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Caldera Per Seat Licensing 259

Motor writes "Caldera is to "introduce per-seat licenses for their upcoming OpenLinux Workstation 3.1." I'm not sure how I feel about this. I guess theoretically they can do it, although it sure feels wrong somehow. But I've always been somewhat wary of Caldera.
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Caldera Per Seat Licensing

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  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @07:03PM (#129091) Homepage Journal
    Yes, but as a customer I don't _care_ about my vendor's profitability. I would want a product that I buy to retain its usefulness, possibly something that can be maintained by a wide variety of people. GNU/Linux qualifies as I can hire anyone to maintain it and have complete access to the source and rights to get it fixed by third parties. Caldera's value-add stuff does NOT necessarily qualify, as it's proprietary so I _do_ depend on Caldera ever after, if I want to have that software maintained or fixed.

    Your insistence on buying from companies with a good business plan etc. is only relevant when buying proprietary products. When buying commodity products you basically want to be satisfied of the immediate condition of the product because you can get service anywhere. It makes no business sense to treat Linux as a proprietary product- just because Caldera are demanding extra money does not mean their demand is sensible or justified.

    I don't see how their unclearness on the concept qualifies as a good business plan to compete with commodity software.

  • News flash 2: Per-seat licenses are a way of making money.

    News flash 3: So is extortion, blackmail, forgery, and contract killing.

    Doesn't make them right.
  • While Caldera is certainly entitled to license the proprietary parts of their distribution as they see fit, I don't think this is a particularly good move, business-wise.

    One of the selling points of Linux that is easy to communicate to business people is that it saves on license compliance costs. This is a non-trivial point, when you are talking about a large organization with hundreds or thousands of workstations/servers.

    By introducing per-system licensing into the Linux world, Caldera muddies the waters somewhat on this point.

    They could have accomplished the same thing, but worded it differently (i.e., "support serial numbers"), while preserving the "less licensing hassles" image of Linux.

  • >They also seem to have forgotten the fact that they have a bunch of
    >major competitors, most notably Redhat, Mandrake, and SuSE, who would
    >probably love to soak up Caldera's share of the Linux market, both
    >present and future.

    Oooh, that will have them quaking in their boots: all the non-paying customers will go to the other distributions, leaving them with ony, uhh, the ones willing to pay :)

    I'm sure Redhat, et al, are drooling over the prospects of people driven away by not getting it all for free . ..



  • As junior faculty, I must constantly worry about my tenur application in a few years. "Greedy Capitalist" would look grat on on economist's application. Where can I get called one in something I can cite? :)



  • Either you can make money from Linux or you can't, but enough fence-sitting.

    You can't and you shouldn't. Thousands of hackers have not given their time so that somebody can make a quick buck. It's about fun, not profit.


  • Ransom Love clearly does not understand Linux. By attacking Richard Stallman, and now starting this proprietary form of licensing, Caldera is going down the path of self destruction. Ransom Love, already an unlovable person to the community, will just move closer to the image of Bill Gates, and he will never receive love nor his ransom (the price he demanded for OpenLinux, since people will prefer more open choices like Red Hat).
  • And the benefit of buying support from RedHat over paying Caldera's extortion (er licensing) fees is that you only pay for the level of service you need (and can afford). Plus, if RedHat has lousy service you can find another support contractor. All the software is Free Software, so there are plenty of people that can dig around in the source and fix things. RedHat knows this, and so they have plenty of incentive to do a good job.

    With Caldera's new distribution important parts of the distribution are closed source commercial binaries (otherwise their license would be easy to circumvent). If Caldera's distribution doesn't work you are stuck with waiting for Caldera to fix it (even if you have the requisite skills yourself). Even worse, if their support is sub par there is nothing you can do about it. You are stuck. And since Caldera got their money from you up front, they have little or no incentive to have good service.

    Bottom line is that this isn't going to work. Caldera Linux is simply going to become less popular than it already is and die. I personally can't wait. The sooner Caldera runs out of money and goes bankrupt the sooner Mr Love and his inane comments will disappear from the computer press.

  • Exactly, this isn't about GPL licensing issues. Caldera is perfectly within their rights to charge money for proprietary software that happens to run on Linux. However, they are competing in a marketplace with competitors that are willing to give an almost identical set of software away for free. Why would anyone in their right mind pay a per seat licensing fee for Caldera when they could get something as good (or perhaps better) without cost from one of Caldera's competitors?

    Caldera can whine all they want about making a profit, but RedHat is turning a profit giving software away, and the Debian group doesn't need to turn a profit because they don't have employees. Both of these groups are more than happy to give their distribution away, and to be competitive Caldera will have to do likewise.

  • The Linux community doesn't even have a problem with making a profit licensing Linux. We simply aren't complete imbeciles. Honestly, why in the world would I purchase Caldera Linux with their ridiculous per seat license when I can purchase one copy of RedHat Linux (at a lower price) and install it on as many machines as I like.

    Heck, RedHat is even more popular than Caldera, and it runs more software. Every piece of Linux software (free or proprietary) runs without major issues on RedHat. The same can not be said for Caldera.

    And if my Linux servers are mission critical it still makes more sense to purchase RedHat for several reasons. First of all RedHat's per incident support means that I only pay for the support that I need and can afford. Second, since RedHat is more popular, it is easier to hire contractors that have a thorough knowledge of the RedHat distribution.

    Caldera should be fighting RedHat by making their distribution more popular, not less. Raising prices is simply going to make them even more of a bit player.

  • I personally am a Debian user, and I like Debian, but that doesn't make Debian a very useful distribution for newbies. Debian is the distribution you switch to after you have had to upgrade your RedHat machines manually for the fourth time.

    Besides that, Debian is not any more "open" than RedHat. RedHat has consistently released the software they develop under the GPL, and they develop quite a bit of software. And RedHat's freely redistributable version of their software has been useable for a very long time (my first RedHat install was version 4.0). Even back in the early days when RedHat was bundling commercial software (like the Red Baron web browser or the commercial X Server) they still made a distribution that was perfectly useable without their proprietary bits. Caldera, on the other hand, wouldn't even install without their proprietary installation routine. They have also taken great pains to comply with published standards. The folks at Caldera have been belly-aching about RedHat and the LSB forever, and yet RedHat is more File System Hierarchy compliant than Caldera ever plans to be, and RedHat is more LSB compliant than anyone besides Debian. RedHat even took a stand on early version of KDE and the non-free versions of QT. This position allowed Mandrake to come into existence. Early versions of Mandrake were little more than RedHat + KDE.

    In other words, RedHat has generally been pretty darn "open." Surpassed only in openness by Debian Linux.

    However, while RedHat and Debian were both nearly equal in terms of "openness" RedHat was miles ahead in terms of ease of use. Back when RedHat was taking over the market Debian Linux was so hard to install that it was ridiculous. My first Debian install was version 1.3. I paid more for those CDs than I had ever paid for a RedHat distribution, and the dselect install was physically painful. RedHat also came with a neat set of administration tools. Debian had five versions of vi. Heck, until apt came along there really wasn't a reason to use Debian. It was simply too painful to install, with little benefit over it's RPM based brethren.

    Debian has come a long way, but it still isn't nearly as easy to install as RedHat, and for newbies (the newbie market is an important market for Linux because there really aren't that many folks with experience) RedHat makes a lot of sense.

    I really do believe that this is how RedHat got their marketshare. They had the best product at the lowest price, and they have followed up their early distributions with a fairly solid run of cutting edge Linux, nicely packaged. Debian might be slightly more "open," but RedHat is nearly as open, and still useable by mere mortals.

  • Yes, that's true, he probably will be recycled. But at least no one will take his word as an industry insider. When our PHB asks us about the Ransom Love column in ComputerWorld we'll be able to laugh and say:

    "That's just some bozo that was CEO of the wacky Linux company that thought buying SCO was a good idea. He burned through millions of dollars in capital, and yet his distribution wasn't even as popular as a distribution created entirely by volunteers."

