This is a copy/paste of this post: http://slashdot.org/comments.p...
He didn't respond to my response to it, but *someone* did mod my reply to it down. This post really is worthless-- a disingenuous and half-hearted hit piece on the GPL , crammed full of vaguely reasonable-sounding disclaimers "I'm glad for RMS" and praise for GCC so that people will take it more seriously.
My original reply is given below. I acknowledge there is probably room for valid and reasonable debate on many of these points, but if you begin the debate by posting A/C and then modding down anyone who points out the massive effects the GPL has had... well, that's not a debate. It's a troll.
I'm not sure what you expect to prove by listing a bunch of non-sequitur aphorisms. We have the facts in front of us, and it is very easy to imagine how the alternate universe would work by substituting "BSD" in place of "Linux". Does "Red Hat BSD" give away virtually their entire operating system for free, including modification and rebranding? No. No they fucking do not, and you cannot be taken seriously if you try to claim otherwise. I'm not talking about a minor permissive-licensed project (such as the kind that Apple or Google have been known to support) that doesn't affect the bottom line; we are talking about a software company open sourcing the lion's share of the code they write for their main/only product. There isn't a large, for-profit corporation in the world that does that kind of thing without some kind of legal compulsion. (Or perhaps you'd like to point out a sizable BSD-based for-profit distro that doesn't try to close source? They've had decades to come out with one.) So, admitting the absurdity of "Red Hat BSD" is step one.
Step two is admitting that while there are a number of decent home-grown options today, corporate-originated apps and sometimes core components are still very commonplace in your average distro and 10+ years ago they were even more prominent and important, particularly for business and other semi-technical users. Without corporate contributions, particularly from Linux-centric businesses like RHAT, Linux would be a pale shadow of what it is today, not just because it's hard to find full time volunteers but also because the whole thing needed a sustained kickstart before it reached a level where it was useful and appealing to people who weren't already hardcore Unix enthusiasts.
And... that's it. Admit those two things, and it's self-evidently true that the GPL was and is critical to Linux's success. This isn't philosophy any more; this is proven history. BSD gave us Apple's unholy reincarnation. GPL gave us Red Hat, Canonical, Novell, IBM, and dozens of other companies paying hundreds of developers to work on Linux full time, and every step along the way made perfect logical sense. There is no mystery as to why it happened this way.
If you want to argue otherwise, you're going to have to do a lot better than what you wrote there. For starters, you could try referring to reality once in a while.