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Caldera Mulling Alternate Licenses 264

edoug writes: "Ransom Love (CEO of Caldera) said he thinks Microsoft was right in its claim that the GPL doesn't make much business sense. And so, Caldera is mulling a non-GPL licensing mechanism -- most likely one based on the BSD license. Love said: "Microsoft is attacking open source at its weakest point: the GPL." Check out the article here ." Update: 05/10 7:30 AM by michael : Newsforge has an interview with Love.
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Caldera Mulling Alternate Licenses

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @09:16PM (#233270)
    so they're fudding it.

    How long before Webster includes words such as fudding and slashdotted into their dictionary? These are awesome geek creations.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @10:00PM (#233271)
    In a previous discussion about a week ago, one guy quoted a Microsoft employee. He said that the BSD stack was to hard to port over cleanly, and thus they created their own. They obviously looked at the BSD stack as a reference, but wanted to make a nicer implementation for their OS.

    The ftp example is nonsense, since its basically standard code and almost a pure compile on any other system would make it work. Microsoft has no reason to dislike BSD and similar licenses because at the very least they are given hints and references to how to implement something.. but with the GPL-like licenses, many companies strictly forbid their employees to read over the code. The fear is that they will mistakenly (or lazily) take it, and the company will be in big trouble. I believe Microsoft had this policy for Mozilla.

    GNU/LINUX and MS are very similar, as both look at BSD-like code for references and both have reasons of intelectual property, etc. for recreating it or embracing its code silently. Microsoft with the tcp/ip stack reference, GNU with utility reference (vim). The difference in these two is MS did it out of programming methodology, while GNU did it out of license frenzy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2001 @01:57AM (#233272)
    Nothing new comes out of MS

    1) Office is and will continue to be the office suite standard. Believe it or not, people (lots of people) love Office, with good reason. (StarOffice: I might be able to judge it, come back to me next week when it has loaded up. KOffice: not enough developers to make it as mature and complete as Office. Anything else?)

    2) As much as I hate to admit it, you must concur that the optimal web-browsing experience to be had today is on IE. More plugins, more sites that are designed for it, more useable. Parly due to their shady bundling, but alsy partly due to the fact that IE actually does a good job of web browsing. (You won't catch me dead using it though)

    Open Source development could easily be their R&D department.

    Other than the TCP/IP stack that everyone loves to jump up and down about, can you name another thing they've taken from the open-source community? (The Mac GUI? Since when was that open-source? You can't stop them from taking ideas. And Apple knew this when they stole (stold?) the GUI from Xerox. And the big two desktop environments for *nix knew it too, when they duped it from their predecessors.)

    The fact is that multi-billion dollar companies don't really need to copy code . Apache was (and is) the server of choice when IIS was in development. They didn't copy that too, did they? Why? Because they have tons of smart people on the payroll thinking up their own ideas/implementations (e.g. http://research.microsoft.com [microsoft.com]).

    My last point is about the GPL. Do you really think that if Microsoft put GPL code in their closed stuff, they couldn't get away with it? They're high-priced lawyers would eat the GPL for breakfast. (Not to mention the fact that I've spoken with more than one lawyer who thinks the GPL will not stand up in court.)

    (Moderators: this post is pro-Microsoft. You have no choice but to mod down.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @08:25PM (#233273)
    This isn't news.
    Mr. Love has been espousing these beliefs for YEARS!

    This thesis [caldera.com].

    This keynote at Summer Comdex '99 [geocities.com]

    This 'Presidents letter' at Caldera [caldera.com]...

    Let's not just say 'heresy'...let's THINK for once!

  • by Micah ( 278 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @07:49PM (#233274) Homepage Journal
    They have done some work on the kernel and hardware drivers and that sort of thing. Of course, that stuff's gonna stay under the GPL so there's nothing to worry about.

    [root@eclipse linux-2.4.2]# grep -ri caldera *

    gives plenty of examples. 27 lines in the source contain Caldera, mostly giving credit and e-mail addresses in such things as IPX drivers, SCSI, and sound.
  • Wrong, the file manager-is-a-browser concept was in KDE since the beginning, long before there even was a packaged called "Konqueror". The original kfm was both a browser and a file manager. Granted, it wasn't a great browser yet, but the concept was already there in KDE, and predates konqueror.

    Samba was not a copy of a concept. Unix already had that concept before Windows even knew what networking was. It was called NFS. Samba is just a way to work with Windows clients that refuse to play well with others and insist on only speaking Windows' drive sharing protocol (SMB).

    Outlook is merely a copy of tools available on Unix beforehand.

    Sure, a lot of KDE and Gnome are copying Windows apps, but the Windows apps they are copying were themselves copies of existing things in older Unixen. KDE and Gnome are merely making tools for people who are used to Windows because Windows is popular, NOT because these tools are anything new.

  • It's weakest point?

    People always ask me why I write open source. They want to know why I will give my source code away for free when others can just steal my hard work and claim it as their own. These people, and apparently Mr. Love, are not familiar with the terms of the GPL.

    Because of the GPL my open source code is protected. I can give, sell, or rent my code out to someone, but if they change the code and want to distribute it, they have to play by the exact same rules. They can give, sell or rent their changed code, but they have to provide the source and the same licensing mechanism along with it.

    IMHO, the GPL is Open Source's STRONGEST point. It ensures that open source programmers won't be taken advantage of by unscrupulous companies who would simply steal their hard work and claim it as their own (which they could under the BSD license). Remember the Halloween Documents [opensource.org]? The ones where Microsoft claimed that the biggest threat they faced from Linux (and by logical extension Open Source) was that by sharing the code, open source could harness the peer review and programming power of millions of programmers all over the world. Wouldn't it just play into Microsoft's hand perfectly if they could absorb all this open source power without having to respect the freedom guaranteed by the GPL?

    I don't know what Mr. Love's angle is, but I do know that he is gravely mistaken about what the GPL is and what it represents to the Open Source community. It is one of our cornerstones, it is our Bill of Rights, it guarantees software's freedom [gnu.org] and provides a safe environment for intellectual exchange, peer review and software maturation.

  • For a company? I mean, if BSD makes sense for a commercial entity, why don't companies release their "core" IP under the BSD license (with some exceptions, like some companies release reference/standard implementations where the software was not meant as a money making mechanism)? I don't think anyone will complain, maybe except the company shareholders.

    Come on, Caldera! You are an OS company and a Linux vendor. Your main business is software. You are the proud owner of CP/M, DR DOS, GEM, and the true (AT&T's) UNIX source code (today known as SCO Unix). Release them under the BSD license! (GEM is already released under GPL, but the other three are not released as open source yet)

  • actually, it can be argued that one of the bsds is *nix top dog, its name is darwin. with apple installing os x as the default os on all its machines this summer, bsd will sell in quantities linux can not hope to match. the fact of the matter is that consumers love good software, and the bsd license lets apple improve and innovate and still pay its programmers.

    Right now OS X has approximately zero users. You might think that it is cool, and you might even be willing to pay a premium for Mac OS X hardware (and software), but not very many other people are so inclined. Heck, there are probably more Linux installs on former Mac hardware than there are OS X installs. Perhaps in the future this won't be the case, but to say that Mac OS X is top dog in the Free *nix world (especially considering that it isn't a Free *nix but is only based on one) is premature.

    unfortunately companies publishing under the gpl have been unable to make a profit. that doesnt say good things about them continuing to advance the software. why shouldnt developers make money for their effort?

    Cygnus made money at Free Software for years (as has the FSF, but they made so little money that it hardly counts). RedHat recently broke even, while growing their business at an astounding rate. Considering that 90% of all new businesses fail, Free Software companies aren't doing so bad, and it is not as if they are failing to gain customers. They simply made the same mistake that the rest of the market made and spent too much in pursuit of marketshare. When the stock market was going crazy this sort of made sense because capital was so easy to acquire.