    Quite frankly, even though Caldera is still kicking Ransom doesn't get much play as a Linux spokesperson. The only folks that ever pay any attention to him at all are the rabidly anti-Linux journalists, and they just trot him out to make Linux look bad. And now that RedHat actually has made a swipe at positive cash flow, he won't be able to say that making money with RedHat's business plan is impossible. If making money from Linux requires proprietary software and license fees then how come his company is still deep in the red while RedHat is in the black?

    Most PHBs understand those sorts of arguments.

  • Whatever. Almost all Linux software nowadays comes as an RPM, and that RPM is almost always targetted at RedHat's latest distribution. Sometimes if a packager has really done his or her homework they will give instructions on how to force install on SuSE or Caldera. Now, I don't use RedHat anymore (I am a Debian user myself), but I am sure that PHP works fine (although they may still be using the GPLed version PHP3 instead of PHP4, I don't know).

    The Python issue is similar. It's not RedHat's fault that Guido and Co. screwed up the licensing for Python 1.6 to 2.0. The fact that RedHat pays attention to these sorts of licensing problems is actually a good thing as it means that I don't have to hire a lawyer to do it for me. Python is a very popular "embedded" scripting language. The fact that several versions of Python were not GPL compatible was a big concern. RedHat did the only sane thing by not including it by default (you could still get Python2 rpms, I have seen them).

    Debian did something very similar, and for very similar reasons. These organizations understand that legal issues like this are a big deal, even if they seem to be trivial.

    The fact of the matter is that RedHat is on top because they concentrated on making Linux easy to use and then released their source. While SuSE and Caldera were busy trying to herd their users into proprietary Linux add-ons RedHat was becoming the de-facto standard by releasing software. RedHat's installers weren't as flashy, and their admin tools were second rate, but you could fix them, and you didn't have to worry about licensing fees or vendor lock. While Debian was impossible to install, and Slackware was aiming for the tarball elitists, RedHat was trying to make a Free operating system that normal people could use.

    So now, like it or not, RedHat is the gold standard for Linux. Applications that don't run well on RedHat get fixed (perhaps by releasing RPMs of the necessary auxilarly packages, but they get fixed all the same). Commercial Applications that don't run well on Caldera (but do run well on RedHat) come with a free RedHat CD. It's as simple as that.

    This is not about RedHat flag-waving. I don't even use their distribution, but I do recognize suicide when I see it. Caldera charging per seat licenses is suicide, plain and simple. They are going to drive their few paying customers to someone else (probably RedHat). Sure, Caldera has got some nifty features, but it has always had nicer features than RedHat, and it never has helped. Linux users would just as soon have a poor piece of free software that they can fix over a fancy piece of commercial software that they can't. You would think that Caldera would have learned this by now. They have watched their fancy commercial applications get upstaged by RedHat's wimpy free ones time and time again. And RedHat hasn't always been bigger than Caldera either. Back when Slackware was the distribution of choice Caldera's desktop was a hundred times better than RedHat (and they both used the precursor to RPM as their packaging manager, Love is always pointing out the fact that Caldera helped develop RPM). RedHat was free, Caldera was not. Caldera lost. And they will lose again with their newest hare brained scheme. They are practically driving the industry towards RedHat.

  • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @05:31PM (#129111) Homepage Journal

    I don't have moderator points, and can't moderate in this thread anyhow, but this response deserves to be seen...

    OK. Here's a comment from someone who helped test the first version of the Caldera distribution. Remember it? Caldera Network Desktop. It was (mostly) based on RedHat mothers-day (either 1.0 or 1.1 -- but RPP-based, no RPM systems yet!). For the record, I did buy CND 1.0 -- because it was the only way to get a copy of WP for Linux (6.0) at that time.

    Here's what I got -- RH 1.x (re-branded to Caldera, with some updates, while RH was working on 2.x), and a bunch of proprietary software. Bearing in mind that this was a LONG time ago, these were useful:

    1. Gallium font server (let you use TrueType fonts).
    2. Looking Glass desktop (it was that, or fvwm -- mc was still an infant, and there wasn't a decent desktop project yet).
    3. NetWare utilities (mars_nwe? HAH! ncpfs? not yet...) -- although they didn't support NW4 yet -- it was too new.

    Oh, and having that license let me purchase WP for Linux 6.0. I wonder how many they actually sold...

    The transition RH made with 2.0 to RPM shook up the Caldera distro quite a bit. (All recent bleating to the contrary, about helping RH develop RPM, they pretty much dug in their heels and refused to put it in for the preview -- it was the release that finally had it.)

    It, however, convinced me not to use Caldera in the future. They stopped support on the version pretty soon after the next one (with a hefty upgrade price) came out, and the proprietary software they bundled had a tendency to have free (and better!) replacements within a year or two.

    At the present, I work for a Linux company (we don't do distributions, thankfully). Our products have turned up missing (practically core!) libraries (libttf, libesd, among others), and the Caldera distros have consistently been far enough behind the curve that it's typically a headache to even install on their systems.

    Not to mention that the RPM situation mentioned above is, well, problematic for the user. They can't update, and Caldera has (traditionally) been pretty bad about maintaining a decent contrib section.

    The worst part is, the only real strength Caldera has is the add-ons. And those become outdated so fast that if you blink, you'll miss it.

    Let 'em die piss in their own well by restricting their customers more. They haven't been a mainstream distro for years...

  • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @01:57PM (#129112) Homepage Journal

    Actually, Caldera spends quite a bit of time complaining about Linux compatibility. They realize that RedHat is the de-facto standard now, and that RedHat is what is used by most Linux developers (both in the free software and commmercial software world). This means that when a developer packages an RPM of their work they basically only test against RedHat, leaving the Caldera users to build the software themselves (assuming that it comes with source), or to install the correct libraries (if it is closed source). This is a pain. So when someone does pay for a Linux distribution, or signs up for service and support which distribution do they choose? Well duh, they choose RedHat. It's the most popular. It has the most developer support, and it runs all current Linux software "out of the box."

    Caldera, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to combat this by charging a per seat licensing fee, which is basically guaranteed to make their distribution even more unpopular. I personally thought that Caldera saw the light some time ago when the GPLed their installation routine. Caldera has always had a fantastic distribution, but RedHat was more open (if not quite as good) and so RedHat got the market share (and the sales). It turns out that most Linuxers would rather have an inferior piece of software that they can fix over a fancy proprietary piece of software that they can't. Being open is the only way to survive in the Linux game. It is certainly possible to sell proprietary add-ons to Linux, but the base distribution has to be Free Software or your customers look elsewhere. There are very few Linuxers that are interested in building their software on anything but a truly open platform.

    I would have guessed that Caldera had already learned that (the hard way), but apparently they need another smack or two with the clue stick.

    Because, when all is said and done, the folks that are willing to pay for Linux software and support are much more likely to pay for the most popular distribution. Caldera is never going to be the most popular distribution if they keep these tactics up.

    The Linux users that are testing their applications on a "free" version of RedHat are very likely to be the folks that sign up for service and support when their Linux application becomes mission critical. And you can bet they won't be signing up with Caldera.

  • Many companies have tried this approach with their Unices...

    The commercial Unices were typically licensed on a per-user basis, not the per-seat licensing that Caldera are using. Of course, I'm sure Caldera would use per-user licensing if they could. The problem is that anyone could just download and compile a stock kernel, and the user limit enforcement would be gone. Yes, I guess you could play some tricks in userland, but they're equally trivial to circumvent.

    ObReminiscing: My Unix experience started with 4.1BSD, which of course had no user limits. When I graduated, and moved to the commercial world, I was completely stunned by SCO's 2 user limit. It seemed to take away half of the point of using Unix in the first place.

