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Caldera CEO Says Linux Is Proprietary 238

Carnage4Life writes: "ZDNet has an article on Ransom Love's (Caldera CEO) speech at the Comdex/Spring 2000-Linux Business Expo. The high points of his speech include his fears that the Linux revolution may be silencing lots of others by its success; [the contention that] proprietary software isn't all bad (Sun's Star Office is his example); Linux is as much a proprietary system as any other since the GPL forces one to adhere to it's rules just as proprietary licenses do; a brief description of the road map of Caldera's Linux development in the future; and finally a few comments on what he felt was the too-strict demand by some open source licenses that all code should be opened." Some good points, but mainly a lot of unsurprising viewpoints considering Caldera's outsider position in the actual Linux Community.
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Caldera CEO Says Linux Is Proprietary

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    First, I think everyone here can plainly recognize the absurdity of equating an open source product with a GPL license with only one real restriction ("play nice or don't play") vs. the draconian licensing of nearly every proprietary, closed source product. Their argument reminded me of a joke I heard where a philosopher argues that sunlight and stone are one and the same, because both have the one similarity of being affected by the same set of physical laws. I won't belabor that topic any more, except to say that Caldera read and accepted the GPL, and if they had a problem with it they should have used one of the *BSD variants instead.

    Caldera's comments aren't really very surprising, however. Caldera was one of the earliest commercial enterprises using Linux as part of its commercial strategy (Red Hat came earlier, although I believe Caldera was the first "competitor" to use Red Hat's rpm packaging system). Despite this, they have never embraced, nor been embraced by, the community. I am uncertain whether or not they have even ever contributed anything back to the community at all. If they have, it was a long time ago.

    Ray Noorda and company clearly thought they could leverage the free talent of the Linux community with a few proprietary add-ons to become the Novel Server that Novel couldn't be. With other more open and engaged enterprises (Red Hat, Corel despite its blunders, Suse, Turbo Linux) actively contributing back to the community and enjoying corresponding financial success, it is unsurprising that Caldera is bitter. However, had they thought of the Linux community as a community, rather than a resource to be exploited or plundered, they too could have enjoyed the same success.

    Of course, keeping current with new developments would have helped. We dumped Caldera early on because the distribution languashed for a year without improvement while their competitors, and the rest of the Linux community, raced ahead. Fast paced change was another aspect of the open source community which Caldera either didn't understand or failed to come to terms with.

    In short, they applied a dated business model to a market and customer base which is operating under a radically new paradigm. It is unsurprising that their rhetoric appears to be designed to obfuscate the difference between closed and open source and between proprietary and free software. They clearly don't understand the differences themselves.

    --FreeUser, posting without cookies
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here we have the CIO of a Linux distro company displaying ignorance about the terms of the license under which most of his distro's software is distributed:

    "Users who make changes to software such as the Gimp image manipulation software must publish those changes under various open-source licenses, but the mere fact that there is a license obliging users to share code means that someone has set proprietary parameters on the use of the software." -- Ransom Love

    -- bzzzt -- wrong. The GPL does not require this. No one is "required" to publish GPLed code.

    Then he goes on to arrogantly insult the developers of all that code he's distributing by criticizing the license they've chosen to apply to their software. He knows better than they do what license to use for their software?!

    Then he tells the suits he's speaking to (who are presumably listening because they're looking for an alternative to Microsoft) that what they really need and want is another proprietary system, so they can enjoy all the benefits of vendor lock-in and high costs that they're only just beginning to escape from.

    Finally, he alienates 90% of the sysadmins and other members of the technical community that actually use and make choices about Linux distros with his crap about how Linux is really proprietary after all (just what we all wanted!). No sysadmin in his right mind would touch a Caldera distro, knowing that they'll be doing everything possible to make it as proprietary as they can. What future is there in that?

    And this guy thinks speeches like this are going to help Caldera compete in the Linux market?


    Alex Berkman
  • by Anonymous Coward
    He's just pissed because his crappy company didn't ride the linux IPO wave like redhat did.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    War is Peace.
    Freedom is Slavery.
    Ignorance is Strength.
    Free software is Proprietary.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    But wait!

    Anybody else could then steal it from the "thief" and "call it their own" too.

    Some of us call that "Freedom from restrictive laws."

  • It is my understanding that Linus holds the
    copyright on the kernel and the Linux name.
    So someone does indeed own it. All the different
    bits and pieces of a distro are owned by _somebody_.
    If I'm not mistaken, Larry Ewing owns the copyright on Tux.
    You are free to do _almost_ anything (ask a BSD'er) you want
    with GPL'd stuff because of the license.
    Mind you I'm not agreeing with Ransom Love
    (gad that name cracks me up... sounds like a pimp.. how Dickensian...)
    I'm just being pedantic
  • RedHat != Linux

    RedHat peaked at v4.2 IMHO
    The 5 series sucked so hard my
    monitor imploded..
    Each version lookeda little slicker and
    mebbe had a few more bells and whistles
    but between stability and security issues (remember the hole in BIND in 5.1?)
    WRT code, RH's own admin tools were sooo good
    they shit canned them in favor of linuxconf
    I dunno mebbe 6.* is usable.. but please...
    Red Hat != Linux

    nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded
  • by J4 ( 449 )
    Look, nobody forces anyone to use GPL'd code.

    Use as in incorporate into their own work?
    Or use as in use the services the software provides?

    I'll have to look around, but 'net wise, BIND, Apache, Sendmail... no GPL here...
    If I use a website that has cgi done with perl are they shoving GPL down my throat?
    Face it, there's a _lot_ of free software that _isn't_ GPL'd
    What is free? It depends who you ask. What's free to Eric Raymond isn't necessarily free to Bruce Perens and what they consider to be free other people consider stifling
    But you're right to the extent that if you don't like the terms, don't use it.
    OTOH its a crock of politically correct bullshit to tell anybody else
    how to license their own stuff.
  • To use your example, gcc is less functional than VC 6.

    REALLY? Cool, now I won't need my sparc-sun-linux hosted mips-dec-ultrix cross compiler any more! Or my Palm Pilot development environment! Or my 64-bit native Sparc compiler! Oh wait, VC 6 only runs on i386-pc-windows and, for that matter, only compiles for i386-pc-windows. And doesn't even do a very good job of that. Doesn't sound very functional to me. I suppose that if your definition of functionality is the size of the code it generates, or the number of ways it ignores the applicable standards documents, then you are correct.

    gcc may or may not generate the best code of any compiler on a given target, but it generates good code on many many more targets than anything else, and since it's open source and quite portable, it's also usable on more systems than anything else. That's infinitely more useful to me than having the option to write noncompliant c++ and have it compile into a nice slow 300 MB winblows-only binary, which, if I use the right flags, might not be able to crash the OS more than once or twice a day. Functionality? I don't think so. And, yes, I've used VC. The editor sucks, the compiler is substandard, and the toolchain's portability is nonexistent.

  • Look, I see your point, but you're just being paranoid. If Linux becomes ubiquitous, the OS market will be unaffected. In particular, an effort like Linux itself could always start up again if people felt that the climate was too oppressive.

    My point was not that nothing else is functional; I personally prefer ******* or **** (names removed to prevent holy war), but my point was that Linux is infinitely preferable to Winders on technical merit, even if the marketplace behaviors were equally bad.

  • I know this comes off like a troll, but I can't believe the best example he could think of was StarOffice. This is easily the lowest-quality piece of software I've ever seen running on Unix (yes, worse even than netscape). Why not mention things like Oracle or some of the SGI tools? You know, software that actually works. On the other hand, this example provides some nice insight into why Caldera's distro sucks so much. Judge a man by his heroes?
  • Naturally you are free to think whatever you like. But even if your worst fears are realized, you're left with the comparison of "nonfunctional software, no choices" and "functional software, no choices." Which is better? In any case, it's an academic question because Stallman has no power to restrict your choices. It's not like gcc has a special license restriction that applies the GPL to whatever you compile with it...
  • If you listen carefully to Mr. Love's speech, you can hear the frustrated roaring of a dinosaur, railing about these damned mammals who have warm blood, don't lay eggs, and who don't sell software as "product".

    "Evolutionary" indeed.

    That Mr. Love is so upset about the GPL shows that it is carrying out one of its intended purposes - to prevent people from packaging up our hard work and selling it to someone else as their own.

    It's clear to me that Caldera Doesn't Get It, and that accordingly, Caldera _stock_ is worthless.

