmer really wanted VB (he mainly does .asp pages and the company had already spent too much on Microsoft liscenses to purchase a good development environment.. some reason was needed to get them to pay for VB and I suppose ignoring the fact that Perl would handle it quickly and for free was the easiest way to do so. I believe it was actually a component shipped free with VB but you needed VB itself to use it, hence the $2000.

    This developer anyway was convinved there was no way to do it except pay the money. Me, I'm steeped in Perl's "There's More Than One Way To Do It" ideology and hate having to pay every time I turn around with Windows technology when I think it ought to be able to do more for the price. I doubt "of course it's free from MS" refers to any standard policy of Microsoft's. Anyway, thanks for the comment. I certainly would like tell him about MSXML.

  • Both open source and comercial software have been around a long time. Neither has extinguished the other, because each has it's advantages. Many of the features of today's software have their roots in BSD licensed software. The GCC compiler has been ported to a tremendous number of hardware platforms and OSs. It has been a vital tool in a tremendous number of innovative projects. But all those years of open source development weren't very successful at making an OS for the masses. Of the OSs that I've used over the years, the easiest for me to learn at (at least at the time they were released) were Windows, Amiga (I don't know the name of the OS), and Apple's OS. There is a large number of people who are happy being barely computer literate. They aren't programmers, and have no interest in becomming programmers. They use a computer to accomplish a task, or simply for their own amusement. They may use open source software, but they'll never write any themselves. They may pay for a open source distribution software, but only until they learn how to get it for free. A good example of where the comercial software model works is in computer games. Today's computer games take a tremendous amount of development effort to produce. In order to get state of the art games released before new technology (new graphics cards, faster processors) makes them outdated you need a group of developers working full time, they can't be coding in their spare time around their jobs which pay the bills. You can't throw a ton of open source developers all working on it a little bit, because it's not an efficient way of getting a project done in a hurry.
    The game deveolpers deserve to make a living, and relying on donations from gamers isn't going to pay the bills. Not every game is extremely successful, if you want to attract good game deveolpers a game company has to have the resources to pay developers and assume the risks. This requires a lot of the overhead of managers, accountants, and such that Bruce Perns calls waste in one of his posts. Sure there are some companies that always release profitable games. Blizzard comes to mind as an example. But even they have cancelled projects that didn't seem to be working. They still had to pay their developers. Open source doesn't address this market.

    I've heard people say that the internet has changed everything, and is making closed source obsolete. It has definatly energized the open source movement, and allowed open source projects to become viable alternatives where close source products were the only real choice. The internet comming of the internet has also poured billions of dollars in to comercial software companies, and has stimulated closed source products to improve. The internet may have shifted the balance between closed and open source, but neither is going away.

    To summerise this rambling post. Both open source and closed source have their respective places in the world, neither is going anywhere.
  • Open Source fanatics will never come to terms with the corporate software environment and the corporate software people will never come to terms with giving away there "property" for free.

    Microsoft or any other company can call me and I'll be quite happy to license them my GPLed code for a sufficiently exhorbitant amount of money. Of course, I cleverly maintain user submitted changes as a set of patches in the directory tree. If Microsoft wants those changes, they'll have to contact those users. If someone doesn't want to play, Microsoft will have to implement those fixes themselves or do without them. I'm sure it'd cost them a lot less to do that than to hire a comparable programming team.

    Sun and IBM seem to be corporations to me and they don't seem to be having any problem giving away at least some of their "property" for free.

    It seems that Microsoft is losing its stranglehold in some areas. People are much more likely now to request that documents be sent in open formats. On the other hand, they're making a play to get a stranglehold in various media type formats. One thing is sure: They're irrelevant to me. I have only Linux on my system at home and though NT is installed on my work machine, I've only booted to it once in the past month, to view some HTML that was written for a system where the filesystem wasn't case sensitive. 99.9 percent of the time I'm in Linux.

  • by kdgarris (91435) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @03:39AM (#127993) Journal
    Anyone know why Stallman quit the discussion before it got started?

    -Karl
  • Dan Gillmore (columnist for Mercury News) makes the best point imho when he quotes an interview with Steve Ballmer [suntimes.com] that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times:
    Open source is not available to commercial companies. The way the license is written, if you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source.
    Recall that this is the CEO of Microsoft talking - a smart guy, who certainly knows the difference between, e.g., "using" and "incorporating into your source code", or for that matter, "open source" and "GPL".