  • This is a prime example of the idiocy I wanted to get away from. You know, it's bad enough basing your business on a piece of closed software from someone like IBM or Sun, but at least with them you know that they'll be around for a while.

    I'll be damned, however, if I'd trust my company to some non-Free software from a Linux startup. No offense to RedHat (hi, Doug!), but as a whole, that's a pretty flaky business sector.

    Please think about this before you mod me down. Seriously, would you like to be the one who recommends a proprietary lock-in to Caldera to the CIO?

    I'll stick to the Open stuff, thanks.

  • The question isn't whether you should be able to make money from Linux. Noone has a problem with that. What people have a problem with is using freedom-restricting practices to do so. Just because we find a particular _way_ of making money off of software offensive does not mean that we find all ways offensive. You should really take the time to read the stuff in the Philosophy section of gnu.org.
  • Obviously you can't get support without paying. That's true on any of the Linux platforms. The fact is, Caldera _is_ the parasite RMS makes them out to be. I can't think of a single piece of GPL software they created or heavily funded. If you use software from thousands of programmers without paying them for it, and then refuse to develop even one program that's free, you are a parasite. A legal parasite, yes. But a parasite nontheless.

    RedHat has managed to be successful and give back _everything_ they developed (maybe not everything, but I can't think of a single thing offhand).
  • No, this is not about paying for things. This is about paying for ideas. A CD is a thing. Software is not a thing. Noone is asking Caldera to provide CDs or boxed sets for free. They are simply asking them not to restrict the user's freedom with the abstract software. To think that "software" in the abstract can be owned is to believe in Plato's "world of ideas" theory. If you believe in it, fine. Just remember that software doesn't classify as a "thing".
  • No that is incorrect. One method of paying for software is paying for the distribution of the software. For example, you don't have to make your software downloadable. You only have to allow the people who have purchased it to have their freedoms.

    Even if the software is freely downloadable, there is merit in selling CDs. Just because you _can_ download it, doesn't mean that it's free for you to do so. If you have a slow or metered connection, paying for it makes sense. Do you consider tipping Pizza Delivery people a "donation"? I sure don't.

    The best method, though, is to contract improvements. For example, if company X wants feature Y in emacs, but doesn't have the ability to do it themselves, they hire you to do it. This is the best way of making money. A lot of people do it, too. In fact, you could say this is where _all_ I.T. money comes from.
  • Many people are making money off of Linux. Just not the public companies. Also, most of them don't sell a distribution as their primary product. Most of them are consultants who add extra pieces to whatever software their customers need. They aren't in the spotlight, but these are the real workhorses. The ones who add on to gcc, Ada, HtDig, and all the little projects that make your life just a little easier. If you add in the companies who are writing/improving and releasing free software not as their main business, but just as part of their IT infrastructure, that figure grows a whole lot.

    The difference between free software and proprietary software is that they are from totally different sources. Proprietary software says "TAKE WHAT I BUILD" while free software grows wild without any overarching leader. You can't expect them to make money in the same ways.
  • You do have a freedom to make money. You just don't have the freedom to make money by violating others' freedoms. In the U.S., I have lots of freedoms. But I don't have the freedom to punch other people. Why? Because that violates their freedom.

    Making money is not the problem. There are many ways that many people have made money on free software. Violating user freedoms is the problem.
  • Actually you are mistaken. Caldera puts a _lot_ of closed software in their base distribution. Their configuration tools, integrations tools, etc. If you use Caldera, it is _hard_ to be only using free software.

    You are also incorrect about the GPL. The GPL doesn't just require you to make the source available, it requires you to allow the binaries to be copied as many times as you want. This only applies to the GPL part of Caldera's distribution. They can put whatever license they want on their own binaries.

    Caldera is a mix of several different licenses, but to really use the distribution, you have to be using many non-free tools. For someone like me who values Linux for its freedom, this is totally unacceptable. This is why I always bought RedHat instead.
  • Actually, the corporate buyer _is_ RedHat's target market. Your corporation obviously either (a) has in-house support staff, or (b) doesn't care about support. In the case of (a), then RedHat doesn't have any additional value to pass on to you past the first copy they sell you. They recognize that, and do the moral thing and don't charge you for extra copies that _you_ create. In the case of (b), RedHat is more than happy to sell you support for your servers and workstations, and consult with you about how to better use free software to make your organization more productive.

    A large part of their revenue stream is from selling GnuPro to large corporations, who pay a lot of money for it ($200/seat, I think), all the while you can get the download the whole thing off the internet. They pay for it because the support is valuable.

    So, my two points - (1) If you do your own support, vendors don't give you any added value past the first copy. Moral vendors recognize this and don't continue charging. (2) For those without in-house support, vendors add continuing value through support.

    As for GNU, RMS used to make all his money selling emacs for $150/tape. Those people were definitely not making a donation - most of them didn't have access to the net.

    Anyway, all that to say, RH's target market _is_ the corporation, and they are doing a pretty good job making money there. And they do it without freedom-restricting licensing.
  • Where exactly can I find a GNU CD compiled for VAX? Or HPUX? Or Solaris? You are forgetting that GNU supports a number of architectures that may or may not compile right in the latest version of GNU. $5000 is not just copying a CD. It's building all the packages for bizarre architectures.
  • Actually, it is immoral. It is immoral to put up imaginary boundaries between people. It is immoral to place restrictions on sharing without good cause. I would find it immoral for me to purchase a lawnmower, and then come home and find that I can only use it on my lawn. Yes, it is the same as other licenses, because I can only use the CD I purchase on one computer. I could see it being at least reasonable to replace restrictions on copying CD's (even if it is not the _most_ moral way to go), however, preventing someone from using that machine on multiple computers is, especially when the agreement comes as a post-sale agreement (I've already bought it, but now I have to sign a contract to use it).

    Anyway, also don't get me wrong on my use of immoral. I'm not calling the people immoral people, any more than you or I are immoral. I can usually count at least 20-30 immoral things I do each day. I'm just trying to alert people to what they are doing, so that they can try to do better in the future. I'm not trying to claim any moral superiority, because, as the Apostle Paul said, "ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God", meaning that we all suck, and the differences between our suckinesses don't really amount to much.
  • Also, where can I get a deluxe distribution for _any_ architecture compiled with GCC 3.0?
  • I think you misunderstood my statement. I was correcting the poster who thought you could put restrictions on the binaries as long as the source was free. You also may have been misunderstanding what I meant by "their own binaries". I was meaning binaries of applications they had written themselves.
  • But that's the thing. They are selling convenience and knowledge. They know how to build it completely right, and they know all the funky compiler switches, and they ship it all together with printed documentation - meaning they print it for you.

    When you buy a computer from Dell or Gateway, do you consider it a donation because you could have built it yourself for $1000 cheaper?
  • Actually, the three posts were because I had three different thoughts at different times.

    The only imaginary boundary the GPL puts up is the "must distribute source" boundary, which, although I disagree with, I find that the rest of the license makes it the best option, because it prevents others from putting up imaginary boundaries.

    As for "good cause", I would say that _if_ no software would have been written without such boundaries, then _possibly_ they are useful. However, given the current state of free software, that is obviously not the case. There's also the question as to whether most software is really useful or not. Is there anything _useful_ MS Office does that emacs doesn't? Does page-designing _everything_ actually count as useful? I don't think so. Most software that I use on a daily basis is more pretty and interesting than useful. In fact, I would say that the current "I must have all new technology" syndrome is causing corporations to bleed out cash. Anyway, that's another rant for another day, though.

    Obviously, my morals are my opinion. Even when taking morality directly from the Bible, you still have interpretation to consider. So, eventually, much of morality not directly mentioned biblically is essentially opinion.