    Just remember, more closed source companies have gone spectacularly bankrupt than there will ever be Free Software companies. And Free Software was doing just fine long before there were any corporations involved. Mac OS X is a fine example of this. They have been promising a new OS for years, and it wasn't until Apple "borrowed" the work of Open Source volunteers that they were actually able to produce one. While Apple was busy sprinting from one spectacular failure to the next, the folks creating BSD were cranking out an OS that worked spectacularly, and they were doing it largely in their spare time.

  • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:22AM (#233280) Homepage Journal

    Caldera has always felt that the only way to make money with Linux was to bundle it with proprietary software. In fact, that's probably the reason that they aren't in RedHat's position right now. They have always had a solid, easy to use distribution, but it has also always been more expensive than everyone else's distribution, and it has generally always included proprietary bits that made it illegal to simply burn copies.

    Now Caldera is looking to extend Linux in proprietary ways (Volution) and they are finding all of this GPLed software bothersome. The fact of the matter is that the GPL has almost certainly been an asset to Linux. If this weren't the case then one of the BSDs would be top dog in the Free *nix world. The fact of the matter is that software consumers love the GPL. It gives them an unprecedented amount of leverage. And in software, like in all business, the customer is always right.

  • Say IBM releases a file-system. They GPL it and Linux starts using it, and some smart person comes up with a better caching algorithm, improving the performance drastically. Now IBM can take that improvement, rewrite it to obtain their own copyright, and fold it into their closed-source version of that file-system as well.

    Couldn't anyone rewrite the code and slap new copyright on it? After all when IBM GPLs a piece of code it's our code.

  • I think you miss the point.

    Let's say IBM does develop a really really cool application for Linux. I don't know what that is, but just call it foo.

    They release it under the GPL. That means that now you as the consumer are granted the specific rights to obtain the source code. But even more importantly you have the rights to modify, copy, distribute without restriction.

    So you just take foo and throw it up on your own webpage for free download.

    Redhat comes along, takes the free download and incorporates it into their product. So does SuSe, Caldera, Slackware and Corel.

    Great for the community.

    Not so great for IBM who is out a billion research bucks with a $0 ROI.

    Honestly, I can't help but wonder why you aren't petitioning the Pope to convince him to start up a software development house at the Vatican.

    Then when the starving children in Africa come looking for help, you can explain how much better Linux is and why they should support the GPL.
  • "There's nothing preventing you from charging a million dollars for that binary."

    Well that's technically true.

    You can charge $1 million to the first sucker who comes along and is willing to pay it.

    Then they distribute it for free.

    But chances are you'll never find a sucker who is willing to pay you $1 million.

    As far as the Apache example. I think you need a little more imagination.
  • Ok, let me get this straight.

    Exactly how is Apple taking anything from the community by utilizing BSD code?

    That uses the explicit assumption that software is a scarce item and that by using BSD code, Apple is taking away from others being able to use BSD code.

    That is simply not the case.

    The code still exists, the source still exists, you and everybody else is still completely free to use it. It never goes away because it's been released for free under a BSD license.

    Does it protect the authors? Absolutely. In the same exact way as Public Domain and the GPL. Obviously they have chosen to give their code away for free, so so be it. What more protection do they need? Freedom from being sued? Ok, put a warranty disclaimer on it like the GPL has, big deal.

    More importantly the BSD license protects subsequent authors who add value. It gives these authors the freedom and liberty to do with their own modifications what they want. They can in turn release their modifications under the BSD license, or they can keep them closed, whatever.

    Does it protect consumers? Again, absolutely. Consumers still have a choice, they can use the original code for free, or they can use the value-add code for a small fee. It all depends on whether that value-add is worth something to the consumer.

    There are a lot of products distributed in this fashion. A free version, and a value-add version. I don't see consumers complaining. Isn't this what has made X-11, sendmail, Apache, etc. so successful?

    The GPL doesn't protect consumers at all. It insures they have the source code, but it also disclaims all warranties on the condition of that source. It may or may not work, we don't care, don't bug us we'll call you if we care, but don't sit by the phone.

    It's amazing how incredibly selfish GPL proponents are. It seems so against the whole nature of this Open Source thing and giving to the community.
  • But Apple never took anything which wasn't offered freely.

    And the obvious intent of offering the software for free under the BSD license was to invoke the spirit of Open Source. Share it with others so many can benefit.

    In this case, millions of Apple users will benefit.

    These same apple users could also run NetBSD or something similar if they wanted. But Apple has extended the Unix environment with a unique new user interface which is very desirable and helpful to consumers.

    As far as your last snide remark. I didn't say sharing is selfish, I said 'sharing with strings attached' is selfish.

    I also do not own an Apple, do not own Apple hardware, do not really care for Steve Jobs. But I at least understand and appreciate what they are trying to do.
  • Exactly how has it not worked out for those in Africa dying of AIDS?

    The drug companies have certainly been willing to accomodate the needs of those governments by providing low cost drugs.

    Without the IP laws those drugs would not even exist to begin with. No company can afford to provide billions in research for free.

    You seem to be of the notion that the world owes you a favor, and should be forced to donate their money to your cause, either through tax dollars or tithes.

    So I suggest you look towards the Catholic Church for help in this endeavor.

  • "If IBM releases something under the GPL they've prevented anyone from filing off the name and rereleasing it as a proprietary project. "

    The same is true of the BSD license.

    As far as your other comments... it must not be the bad crack you've been smoking.
  • Umm... How can you disagree with me and agree at the same time?

    Whether or not IBM is releasing a version of Linux is irrelevant.

    What is relevant is whether IBM releases DB/2 source under a GPL license.

    By tying all research/development costs of software into the cost of the hardware, IBM places themselves in an interesting situation of not being price competitive on the hardware side.

    Why should I buy IBM hardware which costs $X + $Y(for the cost of software) when I can go to HP and buy equivalent hardware for $X and download the software off IBM's website for free?

    Anyway, I think it's obvious that you completely agree with me, you just can't see that now.
  • So who cares?

    They are not taking away anything from anyone. They only thing they are close sourcing is their modifications to the project.

    If these modifications are of value, then pay for them.

    If these modifications are not of value, then don't... continue to use the free version.

    If they are very simple modifications, than go to your own effort to add them into the free version.

    At no time can anybody take the freely released BSD version and hide it from you. Never. It's just not possible. Once released it's out in the world to stay.

  • I thought the point of doing Free Software was to give it away for free so that all others could benefit?

    Now your saying that, no, in fact you are a greedy selfish bastard who wants to tie strings to your gift.

    Besides can't you just do a BSD license and add a 'But if you use this for a commercial purpose get my permission first?'

    When I was a young twerp in college I had an attitude such as yours, but I've long come to realize that isn't why I was giving my software away. Nearly everything I've written has been under a BSD license, even stuff I patch.

  • Oh give me a break, the GPL is the very embodiment of Software Communism. It has nothing to do with brainwashing, it's a simple question of critical thinking.

    But you know what? I really don't care. If you want to use the GPL, then do so.

    But don't expect the rest of the world to conform!

    That's actually what makes the GPL so alike to the Soviet Union. Can't convince people to freely be part of the Community, so the only other option is to force them to be. Dictatorship of the Proletariat, whatever. I don't want any of it.
  • > ive been saying this for months...

    I'm glad you have this insight, but it's nothing new. It was all layed out in the GNU Manifesto in the 80's. Stallman plainly understood the effect GPL'ed software would have on the business environment. He says straight out that the way to make money with free software is to sell support, or do contract programming.

    And Caldera is hardly a .com . They've been around for a while. Also, their business is certainly not "based solely" on their Linux distro.

    That said, I wouldn't really mind seeing Caldera shrivel up and die. They sure aren't doing the open source world any favors.

  • No, it's you who are mistaken about the GPL and how it has functioned in creating a viable space into which companies supporting Linux--and indeed, as Caldera itself proves, all of Unix--could expand.

    Moreover, to be quite honest, I'd say that Caldera has focussed on packaging Linux with proprietary value-added software almost from the beginning (e.g., NDS, NCP, Wabi, Wordperfect 7, Netscape Fasttrack Server, others). Now they've bought SCO and the Unix trademark. Blaming the GPL licensing of _other_ software distributed with Linux, or, (are they insane?) Linux itself for the failure of Caldera to aggregate a sustainable Linux service business seems misguided and maybe dishonest.