    When seen in context with the Mobile Internet Toolkit EULA [microsoft.com] (which also deliberately misconstrues the Open Source "use") all of this reveals that the mere fact of a moral debate between MS and Open Source advocates is all that MS wants, and sufficient for their victory. More precisely, MS is interested in:

    1. Tarnishing the "pure" reputation of Open Source so that they may:
    2. Eventually forbid all MS developers (and consumers?) from using Open Source products; and
    3. Continue to embrace and extend the code of other businesses, researchers, and government in classic fashion; without
    4. Facing strong political pressure from businesses, consumers, and the US government.
    Post-antitrust-action Microsoft has learned the importance of politics and has chosen to attack Open Source politically as well as in the marketplace. Their strategy is postmodern in the sense that they do not need to convince anyone that MS wears white hats and Open Source black; as long as the typical business/consumer/Congressperson sees MS and OS hats as existing on some larger grey continuum, they will be free to proceed with their agenda.

    -Renard

  • One of Microsoft's major complaints about government-funded software being released under the GPL is that it would not be availible to businesses to make a profit off of. Now I'm certainly not an objectivist, but I am a capitalist (more so than the average joe) so here's a little bit of summarized Rand for Gates and Co.

    There is no such thing as "public property." That which we call public property is the private property of the government. Being the private property of the government, the government gets to decide how it will be used or given away. That means that the government gets to decide what license its source code is released under because it is the property of the government.

    Now for my two cents. Microsoft needs to do two things if it wants to continue its position of dominance, and it will do neither of these. These things are: reduce prices on all of its products to make them more competitive with open source offerings and give basic rights to software owners. That means none of the usual: if you don't do what we say, you cannot use it! routine. Microsoft needs to say that essentially if it doesn't violate copyright law, it is kosher with them.

  • "Change their work, release source. Change our work, no sweat."

    No, they are not quite the same. There is a reason why Scheme wasn't just released under LGPL. My head hurts when I try hard to understand just what the LGPL says; the Scheme license is simpler.

    For example, my understanding of the LGPL license is that you have to release source for any part of your application that uses header files from the LGPL stuff, if the header files contain inline functions more than 10 lines long. (LGPL [gnu.org], section 5.)

    steveha

  • You are correct; I was thinking GUILE when I wrote Scheme. Sorry, my bad.

    I'm a "he", by the way. :-)

    steveha

  • by steveha (103154) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @01:59AM (#127999) Homepage
    Craig Mundie says MS just wants to be very clear that its code may never be given away. Brett Glass says MS is being reasonable, and he prefers the BSD license to the GPL.

    What about the Scheme license? That is GPL, with the exception that you can link Scheme in (and include the header files) without any need for your other stuff to be under a free license. In other words, if you make a change to Scheme, you have to release it under the GPL, but you can freely use Scheme even in proprietary stuff.

    This would seem to fix Microsoft's worries. But it also makes it impossible to release a slightly incompatible Scheme (if MS really does "embrace and extend" they might be expected to try this). So I'd be interested to know whether MS considers the Scheme license to be a Pac-Man cancer or whatever. I'd even be interested to know what Brett Glass thinks of it.

    steveha


  • Be quiet!

    I order you to be quiet!

  • People say bad things about Microsoft on Slashdot, but the full truth is much worse. Microsoft is so abusive that I have never known or heard about anyone who understood the complete scope of Microsoft abusiveness.

    I'm not sure M$oft is more evil than other big business, say IBM or SUN. It's only more powerful.
    Therefore, what in the others is 'standard business practice', becomes 'intolerable abusiveness' when it's M$oft to do it ( but maybe this is just fair ).

  • There is no such thing as "public property." That which we call public property is the private property of the government.

    That's not true for "intellectual property", because intellectual property can be duplicated. The natural state of intellectual property is free. Only in the presence of government protection and coercion can private intellectual property be distributed and remain private. And, as we've discovered in the last decade, when copying costs go down, it takes more and more coercive efforts by governments to maintain the concept that intellectual property can be privately owned.

    Rand wrote in an era when you needed a factory to duplicate intellectual property. That view is obsolete.