    Hmmm, maybe that's why their stock is tanking, d'y'a think?

  • Ideas, are free. Manifestations of them are not.

    While IP may be built on the shoulders of past ideas, it typically isn't built on prior copyrighted work (unless, of course, it is GPL).

    So, yes, people DO have the right to call a piece of IP their own property if they so choose. Any particular manifestation of IP represents innovation, however small or trivial, and hence should be protected by copyright.

    RMS' essays on copyright form a position that would have us eliminate the copyright system so everything is "free". I disagree with that.
  • No. Legally, a corporation is treated as a single individual (hence the term, "corporation"). If a corporation hacks up the GIMP for internal use, it's equivalent legally to your hacking up the GIMP for your personal use.

    If it doesn't leave the company, it hasn't been distributed.
  • There's no-one out there holding a gun to his head and forcing his company to produce and sell a Linux distribution from all the free software that is around.

    If he doesn't like the license he's perfectly free to write a kernel, libraries, utilities, GUI etc from scratch and he then will not be bound by the GPL at all.

    Alternatively he could produce a FreeBSD distribution.

    It's interesting to hear a CEO complaining about all the freedoms that he does have.

  • I have some worries about this speech. I had the feeling that a powerplay was being made, with the intent of "embracing, extending and extinguishing" the open source nature of Linux.

    I may be maligning Mr. Love, but if he isn't following this path then you can be sure that someone else will attempt it.
  • There's a quote from the movie "The Princess Bride" that goes something like this: You keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it means.
    That basically sums up what I think of Mr. Love's speech. Whatever he's trying to get at, I can't help but disagree. There are some people who will simply not use non GPL/Opensource (tm) software; I am not one of them. However, what he seems to be proposing is essentially moving partially or completely away from the thing that made Linux what it is today: the freedom to access and modify the source, with the stipulation those changes be returned to the community. I hope I never see the day when I can't run a Linux system without some closed-source pieces which may be yanked away at any given moment thanks to the UCITA.
  • Honestly, it's been a long time (if ever) since Caldera gave Good Gifts back to the Linux community in return for getting their entire product line for free. I'm sick of companies that do nothing but take, and then complain that they can't take more.

    I don't care if they are from Provo, I'm distinctly unimpressed with their attitude.
  • I suspect the answer is NO. The law in the US treats Corporations much like individuals. So, what they do at home, does not count as distribution.
  • I disagree with your point about 'heavy lifting'. Ever heard of Beowulf []? What about PostGres []? I have written several applications that at times will consume all of the system resources - i.e., do 'heavy lifting'.

    While I agree that vi doesn't use many system resources, I would argue that it doesn't because it's because these programs are more efficient.


  • According to Mirriam Webster's Dictionary [] (look under [2,adjective]), proprietary means something that something is "used, made, or marketed by one having the exclusive legal right". Nobody has the exclusive legal rights to Linux, therefore it's not proprietary.

    In the article, Ransom Love also keeps spreading a common misconception about Free Software Licenses. He claims that if you make any modifications to Linux, the license demands that you distribute the changes. That is patently false. What the license demands is that if you distribute a modified version of Linux, you have to make the code to your modifications available. Anyone can keep any changes they want a secret, as long as they aren't distributing them. With fundimental misunderstandings like this, is it any wonder people think of Caldera and Ransom Love as outsiders when it comes to Linux.

  • Yes, the Linux trademark is proprietary. It's clear (at least to me) he was talking about the software, not the trademark. The software is not proprietary.

  • I think you need to check yer facts WRT SuSE there, sparky.
    They have iso's available for download..
    There _is_ a cd in the boxed set with non free
    stuff, so you can't distribute that but they don't
    hold the copyrights on that stuff. I think the only thing I ever installed
    off that one was Blender after it went shareware...
    I stand corrected..
    I also have realplayer and star office installed.
    Hmm I notice xv is on there too... Find me a distro that doesn't come with xv..

    The main bone of contention with SuSE among the slash dorks
    has been the license for Yast, the installer tool.

    From the license...
    The use of YaST, even if a modified version is used, does NOT exempt in particular the Licensee from the duty to take due care with regard to the licence terms of the packages or programmes installed through YaST or works based on it.

    You'll note it states "even in a modified form".
    Not unlike the GPL in that regard....

    All programmes derived from YaST and all works derived from it in full or parts thereof are to be filled on the opening screen with the clear information "Modified Version". Moreover the operator give his name on the opening screen, stating that SuSE GmbH is not providing any support for the "Modified Version" and is excluded from any liability whatsoever. Every amendment to the sources which are not conducted by SuSE GmbH are deemed to be a "Modified Version". The Licensee is entitled to change his copy from the sources of YaST...

    WRT distribution...
    All programmes derived from YaST, and all works derived thereof as a whole or parts thereof may only be disseminated with the amended sources and this licence in accordance with 2b). Making YaST or works derived thereof available free of charge together with SuSE Linux on FTP Servers and mailboxes is permitted if the licences on the software are observed

    What a bunch of complete bastards, eh? Where do they come off telling
    people they have to make it obvious if its been modified.
    And what about that not supporting versions someone else modified?
    The nerve....

    nobdy goes there anymore... it's too crowded.
  • The BSD license has had the advertising clause removed for some time now. In fact, there is not a great deal of difference between BSD and public domain now. In any case, honest individuals will always attribute their sources...
  • Under Love's definition, BSDL is also proprietary, since it makes demands on the redistributor (you must credit the author).

    Only public domain would be non-proprietary enough for Ransom Love, apparently. Is that what you advocate?

    New XFMail home page []

    /bin/tcsh: Try it; you'll like it.

  • I'm not talking about the advertising clause.

    Did you read my message. I said, "you must credit the author." That is still true. You cannot just relabel code as copyrighted by you; it is still copyrighted by the original author.

    With public domain software, this is not the case. Thus, using Love's absurd reasoning, only public domain software is non-proprietary.

    New XFMail home page []

    /bin/tcsh: Try it; you'll like it.

  • You're mistaking the individual success/failure of Linux based businesses for the overall success of Linux as a whole - something that appears to be a common enough mistake.

    The thing is though, that Linux's success is completely independant of the successes or failures of people who attempt to build businesses around Linux. In fact, that's entirely the point.

    Linux was succeeding (on its own merits) well before there were any Red Hats, VA Linuxes, Calderas, or whatever. And if any or all of these companies go completely bankrupt, Linux will still continue to develop and succeed.

    Linux doesn't *NEED* business. Business can help speed up the processs by providing resources and promotion, but remove business from the equation and all you do is slow the process down. It cannot be stopped.

    *THAT* is what is so revolutionary about Open Source - that the software is no longer a "product" that is produced by a business in order to be sold to make profit. Instead, OSS is more like a community toolset, or an "art" (in the sense of "medicine" or "welding" or "tailoring")

    Yes, the Linux stocks tanked, and for the most part, I think they deserved to. No WAY were any of those companies worth what their stock price indicated. I see the stock tanking as more of a return to sanity than a "failure" on the part of Linux.

    But I expect Caldera to *stay* tanked, because their business model is in complete orthagonality to the way that Linux works. VA is a hardware company, their potential is as good or bad as any other hardware company. Red Hat "gets" Linux and OSS - they understand the community they work with and who support them. Can that translate into commercial success? The jury is still out. But I give them a MUCH higher probability of success than Caldera, because at least Red Hat isn't pissing into the cornflakes of those that support them.

  • You're not allowed to just distribute it any way you want, so it is in fact - CLOSED AND PROPRIETARY.

    Nothing about Linux is closed, period. The GPL does not make Linux proprietary. It does place restrictions on the distribution of code that you got from someone else and then modified. This is what makes Open Source work. If anyone could make changes and distribute the result without source, then nobody else could make changes to that code and distribute the resultant code. You're saying that you should be able to take away the very thing that allowed you to create the piece of software that you now want to protect. If you want to protect it so badly, then write the whole thing yourself and don't take advantage of someone else's work without giving anything back.

    If you feel that it is ok to take someone else's code and then make it proprietary, and that's exactly what you're talking about, then you have no reason for using Open Source code in the first place. It is obviously not compatible with your desire to distribute proprietary, CLOSED software.