    Just as it's self-evident that lots of software infrastructure is not going to be free any time soon, it should be equally clear that _which_ packages "should" or "can't" be developed under a particular license just isn't obvious.

    Sorry Caldera (and Brett Glass, and Microsoft), but you're just going to have to live with that. Whining isn't going to make your free competitors go away.

  • by howardjp ( 5458 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @07:07PM (#233299) Homepage
    Uhm, no. BSD would still be there, without the GPL. Mach would still be there, without the GPL. X Windows would still be there, without the GPL. Apache would still be there, without the GPL, Tcl/Tk would still be there, without the GPL. This list goes on and on, but what is really telling is that the most important, BSD, Mach, and the X Windows System all predate GNU :)
  • by Rob Kaper ( 5960 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @08:09PM (#233300) Homepage
    The GPL makes perfect sense. It's not always the right tool for the right job, but it makes perfect business sense:

    One more time: you do not have to accept the GPL to use GPLed software. Only when you choose to redistribute that code or modifactions / derivatives of it, you have to face the GPL.

    You can write proprietary applications that interact with GPLed software. You can even look at the source to study the API at no cost and without any obligation.

    It even makes sense to write GPLed software in case you want to take advantage of the open source development model. In this case, the BSD license is more trouble for companies because in that case they lose total control, with the GPL they will at least have enforced that any modifications or derivatives can be merged back if desired. But perhaps a NPL/MPL style license makes more sense as business model when writing software.

    It does make business sense if you do not use GPLed libraries. The FSF deliberately promotes the use of GPLed libraries so that the community can have an advantage over proprietary developers.

    So thanks for noticing that the GPL can be used against businesses, but this was intentional in this case. So let's not get mad at Mundie or Caldera, some of us did this on purpose. We just need to make clear that when it comes to libraries, there is the LGPL: it makes perfect business sense to use LGPLed libraries.

  • by TilJ ( 7607 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @07:48PM (#233302) Homepage
    Wouldn't releasing that intellectual property under a *more* liberal license (BSD-ish) make them even greater fools?

    At least with the GPL, the intellectual property remains within the sphere of competitors that also release their source. A more liberal license would expand that sphere to include proprietary competitors, which isn't exactly useful in the "prevent going broke" thing ;-)
  • Office is and will continue to be the office suite standard. Believe it or not, people (lots of people) love Office, with good reason.

    Believe it or not, professionals like myself are DYING to get away from Windows to ESCAPE Microsoft Office, because it has become so screwed up that it is unusable for professional work. I've had to start going over my hardcopy printouts in Word on a page by page basis to make sure cross-references and numbered lists haven't become spontaneously corrupted. These are features that used to work dependably. I have little faith that they will ever be fixed properly, since there are still significant and well-known bugs from Word 2.0 left in the code (ex: the section break bug).

    If Office were being introduced as a new set of apps, I'd have to say "nice features, but it's just not dependable enough to use."

    As for IE5, it crashes just as much as Netscape, and I prefer the way new Netscape windows inherit the maximization of the parent window.

    Every piece of software from Microsft seems to turn into "feature landfill."

    Moreover, and getting back to the point you were trying to rebut, Office and IE were nothing new. Office was copying WordPerfect and Lotus 123 and Harvard Graphics, and IE was BOUGHT from another company! Office's major innovation was its interoperability among apps, and the fact that it was sold at a discount as a suite, and I'm not sure those were really innovations.

    Jon Acheson
  • It's a LICENCE, for crying out loud! It RUNS ON the concept of intellectual property! You cannot licence what you do not own!

    What it IS "anti" is the concept of closed source licensing that locks its users out of the code so that they can't fix it and work with it. But that isn't being against the concept of intellectual property, it's against an abuse of that concept, in much the same way that anti-monopoly law is not anti-free-market.

    The GPL was intended to correct a problem with the way software was being licenced, all while staying within the legal framework of software licencing.

    Jon Acheson
  • Your example only works if Red Hat wanted to be in the business of installing applications for users. I doubt that they do: you don't get enough money for the small stuff, and maintaining a support staff for drudgework only leads to high turnover in that department.

    Red Hat probably wants to be IBM when they grow up, only they won't even have to do the hardware. They want to sell their expertise to big companies with big expense accounts.

    Jon Acheson
  • They certainly must honor the GPL for their software that is already under it, but I don't think they have an obligation to release every little thing they make under the GPL. It's not right to consider them leeches if they have some proprietary things. If it was wrong to do this, then don't you think the GPL would have addressed it? If there's some kind of unwritten code at work here, then we've either got to codify it in the license, or we've got to simply drop the issue. How can we expect companies not to offend us unless we specifically outline exactly what we find acceptable as a community?

  • by landley ( 9786 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @07:34PM (#233309) Homepage
    Open Source is -NOT- a threat to Microsoft. They're thrilled to co-opt code out of BSD (where do you think windows got its network stack)? The standard interface to the internet for 3/4 of the people using it is Internet Explorer. Embrace and extend, and with a BSD style license it's so easy everybody from IBM (AIX) to BSDI has already done it, even WITHOUT trying to kill off Unix.

    The GPL is what makes Linux a threat. They can't embrace and extend it, it embraces and extends THEM. And that scares the heck otu of them, so they're fudding it. Ransom Love's stupid enough to buy into this, but that's no suprise. This is the man who saw value in the corpse of SCO.

    Sheesh, Microsoft is THRILLED about non-GPL open source. Just as Microsoft embraced and extended the internet, the macintosh-like GUI, and any other idea to get within 50 paces. Nothing new comes out of MS, they NEED stuff to copy. Open Source development could easily be their R&D department. Without the internet, their growth would already have peaked a few years ago, their whole .NET strategy is co-opting other people's ideas (the internet and Java).

    If Microsoft was facing BSD right now in place of Linux, it would just fork it. Embrace and extend, bundle a BSD variant with Explorer and a Win32 API compatability library, and of course half of the office suite buried and hidden in the standard system libraries just like it's in windows now. And it would work.

    But they can't do that with GPL code. So they're trying to get the Open Source movement to leave the GPL behind, so they have stuff they can fork off proprietary versions of.

    The GPL is the open source movement's immune system against proprietary things like MS. Lots of people say that in an ideal world you don't need an immune system. Apparently, they live in a bubble.


  • Caldera was/is involved with webmin. Webmin is already under the BSDL.
  • That's http://www.webin.com if you wanted to know...
  • Maybe thier recent version of DRDOS will help ;) (seriously-- support for legacy apps may be a good thing for some potential customers).

    You're forgetting that DR-DOS belongs to Lineo, formerly Caldera Thin Clients, independent from Caldera for a few years now.

    Lineo, unlike Caldera, is gaining customers instead of losing them, has made Microsoft their bitch (see the DR-DOS settlement), and wholeheartedly believes in the GPL. See http://www.lineo.com/news_events/announcements/200 1/05.03.html [lineo.com] for their response to Microsoft's attack on the GPL.

  • As much as I hate to admit it, you must concur that the optimal web-browsing experience to be had today is on IE.

    I don't concur. I am running Linux.

    p.s., does it feel good to be an astroturfer? I've always wondered if anybody could feel good being one. If it does make you feel good, don't feel bad about it, there is no point, you are lost. ;-)

  • I don't know of many, but Caldera is a driving force behind Linux - NetWare connectivity...

    Oh, I don't know about that. I'd say Jeff Merkey (one of the original designers of Netware and now confirmed Linux evangelist) has a lot better chance of actually delivering it.

  • IBM shouldn't have had to do an 'internal audit' to find that out -- it's right in their financial reports. And, good thing too, because Lou Gerstner basically saved the company by focusing on services.

    The thing about consulting is that, unlike software or hardware, it only scales linearly - to double your revenue, you generally need to double your consulting force. That means there's a practical limit to profits that can be made in a particular segement. So, IBM is raking in the dough doing Windows 2000 migraiton consutlting, but they need to expand their offerings with things like Linux and Java.