  • Actually, if you read the profiles on the front page of the roundtable and the comments posted by the various members of the panel, you will notice many more than two viewpoints. This issue extends beyond GPL vs. Microsoft.

    Here is my take on the members' stances:

    • Larry Augustin: Silent so far.
    • James V. DeLong: Seems to be bringing a legal and philosophical angle to the discussion. He believes in IP rights to software, and sees open source and proprietary software as competing business models.
    • Dan Gilmoor: One comment [siliconvalley.com] of substance so far, in which he makes an attempt to get Mundie to take a stand on open source licenses other than GPL.
    • Brett Glass: Fairly prolific up to now. Falls very cleanly into the BSD camp here at Slashdot, and makes it clear that he believes in a developer's right to control how his software is used and reused. Makes some salient points about Microsoft licensing, but paints GPL as commercially unviable and as a "poison pill" to commercial software vendors.
    • David McGowan: Comes in as a legal mind placed fairly clearly against Microsoft and pro-GPL, if a little conservatively. Also fairly active.
    • Craig Mundie: Pretty active in the discussion. Makes some interesting points concerning innovation and the benefactors of publicly funded research. Pro-MS, of course.
    • Bruce Perens: Active participant, and arguably the most Pro-GPL, anti-MS panel member. Asks some inflammatory questions, and makes some good points about corporations who use software vs corporations who sell software.
    • David Winer: One of the less vocal members. Gives a good background [siliconvalley.com] on his decision to use the MIT license, and believes that commercial software is just as moral as open source software.

    So I think the panel is fairly balanced, when you consider that the roundtable is not about MS vs. GPL anymore (despite the stated topic on the introductory page.) The real meat of the discussion is intellectual property, the ins and outs of licensing, and the relative merits of many different licensing models.

    I regret Stallman's withdrawal from the panel, as his presence would have steered the discussion towards ethical issues as well as legal ones.

  • "...I know companies like Sun and IBM have come around..."

    They have? IBM say the right things (e.g. we're spending a billion on Linux, stenciling little Tux's everywhere etc), but are they really embracing the "open" mentality?

    Have a look at the latest Kernel Traffic, item number 7 IBM Lumbering near open source [zork.net].

    Does that sound like a company that has come around to you?

  • by clary (141424) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @05:28AM (#128013)
    If you follow the effect of their actions carefully, the company's main purpose seems to be to abuse its users. A case might be logically made that, for Microsoft, making a profit is secondary.
    I can bash Microsoft with the best of them, but this just doesn't make sense. For a purpose that is secondary, Microsoft has done an unbelievably good job of making a profit.

    No, in a publically held corporation, profit is the main purpose. Microsoft's profit-making methods might be offensive or maybe even illegal, but their purpose is indeed to make money for their shareholders (including first and foremost, BillG).

  • But I don't see why you said the others are short-sighted...can you explain?

    I didn't say the others were short-sighted, the word short-sighted referred to the fact that there are a lot of people defending Open Source and just one closed source. It's a bit like a business meeting where one employee wants to get something done, but all the others disagree: the man isn't going to get his way, whether he has a point or not.

    Don't get me wrong, I like to see M$ in trouble (insert evil grin here), but in my opinion this is an unfair fight. Strange to notice that I actually liked the idea of someone defending M$ (Brett Glass).

    He's busy dating! :D

    Hmm, so the man has a private life too... Damn, that makes him better than me in two ways *grin*

  • by Woefdram (143784) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @01:22AM (#128015) Homepage
    I like the idea of an open discussion, but I don't think this will be an interesting one. The idea of this is MS-bashing. Which is fun, BTW, but with only one man defending a policy against a whole bunch of others is a little short-sighted. Too bad RMS quit, BTW.

    Wouldn't it be much more interesting if some guys from Unisys joined, to defend their way of handling the GIF format? Or someone from AOL, I think it would be nice to see MS and AOL defend one point of view together. Maybe a discussion about standards in instant-messaging systems *grin*.

  • That's fine and plenty of people do it.

    The GPL does not force people that use your source to publish their changes, only those who distribute their changed versions of your code in binary form.

    The motivation behind the GPL is "I'll help you by giving you my work for free but only if you promise to help others". One way of looking at it is "I'm not doing this work for your profits", which is the attitude many have to MS using their code.