  • Couldn't happen like that. If RedHat did try to close everything up, nevermind the fact that they can't actually do this because they didn't write all, or even most of the code, the complete source for everything up til that point is available. Some other enterprising group would pick up where RedHat left off and create a new, OPEN, distro that offers all the same features as RedHat's distro, but has the added advantage of being open, which prevents lock-in. That would likely be more appealing to a company than an equivalent, but proprietary product.

  • By the definition you're using, ALL code is proprietary unless it is public domain. I don't see Caldera putting their code in the public domain, so until they do that, they have no right to complain about Open Source software being "proprietary."

  • In this hypothetical situation, who is going to stop them?

    The people who hold the copyrights to the code that RedHat is trying to unlawfully use. They would likely be represented by the FSF.

    Sorry but I have yet to meet a manager that gives a damn about OPEN. There is a reason that MS is still selling products.

    No, the reason MS is still selling products is that they have a virtual monopoly on the file formats that people are locked into using in order to communicate reliably. A second reason is that until recently there were no good alternatives to MS Office. Now good alternatives exist, but maintaining file format compatibility will probably be a challenge.

    If such a hypothetical situation did occur, a new Distro would be right where the small distro's are now, fighting for there 3% against the RedHat 80%.

    Sure, at first. But if they are using the EXACT SAME CODE that RedHat is using, then moving to the new distro would be simple as well as being a good financial decision.

    As for managers caring about "open", I think that if they are smart they will care, and if they are not, they will soon be seen as fools by those who are smart. Then the fools will eventually see the error of their ways or be replaced because they are financially harming the company. Granted, how the situation will play out depends a lot on the size of the company, and whether it is publicly or privately held, but I think there will be a general consensus at some point that all things being equal, open is better than closed. It's common sense.

  • by Danse ( 1026 )

    I never said RedHat == Linux.

    I'm talking about people wanting to move to a new distro that is just like their current distro. If RedHat were to close up the code somehow, many people would want to move to something else. It makes sense to move to another distro that is just like your current distro so that nothing breaks (more than usual). I'm not sure what your comment has to do with the comment I made.

  • I'm not disagreeing that there is a place for proprietary software. As long as that proprietary software doensn't contain GPL'd or other OS licensed code, I don't have a problem with it.

  • This company is restricted from selling their software (Hmm, I wonder if they could give an NDA to their customers prohibiting the re-release of their source code?) by the GPL. Their "rights" are not being protected here.

    Two things here:

    1. The GPL does not put restrictions on selling software per se. It puts restrictions on the restrictions you can put on downstream customers (namely, they must be given the same rights and restrictions as the GPL itself). Which leads to
    2. The GPL explicitly forbids putting further restrictions (such as nondisclosure) on the GPL'ed source (see section 2b)

    I can't find what the GPL says about modifying a program and then not distributing it. The closest thing I can see is in section 2, but it does not state that you must distribute your modified work, only that the modifications must meet certain standards (the modified files must contain appropriate notices, and the command when run must print out a copyright notice). But it only says that works that you distribute or publish must be covered by the GPL. So I presume from that that creating a proprietary service based on a mix of GPL and proprietary code, as long as only the output is distributed (and the output itself isn't a "work based on the Program", such as bison output), is OK. But I'm not a lawyer.

  • First, I'll assume that you're talking about "free speech" as commonly defined in the United States.

    Is speech always as free as the GPL?

    No. But it should be. Freedom which is not guaranteed isn't freedom at all. The removal of a guarantee on any right reduces it to a privilege, and privileges can be revoked. This is what the GPL does; it guarantees that the code it covers stays free.

    Is speech always as restricted as GPL software?

    Yes. A French revolutionary put it best: "The right to swing my fist ends at the next man's nose." I have free speech, but that doesn't give me the right to slander others, (which would interfere with their rights). The GPL gives me free code, but doesn't give me the right to remove the freedom on that code (which would similarly interfere with my users' rights).

    Never forget: the only program which is "yours" is the one you have written. You may make relatively small modifications to another's program, but that doesn't make it your program; it still belongs to the person who wrote it. And since this is so, you must respect the wishes of the person who actually wrote the program that you only modified.
  • Gee - the "author" of the code found it in use in a way that didn't comply with the licesne. He put the company on notice, and they agreed to fix it.

    First, if anyone has a right to complain, the "author" of the code would be first in line. Second, in this particular case the author was reasonable and the company was reasonable. After all, un-intended mistakes occur and it appears that this was one such example.

    Be doesn't seem to be terribly upset (and truth be told - their's was the mistake) and the "author" got his goals accomplished which was proper re-relase of his code as stipulated by GPL.

    Using this incident as an example of why GPL is a "bad thing" doesn't stand up to examination.
  • I don't know if the situation has changed since I last checked, but IIRC the licence for YaST forbids you to sell 'data carriers' containing the software for a fee. So what I said is correct - you cannot resell copies of SuSE.

    Caldera recently freed their installer - or I think they did - so it might now be possible to sell copies of OpenLinux as you can RedHat, Mandrake and so on. You'd have to strip out a lot of the third-party stuff first though.
  • And the GPL has great power to do great damage.

    Excuse me? Look, nobody forces anyone to use GPL'd code. I get so sick of hearing "The GPL restricts me too much!" Fine - then don't use it! Just like you probably choose to avoid shrink-wrapped licenses from MS, you are free to avoid GPL'd software as well.

    But the thing that seems truly ridiculous to me is that the GPL is only an "inconvenience" to developers who want to use the vast code resources under the GPL, but who don't want to adhere to its terms. People who could just start from scratch, but instead would rather build on someone else's work. Which is fine... smart even... but you must adhere to the wishes (i.e. licensing) of the original author of that code.

    Explain to me where the damage is?


  • The way things are now you can't lock users into your distribution because anyone can take it, sell it, and support it without paying you a cent. This means that Linux companies have to rely on things like their ability to SUPPORT their products. Poor's a tough world.

    You're over-trivializing the difficulty of selling GPLed code. With GPLed code all you really can sell is support and distribution. Trying to do development is a waste of time, because all of the other distros can benefit from your development work just as much as you can. You can't come out ahead by expending resources on development, so why waste them? It's a lot more profitable to do no development at all, and just incorporate whatever updates are produced by outside developers.

    The playing field is leveled only in the sense that technical superiority no longer exists, because anyone else can copy your work. Perhaps one day we'll "level the playing field" in support to, where one company can charge customers for support calls to another companies tech support lines.

    Now, in Caldera's case, I think it is kind of silly for them to complain. They're getting Linux for free, and they can make money off of support. They just shouldn't bother doing any development, because you can't make money off of open source development.

    But what about developers? Being a developer, I know I don't like it when people tell me "make your money off of support". I'm a developver, not a support rep. Will developers ever get paid for their open source work? There's no reason for the distros to pay developers, other than PR purposes. (and even then, they only pay for a measly percentage of the development that goes into a typical distro)

    As it is, open source is mostly written by people in their spare time. If you want more software to become open source, somebody had better come up with some sort of business model where the developers of this software can actually get paid for writing it. Yes, you can argue that open source developers don't do it for the money. I know, I've worked on open source projects. But developers are mere mortals -- we need to eat, and pay the rent just like everyone else. I simply can't do open source development full time, because I wouldn't be able to pay the rent.

    There'd be a hell of a lot more open source software, and the general quality would be much higher, if developers could work on it full time. Right now, most can't. For those of use who don't like being an "expense" (like developers who work for distros), or writing custom hacks for a living, the only route right now is to write non-open code for a living.

    And here's a hint for those of you thinking that developers could survive off of donations: why should people who do useful and valuable work have to live off of charity?
  • The three applications on my primary Linux system which give me the most problems are, in increasing order of grief:

    1. Netscape Navigator, with its frequent crashes and mediocre performance
    2. Realplayer, with poor performance and memory management
    3. Adobe Acrobat Reader, with utterly hideous, swap-colonizing, X-freezing memory gluttony.

    They are also the primary closed/binary-only applications on my system, and are there largely due to the lack of viable alternatives to access closed content (I agree with those who note that it is closed file/media formats that are our biggest problem, not Microsoft.)

    It isn't impossible for closed software to be good, but it often is more work to create quality than is worth the while of the developers - they seem to throw out half-hearted ports in order to 'shut the bastards up.'

    I do share RMS' idealism, and hope that we ultimately will see software as something ontologically and intrinsically free, but I'm no purist in the meantime - nonetheless, I haven't been impressed by the closed software that has been released for Linux.