    However, if you've dealt with IBM recently, you'll know that services ain't their main cup of tea yet. They primarily use it as part of a sales bundle to move software or hardware. (Such as, you get a cut on these boxes and licences, just give us the support contract.)

    They are thinking that Linux is an especially good sales tool against Sun accounts (Linux/Netfinity or Linux/S390 Cluster on the low end, maybe move some high profit RS/6000s on the high end.) However, their profit margin is MUCH higher on the classic IBM stuff (RS/6000, AS/400), so to a great degree Linux is just a door opener for them.
  • The only requirement IMHO is that what is under the GPL must stay under the gpl and what is not can be under a new license. The problem that they face now is that if they released stuff under the gpl and then change it are they violating the gpl then?

    They cannot take works that are under the gpl then just release them as BSD license cause they want to.

    What is hurting Caldera is that they are to late to the market and they have done to little for linux. I think they helped with wine some how at some point or was that corel?? But what have they done as far as kernel development? Both SuSe adn Redhat at least have helped in that area.

    What have they done to defend the gpl? Even RH and Mandrake do that. Maybe the just need less employees.

    I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • Every prominent open-source advocate has said that sometimes it makes sense to license software under something other than the GPL. Heck, even RMS admits this, which is why some GNU stuff is released under the LGPL.

    So if Love has had the same brilliant insight, why is this news?

  • by PenguinX ( 18932 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @07:25PM (#233322) Homepage
    The GPL makes a ton of business sense. When looked at objectively it creates the requirement for businesses to constantly improve and innovate. If they do not, then they die. However such liscenses as the BSD liscense make a lot of sense to those who want to protect the interests of the company to the point where if they wanted to fuck over the customer the company has the ability to say "too bad". I think that this is a very dangerous thing coming from a company who has been so well known for Linux and GPL support over the years. What, if any code *COULD* Caldera re-liscense under the BSD liscense? Perhaps companies are correct to question the GPL. Perhaps we should look into providing alternatives that are friendly to corporations, consumers, and the collective body that has done all the work. I guess my *BIGGEST* problem is where so called "digital" law is at the moment allows anyone to "own" technology forever. Add "encryption" to it and it suddenly becomes a mortal sin to reverse engineer it. It's sad to see that people still don't get it, it's even sadder that people who are supposedly even the "leaders" still don't get it.
  • The gravey train has rolled in, stayed around for a couple of years... and now its departing at an alarming rate.

    I don't think Linux was just hype, since the userbase is still increasing at a high pace. We only got a sudden rush of interest from all kinds of companies with all kinds of ideas. Sure, those ideas are dying down... It's the novelty effect. Linux is not "new" anymore. It's the survival of the fittest.
  • by toofast ( 20646 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @06:53PM (#233325)
    I fail to see where Caldera becomes relevant in this story. Rather than worry about licensing flamewars, they should spend more ressources working on their product and promoting it a bit better. OpenLinux rocks, but no one ever hears about it.

  • by toofast ( 20646 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @07:01PM (#233326)
    I don't know of many, but Caldera is a driving force behind Linux - NetWare connectivity... if you need that at all...

  • However without viable business models to run off it the GPL is next to useless in the long run. Currently there are a number of companies trying business models around the GPL with varying success. If these companies stop support of products like Linux then these products will disappear from many of their current markets.

    Face it- money makes the world go around, Caldera is a company who needs to make money to survive, if it does not survive then many contributers to GLP'd code will stop contributing - employees of Caldera will move on and might not have time in new job and users might switch to closed source.

    Basically to survive I believe that the GPL must be business friendly even if this is not what it was designed for, to say otherwise is naive.
  • The GPL isn't anti-business, and RMS never said that it was. He said it was anti-IP.

    There's a HUGE difference. IP is the ability to own ideas. To control the actions of others, tell them what they're allowed to know.

    Business is the action everyone takes when they put food on the table. Either if they're self-employed, or work for someone else.

    There are hundreds of successful businesses that use or work with the GPL. Many consultants I know spend 75% or more of their time migrating businesses to unix servers and other non-proprietary software. I know of three tech companies basing custom hardware on RT-Linux (well, a RT flavor of Linux, not specifically RT-Linux).

    The GPL isn't suited for megacorps - Stallman will tell you that, but it's not designed to sabotage them either. As long as they have a business method which doesn't involve squatting on IP, they'll be fine.

    The GPL is as business neutral as the color blue. Many companies make great use of it, others don't. Many companies fail, many don't. The color blue doesn't play a part in this, and neither does the GPL. But CEOs sure grasp at straws to justify their company losing money... It's like that just can't admit that their incompotence had to do with it.

    Heh. Let companies whine about how they don't want to embrace open source. They'll kill themselves, or relegate themselves to a niche market, and let other more flexible competitors take over.

    Microsoft is already pushing itself out the server market. Many businesses are ditching MS in favor of the tried and true. They know propoganda when they see it. They know that having a GPLed webserver is irrelevant to its performance, they don't buy MS's FUD, but they recognize the fact that MS is sure spending a lot of time and money on that FUD.

    Well, it'll work itself out in the end. MS may or may not still sell server-level OSes then, but their FUD won't change a thing.
  • Right. The GPL can't be applied to someone else's code, they choose to do it because they want the benefits. And they still own the IP, and can relicense their part (without everyone else's contributions) seperately.

    But RMS intended the GPL to slowly lessen the control of IP, by building enough GPLed software that the only smart thing for people to do was use some of it in their project, thus making the rest free.

    So it wouldn't destroy IP, but it'd create a condition in which IP wasn't the point of business, where businesses provided a service instead of figuring out some piece of IP and blackmailing anyone who thought of the same idea.
  • Sure, those 'other companies' I talked about could rewrite IBMs code and end up with the same thing, basically. But they couldn't just do a cut & paste job. It's makes it harder for them to benefit. With the BSD license they wouldn't care about rewriting it, they'd just grab it.

  • If IBM releases something under the GPL they've prevented anyone from filing off the name and rereleasing it as a proprietary project. So any of those Redhat, or Suse, users will see that they're using something by IBM, a maker of "big iron". When they have serious computer needs, who are they going to talk to?

    For instance, if you're using IBM's DB2 database on Redhat, and you decide that even a cluster of high-end PCs can't keep up anymore, who are you going to contact to get better hardware? SGI? Nope, IBM... because they've shown you their product and let you use it.

    Now if DB2 has some neat feature that Oracle doesn't, Oracle can't simple copy that feature, they need to rewrite the whole thing. So it's IBM's protection to keep competitors from easily benefitting from their code, while still letting potential customers have all the access they need to fully evaluate and use the product.

    And as for the Vatican? What kind of crack are you smoking?
  • Both licenses allow that. If IBM wrote the code, they can release it under any license they like, at any time. They can't revoke a license like the BSDL or GPL, but they can add a license. (Or lack thereof, with a proprietary release.)

    It would mean that they can't fold Apache into that proprietary release, if it was GPLed. In that, you're right.
  • I didn't say they should release all their code, just that the code they do release should be GPLed.

    Really, everyone should release GPLed code for everything, just to piss off MS who lives by stealing code.
  • The BSD license specifically allows companies to fork a project and close-source their fork.

    That's the big difference between the licenses.

    So how does the BSD license prevent a company from rolling an open source project into it's closed source?
  • I didn't say they could remove the BSD'd version, but they can get something for nothing. That both annoys me personally and makes bad business sense for the original contributor.

    Most businesses I've worked with have liked the GPL, it grants them code to use, and means that if they release anything, nobody can proprietize it and start selling it.

    They don't mind using it, but want their piece if someone is getting charged for it. (But, they'd rather just let everyone have it for free, instead of trying to collect royalties on some small program.)
  • Maybe your idea of free software is to waste your time writing something that the MSs of the world can use for free, even as they steamroll over the rights of the people.

    This is precisely what the GPL is for, to make sure that only people who will contribute free software benefit from it. If someone can't be bothered to help the community, why should the community help them?

    The only people who like the BSDL better are freeloaders and people who've been brainwashed into thinking the GPL is communist, or some other crap.
  • Really? How come all these discussions involve some BSD guy saying "Use BSD, it's like the GPL, but not communist!"