    As to the discussion of whether or not having contracts preventing sharing is moral or not, you can see a previous post of mine at

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=01/06/25/193 92 35&cid=243

  • I don't see property ownership as imaginary. I see intellectual property ownership as imaginary because I don't believe in Plato's theory of the forms, which leaves there to be nothing left to own.

    In reply to your other question, I would generally prefer no software at all. However, I have a general distaste for most software :)

    I might agree that if it was the only way to get the software written. But, obviously (by the current state of free software), it is not.
  • Thank goodness there are some actual thinkers out there! Usually I spend my time debunking common misconceptions from people who don't think things through. It's nice to have someone with actual good arguments for a change. I wish I could mod you up!

    Anyway, first off, you said - Users are free to choose a free product, or one that costs money. That's where the freedom thing really is

    First off, I'm going to assume that you meant to say "choose a free product or a proprietary one" because that actually makes the sentence make sense with the rest of the paragraph. However, you seem to imply in your first paragraph that free software zealots don't like people making money. I haven't seen but maybe one or two slashdotters who were upset that someone was making money, only that software was proprietary. Anyway, that's not the good part of your argument. I'll skip that because it was obviously not well thought out. The good part is this:

    I know you didn't mean to imply that users freely agreeing to MS's licensing terms and using their software was somehow violating their rights, right?

    Aha! An actual, worthwhile argument. You are saying that you don't think it's a violation of user rights for them to freely agree to MS's restricted licensing terms. That's quite a fair statement. Definitely not one that can be rebuked out-of-hand. Let me address at least a few issues related.

    First of all, not all licensing terms _can_ be freely agreed to. For example, in some states certain warrantees cannot be waived no matter how many papers the customer signs. Also, you can't sell yourself into slavery, and the like, no matter how many papers you sign. So, obviously, at least by current standards (which may or may not be valid), it is illegal to have contracts which the signer gives up too many rights. I would gather that the people who wrote these laws thought it immoral, too. I would have to agree, although I don't know where exactly to draw the lines. So, in general, I would say that you _can_ violate someone's rights even in contracts they freely agree to. We'll get back to whether or not it is the case here later.

    First, let's go over the "freely agreeing" part. When you buy software, is the license on the box? No. If I open the box, and see the license, and decide I don't like it, can I return it for a refund? Almost always - no. Personally, I have no moral problems with ignoring any post-sale contracts (I don't ignore them because of legal issues, however). I don't have any problem with lying to _my_ computer about anything. Being a programmer, that's actually how I make my living. I do think there's a difference between lying to my computer and lying to a remote computer, because then I'm ultimately lying to someone else. If I just lie to my computer I'm only lying to myself. Anyway, so the whole idea of post-sale contracts in my mind is completely bogus. Using them at all I think is totally wrong.

    Now, let's say instead of post-sale, someone decided to do the right thing and make the contracts pre-sale. Is it good now? Personally, I don't like _any_ contract where one side has no leverage. What I mean is that one side is dictating all of the terms, and the person bying can't even talk to the person who made the terms. However, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on that, considering how widespread the practice is.

    So, let's say they did pre-sale contracts. Is it good now? Well, I'll say it's better. I'm not sure whether or not it falls into the category of "rights that you shouldn't be allowed to give away", however, I think asking someone to do so without a _really_ good reaaon is morally questionable. It's morally questionable in the same way letting people who are bad with money own credit cards is morally questionable. Most users don't understand what they're giving up. Is it right to even ask that of someone? Maybe in some cases. In most, definitely not.

    So, I'll conclude by saying that if they made pre-sale rather than post-sale agreements it would be much better, but I still find that they force such limits on rights to be a very questionable practice.

    Anyway, I hope I answered your question. Sorry for being so verbose. It's late.

  • Gee, and I was thinking they meant comp.os.linux.announce!
  • Just because you've never looked to see what software Caldera has released to the community doesn't mean there isn't any. The first thing that comes to mind is a whole lot of Netware support stuff. Then there was DR DOS, which they forked to create the commercial OpenDOS. They're also serious about the LSB, have contributed code to Samba, and that's what's off the top of my head.

    Heaven forbid they create some admin and install tools, or maybe a really nice network browser they want to keep to themselves in order to be able to sell a polished product? They're not withholding kernel modifications or enhancements to, say, KDE itself. They can't. Those are GPLed.

    Where is it written (besides some new Microsoft EULAs) that GPL'ed tools can only be used to create GPL'ed software?

    Stallman's a swell guy and all, but some people program to make money. We can't all teach and give lectures for a living.
  • It is, in fact, just you. "Open" has nothing to do with whether or not you have to pay for it. If you'd RTF literature, you'd know that.

    Not that I support this, but if you're going to go off at least get the basics right. I think this particular action flies in the face of Bill Gates and his gang of idiots by showing just what can be done within the confines of the GPL.
  • The way RedHat is trying to turn a profit by selling subscriptions to its update services and things is acceptable. What Caldera is doing does not seem acceptable.

    They need to tie the licenses to some other criterion than the ability to use the software. They could tie it to a support contract and put in a clause that lets them sue for 150% of lost revenue if the person gets support and has more installations than licenses.

  • 3) What about the GPL? Well, what about it? Nothing Caldera is doing violates the GPL (at least, I can't prove it).
    Not without seeing the act ual license Caldera is going to use, no. Consider, however, the following excerpts from the GPL [fsf.org]:
    Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or collective works based on the Program.
    Caldera, in their reviewers guide [caldera.com], calls the Linux Kernel "the core of OpenLinux Workstation". Who can argue that something like that is not 'based on' (GPLed) Linux?

    (more from the GPL)

    You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein.
    So, Caldera sells a (modified, presumably) version of the Linux kernel (with some proprietary tools, to install it, etc).They then say 'you may only install this on a single system'.

    It seems to me this is clearly not allowed under the GPL. However, the above quote includes the word 'herein' - meaning in the GPL. The GPL specifically states:

    Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License;

    A strange situation occurs (based on the information I have now): Caldera disallows use of their softare on more than one system, but it does not disallow redistribution. Much like 'shareware' licenses, which allow free distribution of the software, but use is limited.

    Some people have argue that once you've obtained the software it's yours to do with as you please [cr.yp.to], but to redistribute the software (modified or not), you have to have permission from the copyright owner.

    I don't think Caldera's model can survive. It can only work if none of the copyright holders decide to sue Caldera, and they actually have a much better distribution (to compensate for the loss in goodwill).

    If this holds up, however, there is no longer any added value to the GPL versus some of the less restrictive licenses (BSD/MIT/X11 etc).

  • I think this will kill them, especially when people can choose SuSE, debain, RedHat, Slackware, and many other venders that aren't doing that. After all they are not that great a product and they are not in that much demand. Sure they may have a nice installer, but so does Mandrake, and the new Redhat anaconda is pretty nice as well.

    What will make someone buy Caldera over some other distro, after they do something like this?

    Is there ANY advantage of their version of Linux over lets say Mandrake (or any other)?

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

  • Funny, but not quite fair. Caldera has one of the more recommended NetWare interface tools. And Mars NWE is, appearantly, broken under Red Hat 7.1.

    Pity. I'd been thinking of buying a copy (of Caldera).

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • A) I think you're right.
    B) I don't like SuSE either. Mainly because of their proprietary installer. (But I never claimed I didn't think it was legal. Merely sleazy.)

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • And, at least for me, that was the only possible basis for preferring them.

    I bought one prior version of Linux from them for precisely that reason. But it didn't connect to the Novell server any more than Red Hat did. Or Mandrake. Or...

    There doesn't seem to be any software for connecting to a Netware network as a client, rather than as a server, that works. (Which, of course, really means that I've never gotten it to work.)

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • That's clearly overstating things. It's always preferable that your vendor remain in service, even when you do have alternatives. And especially when the alternatives are more expensive to you.