  • Those are most definitely not heavy-lifter apps. They are desktop applications, meant to open and view files. Pretty petty stuff, essentially.

    3D Studio Max or Photoshop would be a real heavy-lifter workstation app, and the open source analogue to Photoshop, the GIMP, follows the exact pattern that I described - perkier, with a good bug-fix rate, but fewer features and a less intuitive interface.

    I find it instructive to note how much better Mozilla is in terms of performance and 'good manners' than Navigator was.

    The reason why a proprietary/mainstream version of a netbrowser is necessary is that the web is broken for many sites: too many sites rely on browser specific defects (yes!) and quirks, and too much content requires proprietary plug-ins. But if Netscape is the best that proprietary software can do, in the long run we would be utterly screwed.

    The competition between closed and open apps is unfair when the closed-app producers own the file formats. Problems like the inability to view movies made with the Sorenson codec are, I predict, going to be the primary obstacle to creating a truly viable mass-market desktop version of Linux that could compete with the Windows and Mac desktops, much moreso than simple 'theme-pretty' issues will be.

  • > You want to watch your free software turn into multiple incompatable branches of proprietary, closed-source software, use the BSD license.

    Why yes, just look at how this license has fragmented and rendered irrelevant FreeBSD, Apache, and X11. Just footnotes in history, they are...

  • proprietary (pr-pr-tr) adj. Abbr. prop., pty. ...

    Good point. Exactly what I was going to post. Perhaps the word Ransom Love was looking for was "restrictive". It's not entirely on-target, but it's closer that proprietary.

  • Let's face it. Love is just a Bill Gates wannabe, and he's sore that Caldera doesn't have the market share of Red Hat. It's clear to me that he wants to "embrace and extend" Linux so that folks who use Caldera will be incompatible with other distros. He doesn't want to give those changes back to the community because he wants to keep them proprietary to Caldera.

    His calling some unspecified license proprietary because it requires changes to be released if those changes are distributed is totally bogus. That's the most non-proprietary thing I can think of.

    He's just ticked that Linux and the GNU software aren't under a BSD-style license that allows him to make his own proprietary changes and keep 'em that way.
  • Let RMS spew all he wants about freedom. The license speaks for itself. You want freedom, use the BSD license. You want proprietary software, use the GPL.

    It's more like, "You want your software to remain free, and evolve as free software, use the GPL. You want to watch your free software turn into multiple incompatable branches of proprietary, closed-source software, use the BSD license."

  • As someone else has pointed out, virtually all of the proprietary Unix implementations are derived from BSD. Solaris, Irix, AIX, etc, etc. In fact, the BSD licensing terms are what allowed Unix to fragment into dozens of incompatable operating systems, and created a mess that the industry is still struggling to overcome. How many hardware vendors ship their systems with stock, vanilla, unmodified BSD? None? I'd say that the instances are extremely numerous, if not nearly 100%.

    I don't know if anyone has seriously forked the TCP/IP stack, but I somehow doubt that you can compile the AIX TCP/IP source code and link the binary against a Solaris kernel. I don't know if there are differences in the programming API across the different Unix platforms or not. What criteria for incompatability would apply in this argument anyway?
  • If a programmer at a small company ...takes 10 lines of code from a GPLd project ... the whole library or program could be forced into a GPL licence;

    The "GPL is VIRAL" argument doesn't stand up. It's FUD, designed to scare companies away from GPLed software. This scenario isn't going to happen. In fact, the GPL has language that would almost direct the outcome of such a case:

    5. You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works.

    The most likely scenario, as I see it, is that the company would testify that they decline to accept the license, and the court would then find that the company had committed copyright infringement.

    Once the court had defined the issue as simple copyright infringment, it would most likely order the company to cease distribution of the offending software until the company either agreed to the GPL licensing terms, or removed/replaced the offending portions of GPLed code from their software, and possibly order the company to pay damages to the copyright owners, depending on the usual criteria in such cases -- the extent of the infringement, whether the infringement was intentional or unintentional, and all the details and arguments that keep copyright lawyers busy and prosperous.

    I can't seriously see a court forcing a company to accept a license that contains the provision, You are not required to accept this License.

    In fact, I wish that this exact scenario would play out, because it would remove this common source of FUD about GPL/Free software.

    Of course, if the company decided to play hardball, and testified that they DO accept the GPL terms, then directly attack the provisions of the GPL itself, then we would have a true test of the validity of the GPL.
  • Here we go again...

    What the anti-GPL crowd always forgets is, that no one is forcing you to use a particular piece of software.

    If you don't agree with the conditions of a particular software's license, then you don't have to use it! In the past whenever I have released software, I have used the GPL, to ensure that the software remains free (as in speech). If you don't like this condition, that's no problem with me--just find some other software that is suitable for you.

    I find it pretty amusing that someone who seems to be a proponent of Linux, still clings to the old notion that source code should be hidden.
  • Contrary to what many here are saying, Love is right -- in a sense. Open Source software is proprietary. Read the definitions people are posting: among them is, in essence, the idea that private property is proprietary.

    Well, Open Source is private property, not public. Read the GPL. The word "copyright" is in there. Copyright is a form of private property. In the case of the GPL, the work is copyrighted by, meaning owned by, meaning the proprietary property of, the Free Software Foundation.

    That's right. Proprietary.

    Obviously, the meaning of the word in the dictionary is not equivalent its meaning in everyday use. Typically, the use that property is put to is the benefit of the owner; hence, we see "proprietary" as meaning "to be used to benefit the owner", among other meanings.

    But the whole point of the GPL is subvert the ability of any party to control the use of software. That it works using the copyright system is a demonstration of the awesome power of the concept of property rights.

    So if Love wants to use words a little strangely, well, WHATever. So long as he does not try to draw any false conclusions from it, it is OK with me.

  • If you really want a nonrestrictive liscence, go for FreeBSD. I see the GPL as the main reason for linux's continuing success. (aside, of course, from the cool name.)
  • Is it possible that the demand for open source code is to strong at times? Personally, I don't think so. What makes Linux wonderful is that if you want to change something, you just dig in and do it. I disagree with Love on this particular point.

    The demand for open source code from the GPL isn't too strong. It's saying "here's our conditions for use", just like Adobe says "here's our condition$ for use". The terms are different, but you can always choose to not use the code/program if you don't like the terms. The demand for open source code from GPL advocates can get too strong, though. The GPL has its benefits, and Linux probably wouldn't have come as far as it has under a BSD license. However, GPL zealots, including RMS, seem intent on stamping out all closed-source software just as fervently as the RIAA wants to stamp out MP3.

  • Do you think it matters all that much to them that the IPO tanked? The company isn't holding stock, it's selling it, and they *sold* it. They got their funding.

    You sound as if you think they aren't respecting the GPL. Please to cite; what are they doing that violates it?

    I love the way the "unified" Linux community turns on its own without even the justification of tough times. Come on, guys. Caldera's on *our* side; you can tell, 'cuz they aren't Microsoft.
  • I'm glad you have the special power of knowing how they would act if they had the option. Me, I'm forced to guess that they might sometimes be telling the truth, and that they may care about the "open" nature of Linux.

    As long as "we" (the open source community) turn on our own like this, Microsoft has nothing to fear.
  • In other words, "RMS is a nut, therefore the GPL is bad." I love the smell of an ad hominem argument in the morning.

  • You want freedom, use the BSD license.
    Listen to yourself! You are saying "If you want to give people freedom, here is how you should restrict their actions"! WTF? If you want other people to be absolutely unrestricted in their use of your code, place it in the public domain. Any use of any license limits the actions of others.

  • It's funny that this rarely gets said.
    It's funny that you say that, because it comes up repeatedly in EVERY discussion of the GPL that I've ever seen on this site.
  • You want proprietary software, use the GPL.
    this is SO fuddy, on so many levels, I hardly know where to start...

    Is the GPL proprietary? I don't think so, but let's assume for the sake of argument that it is. (IMHO, this is like assuming that the sky is teal and fuschia plaid, with orange polka dots, but I digress).

    Only the software developer chooses the GPL. Software users choose software, and mostly don't care about the license.

    If, as a user, you want proprietary software, why limit yourself to GPLed software? There are tens of thousands of restrictive licenses out there.

    If, as a developer...ditto the rest of the previous paragraph.