    Where the clash really is is when someone like MS not only uses free code (such as the BSD stuff they use) but they also turn around and shit on coders by stealing their work outright (eg doublestack) and start calling other people's code "viral" as they've started to with any code they can't use to increase their profits, and finally to take away the user's rights to own their own software and data (.NET).

    It's about that point that many people start asking "why should I let these people use my code? They're just bastards!" and stop releasing totally free code.

    In a perfect world there would be no need for the GPL or any other licences and Bill Gates has spent most of his life trying to stop that perfect world ever coming to pass. Funny how it's always the people with extra privileges (Gates got his start from a trust fund of over a million 1955 dollars from pa and granpa) who most want to take privileges of others, isn't it?

    TWW

  • by ichimunki (194887) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @09:43AM (#128023)
    An average (mean) does not imply anything about half the people (whether IQ is actually distributed in a bell curve where the median and the average are close together is probably more of a function of test design and scoring technique than actual intelligence). Now if the WAIS IQ had been designed so that 100 indicated the median IQ, your statement would be correct.

    And yes, computers are extremely complex and most people do not understand them even a little. Frankly I don't see that this is any different between Windows and Linux, both are pretty hard to use when you can't find the "any" key or you plug the power strip into itself. One thing our culture lacks, however, is a large, mature base of people who have been using something like our current systems since they were quite young. When that happens (and unless there are major strides in computer technology in the next ten years it will happen in about ten years) you will see that our cultural literacy regarding computers will go way up. Or at least, it's my opinion that it will.
  • There's one true way to figure out who's right.

    Wait for about 10 years. Compare the state of free software to the state of "shared source" or whatever they call it this week.

    I'm willing to bet that gcc will still be in wide use, Emacs will still be a choice editor (along with vim, of course), Perl 7.0 or later will have an absurd marketshare, and Apache will still be serving up data (not sure about http, but the Apache team is a forward thinking bunch, and I'm sure they'll adapt).

    I'm also willing to bet that Microsoft will still be alive and strong, copyright law will be even further adulterated, and the USPTO will still be granting dumb patents.

    I also suspect that in 10 years we'll still be arguing over free software. Microsoft will claim that free software is bad for business, we'll point out that it's actually not bad for anything but their profits, and the cycle will continue.

    -John
  • I don't think this is a fair discussion. Craig has to defend his company's position, and that's to make money, while all the other panel members have something to benefit from the growth of Linux and other free OSes.

    Also, I don't think it's fair it's just Craig Mundie against the rest of the world. If this is really a debate about the benefits of Open Source vs Corporate software, why is everything biased towards attacking Microsoft? There's more than operating systems, you know.

    I don't see anyone objecting to Oracle for not opening the source to their RDBMS and tools. And I don't see anyone attacking their license policies either.

    Call me a troll, but I call this lots of blah blah about nothing but a peculiar detail in the GPL that is being dragged out so much that the world is thinking Microsoft is in trouble again.
  • Oh please, no one is asking MS to change their ways. They are discussing the issue however and Mundie's recent article about open source has many plot holes (as to be expected from a short article - it needs explaining).

    Mundie is doing a poor job at explaining Microsoft's stance (and I hate to say it but Bruce Perens is doing rather well) and so he should. There doesn't seem to be any way of backing up his odd opinions.

  • The trouble with open source software is that laws don't keep up to the pace. This all results in awful mess where we have companies making money, and enjoying some IP etc protection, and then an open system without much rules offering them "unfair" competition etc. Microsoft lawyers must be quite terrified of what open source could do to their business.

    You have to remember that business is based on demand. Misery and suffering creates a need to get out of it - thus selling food for the hungry or medicine for the sick is a business. Microsoft is in the business of making a piece of stupid hardware to actually do something useful. And now they see someone offering better solutions and better relief to that same problem for free. How are they going to keep up? how should the legistlation react to this?.. there is no easy answer.

    Open source also generates a new set of legal problems. There are companies like Trolltech (http://www.trolltech.com/) for example who are developing a proprietary product, and have made the following statement: if our company ever goes belly up - the whole software will be released open source..

    What many don't immediately think of is this: doing this actually violates the rights of creditors. How would you feel if you own a share in some software company, the company goes bust, and the only thing worth money is released in open source - thus effectively destroying all the changes of you ever seeing your money again...

    Open source software is such a huge headache for lawyers and law makers. I am laughing out loud, it will be very interesting to see where we end up after 10 years or so.. I'm guessing that at somet point somebody has to draw a line and make major descisions.. which will undoubtly change the software business alltogether.

    .km


  • I agree. If other companies were in a position to be more abusive, they would.

    Often what limits corporate abusiveness is just the situation, not a determination to act in a sensible fashion.

  • It is interesting that what people should have for intentions are often not what their actions accomplish.

    Profit should be Microsoft's intention. But there have been so many instances where the company's direction didn't seem to be motivated by profit.

    For example, why did Microsoft become involved in a highly public argument with the Justice Department? Was that really necessary for profit? It seems instead to have weakened the company. The purpose of fighting the Justice Department seemed to be to establish that the company could continue to be abusive, not to make more profit.

  • I thought this was especially interesting:

    It's a very common 'technique' among codependents to bust down anyone who they percieve as 'needing them', in order to perpetuate the pattern of being needed. Perhaps what's going on here is Mr. Gates ... filling a need created by getting teased at school or something stupid like that.

    This is my guess, also. Bill Gates has been doing Microsoft exclusively since he was a teenager, and he has never given himself a chance to grow up. He is still acting out in an angry, socially backward way like a teenager might. He doesn't seem to realize that the situation in his life has changed.

  • There are two issues here. First, a lot of people in the world community want to stop a major abuser. Who wants to be a dog on a leash, and change direction every time Microsoft yanks his chain?

    Second, many people feel that open source software is just better. Who wants to use sausage software? If you knew what was in it, you probably wouldn't want it.

    For me, the most important issue is not between open and proprietary software, it is between living peacefully in the world and abusiveness.

    People say bad things about Microsoft on Slashdot, but the full truth is much worse. Microsoft is so abusive that I have never known or heard about anyone who understood the complete scope of Microsoft abusiveness.

    Everyone who is knowledgeable about this seems to have a different set of Microsoft abuses to mention. Bruce Perens says in the SV.com Roundtable [siliconvalley.com], "... you [Microsoft] have used your dominant position in the marketplace to force out competition through the ... use of incompatibility. For example, you changed the file and printer sharing protocol, and then you patented the changes so that anyone who makes a system that is compatible with yours becomes a patent infringer."

    If Microsoft's main intention seemed to be to create good software, I think that most people would be less opposed to closed source. But Microsoft's intentions seem to me to be extremely hostile. If you follow the effect of their actions carefully, the company's main purpose seems to be to abuse its users. A case might be logically made that, for Microsoft, making a profit is secondary.
  • I think the concept of unfairness stems from a distinction between "receiving money" and "receiving benefits". Millions of people stand to benefit from the growth of OpenSource and the availability of free software. Millions of people stand to benefit from Microsoft making more profits, not the least of whom are shareholders and end-users who should be getting new technologies in return for their cash.

    In amongst the flames, legalese and politicking, there is a very basic concept underlying both arguments: payment. MS demands payment in cash, GPL demands payment in kind. MS demands payment for all forms of use, GPL demands payment only when the software is modified.

    MS is in the business of selling software to end users as well as developers, so the GPL has a direct financial effect on their business. Hence their attack on the GPL, hence a response targetted at MS in particular.

    While advocates of free software (and I mean free speech as well as free beer, as advocated by the FSF) may like to see no-one making money from commercial software, most people appreciate the fact that the software industry is economically important, and can produce many things that free software won't (not necessarily can't).

    Oracle have never attempted to redden the GPL (think communism if you're missing the implication), or ban the use of OpenSource tools in conjunction with their software. And after a certain now-infamous backdoor was discovered in another leading product after its source was opened, there were several calls to all te major RDBMS vendors to provide access to their source code.

    Craig Mundie has, before the world's media, expressed Microsoft's official view on free software. Now he is being asked to substantiate that view with hard facts, instead of making frivilous claims. I hardly think that's unfair.