    The GPL is voluntary. If you use GPLed code it's by choice.

    Further, if you can't code something better than a GPLed sample, with the GPL to use as an example, you don't deserve to make any money from your code as it's obviously substandard.
  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @08:21PM (#233340) Homepage
    Why would a company like IBM invest a ton of money into something with the BSD license? It'd just get used by some closed source company who didn't return anything to the community or to IBM.

    However, if IBM uses the GPL then they have the ability to use any innovations they discover people have made to their code.

    Say IBM releases a file-system. They GPL it and Linux starts using it, and some smart person comes up with a better caching algorithm, improving the performance drastically. Now IBM can take that improvement, rewrite it to obtain their own copyright, and fold it into their closed-source version of that file-system as well. Not only that, but when Linux is reviewed and that file-system is mentioned, IBM will be known as the creators. It's a win-win situation. They gave something away, to people who wouldn't have bought it anyways, and got something back, even if only in minor bug fixes.

    Their competitors didn't get anything, unless they want to link to GPLed code written by IBM, and what kind of statement would that make to investors? Mainly that IBM produces better code than they could. Every version of the competitors product would be an advertisment for IBM.

    However, if IBM used the BSD license their code would be quietly snapped up and used in their competitors products, without any compensation to IBM. That's the inexcusable (to stockholders) action.

    Clearly, if you want to reap the benefits of open source, you need to make sure the source stays open. That's GPL.
  • Of course, Caldera releasing their own software under a BSD license rather than the GPL license makes even less buisness sense since their competitors can then take the code, improve it and then not give Caldera the improvements back.

    The only way the BSD license makes more sense than GPL for buisness reasons is if you're in the position of being the taking part, not the giving part.

    I do expect Caldera to release yet another slew of licenses that arent compatible with any current ones, and making codesharing between stuff under those licenses impossible with everything else.

    Please. Do. Not. Do. That.

    BSD/X11, LGPL and GPL cover all the possible permutations of terms that are interesting. I have yet to see any license that diverges from the basic idea in them except in obnoxiously incompatible ways.
  • So GPL is the only free open source license out there?

    It seems a BSD style license would've had the exact same effect.

    If GPL was the only licence out there then your second sentence might make sense, but it isn't. There is "a BSD style licence", it's called the BSD licence, and it hasn't "had the exact same effect" as the GPL, so what do you mean by saying it "would've" done? Would have if it wasn't for the fact that it didn't?
  • Whether Caldera capitalises on GPL software is beside the point. He is saying that, quite rightly, distributing thier own software as GPL is not good business sense.

    Perhaps surprisingly, that doesn't seem to be what they're saying.

    From the article :
    "We would back the GPL as the preferred development-model license," Love said, "but we would back different models for other purposes." At the same time, Love explained, "we would continue to develop and publicly license pieces of technology under the GPL."

    The question is, if GPL is the preferred "development-model" licence, what will other licences be used for? Are they going to have a "development-model" licence and a stagnation-model licence, or what? Are they planning on releasing software as GPL whilst it's still in development, then a different licence when it's completed? I don't think it's clear what they're proposing but it doesn't seem to be that they're not going to use GPL any more. I'm not sure that what they're proposing is clear to them either though.
  • "The GPL is the open source movement's immune system against proprietary things like MS. "

    Its funny when a 'virus' provides immunity at the same time.
  • by cats-paw ( 34890 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @07:13PM (#233356) Homepage
    Hasn't anyone _actually_ read the GNU manifesto ?

    The GPL was not devised to provide a business opportunity. It was devised to preserve freedom.

    Getting involved with GPL'ed code, and then saying "gee, the GPL isn't a very business friendly" is totally ridiculous.

  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @07:12PM (#233357)
    Ransom Love is always fun to track in the news. He jumps in to the fray with the enthusiasm of a dog chasing its tail.

    ZDNet's reporter, Mary Jo Foley, notes that in line with Microsoft's recent critism:

    Caldera has some similar misgivings -- not about the GPL model being the optimal one for open-source development, but about how appropriate the GPL is for open-source software that is sold commercially, Love acknowledged.
    Then we go on with:
    Caldera is "seriously looking at and considering different licensing models," he said. Caldera is considering BSD and "other licensing models" that "would be truly open source but still allow folks to influence the (development) process," Love added.
    Down with the GPL? Well... kinda... not really:
    "We would back the GPL as the preferred development-model license," Love said, "but we would back different models for other purposes." At the same time, Love explained, "we would continue to develop and publicly license pieces of technology under the GPL."
    Spin, Ransom, spin. You might not ever get that tail, but you're making a lot of noise and putting on a fine show. ZDNet's reporters, with all the technical calibre of Dog Fancy Magazine, must surely appreciate the effort.

  • by Dr.Evil ( 47264 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @01:54PM (#233363) Homepage

    Whenever you're speaking in this forum, it might be a good idea not to appropriate the term Free Software, complete with capitalization, and then claim that it's got nothing to do with the GPL. The term Free Software (as opposed to free software) connotes a very particular meaning among /.ers in the know.

    The GPL protects the software commons in a way that the BSD license cannot do. Period. The BSD license can not prevent someone from hijacking the code from the user downstream. If Linus had released the Linux kernel under a BSD license, we could already have IBM Linux*, Sun Linux*, and a thousand other locked-up codebases, not talking with eachother, and with nothing making it possible to bridge the gap because none of them would have to share their changes with anybody. Actually, Linux development probably would have suffered crib death, because who needed another UNIX workalike except the FSF-inspired community? Same thing goes for all of the GNU tools, which is probably more significant to the issue of interoperability.

    Please note: I am not flaming the BSD license - release your software under whatever license you want. But don't pretend the GPL hasn't been a significant factor in the development of Free Software (in the RMS definition of the term), because it couldn't have happened without it. It might not be a cause, but it's certainly a catalyst, just as cheap hardware probably wasn't a cause. I personally think the initial cause was frustration with vendor lock-in in a supposedly "open" system like UNIX. The achievement of critical mass is a much thornier question.

    I think Caldera's never really been happy with having to be more-or-less compatible with everyone else's Linux distribution, anyway. They've always struck me as a company that would be quite glad to be able to lock in their market segment.


    *I don't actually think IBM and Sun would have released versions of Linux in this scenario. They're just examples of heavyweight players that could have taken the community's freely-provided code and hijacked it to make it incompatible with everyone else's.

  • "Then when the starving children in Africa come looking for help, you can explain how much better Linux is and why they should support the GPL."

    Man, what a troll. Is your point really that it is better to allow corporations in a laissez faire capitalist economy to build empires on intellectual property? Um, that *sure* worked out for all those Africans dying of AIDS didn't it?
  • "Exactly how has it not worked out for those in Africa dying of AIDS? The drug companies have certainly been willing to accomodate the needs of those governments by providing low cost drugs."

    Yeah, right. Drug companies have been fighting this tooth and nail.

    http://www.google.com/search?client=googlet&q=af ri ca%20aids%20pharmaceuticals

    Problems With Current U.S. Policy

    Key Problems

    * Without access to existing HIV/AIDS treatments, millions of people in developing countries are sentenced to preventable deaths.
    * Washington is pressuring developing countries not to adopt compulsory licensing and other intellectual property policies that could
    make HIV/AIDS drugs more affordable.
    * U.S. government positions on intellectual property questions are responsive to corporate greed, not public health needs.

    "Without the IP laws those drugs would not even exist to begin with."

    Questionable at best...but let's see what a founding father thought about patents:

    "Considering the exclusive right to invention as given not of natural right, but for the benefit of society, I know well the difficulty of drawing a line between the things which are worth to the public the embarrassment of an exclusive patent, and those which are not."

    http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a3acde9fe0d36. ht m
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitu ti on.articlei.html#science and useful arts

    "You seem to be of the notion that the world owes you a favor, and should be forced to donate their money to your cause, either through tax dollars or tithes."

