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Bill Gates Says GPL Is Like Pac-Man 576

wrinkledshirt writes: "Bill Gates has finally spoken his mind on the GPL here. Interesting that he calls the GPL a PacMan-like entity considering that's how many of us view him and his company, but I digress ..." According to Gates, GPLd software "makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work. So what you saw with TCP/IP or Sendmail or the browser could never happen." Or the development of a full Free operating system either, I guess. Perhaps he should issue a company memo to the folks running Microsoft's, who seem to be using GNU/Linux and Apache happily without donating MS Office to the FSF. Wacka wacka.
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Bill Gates Says GPL Is Like Pac-Man

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm working as an Unix editor in one Croatian computer magazine. I do write columns as well. It just happened that Microsoft gave me some stuff to write about recently, such as Windows and Office XP, X-box and now the debate of Open Source/Shared Source.

    I can't say I adore Microsoft, and I did made some Redmond bashing in my columns - I'm Linux guy after all, and as a columnist, I can write of whatever I want.

    Today, I've been phoned from my marketing director who told me that I have to stop writing bad about Microsoft (or anything about Microsoft) because "I'm doing it all the time and people are getting bored reading my columns because I'm not writing of anything else but how bad Microsoft is" and that they will stop publishing my columns if I don't start writing about something else.

    Indeed, I see that writing how bad the new licencing model is, how bad X-box might be, how wrong the Shared Source is - might annoy some people. I was devilish enough to cut "Shared Source licence" to simply "SS licence" :-) and was accused of presenting Microsoft as Nazi organisation. Of course, the short version of Open Source - "OS licence" which I compared to "SS licence" was Ok. :-)

    I might just be paranoid, but it seems that MS needs lots of great reviews of their new products, so they can sell them as much as possible, which is the only way they can enforce new licencing model, and everyone who is showing the people the other side of the story has to be pushed away if possible.

    However, this is not the question if I'm right or wrong. I just dislike the idea that Microsoft can put pressure to marketing people or directors of the magazine to avoid expressing any bad opinion about the company.

    Right now, I'm seriously thinking of quitting my job as a journalist/columnist. I have another job (much better paid than writing for a magazine) so it won't hurt my pocket. I was doing it for the fun anyway. ;-)

    But if we go one after another, what will you read in the magazines? Who is going to write about Open Source, GNU and Linux? Do we really want to read in all magazines that Microsoft rocks, and Open Source/GNU/Linux sucks?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    infoworld speaks slashdot


    "Anyone who thinks Microsoft never does anything truly
    innovative isn't paying attention to the part of the company
    that pushes the state of its art: Microsoft's legal

    --Ed Foster, The Gripe Line columnist, expresses his
    distaste for Microsoft's license enforcement program. 6/ 18/010618opfoster.xml?0620weam
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You're talking about two different things. Redistributable components like MFC, that you pay for by buying a development environment, and GPLed code. A good equivalent to MFC would be GTK which is licensed under the LGPL. Effectively yoy are given similar redistribution right but you must dynamically link the LGPLed code. QT is very different and IMHO licensed incorrectly. QT is available in GPL or commecrial form. If you don't commercialy license QT then you must GPL the program compiled against QT. Personally $1,550 is more than I'm willing to pay for licensed UI components.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:11AM (#138096)
    Apache isn't GPL, It's released under the Apache License
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @11:09AM (#138097)
    First off, to know what we are talking about, the term "Linux". MS is obviously not attacking the "linux-kernel", which is just one of the many choices for the OS, among hurd, *BSDs, AtheOS, and others. A "Linux" system includes a compiler (gcc), debugger (gdb), X Windows server (XFree) and applications like perl, python, tcl, apache, KDE, gnome, gimp, mozilla, pine, elm and even Donal Knuth's TeX program, and thousands of others. We are talking about millions of lines of code.

    All these programs are freely distributable and their source code is open. Therefore they form a system which anybody can improve. Why would you want to spend your time doing that? Its a hobby, you make your system better and you enjoy other people's changes. Well, geeks...
    This logic forms an evolutional model of open creativity. Whether this is good or bad time will tell since the process of evolution is selective. Now the word "Linux" is used to describe this phenomenon and has become a synonym for this system (don't debate "linux" vs. "BSD", most people refer to that when they ask "so.. can you see WWW pages from the Linux thing ?"). Its like after 200 years people will be using the expression "Its a Linux!" to describe open creativity systems (if mankind hasn't extinct because of pollution though..).

    There is one thing to realize. "Linux" can't be destroyed. Unless all these millions of lines of code are deleted from all the storage systems of the planet. "Linux" is only loosing if nobody is improving it, yet if for 10 years nobody touches it and then some kid edits 2 lines of code, you have "Linux" again.

    On the other hand Microsoft can disappear.
    That will happen if the profits can't cover the expenses.
    So MS attitude is excused. In fact if you don't want Microsoft to disappear, or Microsoft emploees to lose their jobs for the survival of the company, I prompt you to buy their products. "Linux" does not lose if you buy commercial software.

    I like having MS arround. It makes us more innovative!
    Just, thinking how to reply to the unfair MS FUD wastes our time.

    Now let this message be lost in the noise

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:50AM (#138098)
    You know, I know this is more than a little off topic, but I hear this subject come up so often, that I feel like I have to respond. Yes, I work for IBM maintaining OS/2 source (notice the AC moniker). No, it will _NEVER_ be open sourced. People in the community seem to believe that we have some kind of obligation to open up the OS source since it's no longer much of a power in the mainstream desktop market, and since it's their hobby, why not. What no one seems to quite grasp is that we have contractual obligations to some pretty big customers to provide support until at least 2006, possibly later (I believe that the idea is to migrate these people to Linux when the MCP and ACP products finally go out of service, believe it or not, but I digress...). There are millions and millions (and millions...) of dollars still being generated via support contracts and service extensions for the older flavors. This is still a highly profitable source of revenue, believe it or not, with very little cost to maintain (we're maybe a 10th of the size we were when the first OS/2 products shipped). Open sourcing the product is going to do more than piss a few people off - we're talking potential HUGE lawsuits and more than a few people (like me) would be out of a job. The sad truth is, that most of the developers that are still here keeping OS/2 alive have as much disdain for the GPL as ole Billy G does. I'm sorry, and I'm as much of a supporter of open source when I can be (I happen to believe more in the BSD approach), but this is not going to happen in our lifetimes. Get over it.
  • The "pac man" comment was also mentioned in a thread [] from yesterday's Slashback [].

    Alex Bischoff
  • This is the "then they fight you" stage I think.

    Personally I've known this was coming for a while, pretty much ever since the original Halloween [] document. Microsoft is fighting back, not fairly (in some senses) but in a manner that should be expected. They are not attacking linux as not superior software, but attacking the principles behind Linux. The few details about how they got it wrong, well, no ones perfect are they?

    Microsoft is doing what they do best, building Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt in the minds of those who listen to them, in this case those targetted would be businesses I think. Anyone who thinks they can use linux to build a business on top of, or use linux in anyway, must be "infected" with the doubt that maybe, just maybe, by using linux in some way (or any open source software) they will not be able to make any money without giving all their IP out for free.

    Now we all know this is bullshit. Opensource != GPL, Linux Kernel != GPL, GPL != give everything for free, we (for varying values of "we") know this already. My company uses linux to build embedded firewall devices. The ability to do something in a stable OS, without paying $xxx for WinCE licensing gives us huge advantages in that our core OS is free. We then build on that. Our IP is not so much in the OS and the programs that we wrote to run on it (which are not all GPL/LGPL I don't think, or are under a different license), but in the propriatory tool we use to configure this system.

    So I say let MS spread their FUD, and mix up the way that linux and oss/gpl are presented to the world, I'm waiting for the next stage after "then they fight you" which is of course "and then you win".
  • So far we've heard Microsoft describe Linux and the GPL as a cancer, Pac Man, and numerous other things. But while these comparisons may have some sort of PR or "scare" value, they only serve to mislead the public.