    Why is proprietary software bad? In my experience, you are locked into a single provider for support and upgrades. Without a cost-effective competitor, the vendor loses all incentive to perform well. It is impossible to fall into this situation with GPLed software. You can always shop around for better prices and service. Custom apps are kind of an exception to this argument, but that has nothing to do with the license.
  • Under his definition, any software with a license is "proprietary", so the only non-proprietary software is public-domain software. Thus, any restrictions == proprietary software.

    That's not just his definition, it's also the dictionary's! Look it up. If software is owned (copyrighted) it is proprietary.
  • If you don't think there's a difference between your right to modify and redistribute software under the GPL or BSD licenses and your rights to do so under MS's EULA, I've got a lovely bridge for you ...

    Of course there's a difference. The GPL and BSD licenses grant more priviledges and the EULA imposes more conditions and restrictions. But it's still just a matter of degree. The biggest difference is that most open source licenses allow the user to pass the license on to third parties.
  • Look, nobody forces anyone to use GPL'd code.

    And nobody forces anyone to use closed source either.
  • You want to watch your free software turn into multiple incompatable branches of proprietary, closed-source software, use the BSD license.

    The instances of that happening are extremely few. How many incompatible versions of the BSD TCP/IP stack are there?
  • When things change without companies getting a 'vote', it's because the masses want change.

    OSS only survives when it's worth using. If something better comes along, we move to it.
  • The problem is that even small parts of a GPLd program can infect a larger program. If a programmer at a small company (say Microsoft) takes 10 lines of code from a GPLd project - even without Microsoft's consent - the whole library or program could be forced into a GPL licence; I personally do not believe that such a small infraction could stand up in court. While large portions of the program should not be taken and incorporated, the GPL has an incredibly viralistic quality.

    This works fine - if it's such a small piece of code, it will be easily rewritten once the GPL violation is discovered, and there will be no need to release the whole program under the GPL. However, if it's a larger piece of code, or code which would be a pain in the ass to rewrite, it should not be allowed in a closed-source product without the original author's [of the GPL'd code] consent.
  • Sorry for the semi-offtopic post, but I can't take it anymore. This is in response to all the people in this article and the article from Bruce Perens who keep saying "Use the BSD license, the GPL takes away freedoms."

    The GPL takes away a few freedoms, but in the process ensures that the most important freedoms will remain forever. It takes away the freedom of people who wish to take your code and add their own proprietary extensions and then keep the source closed. However, by disallowing this, it preserves the freedom of people who wish to take the new code and add extensions to that. It ensures that the code which is released under it will remain free forever and will always be available for people to build on and extend.

    How is this different from the BSD license? The BSD license allows people to take your code, add their own extensions, and then keep the source closed. So what happens if you want to take the new extended code and change it a bit? Whoops - you can't! D'oh. True, the BSD license allows for a little bit more freedom. However, this freedom stops with the first person who wants to make a quick buck off of your hard work.

    For all the people who say that people should have the right to use open source code in proprietary projects without giving back to the community - how is this in any way beneficial to anybody except the people who take the code? Short answer - it's not. You are now at the mercy of the people who stole the code and added a few extensions. And why should they be allowed to do that? If they want to cut back on a little bit of work and use other people's code, they should be forced to release their code in case somebody else wants to reuse it as well. If they want to keep their code to themselves and not give back to the community, it should be just that - THEIR CODE. They should not be allowed to do this with other people's code. They are not being forced to use other people's code. If they want the functionality a piece of GPL'ed code provides, they should either adhere to the GPL, or write it themselves. Novel concept, huh?

    So now which license sounds more free to you?
  • He has some very strange ideas indeed about the use of the terms, and you've pointed out the "'free' v 'Free'" potential confusion he's fallen into already...

    "Open-source" means anybody is free to take, hack, and re-distribute (this is a slight/working paraphrase of the open-source definition [].
    "Proprietary" means the rest of the world can't get their paws on it beyond surface-layer functionality as intended - see parts 3 and 4 in the dictionary definition [].

    So if, by definition, the rest of the world can get at it, at the lowest and greatest access level possible (source), it can't be proprietary, can it? D'oh.

    I think star office is a bloated abomination, I just don't need it in a day-to-day office environment, let alone at home, but that's just me...

    "Love envisions Linux tools that will enable service providers to remotely administer Linux systems". Well apart from the split infinitive and ambiguity ("remotely administer" - speaks volumes for his own administrative abilities, thanks ZDnet), has he never heard of ssh? Oops.
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,

  • Only public domain and perhaps BSD are not proprietary then. At least according to his definitions. Even though GPL has a great many rules to follow, I still think it is not proprietary. You can fork GPL products contrary to popular believe and there are situations where a fork of GPL project might be even be considered necessary. What if a GPL project is first released by a single author, and initially has no outside contribution other than suggestions for bug fixes etc, no code? Then the author as the only contributor and owner has the right to change the license. This has happened with some products such as WWWThreads, IglooFTP, Jazz++, etc. But the original GPL code can remain out there and in fact the original author is suppose to keep an older GPL version available for something like 2 years on ftp. In any case, mirrors can keep the code available indefinitely. Other interested developers can at any time start developing a free version with new features so long as this new fork is released under GPL. Now this raises an interesting question. Can the original other then grab modifications in this fork and integrate them into his new proprietary version? I don't believe so. The author may retain ownership of the orginal but the GPL does not automatically extend ownership to all derived works. The derived work mentioned in the above example would be owned by both the original author and the new author of the fork and as such, could only have the license changed if both parties agreed to change it. This is where licenses like MPL, QPL etc are different. If you fork the code the original you have to release your changes, but the original author has every right to intergrate the code into proprietary products. Even so I would say that while the Netscape branded browser could be considered proprietary, the source code behind it Mozilla isn't. Linux is definitely not proprietary even if you slap hundreds of proprierary products and drivers in a box with it.

    Also, you don't even have to be open source to be considered non-proprietary. All you have to do is open the specification. For example OpenGL is not proprietary. The spec is there for everyone to see. Even if SGI doesn't release all their source code it still is open enough that effective clones do exist. In closing my definition of proprietary would go something like this, any technology that can only be cloned, copied or otherwise implemented throught the use of reverse engineering and guess-work is proprietary. To clone or emulate Linux you would not need to reverse engineer anything. In fact as an example look at FreeBSD's emulation of Linux. Some say it is very stable and runs Linux apps faster than Linux. I don't think this would be possible is Linux was closed in any way. Windows is still proprietary even though Wine exists because Wine is certainly not an effective replacement for Windows. The work by wine developers has involved reverse engineering to figure out all the un-documented API calls.

    Anyway enough said, probably too much.
  • Maybe the choise of the term "proprietary" is wrong, but GPL does restrict (from a cooporate point of view) what can be done with a piece of software. Indeed, that is the whole point og GPL (insert usual reference to the philosophy of here...) - at least from what I see. In simple terms: if a company wish to make modifications to GPL'ed software, then these must also be GPL'ed. However as was pointed out so often before, there is nothing wrong with providing FooApp under GPL AND another license at the same time - at the authors discretion. I believe it's been done with success.

    Ok, I acknowledge the point that the Linux kernel will be rather hard to issue a parallel license for. But Linus states explicitly in the COPYING file with the kernel:

    "NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use
    of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".

    Exactly if this also goes for libc and friends, I do not know - but I would assume that they're lgpl'ed or something?

    So I guess anyone can go kick up a new, proprietary OS while using the Linux kernel......and so what's the problem?

  • Lets see here...

    Caldera sells Linux systems.
    Management of big companies are afraid of "non-proprietary" software.
    Caldera wants to sell Linux to these big companies.
    Caldera wants to convince these big companies that Linux is the same as their current operating systems.

    This just seems to be a new twist in the game of marketing. Don't you realize that dictionary words are just things to mess with when you are trying to market something. Remember buzz words (or acronyms) like OO and now its B2B.
    I've gone to management to install Apache on our web server and they have actually told me that "We don't use free software. We only trust shrink wrapped and bought software". Of course I could just find someone that sells Apache and buy it from them. But this is just nuts!

    Steven Rostedt
  • Then the US Constitution is tyrannical because it FORCES those archiac freedoms on its citizens!

    Ransom's statement is one of the most ignorant, self-serving statements I've heard since little Al Gore said the Constitution was "just a guideline".

    Perhaps Ransom should run for office with his penchant for twisting a concept.