    Maintaining code yourself is generally more expensive than getting someone else to do it, especially if that someone else is a Linux distributor. So you loose a lot if your vendor sinks. You just don't loose (nearly) everything.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Ultimately this, like most other business things will get worked out by the marketplace. Would a company pay a per-seat license to install Caldera or would they prefer to pay for a support contract with RedHat and not worry about how many seats they have installed? What kind of support comes with that per-seat license?

    There's nothing wrong with them doing this at an ethical level. I mean as long as they follow the terms of the various licenses then it should be kosher. The only problem I see is that I can't imagine people paying per-seat unless it ends up being substantially cheaper than similar offerings from other companies who have simpler licensing schemes.


  • That's all well and good, but I'm not seeing any "freedom-restricting" practices here. Caldera is licensing their distribution _as_a_whole_ under per-seat terms, but every bit of free software included in the distribution is still under its own terms. This is no different than a free OS that restricts copying of ISO images (OpenBSD) or includes proprietary applications (SuSE, Redhat, etc).

    No, you can't burn a copy of the Caldera CD and give it to your friends. But you can give them all of the free parts inside...
  • Ho hum. Do you know anyone who actually paid $5000 for the Deluxe GNU Package, who didn't think that they were making a donation?

    Free Software is great! But it's not a salable item by itself. You can make people pay for the copies they get from you, but you can't make them pay for copies they get elsewhere.

    Caldera is a good case of this. They are targeting their distro towards corporations. Why should a corporation pay for a thousand copies of Caldera for their thousand workstations? We have about one hundred Redhat installs at my work, but only one copy of Redhat was ever purchased. That doesn't bother Redhat, though, because the corporate buyer isn't their target market.
  • ...but RedHat was more open (if not quite as good) and so RedHat got the market share (and the sales).

    Do you really believe that why Redhat got their marketshare? Really? Then why isn't Debian three times are big as Redhat? They're much more open than Redhat....
  • You missed the point. You are allowed to make OpenBSD ISO images. But you are NOT allowed to redistribute the Official OpenBSD ISO image. Yes, it does exist.

    The analogy with Caldera is similar (not exact, but similar). You can redistribute all of its parts. You just can redistribute the distribution as a whole.
  • They recognize that, and do the moral thing and don't charge you for extra copies that _you_ create.

    It's neither moral nor immoral. There is no moral difference between selling a software license allowing unlimited copying and one that only allows ten copies. Or one. So long as the customer is fully informed as to the status of the software ownership, there is no problem. That I find much more utility in Free Software than in proprietary is beside the point. Utility is not morality.

    As for GNU, RMS used to make all his money selling emacs for $150/tape.

    Anyone buying that tape today who thinks they're not making a donation? Back then the internet was no where near as prevalent as today. But that was then and this is now. When you can download the entire works of GNU for free plus a little time, or on CD from a variety of sources for only $2, how can you consider spending $5000 for it anything less than a donation? Even considering that the Deluxe edition comes with printed manuals, that's still not worth price when I can get the very same manuals from fatbrain for a fraction of that.
  • Man, three replies to the same post. I must have really upset you on that one :-)

    Actually, it is immoral.

    In your definition, maybe. In RMS' definition, certainly. But so what? Simply saying that something is immoral does not make it so. You need to give reasons why it is immoral (as opposed to merely uncouth, odd or different).

    It is immoral to put up imaginary boundaries between people.

    Then why the fudge is RMS putting up imaginary boundaries around his software! That's what the GPL, or any other license, is. A set of restrictions that define an imaginary boundary around a piece of information.

    It is immoral to place restrictions on sharing without good cause.

    I am restricting no one from sharing of their own properties by restricting how my property is to be used. By using and encouraging the use of copyrights through the use of the GPL and other free software licenses, RMS is emphatically asserting that software can and should be owned. Fine. I own my software. It is mine to do with as I please, including letting other people use it under a restricted set of conditions.

    However, some restrictions are immoral. The purchaser of software has indeed bought something, and that something is his property. But it isn't the information. It is the CD and the use of that information. I cannot restrict him from giving the CD to his friend and I cannot restrict him from using the information in ways that I disagree with. But that particular set of information that is my expression of speech does not belong to him.

    I would find it immoral for me to purchase a lawnmower, and then come home and find that I can only use it on my lawn.

    If you were not made aware of the restrictions on the use of that lawnmower at the time of purchase, then yes, it would definitely be immoral, because it would constitute fraud. But if you were aware of those restrictions, and bought it anyway, you first have to blame yourself before you blame the seller. The seller may or may not be immoral for selling you such a restricted lawnmower, but the blame still falls upon you.

    If you don't like the terms of the software license, don't buy the software. Period. Don't buy CDs that you can only use on one computer if that's not what you want!

    ...especially when the agreement comes as a post-sale agreement (I've already bought it, but now I have to sign a contract to use it).

    I absolutely agree with you here. I think shrink-wrap licenses and other similar items are very immoral. They are immoral because they are fraudulent. But don't extend the immorality of a few software manufacturers to cover all of them.

    "ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God"

    Certainly. As a Christian I wholeheartedly agree. But I still see no reason to go out and invent new sins.

    RMS and the FSF have invented new sins. Yes, it is a sin not to share. But sharing does not mean giving everything you own away. And that's what RMS wants, for me to give away every single byte of software that I write. It's good to give money to the poor, but it is not a sin to fail to give every cent you own to the poor.

    When I get home from work I write my own software on my own time. I do not need this software to live on. It is my "surplus" so I freely give it away. I use the BSD license so that there are as few restrictions as possible on it. But somehow that isn't good enough for many GPL advocates. They want me to place additional restrictions on my code.
  • Every piece of Linux software (free or proprietary) runs without major issues on RedHat.

    I guess you've never tried to run Star Office on Red Hat 7.1, or any PHP apps for that matter, or anything that requires Python > 1.5.2 (a ridiculously old version).

    I'm pretty sure Caldera at least tested one of the most sought after Linux apps on their distribution where Red Hat apparently didn't.

    I'm not defending Caldera's per-seat licensing but I can understand where they add value: Webmin, desktop support, Novell integration (a big one I must say), etc.

    Mainly, however, I'm constantly annoyed by mindless Red Hat flag-waving. Not all of us use Red Hat and not all of us develop or test for it. There's a lot of software out there that runs far better on Debian, Slackware and SuSE, which are all more sanely put together (IMO). I don't use Caldera either, in case you were wondering.
  • Check out the forums on sun.com. A *lot* of people are having major troubles, such as total crashing. SysRq keys won't work either.

    According to Sun, they currently do not support running it under Linux 2.4, despite the fact that it runs happily on my 2.4.5 box here.

    Just after I posted that message, I got a gut feeling and found that the problem was with certain XFree86 4 drivers. There is an environment variable you can set so that Star Office avoids certain X operations.

    That will certainly make half of the developers at work happy, as they won't have to downgrade to 6.2... A horrible thought.

    I still hate the broken PHP and the ridiculously old Python (I have a feeling that they did that so they wouldn't have to update their Python tools)
  • You missed the point. You are allowed to make OpenBSD ISO images. But you are NOT allowed to redistribute the Official OpenBSD ISO image. Yes, it does exist.

    This would be tradmark infringement.
  • These competitors are not requiring site by site licenses for their products which are, for all intents and purposes, the exact same product as Caldera's.

    Except that Caldera is charging a per seat licence. Which has a greater effect on TCO than a site licence.
    With a site licence it is simply a case of buy it once, no need for additional administration to ensure you have enough licences.
  • Linux IS NOT ABOUT A BUSINESS PLAN OR TURNING A PROFIT. Please drill this into your respective heads. Free Software is not about business. It may be wonderful for businesses, it may allow people to make money, but that is not the core focus.