    Of course they are are PR to scare people. How else can you defend a company in an indefensable position? :) As with my other comment later on, this is how they are attacking the Linux threat, just like they said they would in the Halloween documents.
  • You've got a funny definition of 'winning', if 'winning' means 'getting lots of publicity for the GPL, and leading large numbers of other respected industry people to point out the obvious nonsense in your statements' ;)

    I say, go Bill! Bring it on, Bill. You're a damned fool if you think you can wildly publicise the GPL and still be able to define it in public opinion. Hell, Apple uses it, IBM can work with it. You think you has so much credibility that people ignore what IBM is doing, Bill? Don't you have the common sense to NOT PUBLICISE YOUR COMPETITOR'S PRODUCT? Yeesh! I don't remember you doing that with WordPerfect, or Netscape: in those instances, I remember you just making a product and acting as if it was the only thing anyone would ever want to use or know about. Now you feel you have to teach people NOT to use the GPL? Sounds like it's proving a worse threat, but you're damned stupid to change your tactics.

    Now, that's what I'd say to ol' Bill. And at the same time I think maybe he's desperately trying to still get people to look at Linux, at the GPL, at all of that stuff at a time when Windows STILL DOMINATES. He wants people to look at the GPL while it still does NOT have a big place underlying lots of stuff in the mass market. He wants people to look at Linux while Windows still completely dominates userspace. That's why he's pushing the publicity so hard- because this is the best position of power he's likely to have for a while, unless he can stop the new threats and shift everybody onto even more Microsoft-based IT- and that's a very hard sell, and is not sure to succeed- and it's certainly going to have a harder time succeeding if this Open Source thing continues being used by Apple, IBM, et al.

    It's interesting to watch- even clever- but I think it's an end-game, all the same. There are limits to how much power people will _consistently_ give to Microsoft. If they give too much they're capable of freaking out and pulling back, taking some losses and turning to something that seems safer: and to a large extent, GPL seems safer from an end user or semi-developer perspective, because it's the opposite of the pay-per-use thing Microsoft needs to go to: with GPL you own the programs. They're so hard to monetize that building in boobytraps and 'self-help' timebombs is completely pointless, and as a result they're ideal for the sort of person who wants to buy or assemble a thing and then be frugal and keep using the same thing for years without 'upgrades'.

    This is why Microsoft is losing. Nothing lasts forever... the real question is, how much damage can they do in the meantime? And that, they're trying their best to do.

  • Yesterday (apparently right before Gates had has interview), I set up Pac-Man full-screen via MAME on my Linux box at work! No joke! I had no idea that Gates would say what he said. Funny thing is, the two sysadmins (currently at M$ TechEd) will probably come back, see Pac-Man running on my box, and be very frightened. :^)

    First, they ignore you.
    Then they laugh at you.
    Then they fight you.
    Then you win.

    - Gandhi
    We're in step 3, folks.
  • The GPL is like Pac-Man. People using it can eat me.

    As applied to (Power) Pill Gates, right?

  • I mean I build on Microsoft source all the time, because its so easy to get a licence to use the code, and incorporate it into other apps.

    That was probably meant as a joke, but what do you think, say, MFC is? Plenty of people use that as a part of their applications.

  • since when could a commercial company use proprietary code from another commercial company and build on it?

    I guess I just imagined using Rogue Wave [] products then. Or maybe I was smoking crack.

  • I have to make a point about "the open source community [having] a hard time getting into the main stream media".

    I submitted a story about 3 weeks ago about Linux and a Linux project being literally headline news (front page, top story) in the Nikkei Keizai Shinbun (Financial Times of Japan, the most widely read business newspaper). The story was handled very cluelessly by Slashdot, and probably passed under everyones radar as a result.

    I think the situation is becoming more of a case of the community being clueless to the outside world, not t'other way 'round.
  • Here's my example: I work at a small-town Iowa computer firm. We create software in the health industry where competition is tight and our tiny company is certainly overshadowed by many 'big dogs'. We have many good, new ideas on how to make our software do the job for our clients cleaner and better. However, if we don't watch it, we could release a product and one of our larger competitors could easily and quickly copy our idea, exploit it, and make a fortune.

    Well, if your improvement is visibile to the user, then what prevents your competitor from just copying your ideas? After all if they have a lot of money they can re-implement the same features.

    To that end, then, open source is still a scary idea for us. If we were to publish our code, it would instantly be snatched up and exploited

    But if you GPL-ed your code, then the competitor could snatch it and use it, but as soon as they wanted to sell their product they would have to release their own source as well. Do you think they would do that?

    It seems to me that GPL protects you better than keeping your code secret.


  • If IBM still has that much of a market supporting OS2, then they should only support official OS2, and not open up the possibility of having incomplete installations to cope with, or other kinds of installations.

    But IBM is offering support for some Linux distributions. They could do the same even better with their own product.
  • It would confuse everyone

    You mean as in "OS/2 is the future", "OpenDoc is the future", "NT is the future", "Java is the future", "Linux is the future",...?
  • res.asp

    Look at what they're selling - gcc, g77, and g++.

    Wierd, huh?
  • I think you're missing something. The point of free software is freedom for the user. It doesn't mean that the code needs to be publicly downloadable. So, in your case, you only need to provide source to the people who actually purchased your product, and only if they ask for it. That way, your competitors will probably only get the source if they buy it from you. I can't imagine a competitor going to one of your clients and asking for the disk with the source code on it, you know.
  • The funny thing is that Microsoft _is_ making money from selling GPL software. Take a look at
    this: tu res.asp

    You'll notice that their Interix PRODUCT includes g++, g77, and gcc, all of which are GPL products.

    So, they are completely lying out their you-know-whats.

  • The funny thing about this is that the person who started the free software movement, RMS, makes money by selling software. He started selling tapes of emacs for $150, and now selling GNU deluxe distributions for a few thousand.
  • Actually, MS sells GPL software: tu res.asp

    If you look at it, you will see that they include gcc, g77, and g++ in the package.

    I think though you are missing the point of what people are saying about commercial software. Your statements are only true if you equate commercial and proprietary software. If you don't, they are false.

    For example, Cygnus Solutions was a commercial software company. They sold free software. They made money. Red Hat is a commercial software company. The sell free software. They are (kind of) making money. ADA Core technologies is a commercial software company. They sell free software. They aren't public, so its hard to tell if they make money, but they've been around for awhile. So you see, GPL is not incompatible with _commercial_ software, only _proprietary_ software that restricts users' freedoms.

    Another reason that free software people don't like Gate's comments is that they give the false impression that MS's software doesn't have these problems. For example, I can't use arbitrary MS software AT ALL, no matter what license I put it under. So, basically, they are twisting their side of the story so much that, although what they say is technically true, it gives completely false impressions. Then there is the outright lie about problems with the _use_ of the software, of which there is none (and MS software is infinitely more restrictive on use).
  • Check it out. MS themselves are selling GPL software: tu res.asp

    It lists g77, gcc, and g++ as parts of the package.
  • Obviously, with a name like GPLwhore, you probably don't merit a response, but here is one anyone.

    First of all, sharing software != screwing over others. In fact, companies that limit sharing forcefully are the ones doing the screwing.

    GPL would not mean quick and swift death to the company's business, it would mean it needed to be re-thought. It would also probably take a while to make the change. If your company is based on screwing people over, it should probably be re-thought.
  • We are not talking about utopia. We are talking about ALLOWING OTHERS to share.

    RMS actually _did_ make money selling free software. That's how he started off funding the FSF, and where most of the money comes from today.

    The point is not, "does the new model work" which it appears to, but rather, "is my current business practice ethical?" If it's not, it needs to be changed.

    Also, the FSF never proposed a business model. Neither did I if you notice. I just said you need to re-think your model based on what is ethical.

    If you disagree with my ethics, fine. That's certainly valid. However, saying that businesses should feel free to engage in unethical practices (whatever they are) just to prevent it from affecting your livelihood is just plain wrong. It's one thing to say, "I don't think proprietary software is unethical because of this and this, so I will continue to sell proprietary software" It's quite another thing to say, "I think proprietary software is good because it gives me more money, no matter who gets screwed". Using ethics like that, we should all go into selling crack because it makes more money.
  • You said - Please don't compare our current business rules with selling crack

    I WASN'T. You should read more carefully. I said intentionally unethical businesses practices are equivalent to selling crack. Which it is. Being intentionally harmful or unethical is no worse than selling crack.