  • by stud9920 (236753) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @03:42AM (#128044)
    We're coders of the round table
    We dance when e'er we're able
    We do subroutines
    And demo scenes
    With perl code impecc-Able.
    We dine well here in Camelot
    We eat pizza's and coffee and read spam a lot

  • All warfare is based on deception.

    Whilst our 'open' nature proper use of this a dificult we should recognise application.

    When able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must seem distant; when far away, we must seem near.

    If he is secure, be prepared for him. If he is superior, evade him. There is considerable danger to the Open & Free software communities in allowing Microsoft to set the agenda regarding this debate, we should be engaging in debate on our own terms or not at all. We must recognise Microsoft dominance of and ability to set the agenda within mainstream media.

    If your opponent is of choleric temper, irritate him.

    Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

    If his forces are united, separate them.

    Attack where not expected and your oponent is unprepared. Consider the Ben & Jerry 'What's the pilsbury dough boy affaid of' campaign.

    Bring materials with you, but forage from your opponent.

    This might seem an area of difficulty for ourselves, however resources in this context extends well beyond source; it includes people (Windows freeware developers), sites (Free web space & WebMail), bandwidth and information. So our resources are enhanced whilst the enemies are depleted.

    supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting. The path to victory for open/free software is not defeating microsoft, but winning for ourselves. The bulk of our resources should be directed to those ends.

    the highest form of generalship is to foil the enemy's plans; http://www.google.com/search?q=Tzu+Sun+%22The+Art+ of+War%22&btnG=Google+Search

  • for his bravery. He's badly outnumbered, but he's still gladly participating. I know many people would think Craig is *cough* retarded, but he's surely brave.

    Ancient Chinese soldiers worn a big Chinese word 'BRAVE' on their chest. Their emperor hoped that they'd charge(to death) regardless of all the difficulities.

    Now I can see someone has put a big 'BRAVE' on his chest....poor Craig...

    P.S. The era I spoke of is the last tyranny of China.
    &nbsp_
    /. / &nbsp&nbsp |\/| |\/| |\/| / Run, Bill!
  • by jsse (254124) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @01:59AM (#128049) Homepage Journal
    We don't expect panelists to change their believes in the discussion. Rather we learn from them. e.g.(extracted from the discussion):

    JVDeLong :...I don't think Bruce is quite on target. The MS license says only that a developer cannot incorporate code from these tools into a program. This strikes me as a necessary provision. The tools can still be used, though.

    Bruce_Perens : I think you did not read that license carefully enough. Please take another look at this line in the MS license:

    (ii) not using Potentially Viral Software (e.g. tools) to develop Recipient software which includes the Software, in whole or in part.

    ....this reads pretty clearly as a restriction on the use of tools. Not on the creation of derived works containing those tools as you assert. Perhaps you missed that line in the license?


    David_McGowan :... I read this language as Bruce does. "The Software" is a defined term that refers to MS's software. DM

    That's very interesting, I had doubt after reading /. comments [slashdot.org] on the same issue now I learn a bit more on legalese..okay it doesn't make me a lawyer but at least I learn not to confuse Potentially Viral Software with Software. :)


    &nbsp_
    /. / &nbsp&nbsp |\/| |\/| |\/| / Run, Bill!
  • by budgenator (254554) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @01:50AM (#128050) Journal
    1. Make outrageous provocative Statement, EULA ect., but do it quietly like your realy trying to sneek something by or to a limited audience
    2. Wait for vigorous public outcry to build
    3. Explain in soothing terms, Legal got carried away, what we meant is...(insert less provocative statement)
    4. reinterate 2, 3, until it'll squeek by
    5. reinterate all above
    6. In short set a goal, take 4 steps forawrd, then 3 steps back; eventualy you'll get there and desensitize people along the way. Forcast: the tools clause will be dropped in the final release, but will be standard in all beta licienses for a while. Eventualy they'll say "nobody is useing the open-tools and ban them in future productions licienses.

  • by doug363 (256267) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @01:10AM (#128051)

    I don't think this is a fair discussion. Craig has to defend his company's position, and that's to make money, while all the other panel members have something to benefit from the growth of Linux and other free OSes.

    I personally can't see why on earth Craig Mundie would agree to join this panel, unless he has some personal reason to. However, I also can't see what actual purpose Craig Mundie's recent speech and Microsoft's recently inflamatory (IMHO) license agreements serve. To me, they are both not just FUD, but blatant flamebait. The only people who (as far as I am aware) know of either know about alternatives to Microsoft software anyway.