    And you seem to be of the notion that the intangible and artifical concept of "intellectual property", to support the profits of pharmaceutical corporations overrides millions of unnecessary human deaths. And that's shameful. I wonder if the same would be true if these weren't Africans dying, but Europeans.

    When millions of people are dying unnecessarily, yes, they are owed a fucking favor by the rest of humanity.
  • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @05:41AM (#233366)
    And herein is exhibited the difference between Open Source and Free Software. The GPL, written by Stallman to protect Free Software, says nothing about a guarantee of the ability to make money off software. That's totally orthogonal to the GPL and Free Software. They don't care.

    But everybody swarming around the Open Source movement, which has been using the GPL for so long now more or less because it was most convenient, are now shocked *shocked* to find that software based on the GPL, itself, may not be a sufficient business model. Yeah, so? Who ever said it was?

    If you want to make money off software in which the source is merely *viewable*, call it "Open Source" or "Shared Source" or some other damned thing, but don't pretend it is Free Software and then get your panties in a knot when you realize you will have trouble integrating with GPL software (well, if you refuse to do it "correctly"). Hey Mr. Businessman: GPL was not written for you, sorry; it was written for average joe citizen and consumer. Yes, that may be sad, because there are indeed some very cool people trying to run Open Source businesses. But if you intend to make money from software *itself*, as opposed to services and t-shirts, well, I guess then your choice has to be to make up a new license.

    Sorry this sounds rantish. I'm really not an FSF troll...but I don't see why people are so amazed about this. It was inevitable that people running software businesses would realize that they couldn't capitalize on GPL-based software.
  • by Steve G Swine ( 49788 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @09:34PM (#233367) Journal
    It was all layed out in the GNU Manifesto in the 80's. Stallman plainly understood the effect GPL'ed software would have on the business environment. He says straight out that the way to make money with free software is to sell support, or do contract programming.
    Does Stallman also mention in the manifesto that these ways to make money are about as scalable as a mosquito?

    If you want your software on one customer's boxes... doing it as work made for hire pays the bills.

    If you want your software on dozens of customers' machines, release it GPL and sell the service of keeping the software up to snuff to pay the bills. As long as you can add value individually, for folks who know where to send the money and why, you can make a living with added value services. As long as you can stay ahead of the costs of finding the added value needs, you're OK. (It costs effort to discover and track that Fred needs a cancel button here, and George needs a data munger there.)

    If you want your software on thousands of customers' machines, you're going to have trouble adding value individually - you have a two-ton mosquito to feed, and you'll lose a lot of blood just figuring out how you can make your consulting service worth the money. You'll have trouble just reminding everyone that it's nice to send a check.

    It's at that scale and above that giving away the core source code, the part that (as Mundie points out) is most valuable anyway, starts to look astonishingly stupid from the standpoint of trying to pay the bills.

    It's not surprising that Love is seeing this too. He's got to think about adding value for thousands of customers - he's got stockholders to feed. Stallman doesn't have to think about that, and Linus doesn't, and ESR doesn't - if the family's fed from their added value services, they don't have to worry about scaling it any higher. They can rebut Mundie until doomsday, and it won't change Love's problem at all.

    Incidentally, this line of reasoning is why I think RedHat has a chance - everyone knows how to send them a check, and they're providing added value that can scale up above the dozens-of-customers level without pain. (Think prompt and automatic security patches - easy to find something specific which adds value for thousands of people, easy to distribute it, easy to collect the subscription money from those who appreciate it financially).

    Sorry for the tangential rant, but this post triggered my lingering annoyance about Stallman's writings... despite his firm rejection of the intellectual property assumptions that make software commercially scalable, he insists on talking past the Microsofts and Calderas - which exist solely to make software commercially scalable - whenever the opportunity presents itself. I don't mind his philosophies, but it does bother me that he tries to drag them beyond their areas of application.

    OK, feel free to get back on topic now...
  • Okay, so the poster used the wrong phrase. So what? The point is that Linux brought Unix to the mainstream, and one of the reasons for this is the GPL.
  • Please don't insult Dog Fancy magazine needlessly.

    - - - - -
  • I think the idea behind Gnu is that although it may not make as much short-term business sense, it makes long-term freedom sense. There have been plenty of examples in history when the ethical decision isn't a business decision, but ultimatly what's good for society is good for business.
  • by gregm ( 61553 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @12:29AM (#233378)
    "Love said he thinks Microsoft was right in its claim that the GPL doesn't make much business sense."

    He's right about that.... As linux becomes more perfect, the need for support-based companies will go away. Imagine a day when you drop in your fav linux dvd, boot your computer, and it asks you want you want installed (or it just reads your mind). It partions and installs perfectly, auto detected all your hardware without a hitch and comes with perfectly written tutorials about everything. Your data is all stored in one area and a cron job backs it up automagically with a one button restore. The hardware will be so cheap it'll be disposable so if you're having hardware probs you'll throw out the old and buy new, restore your data and be back up in minutes. Who will need a support contract? Who would hire a consultant for install or data recovery help? Once wireless comes of age we won't need anyone pulling cat27 it'll just work.

    Every database/app that can be imagined will already be written, listed at sourceforge and freshmeat and of course be under the GPL. Don't like the way your accounting program works? There are millions of variations of the same app to choose from with an awesome chooser that let's you drill down to find the one that solves your particular problem the best.

    As long as there are good coders willing to work for free, this scenario will get closer and closer to reality. There is an optimal UI, we don't know what it is yet but we keep getting closer overall. There is perfect code... improve upon the typical Hello World app, can't right? Why? It's perfect. Now I'm not saying that the kernel or the interpreter or the hardware drivers are perfect, but Hello World can be since it's so simple. Larger apps are becoming more perfect every day and someday in the far-flung future we will have the perfect word processor, OS, DB, etc. We'll never actually achieve perfection but we'll get close enough.

    Every time I write a little bash script to automate some little BS thing and I share it with others I'm putting another nail in Microsoft's coffin since they're in the business of selling software. At the same time I'm also putting a much smaller and slower acting nail in Redhat's coffin, who thinks they're in the business of selling support. Redhat and the others are literally working themselves out of a job.

    None of this is bad the end users... we want free software that is perfect. Us IT people will be looking for work sooner than you might think though.

  • On the other hand, BSD protects IP for companies as well. Large standard numerical libraries such as LAPACK are released under BSD-style licenses because it is good for the community if SGI and Sun and IBM tune the hell out of them and release only the binaries. The important things are that the library calls be *fast* and that the APIs be standard. If we can get a highly optimized closed-source vendor library that was based on the reference standard, we're guaranteed quality, speed, and consistency -- which makes our results repeatable, our code portable, and our research funding agencies happy.
  • by nachoman ( 87476 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @08:01PM (#233387)
    "Microsoft is attacking open source at its weakest point: the GPL"

    WTF? Open Source != GPL for the 1 gazillionth time. The BSD license is still open source. And it does make more sense in the business sense. It always has. I love the BSD license and it is great for products like apache. Some things you just don't need to sell though. Not too many businesses would need to fix up a linux kernel for a software product, therefore GPL is fine. But with apache, creating custom modifications for custom needs, BSD is great. I'm sure one of the reasons Apache is so widely used is that It can be easily used in the business world.

    Microsoft isn't attacking Open Source at all. Especially when they use BSD code in some of their TCP implementations on 2000. They however are attacking GPL. Yeah, it may not be the best for business, but that's my point. Choose the license that fits. There are some apps that may be better off using the BSD license. But I don't think Linux is one of them.

    At least now, Microsoft sees Linux as a threat. It's good publicity to have this in the news all the time. When people really investigate it, they will find the truth. GPL has it's pitfalls. You may want to modify code, but can't cause you don't want to release the changes. But hey, that's better then not having the code at all
  • I don't think Linux was just hype, since the userbase is still increasing at a high pace.

    No, linux itself is not hype (well, not only hype at least) but the idea that you could build a large business around selling it is mostly hype. People just don't need that many CDs, and tech support is a commodity (and you can generally get better support in online discussion forums anyway). The IPO craze allowed a number of companies to get funded, but now all that's pretty much over, and companies need to find a way to make real money. Trying to sell something that others are giving away for free isn't exactly high on that list of biz plans.