    As I said in my previous post, if you don't think it is unethical, then it is NOT the moral equivalent of selling crack, and we simply disagree.

    What I take offense at is companies who try to justify being unethical using money.

    I don't care if the "software industry" goes to pieces. The advent of the automobile made the "buggywhip industry" go to pieces. In the future, you will probably see most software being made by either (1) consultants or (2) IT shops collaborating together. In fact, that's how 90% of todays software is made. Only 10% of software is prepackaged. So, we're still only talking about a small part of the market changing.

    Don't reject the ideals of freedom out of fear. If you are opposed to the freedoms outlined for software by the FSF, that's fine. Just don't do it because of fear.
  • You misunderstand something in the GPL

    Even with the GPL, you are allowed to look at the code, study it, and then use what you learned to write whatever program you want, and you are not obligated under the GPL. You are only under obligation if you directly lift code.

    As to your example of zlib, it's no different than a proprietary library that is small. Let's say MS releases office, and it includes a small little library (let's say 2K big) that has some really useful functionality. Do you have any rights to distribute it? No! Do you think MS would ever license it to you? Maybe if you paid them a few hundred thou. So the same applies to either side of the fence. The difference is that the GPL brings freedom while proprietary licenses bring division.
  • The problem with relicensing GPL'd code is where there have been updates from others. For instance, when I was still working on the XMMS-solaris plugin, I had code submitted from others. Could I have redistributed the code including the 3rd party updates? I don't believe so, at least not without contacting all contributors.

    The fact that my code was initially derived from other GPL code (ie, the OSS output plugin) also threw a spanner in the works, but the principle is still there.

  • by larien ( 5608 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @06:00AM (#138138) Homepage Journal
    They can when the two companies can make an agreement regarding sharing the source; the company which owns the code can, if they wish, license the code to another company.

    Or, in MS's case, they could just buy out (assimilate) the company and get their code.

    That said, it's a very valid argument; both the GPL and proprietry license prevent code re-use. What is galling to Bill et al is that they can see the code, but they can't use it...

  • If code is GPLed, you have the choice of whether to use it - and get contaminated - or not use it.

    If code is by Microsoft, only the latter option is available. You might get a source licence under certain terms by special agreement with the company, but the same is true for GPLed software also. (The copyright holder can relicense the work under any other terms.)
  • There's another way for corporations to view the GPL. Consider that for most companies (except Microsoft) acquisition, maintenance, and/or development of an OS platform (either as users or to develop product for sale) is a cost center. It sucks up resources (money, admins, developer-hours, etc) to provide basic infrastructure.

    Companies are already realizing this in many appliance and embedded markets. Considerable numbers of such devices coming out that use a variant of Linux or some other open source OS (e.g. eCos for small-footprint embedded realtime kernel needs.) This distributes the development cost over the entire user base of these pieces of infrastructure code, and often eliminates per-seat (for development) and per-user (for distribution) licensing costs.

  • Wow, Bill Gates spinsterish take on the GPL sounds a lot like the other MS vocalists as well.

    Kinda amusing, though.
    "So what you saw with TCP/IP..." Um... what, exactly? TCP/IP is in the kernel, and making a system call doesn't constitute a derivative work. The only problem you'd have is if the interface was GPL'd (and it's not), but write your own damn interface then.

    But even better was "it makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work."

    Right. More like, makes it impossible for a commercial company to sell users individual copies of software based on that work with shrink-wrap licenses that keep them from using the software on two computers. Which just happens to be Microsofts business model. Oh well.

    And what's this "cycle" he's talking about? Sounds like the "healthy ecosystem" he's talking about is more like a waterfall. The free software flows off the cliff into the commercial company, and never goes back.

    Oh well. In the end, I don't really care what Gates thinks, or claims to think, or whatever. Still, I got a chuckle out of it.
  • Same goes for GPL with exception that since they cannot build on top of that,

    Yes, they can build on top of that. In the case of Red Hat, they have done so quite a bit. Red Hat has a lot of coders working for them. What the made you think they couldn't?

    And suggesting that RH cheapens programming is retarded. Software is not a valuable merchandise? What do you mean? You mean it isn't valuable like, say, basketball shoes where you buy it off the shelf and every copy carries a price tag of $100? Well, so what. It never should have been that way.

    The fact is that software is still incredibly valuable, and there are people who are willing to pay to get it. Just because selling shrink-wrapped copies is going to go the way of the dodo (only much more deservedly so) doesn't mean programming as a profession is going anywhere.

    And last I checked, the RedHat labs developers were getting paid.
  • If I wrote a web server and published it under BSD no matter how many derivatives will be made proprietary and what have you, my original code will always be free.

    This is an important observation. Like copying an mp3, making a proprietary derivative is not theft.

    But that doesn't mean it is cool. If someone uses my free software to make a profit, and they aren't giving me anything in return, then they are taking advantage of me. They are using my work to make money for themselves. And it doesn't make it any better to think "well, at least I didn't restrict their freedom".

    Their are freedoms that others shouldn't have. The freedom to punch me in the face, the freedom to piss on my carpet, and the freedom to make money off my hard work.

    Also, the original observation about using BSD code to remove someone else's freedom would be better stated as using BSD code to produce software that isn't free. If that bothers you. I'd rather that not happen, but that's just me.

    Who gives me a right to enforce my choice of license on people who decide to extend and modify my code?

    Um... you gave yourself that right... because you wrote the code they are using.
  • How is it different from pair of shoes?

    Because shoes have a material worth as a physical object, while bits do not. You buy some shoes from a shoe store, and the store has one less pair of shoes. Copy bits, and the original bits haven't changed. So both to effort and planning to develop (the original shoe/bits), but only one cost anything to produce(the shoe/copy of bits that you buy).

    Observation: For most goods that have physical worth, it is natural to sell them individually, and to tack onto the price the costs of R&D, equipment, etc. You're paying more than the shoes cost to make, but nevertheless the shoes themselves do have value, and buying them makes sense. With bits, since each copy has effectively zero cost, why are we still paying for each copy? Now the only aspect of the price is the development costs.

    So there has to be a way to recoup development costs. What is it? Don't know. But it isn't having to buy a copy of Windows for every computer in my home, even though I could put it on every machine with only one CD.

    "And last I checked, the RedHat labs developers were getting paid. "

    Yeah, so do Government workers. Does it mean that if all economical assets were owned and operated by Government these workers would still make as much money?

    But your argument was about not making money off of GPL software development at all, and RHAT labs is a counter example. So now your argument is that it might not be the way to make the most money? That's pretty weak.
  • And as such, don't release your code under the license.

    If you mean the BSD license, then yes, I've made that choice.

    If you can't stand the idea of people making money using something you worked on.. well.. doesn't that break the idea of code sharing?

    No. Making code for others to use, then having them use it without give anything back breaks the idea of code sharing. It's sharing not giving.

    In addition, doesn't the GPL allow that anyway?

    Sure, and I appreciate all efforts to do so. The key with the GPL is that if they are going to distribute their product, they have to make their changes available as source -- they have to give something back. That's the important thing.
  • How exactly is BSDL software vs proprietary derivative fair? Any new feature the BSDL software adds can be taken by the proprietary derivative immediately, and any new feature the proprietary derivative adds cannot be taken by the BSDL version.

    Oh yeah. The very definition of freedom.
  • *shrug* If it doesn't bother you that people use your code without giving anything back, that's your choice. Some people aren't bothered by having their personal information sold without their knowledge, or having the police surveil their homes without a warrant.
  • One word: GPL. I vividly remember how much pain and bad press KDE folks got from FSF and GPL zealots. We are not talking here about some commercial entity trying to free ride on other people code.

    Do you also vividly recall how, at the time, Qt was not free (no fue libre)?

    Do you also vividly recall how, once Qt became free (se hubo libre), the bad press stopped?

    It was in fact a commercial entity getting a free ride, though in this case it was the free app using their library. And they came around. Happy ending for all.
  • It was not free as in speech, which is why I specifically used the more precise Spanish term "libre".
  • by landley ( 9786 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @09:53AM (#138162) Homepage
    >There's nothing novel about it anymore, and
    >we're long past being surprised.