  • You're over-trivializing the difficulty of selling GPLed code. With GPLed code all you really can sell is support and distribution. Trying to do development is a waste of time, because all of the other distros can benefit from your development work just as much as you can. You can't come out ahead by expending resources on development, so why waste them? It's a lot more profitable to do no development at all, and just incorporate whatever updates are produced by outside developers.
    I've been thinking about how to make money from Copyleft software for a while now, and I've come up with something, and it is one way that commercial development of Copyleft software can be profitable. It can be profitable for hardware manufacturers. This is why I think it was a bright move of IBM to get into Linux software development, they don't want to sell Linux (they didn't even seem to want to sell OS/2, if the level of faith they demonstrated in it was any indication) they want to sell mainframes, servers and personal computers. In that case, they don't want to be held hostage by an external software company, but if they are focusing on hardware why worry about whether the software is free?

    I look at it this way, what is an OS? An OS is like a hardware driver, just for the whole computer, not the individual device. I have yet to have to pay for drivers to make hardware devices I buy operational, except for the fact that I have to buy an OS to make my PC operational. Why? Because if the company doesn't give me a driver for their device, why would I buy it?

    I predict that Linux is going to lead to some amazing things in hardware, because people who couldn't compel Micros~1 to develop for them will be able to just concentrate on making good hardware and not have to worry about getting a good OS that is compatible with most of the stuff out there.

  • Perhaps I shouldn't reply, since the original post is borderline flamebait. But I do believe the author is sincere. So I will explain why someone might chose GPL, as I did:

    I wrote `cpuburn` from a blank sheet of paper, and mostly for own need to assure myself of stability on my overclocked BP6. Then the question arose--What to do with it? I could have released it as shareware, BSD or GPL.

    I rejected the first since I would never get any useful suggestions to improve my code. So it was down to BSD or GPL. I rejected BSD since anyone could then lift my code, and incorporate it into theirs without even credit or attribution unless I had the "obnoxious advertising clause" in. Furthermore, they could make improvements that they could sell, but I would never see.

    This really stuck in my craw. I don't like plagiarists. I think the amount of BSD code that Micriosoft and Sun hoisted into their proprietary OSes is scandalous. The developers and UC Berkeley got virtually nothing back from them.

    By releasing my software GPL, my code stays free. Yes, I restrict other programmers, and that's exactly my intent. Freedom is for the code not programmers, if you pardon the anthropomorthism.

    Note also that I retain copyright, and can issue other licences if I wish. If someone is interested in incorporating my code into a commercial ("proprietary") product, then they email me and I'm sure we can agree on something. I would grant them a non-GPL licence. Nothing in the GPL says that it is the exclusive licence issued for any software. The GPL doesn't restrict me until and unless I start incorporating other's GPL work into mine.

  • I can't understand why, when anyone comes out to complain about the GPL, the BSD license immediatly comes up as a target. There is nothing wrong with the BSD license. It is a much more open license, and is appropriate for people who want their code to be used as widely as possible and don't care if it gets used in propriotory products. The GPL is great for people who want to share their code, but don't want it used unless that developer too shares their code. Both have different purposes, and different kinds of people use them. I doubt the BSD people care that MS uses a great deal of BSD code in their networking, or that IBM bases propriotory products on BSD. (The JetWeb or WebJet or something?) So in the end, you use whatever license you like. If you aren't a redneck, you don't critisize other people for what license they like.

    To quote Tom Halfhill, "I'm okay, you're okay."
  • Interesting conundrum. Is it still being rednecky if one imposes ones views about letting people have differing views? In theory one would say yes, but in practice it is shown that usually people who try to force beliefs about open beliefs have better intents.
  • I agree with Mr. Love's assertion that the gpl can be too restrictive to be used in product based business. It's nice that everything has to be free (as in speech), but if a business wants to innovate and sell that innovation, there's not much incentive to do so if your competition can copy your innovation in an hour or two. Altho, I should recall that the only way that such a company would be bound by the GPL is by using GPL'd software as a component in theirs... which would mean that they're lazy, taking but not giving, and so maybe they should burn in hell :)
  • In general, this sounds very fishy. He may be backing down from Microsoft, but whatever he's doing it's not good for business.

    It may sound fishy, but it smells worse.

    My guess is that he has doubts that Caldera can compete in the Linux market as is. If they could close the code, they could make some cool changes that would set them apart from the rest, yet not have to share it with the rest of the community. The way things are now you can't lock users into your distribution because anyone can take it, sell it, and support it without paying you a cent. This means that Linux companies have to rely on things like their ability to SUPPORT their products. Poor's a tough world.

    "The key is, we need open access for a level playing field, not an entirely new playing field," Love said.

    This line sure stinks of bullshit. A level playing field is an entirely new playing field for the software industry. I'll be keeping an eye on this guy--I get the feeling he's trying to rally together some bullies to kick the kids off the field.

  • "free" anything means a number of things, but I prefer Not controlled by obligation or the will of another. The open-source movement protects the investment of the first programmer, not his so-called rights. Programmer A invests his/her time into writing an app under the GPL. If Programmer B wants to take advantage of Programmer A's effort, s/he must provide their work back to "the community," thus providing Programmer A a nice return on their investment. Note that Programmer B did NOT get "free" code from Programmer A - Programmer B was obligated to provide service back to Programmer A.

    Huh? Programmer B got to use the original code for free from Programmer A to make his/her changes. And the turnaround is fair too - Programmer A has to follow the same rules on Programmer B's code as Programmer B had to follow in Programmer A's code.

  • This is just more GPL whining from more people who don't like the GPL. I'm not surprised that they're whining about it since they've been dinged on the technicalities a couple of times.

    Well no one held a gun to their head and forced them to use a GPLed OS. They could have developed further on DR DOS or BSD. And you know what? No one would have used it. If you want your OS to be used in this industry you can either have it completely open or you can be Microsoft. That fact seems to have dawned on every OS vendor on the planet (Except maybe BE) and you'll note the resulting rush to embrace open systems (Mach in the case of Apple, Linux for everyone else.)

    And the GPL buys us a lot. It prevents the forking we saw in the BSD camp (A lot of propietary unices are BSD based) and keeps the playing field level. It gives programmers the security of knowing that some big company can't use their work with a couple of minor changes to make a boatload of cash. We're guaranteed code evolution with thousands of programmers working toward the same goal. The GPL is what will bring the big companies together to work not just for their own good but for the good of the community. Which is the way it should be.

  • I'm not planning to start a new license flamewar here (any open source license is ok with me), but there are
    a couple of reasons to prefer GPL over BSD, depending on what you want to do.
    The danger of the BSD license is that anyone can "steal" the code, modify it or not, and make lots of money selling a binary-only version, without giving anything back to the people who originally wrote the code.
    This has happened before ("Microsoft's" command line ftp client is actually a SuckOS port of the BSD ftp client).
    If a piece of software is GPL or LGPL, they'd have to give back their extensions/ports/fixes/whatever, so the community (and at least as important, the original programmer) would benefit from it.
  • Actually they don't have to "feed ... back to him" they just have to make them available.

    No they don't. You can modify Linux all day long, use those modifications, and never have to distribute the patches to anyone else.

    Of course, if you effectively distribute the modified version of Linux (i.e. with someone else's copyrighted code), then you have to include the full source.

  • It's funny that this rarely gets said.

    Let RMS spew all he wants about freedom. The license speaks for itself. You want freedom, use the BSD license. You want proprietary software, use the GPL.

    RMS has an agenda which is not for freedom. It's all about sticking it to "the man". He has such a grudge against the world, it's not funny. And the GPL has great power to do great damage. You want real freedom then use the BSD license. Check them out. It's all there in black and white.
  • I guess when Mr Love says "proprietry", he means "restrictive". But even this confers a slant that is essentially wrong.

    He talks about open source software. Open source software includes not just GPL, but BSD, QPL, NPL, all kinds of licenses. Not all of them have the "restrictive" nature that the GPL has. So if Mr Love wants to split words, please be specific! Say "GPL", not "open source". And why is the GPL restrictive? To counter the restrictiveness of the proprietry licenses with differnt terms of its own! After all, software makers confer such restriction on others and accept such restrictions from others without batting an eyelid. Why complain now when we force you to share?

    Yes the GPL is automatically restrictive. It is restrictive in the sense that one's business model must change. This is a good thing from the consumers point of view, because current proprietry software business models (ala Microsoft) suck! To see what is wrong, read what Jordan Pollack [] has to say about this. Notice that he is not a free software advocate. He points out how software makers are abusing Intellectual Property laws for their own gain, without regard to long term benefits to the users.