    Linux will thrive as long as people want it to. It's people's hobby. It doesn't have to make money. But I fully expect RedHat to be the only commercial linux available in a year or two (Debian and other "labor of love" distros will still be around of course), but I don't think that even RH will be very profitable.
  • by gUmbi ( 95629 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @06:09AM (#233392)
    Want to control your intellectual property, write it in Perl. That way, nobody else will be able to understand your code. Jason.
  • Those who are "religious" about the GPL might want to believe that the GPL is the epitome of virtue and purity, but its history indicates otherwise. It was designed, explicitly and intentionally, to be a "poison pill" for businesses.

    The GPL has never been the foundation of a company that has been successful in the long run. Cygnus, for example, was only marginally profitable, and only after it adopted other licensing models (e.g. eCOS) and began to sell packaged software. Red Hat has lost many millions, and its own 10-Q statement (look it up on the SEC's Edgar system) warns that the company does not know how or whether its business model is viable. Eazel just laid of 60% of its staff (which is a shame; they're bright people who do good work!). If Ransom Love, CEO of Caldera, says that the GPL is open source's "weakest point," it only makes sense that he's determined that his business is also suffering due to the GPL.

    Again, if you look at the history that led to the GPL (How many here have read the book Hackers? Or actually spoke with Richard Stallman at the time of development of the GPL as I did? At the time, he was much more frank about his intentions than he is today), you will recognize that it is not designed to make a viable business model possible. In fact, it's designed to undercut businesses, destroy their markets, and reduce programmers' wages (see the GNU Manifesto, which explicitly states this goal). I know that many folks who have bought into the idealistic (but misleading) language at the start of the GPL may find it hard to believe this -- so much so that I fear that this post will be moderated down in denial even though it's not a flame. But we really must wake up and smell the coffee: the GPL is anti-business and anti-programmer. There are other models that are better. The MIT X license and the BSD license are good examples. We should consider them.

    --Brett Glass

  • You write:
    The only way the BSD license makes more sense than GPL for buisness reasons is if you're in the position of being the taking part, not the giving part.
    Y'know, when you think about it, it's really the other way around. Using the GPL is not truly giving. By placing the GPL on your code you are placing onerous conditions upon its use by developers. In fact, it might well be said that when you publish code under the GPL, you're taking. You're destroying a developer's market while refusing to allow him to use what you've done and carry the technology still farther forward without forfeiting his work and his livelihood.

    Publishing code under the BSD license, on the other hand, is truly giving. To everyone. Unconditionally. Which is what giving is about.

    --Brett Glass

  • by Uggy ( 99326 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @07:24PM (#233400) Homepage

    GPL'ing your code only makes sense if you don't derive the majority of your revenue from selling software licenses. But the GPL makes huge sense for companies for whom software is overhead (stuff that doesn't directly bring in money).

    For example, you sell widgets, but you thought ahead and created a widget design, inventory, and shipping system. It helps you be more efficient, but it also costs you a lot of money to develop and maintain. Companies are starting to outsource their applications to the world, and are finding out that it's cheaper, and other's who are interested contribute back. In the end they get better software.

    Competition? It's not an issue, because again, they compete selling widgets, not writing software. Many company owners are realizing that software development was taking them away from their core competency and are looking to GPL.

    Now, say I'm a company that has done some deep wizardry in speech recognition. We wrote it. It works and people are going to pay us big bucks for it. It would follow that said software would NOT be a good candidate for the GPL.

    Just re-read the Cathedral and the Bazaar. It spells it all out plain and simple. GPL: good for a lot of things - Still room for pay-license software.

  • The BSD license allows you to share your source code.

    The GPL licenes requires you to share your source code.

    If all of the code that is now GPL code had been originally distributed under BSD, much of the 'new and improved' code would have never gotten out of the companies that took advantage of the original software. Consider, for example how Apple (and, before them, NeXT) have kept a noticable portion of their code private.

    I acknowledge that some NeXT and Apple code that was entirely their own might not have needed to be GPLed (much would have, because of the viral nature of the GPL).

    In any case: Just think, for a moment, about how much of the NeXT code has (not) made it back out to the public. I believe that much the same would have happened to some of the best Linux improvements if Linux had been released under the GPL.

    We also have to consider the infections nature of the GPL idea. There is a lot of code that was released to the public (Darwin), not because it was required under the GPL, but because people were used to the freedom that GPL access gave them and supplied social pressure on suppliers to put an equivalent license on their own code.

    I think that I'm trying to say that the GPL has some dogmatic force behind it that does not exist in the space of the BSD's presumptive concessions to commercial interests.

  • by ehack ( 115197 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @06:58PM (#233409) Journal
    Stallman says add to this code and you are one of us.
    Gates says use this code and you belong to us.
  • by ozbird ( 127571 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @06:59PM (#233415)
    Ransom Love (CEO of Caldera) said he thinks Microsoft was right in its claim that the GPL doesn't make much business sense. And so, Caldera is mulling a non-GPL licensing mechanism -- most likely one based on the BSD license.

    This could be an interesting test case for the GPL business model, but to paraphrase The Matrix:
    "Tell me Mr. Love, what good is a business model if you have no customers?"
    On the other hand, Caldera probably doesn't have a lot to lose - there are a lot of distributions out there, so perhaps having a modified BSD licensed one may be the gimmick they need to find a viable niche.
  • Well, actually, the FUD here is in the claim that the BSD stack is in Windows any more. Despite the the lies that have come out of the OSS world, we got rid of the Berkeley stack as quickly as we could. The Berkeley stack is a first rate piece of software engineering, but (a) it's essentially Unix-like, so it's rather slow under Windows, (b) it isn't SMP-friendly (can you say "great big kernel lock"?), and (c) it had to be completely rewritten to support asyncronous operation. Seeing as how the Windows has supported (b) and (c) for six years now, I think that you'd have long since laid this particular lie to rest.

    (And, if you wonder why nmap used to confuse W2K with FreeBSD, it's because of backwards compatibility issues. One of the consequences of our need to be backwards compatible with clients is that we are constrained by their limitations.)

    In fact, the only reason we ever had a copy of the Berkeley stack in the OS is because we bought a company in order to provide some level of support for TCP/IP in NT 3.1, a decade ago. At the time, that company's implementation was "derived" from BSD's, and so we were infected by that code. What can I say? We were being driven by the market's needs, and we needed something out there. We knew that we could do better the next time out, but it important to get something out there then.
  • How is the BSD license more economically-sound than the GPL as far as making money off open-source? Wouldn't it just let a company like Microsoft use the code however they want?

    Really? Ever understood what's really important when building software? it's not the IMPLEMENTATION. It's the DESIGN, the algorithms behind the implementation. And these are not stored in GPL-ed code, but in research documents, patents, whatever. If MS wants to get some designs implemented, they get the research documents, bring that to their huge staff of university graduated programmers and let them implement these designs, these algorithms. They don't need BSD licensed code, nor will they use it. Why? Because code copied/pasted from a random source.cpp is not maintainable, not fitting a design: it's not a 1:1 transform of the design to implementation, they way people make software. If the design changes you can't change the code at once when you just copy/pasted it from a random sourcefile. When you DID follow the general rules of thumb, you know where and how a certain designblock is implemented and can see where and how it should be changed to match the changed design. It works against you when you just steal an implementation of a lookalike design.

    Besides that, MS has a clear policy that no programmer is allowed to use open sourced (whatever license) code, without permission.


  • Exactly.

    And it is the GPL which governs most of the software that Caldera does use. So indeed, I ask you all, "wtf?"

    Italics(tm) used strictly for emphatic purposes. No similarity to any other emphatic style is intended, either expressed or implied. Patent spending, no restrictions may apply, valid where prohibited, all rights worth crap.


  • Some open-source advocates considered Microsoft Corp.'s recent public flaming of the GNU General Public License equivalent to criticizing motherhood and apple pie. But not Ransome Love, CEO of Caldera Systems

    Wow. Now, I've heard of some people with cool names before. But Ransome Love, damn. That's a just a cool name.