    Actually, the reason it got posted was the escalation. From some nobody middle manager, to vice president mundie, to ballmer, and now to Gates. The thing is, nobody listened to mundie, they laughed at ballmer, and now gates is reminding people of his trial testimony. Microsoft's screming bloody murder and everybody's going "sucks to be you, doesn't it"?

    Who do they escalate to afer this when people still don't believe them?

    And once again, they're pointing out that the GPL is their real enemy, not free software. They're still happy to grab BSD code and embrace/extend/fork it to death. They're throwing a tantrum because the GPL won't let them fork off a proprietary version of other people's code.

  • I submitted a story about 3 weeks ago about Linux and a Linux project being literally headline news (front page, top story) in the Nikkei Keizai Shinbun (Financial Times of Japan, the most widely read business newspaper). The story was handled very cluelessly by Slashdot, and probably passed under everyones radar as a result.

    Care to provide a link?

  • "So what you saw with TCP/IP or Sendmail or the browser could never happen."

    Neither would it have happened if those had been Microsoft's patented, closed-source innovations.

    Until Bill agrees to open everything MS does and allow their "innovations" to prosper like TCP/IP did, I think I'd rather not see the GPL go away just yet.
  • Windows NT shipped with integrated networking and "internet ready" TCP/IP a year before OS/2 Warp shipped. It was also had the same price point as OS/2 and similar system requirements as OS/2, where DOS/Win was cheaper and ran on lower end machines.

    IBM's biggest mistakes were not to subcontract code to Microsoft (the MS guys were the ones who figured out how to make a modern OS for the i286 CPU, for example). Instead their biggest mistakes were:

    + Shipping a "modern" 286-based OS in the first place when they could have beat everyone with a 32-bit, portable, i386 OS.

    + Selling a "power user" desktop system with NO integrated networking. It took numerous SKUs ($$$) and lots of futzing just to get an OS/2 box on a company network. TCP/IP for OS/2 2.x was $300 per machine, for example.

    + Refusing to market OS/2 as low-end server solution for fear it would cut into their profitable midrange stuff. NT kicked their butt in this segment.

    + Positioning OS/2 as a mainframe client when the world was going bonkers over other forms of client-server and mainframes were not selling.

    + Making it more stable than DOS/Win was good. However it never was *really* stable, nor did it have things like multi-user and file permissions, etc.

    + The "powerful" UI was powerfully disorganized and confusing until far too late.

    Oh, why couldn't have the advocates glommed onto something reasonably nice - UnixWare for example - instead of OS/2.

  • That must have meen the most confused, and confusing, articles I've read in a while... I couldn't even figure out what they meant half of the time!?
  • Totally untrue. The FSF et al. have always agreed that you can run proprietary software on a GPL'd operating system, and even distribute the two together, providing source for the OS but not the proprietary app. This is because the app is not a derivative work of the OS. Proprietary software could run just as well on the Hurd, for example (although I don't know if there is any yet).

    Linus did make a special exception to allow binary-only device drivers into the kernel in some cases, but in that case the OS + those drivers is a derivative work, since they're essentially linked in to the OS kernel. Maybe that's what you're thinking of?

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • If software is a service (and many including Microsoft seem to think it's heading that way) then you're not selling software, but SERVICES.

    Red Hat for instance sells training and outsourced system management, just as IBM, Compaq, Sun, or many others do. Many companies will pay lots for that.

  • Many organizations developming free software will ask people to assign them copyright for their contributions. The FSF does that on FSF-sponsored projects to better the represent the free software interests, while others (Aladdin for ghostscript for instance) will do that exactly to be able to dual-license.

    But the bazaar ownership might be a _desired_ effect: anybody can improve and distribute, but virtually everybody (and nobody) owns the code. This makes proprietarization virtually impossible, but it's a doube-edged sword.
    Suppose for instance that a hole is discovered in GPLv2, and a GPLv3 comes out just to address that hole. In such a scenario consensus from every contributor would be required to change the licensing terms from v2 to v3, and it could be impossible to do so because somebody is unreachable.
  • microsoft doesn't seem to have a grasp of what they are saying when they say "open source"

    what they usually mean is "those damned linux commies"

    because they seem to forget about bsd every time a public statement is made about open source. this time, though, i think it was specifically the GPL they were taking aim at.

    but, that being said, the statement above about commercial companies being unable to use GPLd software or improve it... well, there's a story today about Red Hat announcing its profitable status. there's a perfect example of a commercial company that's making money by doing just that. there's nothing keeping MS from throwing its considerable might behind a new sendmail or bind or what have you, making it work with windows, etc, and then selling prepackaged and preconfigured versions of it, granted that they also make the source from their efforts available. or taking some piece of accessibility or utility software that runs on *nix now, smacking it around long enough to play nice with Windows, then including it as a component of Office (again, with the requisite source code). it's that last bit, the "keys to the kingdom" that MS is afraid to give away - because they know that any effort they make in any open source software will give away too many of the proprietary hooks they have in their existing closed source efforts.

    and then there's apple, who, while using BSD, and admittedly not GPL'd software, is actively improving not only their own proprietary products, but giving back to the open source community with improvements and additions of their own (darwin, drivers, developers, publicity). that's as good a model as there gets.

  • by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:24AM (#138185) Homepage Journal
    What struck me about the CNET article was not Gate's analogy, but what percentage of the article was spent explaining free (and Open Source) licenses, and rebutting (by way of VA Linux's CEO, Larry Augustin) what Gates said.

    Either we've got some friends out there, or Gates is really coming off as pointy haired. Or both.

    P.S.: Yes, Richard, they blew the distinction between free software and Open Source software.
  • From the article:
    "I don't know that anyone has ever asked for the source code for Word. If they did, we would give it to them"
    So, I want it... Think they'll send me a CD?
  • Erm... actually the quotes in the actual interview which is here [].

    Read it, the article in the /. post takes things out of context quite a bit.
  • Becaise goin open source would add to the headaches of maintaining the code. Now, instead of a stable code base that they can manage and understand, they have one that anyone can change. Now, when a customer has a problem with program X, they have a new set of potential problems

    hmm, how does Linus prevent stupid people from messing up his kernel? How does Netscape prevent stupid people from messing up their Netscape 6? IBM could open source OS/2 and then only accept reasonable and tested patches. IBM could then release their official IBM branded and tested OS/2++ kernel.
  • OK, so Bill is trying to scare people off of Open Source and GPL (and playing fuzz-the-boundaries as well) by saying all sorts of nasty things. Yet . . .

    • Now, some of his company's products use Free BSD, which anyone can idiot can discover (includng this idiot).
    • Hotmail uses Linux. I've heard this talked about for years.
    • Many progammers out there are quite aware of Open Source and its benefits. The company I work for even offers training for some Open Source products.
    • People are definitely using Open Source, which can be revealed by even the simplest investigations.
    • The more he talks about OS, the more it enters the spotlight and the more his statements get examined.

    So what Gates is doing is, no matter how else one defines it, is saying the sky is Green. The problem is that you can go outside and see that he's full of it, and the more someone yells "The Sky Is Green" the more likely someone is to check.

    His strategy is essentially hoping he can lie enough to get away with it - which seems pretty par for the course for M$ for some time.

    My guess is Bill thinks that he's never going to be called to account for his actions and that he can keep getting away with it. The problem with lies of course is you have to keep creating bigger ones as you get caught.

    So, as long as OS keeps rolling, Bill will have to keep fabricating, and perhaps we can have the joy of watching him self destruct.

    What can I say, I'm a positive kind of guy in my own way.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:12AM (#138201)

    Hell, n. - The state of being the richest man in the world and knowing something exists that you can't buy.

    Have a kleenex, Bill.