    The reason why no one objects to Oracle is because they're not attacking open source/free software for no real reason. Their software works with a lot of other software, both open source and not. "Other" software companies seem to have more a live an let live opinion of open source. (Something to the effect of: we're selling/licensing our software in the way that we think gives the best profit, and if other people want to do it differently, then that's their choice.)

  • The IQ test scoring was designed so it did give a bell curve, with the center, median, average, and highest point of the curve all being the same. That is, your IQ score is not just your test score times a scale factor, but rather they look up the test score in a table, which "corrects" it so the resulting curve from testing a large number of people looks "right". When a new test is written, they re-figure the table for it so as to match the IQ curve from the old tests. Originally, the average was at 100 for the American population (or maybe it was only middle-class whites?), but the average IQ in America has been climbing slowly but steadily ever since the first test was written (about a century ago), and I think it's close to 110 now. But IMHO, you don't need a 3-digit IQ to learn to use a computer, you just need an open mind and willingness to put in some effort.

    computers are extremely complex and most people do not understand them even a little. Frankly I don't see that this is any different between Windows and Linux, both are pretty hard to use when you can't find the "any" key or you plug the power strip into itself. This is what I mean by "open mind"; the people who have trouble with computers are those that _panic_ and won't use what they already know (the power strip...) or try anything (hit _some_ key -- oh, that's what it meant!). I am not particularly experienced with Linux, but in 14 years of using DOS and Windows, and doing incidental training, it never seemed that DOS was that hard to learn, or Windows that easy. Windows does _look_ friendlier (pictures and warm colors instead of monochrome text), so it may not induce so many panic reactions, but it's really far more complicated, and how in heck is double-clicking on an icon or through a series of menus more intuitive than typing in what you want the computer to do? Okay, you've got to learn a special language to type in commands, but is that worse than learning to click Start to stop? (Maybe it is for *nix, the geeks who created it seem to have an aversion to using anything resembling an actual English word.)

    IMO, the real usability advantage of a GUI comes later, _after_ you've learned the basics of using the interface: you don't have to memorize how things are spelled, you don't have to do all that typing, and when your hard drive starts clogging up you can see the files on the screen, just point and delete or drag and drop the "keepers" to a proper location. Finally, you will find more applications that use graphics well when there is a good GUI underneath.

  • if our company ever goes belly up - the whole software will be released open source.. That is a guarantee to their customers: you won't get left high and dry in case something happens to the supplier of your mission critical software, at worst you'll just have to hire someone to maintain the code.

    Not fair to creditors? Maybe, but if they did their homework, they know the risk. If they didn't do their homework -- one of the better aspects of capitalism is its habit of taking money away from fools and giving it to those who know what to do with it. Also, this policy should improve sales, making it less likely that the loans will fall into default. I think the creditors would much rather have their cash in hand than be trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of proprietary software that didn't sell well enough to keep the developers solvent...

  • by markmoss (301064) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @01:45PM (#128056)
    IMO, the recent public statements by Mundie and other Microsofties have been attempts to make executives believe two things that are not true:

    1. Open Source = GPL. They'll start with general statements about open source being viral. When challenged, they say "Oh, that only referred to the GPL." So go re-read to the original statement: "Open source" was in the prominent position; if "GPL" was mentioned at all, it was in a subordinate clause where execs who don't know much about it will assume it is a synonym for "Open Source." This makes Mundie's rebuttal "There is more than one Microsoft license" rather humorous: We knew that Craig, do you know there's more than one open source license? Obviously, MS has no objection at all to the BSD license, because they can copy that code right into their proprietary code, modify it to create incompatibilities and copyright or even patent the result -- but you won't see discussion of even BSD out where it non-techies might see it and get distracted from learning "Open source bad"...

    2. Use of GPL tools will infect your program and require that it become GPL'd. That is exactly what the Microsoft beta license discussed in the forum was intended to imply. Not so. You can write proprietary code using Gnu tools running on Linux and LGPL + proprietary libraries, and it stays proprietary. What you cannot do is incorporate the GPL source into your code, or modify the LGPL library without releasing the modifications. If you want to write proprietary library code, you just have to put it in a separate library (and of course, not start with open-source code). So where is the problem? Unless it's the sort of problem that a thief has with an unpickable lock?