    A "business plan" is just that, a plan for creating and operating a business. If a business has a good plan they make more profit, if they have a bad one they cease to exist.
    The problem for Caldera is that they appear to have chosen to apply a business model which can only work for proprietary software to open source software.
    Something which makes as much sense as running a passenger airline as though it is a trucking company.

    The fact that Caldera chose to base their business on Free Software and then complain later that it's impossible to make money that way is simply a demonstration of the short-sightedness of their management.

    Or that their business model was flawed. Putting the blame of "free software" is a case of the bad workman blaming their tools.
  • by mpe ( 36238 )
    Requiring a COLA per workstation will, IMHO, greatly increase productivity and worker satisfaction.

    One per workstation won't help that much. They'd need something more like a 4 litre per day, per workstaion supply :)
  • A strange situation occurs (based on the information I have now): Caldera disallows use of their softare on more than one system, but it does not disallow redistribution. Much like 'shareware' licenses, which allow free distribution of the software, but use is limited.

    The critical issue must be what is "their software". Especially since they operate in the US where "derived works" are copyright of the original author.
    So only stuff written entirely from scratch would appear to be coverable by such a licence. Otherwise they can be had up for copyright infringement...
  • whip up my own Linux distribution. I'll call it Lap-Linux. Everything that comes on the CD is licsnsed under the GPL, except for one item: the installer. I provide all the sources, for the GPL'ed items on the CD, and they are accessible without installing the system. Now my installer has the alleged behavior of Windows XP. It scans the system, calls home, and allows one install on one machine. My licensing reflects this. If I built my installer from scratch, using only my code, I have the right to do this.

    However your installer licence only applied to the installer if you attempt to imply that your licence applies to the whole entity then you are at best being unethical.
    If you claim that your licence applies to the lot then your are enguaging in both fraud and copyright infringement.
  • They are pulling a Microsoft... Taking GPL code that they didn't alone develop, adding proprietary crap to it, and using the existance of their proprietary "extensions" to deny redistribution rights, or even the ability to use it YOURSELF, in what manner you see fit...

    In other words "viral licencing"...

    Per seat licenses for a GNU GPL licensed OS would seem to me to be illegal.

    Fraud and copyright infringement more specifically.
  • How is a Linux distribution company supposed to turn a profit if a 1,000 person company buys one license and installs it on 1,000 workstations?

    They ensure that the price they charge for goods and services is higher than whatever it actually costs them to provide them.

    Should we come up with a GPL II that forbids the inclusion of the program in question on any per-seat licensed OS?

    The GPL already forbids relicencing further the DMCA gives the copyright owner the rights to control distribution. In order to be legal Caldera would need the agreement of all the copyright holders.
  • Yes, but as a customer I don't _care_ about my vendor's profitability.

    Exactly and all too often in the last couple of years we have seen all sorts of nonsense about a customer being somehow obliged to ensure a supplier's business model works.

    Caldera's value-add stuff does NOT necessarily qualify,

    Also "value added" is very much a subjective criteria. It could just as easily translate to "expensive junk addons". If the customer needs some feature then it has value, if they don't then the same feature can have no value (even negative value.)
  • The viable (and ethical) business plan is to charge for new development, maintenance, and support (of software you or someone else wrote, doesn't matter). It is not to charge for each copy of software you've already written, and certainly not to charge for each copy of somebody else's software.

    Creating a distribution of software or a physical media copy is actually a "service" rather than "selling a copy". But it's a service where you cannot charge too much...
  • It's been a long time since I've messed with it, but it seems that Caldera is intended not for hackers, but for corporate desktops and servers,

    Exactly the sort of situation where per desktop licences are most likely to be unwelcome.
  • Sun does not seem inclined to police their customers, as long as they are still buying Sun hardware.

    That's probably because selling hardware is the major point of Sun's business. With the software being an "add on" they need to provide.
  • How much more effort does it take to allow more user per system? NONE! So, why charge for it?

    This has been going on for quite a while. e.g. Netware server licences where the only difference is a variable, the code is identical. A concept which Microsoft copied and extended with Windows NT.

    When NT came out on some Comdex, they had two "Systems" - server and client. I thought: utter bull! Multi tasking = multi user, the OS is the same, just scam the world into thinking they are different and charge...

    As well as having a server which drags stuff only really needed for a workstation around with it...
  • News flash 2: Per-seat licenses are a way of making money.

    Only where no competitor does not do this. Otherwise they are a great way of having fewer customers.
  • You do have a freedom to make money.

    Actually in a free society a business has the freedom to attempt to make money. Only in some kind of socialist society would businesses have the right to make money.
  • by mpe ( 36238 )
    The GPL does not (cannot in fact) cover other pieces of software you happen to ship on the same CD.

    Nor can the licences for other software shipped with CPL software cover the GPL software. Which is more the issue here.
  • Er, I think a distro is more akin to a database - the individual elements may well be free, but the compilation is protected. Same thing here - the distro layout is protected, but anyone can take the GPL elements and reuse them at will. Just don't copy the layout (or the non-GPL software)

    You couldn't apply GPL to a distribution which contained proprietary software what makes you think that it should apply the other way around? Also I doubt even in the USA you can copyright a layout where there are only a few possible ways to do it. Otherwise who ever owned the copyright on the idea of an index in a book would be very rich.
  • No the hang up there was not the hangup with Debian is that Debian does not put "non-free" software in main and the KDE people did not want to put it in non-free.

    You just made that up. Read Debian's official stance on the (previous) situation [debian.org]. Note:

    However, the GPL insists that you grant the right to modify the complete source of a program distributed under its terms, which is clearly in conflict with Qt's licence conditions. [...] So, we have been denied the right to ``distribute the Program at all''. (emphasis added)

    It is fine to distribute GPLed and non-free software together just fine.

    There you're correct. The issue for Debian is that they were linked together, which is a whole 'nother story.

  • Raise your hands if you use Caldera as your desktop. Yeah... thought so.

    I've said it before, I'll say it again, I even said it in Random's conference room in Utah:

    Caldera is run by fucking idiots.

    - - - - -
  • Not only do I agree with you, but I think that this is a good thing. If you don't like Caldera, then don't use it. If you don't like the licensing terms, then don't use it. There are a gazillion other choices out there, and Caldera is now in the unenviable position of having to maintain huge parts of their code completely seperate from the community and with fewer users because of their licensing restrictions.

    However, this is a good thing! In the very least it gives a no-brainer, one-liner counter-example to the rantings of some lunatics [microsoft.com] about whether or not proprietary code can be integrated with GPL'd code. This is so simple that even PHB's will be able to get this. It'll work like this:

    Lunatics: Linux is bad for your biz because you forces you to open up your proprietary code.

    PHB: Holy Schnikies!
    LinuxGeek: It's not true, and I can prove it. Caldera does proprietary linux with licenses similar to the Lunatics, and no one is suing them, even though everyone knows about it.
    PHB: Hey, you mean the lunatics are lieing to me?
    End of discussion

    Personally, I think it's really dumb for Caldera to be doing this, but I'm glad they're doing it, and not Red Hat.

  • by yellowstone ( 62484 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @01:42PM (#129201) Homepage Journal
    It seems the only method of making money the FSF considers acceptable is requesting donations.
    Well, why not? It works for pbs...
    [root@localhost]# gcc my-31337-code.c
    Wow, that's a really great compile! We'll be right back for the assembler and linker, but first, wouldn't you like to make a donation to the FSF (Y/n)?

  • I love how idiot trolls on /. assume that everyone else has exactly the same opinion, and then criticize the Slashdot "collective" for disagreeing with itself.

    (The parent poster doesn't understand the GPL, incidentally.)
  • Well, first of all, _nobody_ drives anybody to purchase Caldera's flavour of Linux. People buy it because it comes with the best support, best installation, best choice of packages or w h a t e v e r.

    Actually, based on my own experience with Caldera as my first Linux distro, people buy it because it comes with none of the above and they don't know any better.