  • There's some interesting speculative thoughts about computers and their impact on law ... one of the interesting claims found in <A HREF=" .html"></A> is that we are due for an era of prosperity (hah!) but only if we can bury copyright (as we know it). Given that the whole point of copyright is to restrict exchange (creating semi-artificial scarcity), the GNU approach of copy-left is already half a step along this path. Now I don't have the experience to judge whether the rest of the claims of utopia (capability computing, crypotographic protocols, smart contracts) will automatically lead to a brave GNU world but it is intriguing. Many of our concepts of "wealth" are likely to change over the next decade. In the pre-industrial age it was ownership of land, in industrial revolution it was access to resources (cough*colonies*cough), in the post-industrial economy a liquid capital market. Perhaps in the knowledge economy it will be computer-enforced contracts ... I promise not to create a BSOD when undertaking action XYZ. How much is such a promise worth? If you can attach a negative value to lost productivity, will Free software actually be cost-effective? This is going to be a really interesting area of research ... the ability to guarantee a software promise.
  • by Stephen ( 20676 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:41AM (#138204) Homepage
    But if you say to people, 'Do you understand the GPL?' they're pretty stunned when the nature of it is described to them.
    Scene: A golf course, Gates playing with Clueless Pointy Haired Boss Of Software Company.

    Gates: I noticed that your web server is running on Linux.

    PHB: Hey, Bill, cut me some slack, we don't have to use your software for everything!

    Gates: Sure, but do you understand the GPL?

    PHB: Well, I guess I've never studied it myself, but it just means it's free, doesn't it?

    Gates: No, unfortunately if you use any open source product anywhere in your company, it makes it illegal for you to sell any software at all.

    PHB: You're kidding, right?

    Gates: No, seriously, believe me, I have to know about these things.

    PHB: Yeah, I guess so. Well, thanks for the warning, Bill. I'll make sure my techies take the Linux off our web server first thing on Monday morning!

  • If you write a program and I write a GPLed addition to it, which you accept, you must release the whole program under the GPL. You do however have other options at the same time. You can take the original program, and even write new code to replace my addition, and then you have the right to re-license it in whatever way you want.

    The original work, yours + mine, we control. I offered the GPLed code, you accepted.

    The new work, yours, without mine, you control.

    This means that in your example, you couldn't re-release the shared program under some other license without the permission of all authors. If some had vanished, you'd be out of luck. But you could take your original contribution and start fresh.

    After all, if the other authors' work was small enough you'd want to ignore their wishes and sell the code, it should be small enough for you to quickly rewrite.

    So, release code, your code is always yours. Release it under the GPL and what you're doing is ensuring that nobody else can wrap it up and sell it, without your permission.
  • You seem to neglect the fact that we are talking about companies that sell _software_. An analogous situation for your bank would be to divulge all your investment strategies and business practices to your customers and competition. How long do you think any business is going to last when everything it does is common knowledge. The _only_ way you can make money in that situation is to have the capability of doing something no one else can do with the information you have. Banks certainly do not fall into that category.

  • I'm not defending Microsoft, although I do think they have a point: to wit, I work as a Windows developer on a closed-source application. I cannot use a GPL'ed library in my app. Period. So much for "free" software (as in beer or speech). (p.s. I think the GPL is fine for apps, but LGPL is much more appropriate for libraries), but I digress...

    I just think the poster's bank analogy was really bad.

    Microsoft is just trying to spread FUD.
  • >That's not true. You have several choices:

    >Contact the author of the library and arrange for a special license.

    Then it's not GPL any more, is it? ;)

    >Release your application under the GPL.

    When I'm running my own company, I just might do that, but in the real world, for me, that's just not an option.

    >Don't use the library.

    Bingo. Back to square 1.

    >You're no worse than you would have been if the library had never existed.

    Unless I happen to puruse the code and subconsciously incorporate some really good idea into my own application and suddenly get hauled into court for violating the GPL. Contrived? Yes. Possible? In theory, definitely.

    Let's take zlib as an example. Let's pretend zlib, which is a really useful piece of code with a limited (albeit useful) range of functionality. Let's also pretend, for the sake of this argument, that zlib is GPL'ed, which I understand it is not. What that says is that if someone writes Windows XP, or even HAL9000, and uses this GPL'ed library, that the whole application (or OS!) must then be released under the GPL. Isn't that just a wee bit heavy-handed "Sure, we'll let you use our tool, but you have to give us everything you use it in." I won't go so far as to call ESR a communist or anything, but I think this is a crock. That's not a free license, that's an extortion license. Now I fully understand that I have the choice not to use it, and in the case of our hypothetical zlib, there are many alternatives, but it's not reasonable that one little piece of code should so radically affect anything it touches. In this case, I would consider the LGPL to be an optimal solution. I would be more than happy to contribute to any Open Source project I make use of, and since there's rarely a piece of code I use that I don't try to improve, when possible, this would be likely.

    Now the GIMP, on the other is a huge application that does an incredible amount of stuff on its own, and I would have no philosophical problems with the GPL here, but in using the GIMP, you aren't so much adding the GIMP to your code, but adding your code to the GIMP. I may be splitting hairs, but this is they way I see it. zlib is not unimportant, nor less useful, but it doesn't do anything useful by _itself_, it's a tool that makes other applications work better.

    NOw, I'm no apologist for Microsoft, and while the word "viral" is perjorative in its usage, and is probably also used in the hopes it will be confused with computer "viruses" by PHB's, I do think it is an accurate description of the GPL.

    The GPL is an ideal. It's the perfect world we would all like to see and unlike communism (which has to rely on the fact that there is no evil to actually work as envisioned), it's an ideal that can actually work, but for most of us, we will never be able to fully embrace it, because at the end of day, we have to put food on the table, and since I have 11+ years of Windows programming experience, I can't throw it, and virtually-guaranteed good jobs for the forseeable future, away to try to live this ideal. It's great to be idealistic, but I have a wife and 4 kids, a house and two car payments. Besides, I like what I do.

  • by Rinikusu ( 28164 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @01:31PM (#138215)
    /*Sheer desperation. */

    Not necessarily. If you go back and read the halloween documents and various other texts from Microsoft, you can clearly see that THIS is what they've been building up to. MS knows it can't compete on price points. MS knows it can't just buy Linux outright. So, what has it done?

    It must sow the seeds of doubt to the people that make the purchasing decisions in their companies. They want these IT managers to say "well, we could go linux and save $xxx, but I might lose my job if all that new-fangled Open Sauce stuff doesn't work as well as SQL Server. I can spend $1000 and keep my job because no one ever got fired for buying MS, or I can do it myself and I barely know how to eject the damn floppy."

    MS is going to spread more and more FUD against the GPL and against Open Source in general (although they do seem to grok BSD style licenses), just so that IT managers begin to associate Linux = GPL = I dunno about that. It's that slight hesitation that will put MS on their servers and not Linux.

    And you know what? It doesn't matter how much screaming and hollerin' you do on slashdot, none of those guys are geeks and none of them read slashdot (okay, there may be a few of you, but you're clued in, right?). With no central FUD fighting agency in the Linux/GPL world with a large enough mouth to fight MS at their own game (if that's even desired). So, MS takes a cheap, invalid shot at the GPL, a bunch of retorts come out, but they go to slashdot, or some Linux.advocacy mailing list. These retorts are not going to Jennifer IT Manager. Jennifer just read in some IT magazine that Bill Gates and MS don't like Linux and the GPL and that's that; another server lost to MS.

    Back to the original point, first MS attacked Linux directly by saying "Oh, Linux is slower than NT (see mindcraft)." Thousands of linux advocates cried foul while a few hundred went back and realized that it was true, and FIXED the problem. Then they tried saying "Well, you can't get support for Linux." And that brought about literally hundreds of fly-by-night Linux support companies, but also proved that you CAN get linux support. And with Compaq, Dell, and IBM jumping on the support band wagon (along with RedHat, SuSE, Caldera, etc), well, that pretty much cut off that line of attack.

    So, realizing that the community can respond within hours of a MS FUD attack against *linux*, they devised a somewhat new approach: Attack the licensing scheme. We can't change the GPL, nor would most of us want to (there's always BSD). Get management's confidence in the GPL (that's not even the Operating system, that's not even an application.. There are no benchmarks to run or dispute, there is no business model that can be created specifically for a license (although there are business models that take advantage of GPL software, that's different)). Gates & Co has just put the OSS community in check and we don't realize it even yet. Again, they are sowing the seeds of doubt in the IT Professional world. "I don't know what this GPL is, but I want it the hell away from my software! It sounds unAmerican and unBusiness-like." will be the reaction from boardroom directors. And, geeks or not at the mid-bottom layers, that's the line you have to toe up to.