    Now, don't get me wrong here. MS has the right to keep its source code secret, release it with a ban on copying or modifying it at all, require the development team to sacrifice a fatted calf to Lord Gates before starting work, or to specify which tools can be used. No problem there, if you don't like it just don't work with MS code. I could easily understand if they required the use of MS tools only on beta code, or even released code. But the coincidence between the wording in the license and Mundie's misleading public statements make me rather suspect that paragraph of the license is just another attempt to imply something which anyone who reads the (L)GPL licenses knows just isn't so.

    There does indeed seem to be an anti-intellectual property strain among the open-sourcers. But even the GPL does not cancel intellectual property rights, it only (very aggressively) keeps others from claiming GPL'd work as their own. Mundie is trying to confound the "information should be free" rhetoric of some open-sourcers with the much more limited actual effect of the licenses -- and he is too smart to make this mistake by accident.

  • For those that don't remember, Sausage software made one of the earlier WYSIWYG html editors (maybe they still do, I'm all about Notepad these days). It was pretty nice at the time, especially for those of us just learning html. However, their trial version, like so much shareware at the time, disabled itself after 30 days. What brings this into context, is that Hot Dog is the first product that I remember not being able to defeat the time-limit on the demo. Uninstalling didn't work, changing the date didn't work, hacking the hell out of the registry didn't work (admittedly, in early 1996 I wasn't *quite* the expert at this :).

    Funny to think of Hot Dog, which was to me the first piece of software to blatantly install pretty much un-removable code from my system, in the midst of a round of MS-bashing :)

  • In this view, the GPL (at least if used by these groups) is indeed a threat, for it prevents the commercialization (at least in the Microsoft way) or this research.

    Except that Microsoft has commercialized the GPL. As I (and many others) have pointed out before, Microsoft is more than happy to sell you Interix for $99.95 that includes GPL'ed code and the GPL licence.

    The truth is that they only hate the GPL when they can't make money on it.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"

  • Unfortunately, I see that Mundie hasn't been a very heavy contributor yet. Let's see: he's started a thread by apologizing for the fact that GPL advocates focused on the anti-GPL message. And he's taken discussion about the Mobile Internet Toolkit license and used it to continue referring to the GPL as a viral license.

    He hasn't responded to any of the perfectly valid points and rebuttals contributed by other members of the "panel." Why not? Because he doesn't have a valid argument. He has no real data to back up what he says. Instead, he'll use every opportunity he gets to translate the discussion into marketing opportunities for M$.

    GreyPoopon
    --

  • Open Source fanatics will never come to terms with the corporate software environment and the corporat software people will never come to terms with giving away there "property" for free.

    There are more corporations out there than just Microsoft. The goal of open software is not to kill Microsoft. The corporation I work for uses open source software almost exclusively. Not because we have anything against closed source, or unwilling to pay for licenses, but because the open software we are using is good enough for what we're doing. There's so much good stuff out there. More than once have we had the benefit of tweaking the source to do exactly what we want. More than once have we run into bugs, and immediately found a patch.

    Microsoft can do business any way they want (and so far they're getting away with it too), but they are in no position to tell other corporations how to run their business. Not everybody's business model can depend on conning QDOS from some guy for $50K and go off and make a trillion on it. Some companies expect to have to make an effort to make their buck.

  • by Saggi (462624) on Tuesday June 26, 2001 @12:27AM (#128070) Homepage
    The "ownership" of source code is not really a danger to companies who work with more consultancy related business. We often see large websites or applications build on free software. But for these companies it all comes down to providing a fair service to the clients. Including customisation, design etc... Those companies working in this market only have to worry if they provide poor service. All programmes I know (including myself) have used "others code" as a foundation for their work. Usually coping 80% from previous work. This original material comes from examples, Internet and other programmers, so in reality most code is shared at some level anyway. We would never get anything done if we didn't start by coping a bunch of code into our project. (Just check your own include files - how much is your original work?) How often do you create a piece of code that is so special that you would call it your "personal intellectual property"? Bottom line is to focus on the service - the project - rather than some piece of code underling it...

    Saggi

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