    It distresses me to see Mr Love spout such unthinking canards like "Open Source is proprietry." To see the what is wrong demands a good understanding of the issues involved. I am not sure if Mr Love's target audience understands these issues. Is this an intentional attempt at FUD? I hope not!

  • Must be a strange form of proprietary software that allows anyone to copy the software and give it away, or to alter it for personal use. Surely the fact that it has a license doesn't make it proprietary? Or can only totally unlicensed (non-licensed?) software be free?
  • > These people are creating new definitions for the word, and trying to make Linux sound bad.

    Seems to me that lately the Linux community has been doing a fine job themselves of seeming a bit agressive towards anything that isn't Linux or GPL. Just all the bickering over "My licence is bigger than yours." "My open source can beat up your proprietary."

    Stop the constant bickering. Sheesh...the whole thing yesterday with BeOS and stuff...that pissed me off...

    TALK to people...

    Sorry for the rant.


    "Unless you intend to kill him immediately thereafter, never kick a man in the balls. Not even symbolically. Or perhaps especially not symbolically."

    -- Friday Jones in Friday
  • by Brett Viren ( 296 ) <> on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @04:08AM (#1124355) Homepage
    From Jargon File (4.0.0/24 July 1996) [jargon]:

    proprietary /adj./

    1. In marketroid-speak, superior; implies a product imbued with exclusive magic by the unmatched brilliance of the company's own hardware or software designers.
    2. In the language of hackers and users, inferior; implies a product not conforming to open-systems standards, and thus one that puts the customer at the mercy of a vendor able to gouge freely on service and upgrade charges after the initial sale has locked the customer in.
  • by The Man ( 684 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @05:57AM (#1124356) Homepage
    Unlicensed software? Yes it can be free, but it would be unprotected; anyone could steal it and then try to sell it as their own; closed source, no 'piracy' and all that.

    Oh, like the BSD license?

    The whole purpose of a license is to protect the software and the programmer; at least thats the way I see it.

    I see it differently. The purpose of the license varies by licensor. Microsoft wants protection for their profit machine, Red Hat licenses in a certain way to maintain their standing in the community, the BSD projects license according to tradition and their particular beliefs, and the GNU project licenses according to a very specific agenda. I could go on, but the point is made: there are many different licenses, each of which means something a little different to each entity that uses it (as a direct counterexample, the BSD license provides no protection for the programmer whatsoever). If the programmer desires protection, there are many licenses that can provide it in different ways, but that's not the only reason for licenses.

  • by The Man ( 684 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @04:58AM (#1124357) Homepage
    The question of "distribution" was raised and debated at length back during the Corel Linux beta debacle. I recommend you read that discussion if you want the split hairs.
  • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <> on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @04:51AM (#1124358) Homepage

    The way things are now you can't lock users into your distribution because anyone can take it, sell it, and support it without paying you a cent.

    That's the way things are with Red Hat, Mandrake, Slackware, Corel, and so on. But it's not the way things are with Caldera and SuSE; they already stop people from copying and reselling their distributions.

  • by Bob McCown ( 8411 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @03:43AM (#1124359)

    If you think about it, ANYTHING is 'proprietary', simply by its value of being unique. The english language is proprietary, because to talk to an english-only speaker, you cant speak french.

    The problem comes in when the proprietary-ness is so far different than what everyone else is using, or breaks from some well-defined standard. (See Compaq or Packard Bell PC's for example).

    Granted, Linux is different from Windows, and can be viewed as exclusionary, but we, as the Linux community are striving for something better, not to corral people to use our stuff, and ONLY our stuff.

    My .02

  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @05:41AM (#1124360)
    We didn't get where we are today by making money off OSS. OSS exists because of what it is.. not because someone can make money off it.

    OSS sets a nice baseline, and those who want to sell software on the open market generally have to do better than OSS. That's MY ideal scenario. There will always be room for someone to do it better, faster.. but a good OSS baseline will
    1) force informal standards
    2) set a standard for performance/reliability.
  • by PigleT ( 28894 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @04:41AM (#1124361) Homepage
    The hardest thing here was decided who had the best post to respond to. PigleT, you win.
    *blush*, thank you ;8)

    "Not controlled by obligation or the will of another."
    This I agree with, lots. Definitely applicable in the software scene.

    Regarding rights and giving service back: I don't particularly like either approach, myself. "Rights" are a bit like "take", service is a bit like "give"; I'd prefer "giving" (a generalised state of play) and "receiving" (as distinct from take - ponder it a little), and the idea that it's more important to you to have your code out and about in the wild for all to enjoy and play with (this might be a more initial motivating factor but even so, I think it fun).

    On companies: "Their "rights" are not being protected here." Indeed, and whole Usenet threads / wars on communism v capitalism ensue as a result!

    [StarOffice] I also work in a split windoze/unix environment, and you're right about interoperability - I'm all for being able to read everything but having the decency to write in a lowest-common-denominator. But right now there are not-very-many not-very-good open-source .doc readers or .pdf readers. It's all very well saying "write in an open format doc" but you risk a lot of pressure to comply when someone's paying you to cope with their abominations.
    So no, porting another-msword-reader isn't a bad idea. What I think *is* a bad idea is (a) it still being closed like SO, and (b) it not using native GUI widget sets like gtk+ or qt (to taste), resulting in a bloated lump where the rest of linux is typical neat and nippy in comparison. Shall we distinguish between the build-up of GNU/Linux and the port-bloat-over from the commercial scene...?

    FWIW I see open-source as saying "can do", contrasted in a quite polarised way with commercial "can't do, haven't written that, pay us lots to fix the bugs". As soon as open-source says "no can do" we have problems; this applies to MSWord-readers, PDF-readers, portable open-licensed XML/SGML GUI editors, and even popular well-developed web browsers (Big Hint(TM)!). Nice mentality but could always use a little work...
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,

  • by ddstreet ( 49825 ) <> on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @05:06AM (#1124362) Homepage
    By its popularity (the suite has been downloaded more than 2 million times), Star Office has done more for Linux than just about any other application, Love said.

    Most open source projects don't really care (or keep count of) how many 'downloads' they get, because open source success is measured in the quality, not quantity of a project.

    Users who make changes to software such as the Gimp image manipulation software must publish those changes under various open-source licenses, but the mere fact that there is a license obliging users to share code means that someone has set proprietary parameters on the use of the software.

    No, they do not have to publish the modified source code if the product is not distributed. However, if the modified product is distributed, then they must also provide the modified source code. If it's used in-house only the modified source code does not have to be released.

    Linux has provided developers with open access, and that has made it more flexible and more suited for the challenges of Internet computing.

    Ok...what exactly is "Internet computing" and how is it different from "non-Internet computing"?

    Citing the rough and tumble of the market, Love called for an evolution of Linux from a diverse platform to products that businesses would buy to improve their productivity in specific tasks.

    Do you mean 'evolve' Linux, or write more applications that businesses can use?

    Love's road map for that evolution would take Linux from being a packaged OS to products that include a subset of all the OS features, products that make installation of the OS easier, and tools that make management and administration of Linux easier.

    A true visionary, I wonder why nobody else already thought of this.

    Caldera will offer a product that offers browser-based administration of Linux with a GUI, Love said.

    Yes, browser-based administration, because browsers never crash. And of course using X just won't work, because, uh, well...actually it has always been a networked design. And using 128 (or higher) bit encryption via ssh is at least as good as a browser's encryption (without all the bloat of a browser).

    "It's one thing to facilitate open access, but another to demand it. That's what you are trying to get away from."

    What? Who's this guy talking to? Who's trying to get away from open access to source code? Micro$oft? Oh, yeah, they are...

    I'm wondering if this guy really knows anything about the open source movement or Linux, because most of what he says is either incorrect or redundant. His description of the GPL's requirements is wrong. His vision to provide remote administration of Linux is easily accomplished using X (which we all use already) and can be encrypted with ssh for secure administration.
  • What this little piece does not mention is that Caldera IPO tanked and was blasted into oblivion by the recent Wall Street free fall (aka: "The .com Bloodbath").

    I think some of the points that Mr Love makes are actually simple common sense: yes, closed-source shops can release good software. Yes, the GPL is, in its own peculiar and "viral" way, a very restrictive licence... But what else is new there?