    And, don't think about changing your software to BSD style licensing just to satisfy some bizarre need to sell to corporations. MS wants you to do that. See BSD TCP/IP and such. They understand that Open Source software has advantages. Do you think a company with 40 billion in the bank doesn't realize that if they can get something for free, they won't take it?

    Think about it.

  • by cje ( 33931 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:47AM (#138229) Homepage
    No, the GPL is bad because developers who wish to make money from their efforts can't use it.

    Then if you are developer who wishes to make money from your efforts, I would offer you the following piece of advice: Don't release your code under the GPL. This would seem to be particularly obvious, but apparently you haven't grasped it. If you want to develop under a different license, then knock yourself out .. but neither you nor Bill Gates nor Bozo the Fucking Clown has any right to dictate the terms of somebody else's development.

    It is even more infantile to complain that the GPL does not allow commercial software companies to come in and incorporate somebody else's work against their wishes and desires. Well, piss up a flagpole, Bill; I don't work for you. If you don't like the license, or if you think it's too restrictive .. well, nobody forced you to download the software, did they? Gates wants proprietary software to be closed up tight so that he controls it all and he wants open-source software to be purely public domain so that he can steal it at will.

    In short, he wants to have his cake and eat it too. The GPL allows authors to prevent him from doing this.
  • by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:27AM (#138231) Homepage Journal
    What no one ever mentions in anti-GPL rants (and let's face it, MS is tredding well worn ground, here) is that the GPL removes NO rights from you. In fact, if you just want to use GPL'd software you can ignore the GPL and it never applies to you.

    What the GPL does is gives you a way around having to be restricted by copyright law, if you want it. Since Microsoft gives you exactly 0 ways to get around such restrictions (in fact their licenses restrict you BEYOND what copyright law gives them), this is high hipocracy.

    But, then who expected any more out of Gates at this point.

    Aaron Sherman (
  • by Grendel Drago ( 41496 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @06:49AM (#138247) Homepage
    You know, this reminds me of the adage that the oppressors sometimes play the role of the oppressed... examples:

    • rich old white dudes complaining that taxation makes them 'slaves'
    • innumerable racist fantasies of blacks running amok and raping white women
    • violent criminals in the US suing the justice system for brutality

    And so on. I don't think this places Microsoft in very good company...

    -grendel drago
  • by p3d0 ( 42270 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @11:33AM (#138251)
    I cannot use a GPL'ed library in my app. Period.
    That's not true. You have several choices:
    • Contact the author of the library and arrange for a special license.
    • Release your application under the GPL.
    • Don't use the library. You're no worse than you would have been if the library had never existed.
    I fail to see what the big deal is. It pays to consider what the alternatives would be:
    • Everyone should make their software public domain so I can use it. Well, why doesn't that apply to you?
    • Everyone should sell their software under a non-GPL license so I can use it. Nothing is stopping anyone from doing this, even if they have already released the software under the GPL.
    So please, someone explain to me again, exactly what has the GPL cost us? What is the alternative that would be so preferable?
  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @06:10AM (#138252)
    This round of discussion sponsored by Microsoft has some interesting points, sure (BSDguy: "See man, this is the kind of FREEDOM the BSD license talks about." GPLguy: "See man, this is the kind of THEFT the GPL protects the community from.") But ultimately you have to ask - does Microsoft (and its leading personalities) really care about the GPL?

    You can be sure that Microsoft isn't doing the business community a public service. They're not standing up to ring the klaxon to warn their peers of the dangers lurking hidden ahead. The GPL means little to them. Except that its a convenient pawn. A handle. A toe-hold. A way to attack the amorphous phenomenon that is Linux.

    We've always said you can't attack Linux like the usual corporate entity. Microsoft knows this. And so they've changed their methods; they attack the concepts that are available with all the usual Microsoft tenacity.

    If the GPL is just a pawn - what is the real game about? Cnet (all bashing aside) has an interesting writeup [] ( ?tag=rltdnws). Its all .NET.

    To make Microsoft's biggest, most aggressive gamble in its history (or at least what industry analysts like to portray it as) pay off - its going to take Windows servers. Sure, Microsoft will play the "compatibility" card and offer some .NET services on competing platforms. There's even noise about Linux being included. But dollars to donuts, in true Microsoft fashion, the full feature set... all the bells and glossy-pamphlet-gushing whistles will only live within Win2K servers.

    Increased popularity in Linux (and *BSD - go, team, go) does not help generate the homogeneous Windows environment that'll make .NET a winner. Open source OS' are also providing an escape route from Microsoft's recent pricing squeezes (also mentioned in the referenced article). Sure, Microsoft may have nobody else but themselves to blame for that. But if you look at their motives a bit closer, you'll see its not marketing dollars they're after but a forced upgrade to technology that closer ties to .NET. The fact that this same squeezing makes *BSD and Linux more attractive is just an ugly side effect. It is also a route that they plan to cut off with smoke and mirrors.

    So as a community, the Open Source folk can pat themselves on the back. We've arrived - we're a gen-u-ine threat. A big one. And for all the right reasons (functionality, freedom, etc, etc). But that just means the game now involves higher stakes.

    Individual community members can argue / jihad over the finer points of licensing (and whatever will be Microsoft's next move on the board). But eventually all that'll get you is a square and a pawn. If we don't look up from the board once in awhile, we're going to miss the fact that we've been maneuvered out of the game entirely.

  • by darkonc ( 47285 ) <stephen_samuel@bcgr e e n . com> on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:00PM (#138257) Homepage Journal
    but the GPL does not make software free as it speech, only as in beer. which microsoft also does.

    I strongly disagree. The GPL is free as in speech.. That is to say, you can't stifle people from being able to see, or distribute, the source to a GPL product. On the other hand, it is not free as in beer. It has a very real cost to it.

    The cost of the GPL is that, if you modify the code, you can't keep it proprietary and sell only the object code. This is a cost that some companies (e.g. Microsoft) are not willing to pay. For people who are not willing to pay the GPL 'price', it sort-of reduces itself to a pseudo-closed source model, in that you can use the object code (in a free-beer way), but you can't modify it if you want to produce a proprietay version (what it really comes down to is that you can't steal the code).

    If you start from the premise that the openness of any derivated code is the 'price' of GPL, then it becomes quite enforcable. If a commercial entity attempts to 'embrace and extend' a piece of GPL code, then you can demand both penalties, as well as payment of the 'price' (release of the priprietary wannabe code).

    If you start from the premise that GPL is beer-free then you may run into a legal quagmire when you try to enforce it in court. If you try to treat the GPL like a shrink-wrapped contract on software that is free, then someone like MS can ask you to produce proof of the contract (though this might lessen the strength of their own shrink-wrapped contracts).

    As for MSIE being no-cost.. It is only no-cost if you have purchased a windows or Mac operating system -- then it's price is really hidden in the cost of the OS. By the same token, the program is not modifiable by you. Unless you sign away you r life to get access to the source code, you can't even see the source to see if it's worth editing. Once you do see it, my understanding ia that the MS license is look-don't touch. Even if it wasn't, they often hold back key pieces needed to compile a full product, anyways.

    This is where the GPL shines. It is fully modifiable, and fully redistributable. The 'cost' is that it's not stealable. You can't close the source and only sell the object. You can't limit future distribution. If you're not willing to pay that price, then you're still free (beer) to use the object code for yourself as if it were an MS-like license.

  • by Monte ( 48723 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:53AM (#138258)
    "There are people who believe that commercial software should not exist at all--that there should be no jobs or taxes around commercial software at all," Gates said. While that's a small group, "the GPL was created with that goal in mind. And so people should understand the GPL. When people say open source, they often mean the GPL."

    I bet he was just itching to say "communism" instead of GPL.

    Are you now, or have you ever been an Open Source developer?

  • by mjh ( 57755 ) <mark.hornclan@com> on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @07:07AM (#138265) Homepage Journal
    It's the companies using the GPL that seem to be failing.

    You are an id10t! Companies that are failing becuase of bad business plans deserve to fail. If that biz plan is that they sell software that anyone can get for free, well that's a bad biz plan. It doesn't add any value, and value is what people pay for.

    Nevertheless, GPL'd software can be used by companies who are profitible, and it won't prevent them from staying profitible. I work for a bank. Your argument is akin to saying that since my company can't effectivly resell the toilets that it has, that it shouldn't install and use toilets for fear of going out of business!