  • Can anyone comment on Caldera's returns to the community?

    Yes. There aren't any.

    Whenever they develop something for Linux, they keep it to themselves. How could they convince people to buy their distro if it didn't come with Proprietary Fubarmatic 2.0?

  • by PurpleBob ( 63566 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @01:48PM (#129205)
    No, but asking people to pay for the low-quality proprietary crapware that Caldera shovels into their distro (just to make you think there's some benefit to buying the non-free version from them) is.

    One of the main selling points of Caldera 2.2 was that it came with PartitionMagic. I was new to Linux, and I fell for it, not realizing that RedHat already had a partitioning tool then. And it turned out to be a really cut-down "PartitionMagic Lite" which had very little in common with PartitionMagic except the logo, and would do nothing but create a Linux partition of one of three specified sizes, and faced with my hard disk which already had 3 Windows partitions, it even failed at that.

    Oh yeah, it also came with the proprietary WordPerfect 8, but that was free for download anyway. And it had this amazing "Caldera Open Administration System" which was kind of like linuxconf, except it didn't work, and wouldn't tell you what it was attempting to do.
  • The article says that OpenLinux Workstation contains "proprietary" material. From what I've seen, it's nothing that adds any true value to the system.

    Therefore, now that Caldera has made anti-consumer policies their official stance, I would recommend just getting it from linuxiso.org or better yet, get Debian (with a support contract from Progeny if needed), instead.
  • Technically, RedHat is making money from Linux, and they're not charging per-seat on the software.

    No fence sitting there...

  • That's why I said "technically" - according to the rules of the market, they made a profit, which is still remarkable considering the economy, the total disruption of the tech sector, where Redhat came from, what Redhat sells, etc.

  • asking people to pay for things is "anti-consumer"?
  • The GPL (if you'd read it before commenting like you understand it) states that source code to GPL'd apps must be made available to any who want it

    Actually, it says that it must be provided for no additional or only nominal charge to people to whom the binaries are provided. It sets no limit on charges for the binaries and sets no requirement that it be provided to non-customers.

    If you want to charge $9999999 for your linux distribution, you can. You need not provide sources to anyone but your customers.

    Granted, however, that since your customers can redistribute it once they have it, that might not be a good business model. However if you can make just one sale, maybe that would be enough...

  • The first sentence in the article renders the rest of the article, and Caldera's plans, moot:

    Caldera has changed the license on its OpenLinux Workstation product for the newest version (3.1) to require one license per system the distribution is installed on.

    I don't need to read the rest, but I imagine it goes on to describe the certificates of authenticity, and some specifics of the EULA, and probably some kind of disclaimer that while Linux is GPL, Caldera adds proprietary software that justifies the new license, and blah blah blah.

    But it doesn't matter, all that matters is the bullet in the foot, which will prove to be a fatal wound, making the rest of the happy horse shit irrelevant.

  • It doesn't matter that they're trying to turn a profit. What does matter is that they're doing it in about as foolish a way possible (short of selling subscriptions a la MS). If they're trying to turn profit, alienating your core constituency is not the way to do it! It's simple marketing, and Caldera seems to have forgotten it.

    They also seem to have forgotten the fact that they have a bunch of major competitors, most notably Redhat, Mandrake, and SuSE, who would probably love to soak up Caldera's share of the Linux market, both present and future. These competitors are not requiring site by site licenses for their products which are, for all intents and purposes, the exact same product as Caldera's. This is a lot like charging more for the store brand, which is suicide.

    If Caldera wants to turn a profit they should really rethink this move and try and take a cue from Redhat. Brand some stuff like a database as your own. Don't restrict your core products, but provide services like the Redhat network. Help the community (Caldera already does this with Webmin) and don't try and alienate the people who are your best friends.

    "I may not have morals, but I have standards."
  • by Arker ( 91948 )

    There isn't any ethical or legal problem with this at all. Their products are proprietary add-ons and services, it's hardly different in kind to what RedHat does. When they modify GPL code, they are obliged to GPL the mods. When they write their own code from scratch, they are not. There is no requirement that proprietary programs be GPLd to run under a GPL OS (ever heard of Oracle?)

    Bottom line, as long as they comply with the terms of the GPL when it comes to GPL code, they can put whatever license they want on their own. There might be a minor nitpick if their license doesn't make it clear that it only applies to their proprietary programs, not the OS as a whole, I'll grant, but if that is the case it will be easily fixed. There was a similar flap awhile back about Corel's license, and it didn't turn out to be any big deal, I recall.

    I wonder when RMS will spout on this... IMO, this is FAR worse than the KDE/QT controversy, and it'd be hypocritical of him to not condemn it.

    First off the KDE/QT deal was a totally different issue. KDE was making Free, not proprietary software, yet they were using a library with a license incompatible with the license of their own software. Much more serious problem. Fortunately that one got fixed, though it wasn't easy, and for all the flaming certain immature individuals gave RMS over it, they should be thanking him - if he hadn't raised a stink KDE might still be in a legal limbo, and QT unfree.

    RMS is no fan of Caldera, in fact he has expressed [linuxtoday.com] what could only be termed contempt for CEO Ransom Love in particular. But I'll be surprised if he loses his objectivity on this issue. If they need to clarify the wording of their license, that's fine, that's not the end of the world, and the FSF has always worked to resolve these little bumps quickly and quietly in the past. The GPL is not, and was explicitly never intended to be, anti-business. It's designed to allow writers of Free Software to share code without fear of their code being proprietarised (the major weakness of the BSD license.)

    See this entry [gnu.org] in the GPL FAQ. Calderas proprietary products are aggregated, not integrated, and as long as that is so, they can license them under any terms they wish.

    "That old saw about the early bird just goes to show that the worm should have stayed in bed."
  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @02:25PM (#129227) Homepage

    Is there ANY advantage of their version of Linux over lets say Mandrake (or any other)?

    Yes, actually there is. Remember the roots of Caldera are in Novell. Novell is still deeply rooted in many companies - and for good reason. For many, it combines the best of NT (ease of use) and Unix (power, speed, reliability.)

    For companies with millions invested in Novell systems, the advantages of Linux are offset by the learning curve and the difficulties in integrating it into their existing systems. Caldera is a godsend for those companies, and they aren't going to even blink at these licensing fees. A lot of Calderas work is available under the GPL, yes, and it's quite possible to take any other distribution and integrate it perfectly into a Novell network - but it still isn't the easiest thing to do. Pay Caldera and they do the work for you. You get a system that is "plug and play" for that environment, instead of one that can be hacked into shape for it, and you get topnotch support from people that know both linux and novell inside and out.

    I don't expect Caldera to ever get much mindshare out of the hacker set (excepting the ones they pay) however it has always been very attractive for enterprises that use novell and need a linux system that will fit into their existing network with minimal fuss. And, I repeat, those customers aren't going to blink at the licensing fees. It's still far more attractive than the alternatives to them, and it's a drop in the bucket compared to what they are used to paying anyway.

    This was probably a very good decision for Caldera - the only people that it's going to bother are the ones that weren't going to be their customers anyway. And I'm sure they can use the revenue.

    "That old saw about the early bird just goes to show that the worm should have stayed in bed."
  • If you claim that your licence applies to the lot then your are enguaging in both fraud and copyright infringement.

    Er, I think a distro is more akin to a database - the individual elements may well be free, but the compilation is protected. Same thing here - the distro layout is protected, but anyone can take the GPL elements and reuse them at will. Just don't copy the layout (or the non-GPL software)

  • ..does doing this violate whatever licenses the Open Source software their distro is based on?

    The primary benefit of the GNU General Public License [fsf.org] is that consumers of software have no distribution restrictions that prevent them from sharing software. I point particularly to
    You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance.
    Now the question is whether their distro being merely a conglomeration of proprietary and Open Source software is immune from the above requirement of the GPL or whether they must specifically exclude GPL-based portions of their distro from their per-seat license. Interesting indeed.