    To me, this speech sounds like a bitter rant, from a CEO who has seen his net stockmarket (read: paper) value disappear overnight.

    Face it Mr Love: the Linux distro biz is like any other market -- you need good products to survive. And don't even think about making Linux proprietary or Slashdotters and FSF gurus will line up to sue you to kingdom come.

    Repeat after me: invest in open-source wisely. The penguin is your friend. Don't anger the community. Respect the GPL and nobody gets hurt... =)

    Another speech like that is going to be a PR disaster for Caldera. Flame war at 11.
  • by DGregory ( 74435 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @03:42AM (#1124364) Homepage
    I didn't think that "proprietary" had anything to do with licensing. I thought proprietary meant "closed" as in "this is mine and you can't touch it"


    proprietary (pr-pr-tr)
    adj. Abbr. prop., pty.

    1.Of or relating to a proprietor or to proprietors as a group: proprietary rights.
    2.Exclusively owned; private: a proprietary hospital.
    3.Befitting an owner: a proprietary air.
    4.Owned by a private individual or corporation under a trademark or patent:
    a proprietary drug.

    Hmmm under this definition, Linux is NOT proprietary. It's not private, not exclusively owned, not owned by a private individual or corporation under a trademark or patent...

    These people are creating new definitions for the word, and trying to make Linux sound bad.
  • by nels_tomlinson ( 106413 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @04:26AM (#1124365) Homepage
    This sounds like "ok, kiddies, we've used that opensource hype for all it's worth... time to get back to business as usual." As an earlier poster pointed out, the existence of a license does not make a product proprietary. This might be deliberate distortion by Mr. Love, but more likely, it's an example of our horrible education system at work. I suppose that this should give us all hope: you don't have to be well educated run a large company.

    On a separate issue, his proposal to remotely manage systems sounds very interesting. Who cares how difficult Linux is to manage! For a low monthly fee, you to can be care-free and buzzword-compliant! (Three year contract and service charges mentioned only in the fine print...) The interesting part here isn't the possiblity of a new business plan, making money by administering small office and home systems remotely. The interesting part lies in the privacy and free-speech issues which might arise. Think about the recent flap in England about private restraint of speech via libel laws. If you have controversial material on a home-page on your own computer, might the remote sys-admin have to take it down to shield himself? Or just drop your contract, and not tell you the root password? If you hire out the sys-admin job, and the managing company finds something they think is porn on your harddrive, are they obligated to report it to the sheriff? Should they, even if the law doesn't require it? I recently heard of a mother being prosecuted for having pictures of her naked child developed. That's (the prosecution ... ok, the mother too) very weird.

    Of course, hiring out the sys-admin job to Corel, or any company raises all sorts of issues about ownership and access. Here's one: of course it's your system, but the management software running under Linux is our propriatary code... if you don't renew our contract, we will have to remove it. It includes the password file. And we encrypted the filesystem. We won't format the drives when we leave, but we'll take the only software which can read them. It's all for your safety.
    Here's another. A sys-admin company might use your email address book to search for new customers, and so on. It's your data, and they probably wouldn't use it in any way that could get them caught. But that leaves a lot of latitude.

    I wonder how far this idea will go? If Linux administration gets just a bit easier, and the major distributions start including a home computer installation option which is reasonably secure out of the box, probably not too far.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @04:07AM (#1124366)
    > Oof course, the GPL doesn't require you to publish your changes if you don't distribute your changes.

    Which brings up something I've been wondering about. What does "distribute" mean? If a corporate IT department hacks The GIMP and then puts the employees to work using it, do they have to provide those employees the source as well?

    Hairs want to be split, you know.

  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @04:03AM (#1124367) Journal

    Under his definition, any software with a license is "proprietary", so the only non-proprietary software is public-domain software. Thus, any restrictions == proprietary software.

    Open source does not necessarily mean non-proprietary, Love contended. Users who make changes to software such as the Gimp image manipulation software must publish those changes under various open-source licenses, but the mere fact that there is a license obliging users to share code means that someone has set proprietary parameters on the use of the software.

    Technically, there are no parameters on the use of the software, just on the distribution of modified software based on the original GPL'd software. For the majority of people who are software users but not software writers, the software is effectively non-proprietary - the file formats are open, code can be inspected for security, efficiency, and effectiveness, and unlimited copies of the software can be used for free.

    "Some open-source licenses may go a little too far," he said. "It's one thing to facilitate open access, but another to demand it. That's what you are trying to get away from."

    In the end, revolutionaries could do more to marginalize the operating system through zealous adherence to a misguided interpretation of the open-source movement.

    What license is "demanding open access"? Is this a reference to the GPL, or is this just an attack on some GPL supporters who insist that all software should be GPL'd? Who has a "misguided interpretation" - is someone misinterpreting the GPL, or misinterpreting the ideals behind it? The article is practically a troll at this point - there are no justifications or examples for these accusations.

    It seems to me that we settled for "good enough" proprietary software for a long time, but that didn't lead to the changes we are seeing Linux bring about today. Only the "zealous adherence" to open-source ideals has brought about the wave of changes that Mr. Love has found himself caught up in. After all, if he has all the answers on how open source is supposed to work, shouldn't he have helped start the movement a while back, rather than just jumping into it once it became profitable?

    It's too bad the press quotes this guy all the time rather than one of the people who are really leading - of the well-known (whether deservedly or not) Linux figures, he suffers from foot-in-mouth disease the most often. Oh wait, I forgot, the real leaders of the open source community are too busy writing code and creating the software that keeps Mr. Love in business.

  • by mind21_98 ( 18647 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @03:47AM (#1124368) Homepage Journal
    According to Caldera's CEO, proprietary is something with a software license.

    Well, without a software license it's in the public domain. Once in public domain, the creator can't stop it (unless you're the MPAA ;)

    Software licenses are necessary to assert the positions of developers and users. The licenses explain the limits of the users. In the GPL, the condition pressed on the users is that they have to release source code if they release another version of it. In many other software licenses it could be restrictions on copying it.

    In general, this sounds very fishy. He may be backing down from Microsoft, but whatever he's doing it's not good for business.
  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @04:00AM (#1124369) Homepage
    I wouldn't dismiss Love's statements based on Caldera's "outsider" position in the community -- often it is the outsiders that have the clearest viewpoints.
    1. To say that Linux is silencing others because of its success is probably exaggerating things a bit, but on the other hand it's partially true. Linux has a public relations momentum that most other alternatives don't. It's Pepsi to Microsoft's Coke. I'm sure that BeOS and others wish they had even a part of what the Linux movement now takes for granted.
    2. Is proprietary software all that bad? I would say no, as long as it is in moderation. People should have the right to make proprietary software if they so desire, as long as they realize the benefits they are missing out on. The strength of the Linux movement is that it is primarily open source and free-as-in-speech. Nevertheless, every movement needs some variety.
    3. In a sense, the GPL is a strict and binding way to make things free and public. Does that sound contradictory at all? I'm not saying it's a bad thing, just that I see his point.
    4. Is it possible that the demand for open source code is to strong at times? Personally, I don't think so. What makes Linux wonderful is that if you want to change something, you just dig in and do it. I disagree with Love on this particular point.

  • by ltcordelia ( 116425 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2000 @04:13AM (#1124370)
    The hardest thing here was decided who had the best post to respond to. PigleT, you win.

    "free" anything means a number of things [], but I prefer Not controlled by obligation or the will of another. The open-source movement protects the investment of the first programmer, not his so-called rights. Programmer A invests his/her time into writing an app under the GPL. If Programmer B wants to take advantage of Programmer A's effort, s/he must provide their work back to "the community," thus providing Programmer A a nice return on their investment. Note that Programmer B did NOT get "free" code from Programmer A - Programmer B was obligated to provide service back to Programmer A.

    Note that companies are getting around the GPL by creating new software based on GPL'ed components, and selling service to their customers. Since they are not providing binaries to their customers, they are under no obligation to release their modifications to "open-source" software.

    This company is restricted from selling their software (Hmm, I wonder if they could give an NDA to their customers prohibiting the re-release of their source code?) by the GPL. Their "rights" are not being protected here.

    AS to the value of StarOffice, note that many of us are forced to work in an MS environment, where management and other divisions frequently send MS-Office documents. Having an interoperable product, which is seamless to the other users, means I can run Linux where otherwise I'd be forced to run Windoze.

    Information wants to be free

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?