    GPL'd software is a tool. It's a free tool. It's a tool that can be used to help make businesses profitible.

  • by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @06:27AM (#138276)
    They can when the two companies can make an agreement regarding sharing the source; the company which owns the code can, if they wish, license the code to another company.

    Which, of course, the GPL does not preclude. It's always fair game to approach a GPL developer and offer to buy a non-GPL'd licence. Most developers (obviously not FSF members, but others) would probably do it, for the right price. Some developers, like Troll Tech, might even offer such a deal up front.

    What Microsoft will never concede is that the GPL is just like any other software licence in this respect. The only thing you can't do is use the vendor's code in GPL-violating ways without their permission. Nothing prevents you from seeking permission, and offering money or other consideration for the privilege, just like you would with a proprietary vendor.

  • by Kanasta ( 70274 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:07AM (#138286)
    fun to play with, gets attacked by evil entities, but can sometimes fight back and win?

  • by Kanasta ( 70274 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:16AM (#138287)
    On GPL software, Bill says it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work

    Now tell me, since when could a commercial company use proprietary code from another commercial company and build on it?

    OK, maybe one of the few companies that regularly build on other's work (or just buys them out) is MS itself. Does Bill even know what goes on in MS nowadays? He sounds kinda like a misinformed layman.


  • If I paid someone to write code for me, I'd expect to be given the source as well as the binary.

    The only reply I have to this (and don't get me confused....I'm a large advocate of the open-source movement) is from the perspective of a small software company, the idea of open source can be very scary.

    Here's my example: I work at a small-town Iowa computer firm. We create software in the health industry where competition is tight and our tiny company is certainly overshadowed by many 'big dogs'. We have many good, new ideas on how to make our software do the job for our clients cleaner and better. However, if we don't watch it, we could release a product and one of our larger competitors could easily and quickly copy our idea, exploit it, and make a fortune.

    Yes, I hear you out there. Sue! Copyright law! Patents! I agree. And, in theory, that would work. But we're so small of a company that legal action against one of our major competitors would drain company resources to the point of bankruptcy. If a larger company were to infringe on our rights and we took them to court, all they would have to do is some legal filibustering for awhile and it would drain us dry, even if they didn't win.

    To that end, then, open source is still a scary idea for us. If we were to publish our code, it would instantly be snatched up and exploited. So, we stick to writing proprietary code and avoiding GPL'ed software altogether. This is fine, we've been doing it for years, but obviously there are a lot of good GPLed ideas out there and my own ethics would LOVE to go open source.

    How does this interfere with business? OH, WAIT A MINUTE. It interferes with Mr. Bill Gates's business and profits! Oooops. This must be legislated away!

    Certainly I don't think that Mr. Gates' monstrous company would suffer from a little dose of code sharing, but on a smaller scale, I can sympathize and say that yes, sometimes that's the only way we can make profits is to stay closed source.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:53AM (#138315) Homepage Journal
    Funny. These Guys [] don't seem to be having any problem with it?
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:50AM (#138316) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft owns the copyrights to many of the bits of OS/2. You don't want the bits that are left, believe me. pmshell was cool and all but an object going haywire could screw up your entire desktop and force you to reinstall it. Linux already has HPFS and it wouldn't be too hard to implement extended attributes on any of the supported filesystems. The problem with EAs is, if you depend on them too much, you're pretty much hosed if they get damaged. Same as pmshell. And if the GUI were released, you'd end up with a single-system-queue hunk'o dung with an API that's so Microsoft it's actually painful. No, releasing the source to OS/2 wouldn't do anyone a whole lot of good (Except maybe the European banks that still use it fairly extensively.)
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:41AM (#138317) Homepage Journal
    Funny. I read that comparason as Billy-Boy saying

    The GPL is like Pac-Man. People using it can eat me.

    Odd how two people can come up with such radically different intrepretations of a statement, isn't it?

  • by Sc00ter ( 99550 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:19AM (#138336) Homepage
    What he is saying is that the GPL gets tossed around as THE "free" open-source license. But there are other choices.. One of them (the BSD) is actually more "free" because you can use parts of it in a commercial product and not HAVE to release the new code to the public. And that is true, the BSD license does give you more freedom, and with more freedom, you have more of a responsibility, part of that being to give back to the community that you borrowed from. But the BSD gives you the freedom to make that choice on your own, the GPL does not, it forces you to conform.


  • by aralin ( 107264 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @06:56AM (#138354)
    I spent two years of my life (10-11) playing and mastering PacMan. If Bill Gates would speek sooner, I could have put this on my resume as Linux related skills.
  • by atillathehun ( 113468 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:27AM (#138358)
    So what did Bill do when everyone else had a better communications stack? He put one for "free" in his system, then there was the browser threat and "free" internet explorer was born. He has systematically bundled free things with his operating system to kill the competition. Now here is a for real free operating system and a long line of free things to ride on top of it. If anyone can see the pattern it is Bill.
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @06:59AM (#138378) Journal

    As of June 20, 2001 There are 14304 projects under OSI compliant license on SourceForge. Of those, 11981 are under the GNU GPL or GNU LGPL. That's 83.8 percent.

    Plainly, GPL/LGPL has a monopoly in the category of Open Source licenses. Nevermind that there is other software under other licenses. None of them have more than 10% of the market. The closest competitor, BSD has only 6.2% of the market. They are really just a niche player with a loyal dedicated following and therefore don't count as competition.

    We recommend that the GPL/LGPL licenses be broken up into several smaller licenses. To prevent the monopoly from re-forming after the breakup, all of these licenses should be mutually incompatable and they should be allowed to follow competing philosophies. Perhaps one could be "academic use only", another could be closed source freeware, another EULA'd and another BSD-like. The GPL/LGPL community would be allowed to keep a few core programs, perhaps GCC and the Linux kernel, but not any applications.

    So, how do you like it? It's fair, it's justice; right?

  • by gowen ( 141411 ) <> on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:07AM (#138385) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft would be made to distibrute software containing GPL'd components. [] It'd undermine their intellectual property, doncha know...
  • by ellem ( 147712 ) <ellem52 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:36AM (#138394) Homepage Journal
    I have never been addicted to the GPL.
    I have never waited at the big dot for ghosts to eat
    I have never put a quarter in a slot gor the GPL
    I don't believe I have ever amassed 240 points for reading the GPL
    As near as I can tell thery are nothing alike.

  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @11:17AM (#138402) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:
    to wit, I work as a Windows developer on a closed-source application. I cannot use a GPL'ed library in my app
    OK, but you can't use a closed-source, proprietary library written by a company down the street, either. Well, you can't without licensing it, which would generally involve a fee. A fee is an amount of money given up in return for something else. In other worse, a fee is an opportunity cost, since you no longer have those dollars to spend as you wish.

    With GPL code, you cannot use the GPL library without giving up options. Specifically, you accept limitations on your future behavior because the terms of the license, to which you have agreed, include not selling the derived work. You've surrendered some flexibility and have thus paid an opportunity cost, since you no longer have some options available.

    Personally, I don't see how the GPL is any more "evil" than the company with the proprietary library. Is that company evil because you can't use its library without paying a cost? At least with the GPL, you get some unusual advantages: Complete access to the source and complete assurance that, at least, your competitor will not be able to take your code and drive you out of business with it.

    Is GPL the be-all, end-all? No. Is it evil and a threat to the very fundaments of the God-fearing, freedom-loving blessed Republic? No. It's just a license.

  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @07:38AM (#138403) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:
    How long do you think any business is going to last when everything it does is common knowledge.
    I teach at a school. Everything we do is "common knowledge", yet parents pay us $19,000 per kid for a seat. And that's despite free altneratives in the area.

    Though, to be fair, schools are not businesses. Nonetheless, what Microsoft seems upset about is that GPL forces you to find new business models...

  • by kruczkowski ( 160872 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:25AM (#138411) Homepage
    No, you guys are wrong...

    Gates Says Linux Best OS Ever []

  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @09:19AM (#138451) Journal
    Gates wants proprietary software to be closed up tight so that he controls it all and he wants open-source software to be purely public domain so that he can steal it at will.

    Seriously. I think this summarizes the situation perfectly! It's like divorce court: what's yours is mine, and what's mine is mine.

    GPL prevents such behavior, which is why MS is so eager to fight it. Fuck 'em.

  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:54AM (#138461)
    Articles that reveal that Microsoft thinks the GPL is bad, evil, and opposed to everything that is good about capitalism is no longer News. You don't need to post them here anymore. Add them to Slashback [] instead. There's nothing novel about it anymore, and we're long past being surprised.
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:07AM (#138474) Journal
    I mean I build on Microsoft source all the time, because its so easy to get a licence to use the code, and incorporate it into other apps.
  • by moz711 ( 217919 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @08:08AM (#138489)
    Next, I'd expect Billy to be up on the podium, giving one of those 'Fire and Brimstone' kind of messages.
    'It's evil, and of the devil', he yells shaking his fist towards the heavens. 'Repent now, and let the light of microsoft fill your lives'
    He moves quickly toward the front row pointing a microphone at on the the bearded programmers in the front row.
    'Forgive, Billy, for I have sinned, I'd programmed on a free operating system, and have released code under the GPL!!!'
    'I've seen men for more gone then yourself, turn to see the light...' Billy quickly moves his hand towards the programmers forhead, pushing him back, 'I rebuke the GPL!!! I rebuke the GPL!!! I rejuke the GPL!!! Can I get a witness??!?!'
    'Praise microsoft,' the crowd shouts back.
  • by cabalamat2 ( 227849 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:12AM (#138504) Homepage Journal

    He's saying, in effect:

    the GPL is bad because it won't let me take without giving

    Thanks, Bill, for showing us your true colours so clearly.

  • by grammar fascist ( 239789 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @06:19AM (#138521) Homepage
    According to Gates, GPLd software "makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work.

    erm.. and in what aspect is that different from the stuff Mr Gates is making himself?

    Absolutely nothing at all, unless you count the fact that it's actually possible to take GPL'd work and use it for yourself. The funky rules apply only to distribution.

    The real problem here is that Bill is making a drastic generalization. He's confusing a "company" with a "software company." Make the proper substitution in his statement (and also change "impossible" to "very difficult") and it makes perfect sense.
  • Let's summarize Gates' anti-GPL remarks:

    Gates does not like the GPL because he cannot incorporate GPL software in Microsoft's for-profit products. He likes free software -- but only if, by "free", we mean "free for Microsoft to take, modify, and sell without compensation to the original authors." That's his idea of how "free software" licenses should work.

    And this is exactly what the GPL license prevents: Companies cannot incorporate GPL source code while not giving something back to the GPL community. It forces a barter system.

    Gates won't even release a Linux version of Office as a for-profit commercial product, but he's mad that the GPL prevents him from raiding the free software repositories to create Microsoft's commercial products.

  • by jsse ( 254124 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @08:53AM (#138538) Homepage Journal
    It's unacceptable! We are like Pacman? You mean we all eat pills in the darkness while listening to electronic music?

    Oh wait.
    /. / &nbsp&nbsp |\/| |\/| |\/| / Run, Bill!
  • "People who have seen shared source will have problems working on other projects."

    I think you have a great point there... Going after the freelance and spare-time developers who work on the kernel and various other GPL projects is probably the ONLY conceivable way M$ can cut off Linux's air supply.. After all, M$ can't (openly) steal the code, and they can't BUY Linux (even if they tomorrow bought EVERY Linux company).

    M$ may bring, or even more sinister, THREATEN to sue coders, using hte fact that they have (comparatively) infinite resources to pay souless lawyer types and to "Kaplan" the courts.

    It is, after all, hard to impossible to PROVE a negative. The best defense would be the outright poor stability of most M$ code compared to the stability OS/Linux apps...

    "Shared source" is a direct attack upon the GPL because they're going to claim that we've used their code to make ours, ...despite the obvious fact that it's really the other way around.

    I think you are VERY close to the mark here. One common thing unimaginative/uncreative people do when attacking someone else is to ACCUSE their target of things they (the accuser) are already guilty of. It's very easy to fall into the trap of projecting your OWN ethos and vices onto others, and I think this is ALL OVER some of many of M$'s more draconian practices.

    Microsoft is inarguably the master imitator, never the innovator mostly because THAT is the mindset (and ability) of Gates, Ballmer, and the other powers that be who are in charge and shape the corporate culture. Not that imitating is necessarily a bad thing, taking something out there and refining it to perfection is almost as admirable as inventing it. But that is NOT what M$ does.
  • "So far we've heard Microsoft describe Linux and the GPL as a cancer, Pac Man, and numerous other things. But while these comparisons may have some sort of PR or "scare" value, they only serve to mislead the public."

    These asinine accusations also have the effect of undermining MS's argument, reducing it to the level of childish playground name calling.

    The first insult hurled is a confession that the insulter has run out of reason and is admitting defeat.

    And there are enough out there, particulary in the corps (stupid people do NOT run major businesses), and in some parts of the media (at least the more clueful business media) who ARE seeing these increasingly pitiful attacks for what they are:

    Sheer desperation.

    Look at it from M$'s perspective:

    Linux is a product that:

    1. They can't buy
    2. They cannot "embrace and extend" (this is their main reason why they fear the GPL, as it certainly allows M$ to borrow, improve ANYTHING they want, but requires them to give back in return)
    3. They can't imitate it's strength (openness)
    4. They can't "give away" a `Doze add-on to cut off it's air supply (ala Internet Explorer).
    5. They can't undercit in price (free or very cheap)

    Linux already has captured a VERY sigificant share of the server market, M$ is very VERY afraid of this eventually happening to the desktop.

    Despite all their noises to the contrary, M$ is still very much a desktop bound company, as most of their revenue comes from desktop apps and OS's. To them the server is merely a tool to lock customers even more into the M$ desktop, which may be one reason why they've never really had the same success in servers that they had with the desktop.

    As I've said before, I'll say again, the day Linux gets enough share of desktops (I'd say around 5-10%), it will FORCE M$ to release desktop apps for Linux. For this reason:

    A 5-10% share of the market is small compared to Windows, but STILL large enough to "fund" Microsoft's competition. In order to keep their monopoly, MS MUST prevent any competitor from getting too much air.

    This is largely why M$ is in the Mac market, to ensure that whatever Office Mac users run, it's a M$ Office, not WordPerfect or Lotus, etc.

    However, it will be the death of Windows. The MINUTE Microsoft releases Office for Linux, Windows is irrelevant. Microsoft knows this, which is why it will likely NEVER happen, unless some competitor of theirs makes enough off Linux apps to threaten them (by having sufficient funding to develop) in Windows. Microsoft CANNOT port apps to a non-M$ x86 OS without severely wounding Windows.
  • by nate1138 ( 325593 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:17AM (#138587)
    I think it's really important for the Free Software/Open Source communities to make sure that everyone knows that merely USING GPL'd software exposes you to zero risk. It only comes into play when you start to modify it. And if it's licensed under the LGPL, you can link to the library, and keep your application proprietary. Most of the comments MS has made about the GPL is pure BS.
  • by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @08:49AM (#138602)
    Becaise goin open source would add to the headaches of maintaining the code. Now, instead of a stable code base that they can manage and understand, they have one that anyone can change. Now, when a customer has a problem with program X, they have a new set of potential problems - i.e. did something somebody do in the code cause the problems, or is it soemthing else. companies need a stable OS on which to build their applications, one that they can ship knowing problems ought to be replicatable in their test rigs, or that at least outside hacks are not introducing new, unforseen bugs. I would guess most OS/2 apps are specific to particular customers (i.e. POS terminals, reservations systems, etc.) where the of the OS is a small part of teh TCO, so any savings from open source is insignificant compared to the potential headaches. Customers don't want to here that a problem is casued by Joe/Julie in Somewhere, Idaho and go talk to him/her about the issue - they'll simply buy someone else's product.
  • by Ubi_UK ( 451829 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2001 @05:14AM (#138606)
    According to Gates, GPLd software "makes it impossible for a commercial company to use any of that work or build on any of that work.

    erm.. and in what aspect is that different from the stuff Mr Gates is making himself?

Recent investments will yield a slight profit.