    Rate me [picture-rate.com] on picture-rate.com
  • The hell I do! I haven't bemoaned that fact once! And no flaming, either-- just check, no other posts in this article at all.

    Oh. Something just occurred to me-- I guess by "y'all", you weren't referring to me. Damn, I never did understand Texans.
  • You can read all about the different licensing options on the gnu.org's license page [gnu.org]. Removing copyleft protection is, IMHO, not a Good Thing, especially for a Linux company.

    My own feeling is that there's a lot of software out there yet to be written. If Caldera can't or won't make shipping a Linux distro work for them, they should shift entirely, rather than attempt to create some Frankenstein out of tons of different licensing schemes.

    So, when's rms going to demand that Caldera specify they're distributing BSD/Linux?

    (email addr is at acm, not mca)
    We are Number One. All others are Number Two, or lower.

  • by blirp ( 147278 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @12:20AM (#233434)
    When people really investigate it, they will find the truth. GPL has it's pitfalls. You may want to modify code, but can't cause you don't want to release the changes.

    There's nothing in the GPL that prevents you from modifying the source. The only thing the GPL says is that you have to give the source to whomever you give the binary. And that the recipient then can do whatever they like with that source. There's nothing preventing you from charging a million dollars for that binary.

    The Apache-example you gave seems a bit weird. If you make a custom modification for custom need, that sounds like a single web-site (or at least custom-built ones ("site" her might be embedded)). And there's nothing in the GPL preventing you from doing that either. You just have to give the customer the source.


  • by elbuddha ( 148737 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:54AM (#233435)

    Nobody has this right. Not Microsoft, not RedHat, not Caldera. About the only ones who have this right are Stallman, Debian, and *BSD. Open Source and Free Software are not f'ing business models.

    Of course no one is going to make money selling the code. This should surprise no one, nor should anyone care. Its not about making money. Its about making code. The BSD license says, "If you find the code useful, great!" The GPL says, "If you find the code useful, share!"

    So then RedHat, et al, come along and say, "If you find the code useful, give us money!" But they are having problems reconciling the "share" the with "make money". This is not a weakness of the code nor the license, nor the nonexistent "open source business model". It is a weakness of their business model. Of course they will fail, but the code will still be there long after they are gone.

    If they had truly understood Open Source and/or Free Software to begin with, they would have gone the same route as FreeBSD: Non Profit Corporation.
  • Caldera has always felt that the only way to make money with Linux was to bundle it with proprietary software.

    As much as I hate the overused phrase "get it", it's pretty clear that Caldera doesn't get it. The most telling point in this regard is Love's comment on IBM in the Newsforge article:

    "Linux is just a facilitator to a firm like IBM. It allows them to sell more hardware and services.... Linux doesn't make the company any money, but Linux support makes money, and hardware makes money. Linux helps them sell more hardware."

    That's exactly the point. The days when you can make money selling software are coming to an end. From here on out, the money will be made on support, services, customization, and hardware. Even Microsoft seems to have grasped this, but Caldera is still trying to find a way to make money selling proprietary software.


  • by proxima ( 165692 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @06:56PM (#233441)
    As a non-Caldera Linux user, I'm curious to know for what contributions to the Linux community Caldera is directly responsible. I'm sure they have a whole host of server and desktop applications bundled with their distro, but would this shift in license preference affect the software we commonly use? The article wasn't helpful in mentioning how this would affect any software of any type developed by Caldera.
  • by electricmonk ( 169355 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @07:00PM (#233443) Homepage
    I mean, just look at this guy, his name is Ransom Love. Did this guy change his name or something? He sounds like he is straight out of a comic book.
  • All that GNU software wouldn't have been free for Caldera to capitalize if it HADN'T been for the GPL.

    So GPL is the only free open source license out there?

    It seems a BSD style license would've had the exact same effect.

  • Software costs ridiculous amounts of money to make...

    No, programmers charge ridiculous amounts of money for their time. A lot of good Free/Open Source programs were written at no cost by programmers in their spare time.

    The incompatibility between business and the GPL only arises when you try to market a generic product. The notion of general purpose software is fairly recent. I'll admit it was a stroke of genius to switch from selling the exact right thing to 1000 people/corps to selling something "good enough" to a million of them. Trying to go into that particular market, though, armed only with the GPL is the problem, since the GPL seeks to eliminate that market.

  • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Thursday May 10, 2001 @04:01AM (#233459) Journal
    Love admits that he does "have a problem with those members of the Linux community that are more Religionist, than Pragmatist." Love puts himself squarely in the Pragmatist camp.

    Translation: Love admits that he does "have a problem with those members of the Linux community that are not Capitalists, than socialist." Love puts himself squarely in the Pragmatist camp.

    While I admit that I *do* understand not everyone involved in GNU/Linux writing GPL code are 'like me'. One of my main images of GNU/Linux is a shared, libre, gratis alternative 'owned' by The People, where engineering decisions and technology choices are made the right way - by the DEVELOPERS unfettered by the BS that is involved in the Capitalist desire to build a product and market a fantasy brand. I do see GNU/Linux as an opportunity to bring technology the worlds poor, to help bootstrap their young IT industries in an equal and full manner. I do see GNU/Linux as part of a bigger worldwide movement to reduce the power capitalism has taken in the lives of people.

    Mr.Love - The GPL's purpose is to provide Freedom - that also means Freedom from Technology Companies who bully the public and dictate technology options. I am an atheist, and Linux is *NOT* my Religion; I too am a pragmatist. I see GNU/Linux as a libre/gratis gift to The People - one that cannot be exploited by people such as yourself.

    Not all things are for profit. Pursuing Profit with regards to all things is not justified. Not all things should be involved in the economy.

  • All that GNU software wouldn't have been free for Caldera to capitalize if it HADN'T been for the GPL. This guy is clearly off his rocker.


    Does anyone else think the Caldera icon looks like a blue mickey mouse on a balloon?

  • Personally it's allways puzzled me how we can have all these companies selling what is basically a free product.

    OK. Redhat does not make their money selling Linux-- they sell Linux to make their other products more profitable: consulting and support (the former is more important than the second).

    If you are a business, you want to know that you can call someone at 3am when your server decides to kernel panick randomly so you buy an expensive contract from RedHat.

    More importantly, you need some help making some modifications to your existing installation (either implimentation changes or actual software changes) and so you buy help from Red Hat. Their annual revenue is now about $100 Million.

    Not all Linux users are both competent network architects and programmers... That is where the money is to be made. Note: People make similar money with NT, so this is not unusual in this industry except that these consultants in the case of Linux comapnies is that the consulting company distributes the software to ensure consistancy in their ability to provide quality consulting.

  • Just in case you've all been living under a rock, Caldera just acquired a truckload of intellectual property from the old Santa Cruz Operation. They'd be fools to give all that away after paying an arm and a leg for it, but they'd be villified from here to eternity if they don't share it with the OSS community somehow. It's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.

    Caldera has always understood the rules as well or better than anybody else, and has played a fair game with the community. Why don't you all hold off on the flames until they release something under a different license model, and then make a judgement as to whether their intentions are honorable or not.

    Y'all bemoan the fact, daily it seems, that OSS companies keep going broke, but when somebody tries to find a way to make an honest buck, you crucify them. Lighten up. Caldera will do the right thing based on their past performance.

  • by scorcherer ( 325559 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @07:05PM (#233512) Homepage
    Stallman says add to this code and you are one of us. Gates says use this code and you belong to us.

  • Personally it's allways puzzled me how we can have all these companies selling what is basically a free product.
    I can see how they can sell services, manuals and so forth, but the service market for Linux isn't as lucrative as for other software sectirs for the simple reason that most Linux users know what their doing.
    With bradband becoming more prevelant, the distributors are really going to have tp try hard to make a buck on the distros themselves.
  • by Supa Mentat ( 415750 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2001 @06:56PM (#233515)
    He may think that the GPL is ineffective but as long as he wants to develope something better to further the open source effort I'm all for it. Getting stuck on one way of combating big corporations is stupid, we have to constantly evolve to combat tyranny where ever it pops up.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972