  • After a quick skim, it appears that the entire distribution is covered. Of course, they can't keep anyone from redistributing the GPL'ed portions, and I don't think they're trying. They point out that they have some proprietary stuff, and some other non-GPL'ed stuff:

    Although OpenLinux Workstation contains the Linux kernel and a variety of open source software, there are a wide variety of licenses, each with different distribution restrictions Additionally, Caldera includes some of its own proprietary software as well as other Copyrighted material." (Quoted from this [linuxtoday.com] on LinuxToday)

    So what's it all mean? This shows pretty conclusively that you can indeed build a proprietary product on top of Linux. If they've done it right, they'll show that you can do it without getting tripped up the the GPL. Nyah nyah MS. Whether they can sell it is another question. I wish them luck.

    I think that MS has pretty well made a fool of its collective self with the GPL=cancer nonsense. This kind of thing can only help point up the essential absurdity of that position.

  • Why, how DARE they even THINK about charging people! They're using Open Source products and tools, and therefore they should be GIVING THEM away for FREE! Why, the only thing they could be doing that would be worse than this, I think, would be using advertising [slashdot.org] on top of the product that other people put together. Idiot. You do realize that the FSF used to sell their stuff too, right?
  • Is their proprietary stuff derivatie of GPL work? Probably not.
    Doesn't bloody matter, mate. I could go download the Linux kernel right now, do a bulk replace of 'linux' with 'SuiteSisterMarix' and sell it to you for 1 MILLION doll-ars. But because it's derived from the GPL, the ONLY thing I couldn't do would be to prevent you from turning around and giving it away for free, or whatever you want. You could replace 'SuiteSisterMarix' with "Laplix" and sell it yourself, if you wanted.
  • by big.ears ( 136789 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @01:03PM (#129244) Homepage
    Does anyone else find it amusingly coincidental, perhaps even ironic, that this Microsoft-inspired license is debuting in version 3.1?

    (Depending upon how you look at it, Windows 3.1 was either the end of DOS or the beginning of universal GUI for intel-platform computers. Either way, it was a true milestone in computer history.)

  • by Laplace ( 143876 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @01:31PM (#129249)
    It seems like there is a lot of misunderstanding about what Caldera is doing, what they want to acomplish, and if what they are doing is even allowed by the GPL. I'll touch on every one of those issues.

    1) They want to charge liscensing fees for their software. They are putting a whole bunch of code they they developed onto a CD and selling it under some sort of single desktop license. Good for them. Why?

    2) They want to make money. One way to make money off of software is by selling licenses. Nearly every player in the software world does this. There is nothing wrong with it. If you don't want to buy it then don't buy it. There is no need to get your panties in a twirl. But you say. . .

    3) What about the GPL? Well, what about it? Nothing Caldera is doing violates the GPL (at least, I can't prove it). Is their proprietary stuff derivatie of GPL work? Probably not. Are they restricting your freedoms as guaranteed by the GPL? On GPL'd software, probably not. Remember, they only need to make the source available for you, as well as any changes they have made to it. If they do that, they have lived up to their end of the bargain. You can take the source off their CD, repackage it, roll around in printouts of it naked, so on and so forth.

    This certainly isn't new. Take a look at the SuSE license. You can make copies of SuSE's proprietary code and give it to all of your friends. The moment you try to sell copied ISO's, SuSE legal will come down on you like the hammer of god (ok, maybe not that hard). They are out there to make money. They produce value added software and sell it (along with service). It's common, and not anything to get excited about.

    The great thing about the I86 computing world is that you have a choice. You can choose Red Hat, Debian, Caldera, FreeBSD, Windows 2000. . .anything that you want! If you like Caldera (I tried it, didn't like it), good for you. Use it. If you don't like their politics, good for you. Don't use it.

  • by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @12:51PM (#129255) Homepage Journal
    Caldera expects each customer to have a COLA for each system that deploys OpenLinux Workstation.

    ..but I just want water..

  • by SquadBoy ( 167263 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @01:01PM (#129258) Homepage Journal
    No the hang up there was not the hangup with Debian is that Debian does not put "non-free" software in main and the KDE people did not want to put it in non-free. It is fine to distribute GPLed and non-free software together just fine.
    The main chunk of "proprietary" software that they are talking about here is the code to make it work well with Novell and a couple of admin tools and some stuff they got when they bought SCO. None of which has any real analog that is GPLed. So no that is not the problem.
    So it is natural that Ransom would do this and udner the terms seems legal as well. BTW I go to a LUG with most of the Caldera developers and not one of them agree with this. But it is about the only Linux job in town. :(
  • by The Gline ( 173269 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @12:51PM (#129261) Homepage
    The open-source community typically shies away from any really serious, challenging discussion of turning a profit from products like Linux.

    Let's face it: people do not run a company [like, oh, RedHat or Caldera] because they are philanthropists. They do it because they want to make money.

    So someone comes up with a way to do that, and suddenly people are squirming. I'm not objecting to the licensing per se, but rather to the "Gee... I dunno" reaction.

    Either you can make money from Linux or you can't, but enough fence-sitting.
  • The open-source community typically shies away from any really serious, challenging discussion of turning a profit from products like Linux.

    Hmmm. No. I disagree. The open source community shies away from discussing making a profit on licensing Linux. There is a world of difference.

    Red Hat, SuSE, and most of the other Linux distributors are trying to make money, but the very nature of Linux prevents one from making money off the licensing of the software-- anyone can undersell. In this way, Linux approaches perfect competition in the market place but that does not bode well for the developers themselves.

    Instead, these companies are usually at their core consulting companies. They offer their distributions as a means of ensuring quality of service and efficiency in their consulting services. This is the fundamental role of the Linux distributions in most of these companies' business models.

    Caldera has allways approached this industry as if it were a proprietary software industry, so they have always oversold their competitors, bundled it with proprietary system software like X servers, etc. in order to try to prevent further distribution of their software... I wonder if they will ever get it.

  • Call this flamebait if you wish but read the whole point FIRST please

    I guess theoretically they can do it, although it sure feels wrong somehow

    Call me to task if I'm wrong, but when you take the viewpoint that it is wrong for a company to do EXACTLY what is permitted under an "open" license, you are stepping very close to the "It has been EXPOSED, it is now infected with open code" viewpoint that Ballmer suggested.

    BTW, I believe that BOTH Taco and Ballmer are wrong, but their motives for WHY are different.

  • by return 42 ( 459012 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @01:37PM (#129342)
    The open-source community typically shies away from any really serious, challenging discussion of turning a profit from products like Linux.

    How many hackers do you know who have the slightest interest in business? Certainly Linus didn't. He didn't GPL Linux because he thought it would make a great commercial product. Nor did he do it out of philanthropy. He did it because he thought it was cool and wanted to share it with other people.

    I think a lot of hackers would agree with me when I say that I don't give a rat's ass if anyone makes a cent from Linux. It's not a product, and I don't need anyone to sell it to me.

    They do it because they want to make money.

    How much money do you think Caldera will make this way? Offhand I'd guess it will put them in Chapter 11 within six months. They forgot a little, basic rule of marketing: do not piss off your customers unless you have a monopoly. Microsoft can get away with this kind of thing because only they can sell Windows. Caldera has lots of competitors, and it just did them a big favor.

  • by return 42 ( 459012 ) on Monday June 25, 2001 @01:23PM (#129343)
    ...they have a bunch of major competitors, most notably Redhat, Mandrake, and SuSE, who would probably love to soak up Caldera's share of the Linux market...

    At Red Hat HQ:

    Salesman: Hey Bob! We did it! We got Caldera's entire market share!

    Bob Young: We did? That's great!

    Salesman: Yep! All five of them!

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle