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GNU is Not Unix

Four New Open Source Licenses 117

Russ Nelson writes "OSI has approved four new Open Source licenses. The X.Net is BSD with jurisdiction specified (note that RMS says that the GPL is not compatible with such licenses,) the New Artistic, currently that used by Perl (one paragraph added), the Sun Public License is Mozilla 1.1 with minor differences, and the Eiffel Forum License. We also modified the rationale for Open Source Definition clause 9 to remove the word "contaminate" referring to the action of the GPL."
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Four New Open Source Licenses

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  • Who cares if the OSI deigns to bless this or that license? Each license stands on its merits, regardless. As either a developer, or a user, it's the license itself you should be concerned about. This is just the pompous posturing of a self-proclaimed wanna-be authority: "I DEFINE blah blah blah, and so it is done". Phgfftht.

    • You're quite right, you should always be concerned about the license itself. All that we do is tell people that a license grants a certain number of specific freedoms. That's all, but it's still worth doing.
      -russ
      • I appreciate your calm rhetoric. I'm a little acerbic sometimes. I apologize.

        I appreciate the OSI providing a repository for licenses, and some comparitive analysis. But I think that function would be better served by an organization that did not exclude certain licenses. The distinction of a license being declared "open" by the OSI really doesn't mean anything to me.
        • Apology accepted. So what criteria do you require of a license which makes our approval meaningless to you? Is there something missing from the OSD [opensource.org]?
          -russ
          • So what criteria do you require of a license which makes our approval meaningless to you?

            Well, as my sig subtly suggests, I personlly favor the GPL. That said, I also favor choice. I think that it is the developer's perogative to choose any license he or she chooses, up to and including the most restrictive proprietary licenses. Good licenses, like good code, should stand on their merits.

            Your question is somewhat difficult to answer, because I already know what license I personally prefer. I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of someone who doesn't know what license to use. In that case, I think it's more useful to be able to review the panoply of available licenses, rather than a select few. I feel like the terms "open" or "open source" tend to confuse matters somewhat, because even among those licenses that qualify (according to the OSD), there can be vast differences.

            Generalizations can be useful, but they can also be misleading. All "open source" licenses are not alike. For those about to enter the muck, I think this categorization might confuse more than enlighten. If I were starting from scratch, I would prefer to see an unbiased (ha;) collection/comparison of any/all available licenses, not just a clubbish few.
            • Well, but what if you want to lift some software and put it into a GPL'ed package? You should at least start by restricting your search to OSI Certified Open Source, eh? I understand that you're only going to use the GPL for your own software, yes. But that doesn't make our approval meaningless.
              -russ
    • It just means that people more knowledgable than I am have scrutinized the license, and decided it has certain properties.
    • Who cares that you don't care? Each person's opinions stand on their own merits, regardless. As either a developer, or a user, we can listen to anybody's opinions we want, and factor then in as we see fit. This is just the pompous posturing of a self-proclaimed wanna-be authority: "I SAY blah blah blah, and so it is true". Phgfftht.
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Friday September 21, 2001 @09:09AM (#2329355) Homepage

    With this many licenses around its getting a bit silly. A friend of mine runs the Scope HMVC project Scope [sourceforge.net] over at Sourceforge and had to change the license slightly so as to enable work to pay him to do it. As more and more licenses come on board it just means more work for the lawyers. Isn't it time that there was a dynamic Open Source license which had a series of checkboxes that dumped out the license appropriate to your project at the end of it.

    This is meant to be high tech, but our foundations are still paper.
    • I agree, it's getting out of hand umpteen hundred licenses all with similar intent but different semantics. The day when it takes longer to decide which license to choose instead of which project to work on is the day when people stop having fun and stop scratching itches.
      • This is indeed worrisome, but some proliferation of licenses is necessary.

        For example:

        I was "around" (reading the mailing lists) when the Eiffel Forum License was created. Because of the nature of OO software development, it was felt that existing licenses (such as the LGPL) would not be appropriate. I don't recall all the discussions, but there were some good reasons why people didn't want to use the existing ones.

        This is the "downside" to freedom; everyone tends to go off in their own direction. Of course M$ and the other industry players would be glad to consolidate end-user licenses down to just one. That would make things very simple... but not desirable or pleasant.

    • It does seem to be a bit much. OSI's list of approved licences [opensource.org] is now at 26. In a few years, it may take longer to figure out which licence to use than to actually write the code itself!

      I think that a Dynamic Open Source License (DOSI) could solve a lot of problems, but if not done right it could also turn into an unwieldy mess (imagine filtering through ten or twenty pages whorth of checkboxes).

      But then again, I am an idiot, and really have .no idea what I'm talking about 99.999% of the time,
      • It does seem to be a bit much. OSI's list of approved licences [opensource.org] is now at 26. In a few years, it may take longer to figure out which licence to use than to actually write the code itself!

        OSI has recently instituted new rules for submitting new licenses. One new rule is that the submitter must state what existing license it is closest to, and why the license is inappropriate.

        Hang out at license-discuss at opensource.org for a while. You'll find that the community does a very good job of weeding out the cruft, and that quite a few new license submitters have been persuaded to use and existing license instead.

        But there is one big problem looming, which the OSI is working on right now. And that is someone wanting to use an existing license, but with the trivial change of using their own name instead of the license's name. For example, the Apache License is very appropriate for many projects, except that it specifies the Apache Project and Developers. What is needed is a set of license "templates". An example of a license "template" is the BSD license as presented at www.opensource.org.

        p.s. Do you really think that the OSI is approving too many licenses? Have you checked at the FSF to see how many free licenses they have approved? I count FORTY!
    • With this many licenses around its getting a bit silly.

      I think they realize that -- whenever the OSI/ex-OSI figures speak on a panel, they always emphasize that there are now enough licenses out there that an existing one will work for just about anyone, and discourage new ones as unnecessary and confusing.

      It's always good for a laugh when an OSI board member attacks license proliferation, without the slightest recognition that that's largely what the organization was founded to facilitate.

      • I think that, if you listen carefully, we discourage unnecessary license proliferation. On the other hand, we can't NOT approve a license if it meets our requirements.

        Is the picture referenced in your signature for real or is it edited??? Hard to believe that people could be that unconscious.
        -russ
    • At first glance, I certainly agree with you.

      But there are three problems with your agrument:

      • The licenses have yet to stand the test of time
      • Competition is good
      • A license designed by checkboxes is still standard
      Let me elaborate. Over time, the poorer licenses will stop being used, therefore lowering the number of licenses in your pool of "too many", making less work for lawyers, and a higher quality of acceptable licenses for the public to use.

      Simple free market -- and evolutionary -- thinking: advances do not come to fruition in a timely manner when there are only one or two main competitors. If someone wants a different license, they have the right to use it, or make up one suited for their particular project from scratch. Conclusion: multiple, conflicting licenses are healthy.

      Lastly, your idea of a "dynamic" open source license has a few major flaws (which, if they could be worked out, would make your idea incredibly feasible). Most contracts, and licenses, only work to protect the parties involved when the document is taken as a whole, and one clause from one section reinforces another clause from another section. By mixing and matching sections, you could easily lose this reinforcement, making your license full of loopholes or "ambiguous" terms. You would not believe how many cases are in arbitration over "ambiguous" clauses in contracts. You must avoid this problem at all costs, but I cannot see a way around this problem, without having to pay a lawyer to sit there, go over your custom contract by hand, and fine-tune it for your project. Your idea provides a baseline contract to work with, and could save people large ammounts of money in legal fees if they needed a custom contract, but would not work well for the individual developer.

    • > Isn't it time that there was a dynamic Open Source license which
      >had a series of checkboxes that dumped out the license appropriate
      >to your project at the end of it


      The Raptor licenses do that. Noone uses them (ok, and if I'd put them all in one place it might help :)


      Roughly as follows. Add up the clauses used to specify a license as "Raptor n"


      Section 0:
      You may do anything you damned well feel like with this source code, save as restricted under later clauses.


      Section 1:
      Any derived work must retain the copyright notices contained herein.


      Section 2:
      Any derived work must be under this license.


      Section 4:
      You must make the source code available in the same manner as the binary distribution for no more than duplication and shipping costs.


      Section 8:
      No derived work may link to any code not assimilible by this license.


      Section 16:
      No derivative work may be released under a license which restricts the ability to combine software under differing licenses in any manner.


      Section 32:
      Any distributions of source code or binaries must be made without modification: all modifications must be patches to source code unless written permission is obtained from the copyright holder.


      Section 64:
      No modified version may be distributed under the same name as this software.


      Section 128:
      Any advertising or packaging for this product must contain the acknowledgement
      "RMS is a nunu-head" [phrase will vary]


      Section 256:
      The authors have realized that their actions conflicted with the terms stated in the original license. The original license was Raptor [number], while the correct and binding license is Raptor [number] with the following additional provisions
      [provisions]


      Section 512:
      Changes to this license may be made by the following entities in the following manner:
      [governance terms]


      Notes:
      Raptor 0 is all but public domain (it doesn't assign the copyright).


      Raptor 1 is pretty much BSD/X


      The GPL is pretty close to Raptor 15.


      Clause 16 is a poison pill to prevent assimilation by the GPL for those who object to its proprty of only taking code from other licenses but not sharing back.


      32 is Pine-ish


      64 is Artistic License-ish


      128 is old BSD


      256 is for situations such as where software purports to release under GPL, but from day 1 had dependencies upon closed source software. The current Lyx license is like this.


      I'm perionally partial to a stock 145, but . . .


      :)


      hawk, who reluctantly left the phrase "including coordinating nuclear attacks on Australia, plotting the overthrow of your government, or exterminating an endangered species" out of clause 0.

    • I agree. These many licenses could become a problem. It is also quite risky to use some of the newer licenses because this could lead to a problem with some laws or someone could interpret this in another way. Even the old GPL just had the first real life law test with the RTLinux patent.
      Using more than one license like mozilla will try now could be a good idea for some projects.
  • He's an idiot. Face it. Why the hell anyone would license their code under the GPL is beyond me. The GPL is a horrible, restrictive (funny I should say that since RMS talks about how 'restrictive' other licenses are) license which gives RMS and his Nazis exclusive rights to prosecute violations of your licensing, and in many ways rights to your software itself.

    Everyone is encouraged to look at licenses like the Artistic License (Written by Perl God Larry Wall) and the BSD License available at opensource.org.

    Maybe if everyone ignores this GPL crap RMS will take his bullshit elsewhere.
    • I not only read /. for its content, but for ammusement as well. i Can't help but lmao at people who feel the need to rant about things that don't affect them.. so you don't like a certain licence? don't use it, don't aggree to it, dont look at it. this world is way too populated with those who need to whine and complain about something just because it exists, whether or not it has any effect on their lives.
      chill already

      • It's not an issue of something that doesn't "Affect me". I am involved in open source development. And one of the worst parts about the GPL that I fail to mention is its virility. Why if I use a piece of GPLed code am I now forced to license my entire product under GPL?

        Yes, RMS and the FSF have been vocal in moving the Free software movement; but its also things like insisting we call it "GNU/Linux" that make them look like a bunch of fucking lunatics.
    • funny you mentioned rms on your trolling. i was reading this [newsforge.com] and basically thinking about the role of fsf in this new world order. i mean, the free os is well on its way - albeit not 100% gnu like they wanted, but hey - and they're offloading more and more projects to the community. even emacs is going to leave the cathedral (starting with v21). so programming is not really the way forward.

      i mean, we do need them to be as vocal as only rms can be on things like the dmca - but here its important everyone backs them up, they can't do it by themselves. so whats left?

      i've been reading lots of articles about how business is really getting fedup with ms and how expensive things are nowadays in terms of licences. that tells me there's a lot of money available, if people are unwilling to spend x on licences they will probably be willing to spend x/2 or x/4 to solve that problem once and for all. and there's a lot of companies in this situation, they want to move out of ms's upgrade cycle but gnu/linux doesnt quite cut it in the desktop yet. at the same time, the open source dudes seem to be morally bankrupt (just look at esr...); why doesnt the fsf negotiate with companies to create sort of a fund where everybody chips in and they re-distribute the money according to the votes of the community? (i mean ALL of the community, not only the gnu people). they're like a foundation, so you probably get some tax of that contribution and perhaps a list of sponsors on the website could be done, to make their names more visible. and with the community overseeing it, no one will monopolise the cash, which means gnome/kde people would get a proportional share to the number of developers who vote. also, we could give companies that contribute a vote as well, so that they can say where they'd like the money to be spent.

      what y'all think?

    • Nice troll. If you don't like using GNU/Linux, then use BSD. If you don't like BSD, use Windows. A guy who contributes Lego code but whines about the STANDARD linux license is worse than not having Lego code at all. If you don't want to contribute, don't. If you don't want to use GPLed code, don't. If you don't want to use linux itself, don't. But don't assume that because I choose GNU/Linux and the GPL, that I am insane, uninformed, or stupid and in need of your guidance. *The GPL is right for me.* If it's not right for you, fine.

      If you're using SOMEONE ELSE'S code in your work, you should damn well obey their wishes that it remain GPLed. You don't own it, and you're not doing THEM any favors by using their code; they're doing YOU a favor, all they ask in return is that you preserve their existing licensing wishes. If you wanna become the next Bill Gates, go ahead - but write your own damn code. "Free" doesn't mean "sucker". I'm not about to write the code to build you an empire with which to enslave my family. If you want to build an empire, ask Bill Gates if you can use HIS code, see what he says.
      • That's not the point.

        If i use a piece of GPLed code; that code should remain GPLed. It shouldn't virally infect my own code if I don't choose to use the GPL. I contribute to several Open Source projects and choose not to use the GPL; I think it is a horrid license. And FTR, I *USE* BSD, thank you for the suggestion. I also use Linux in several places; I make sure not to license any code I write under the GPL because it sucks.

        I am not looking to build an evil empire, or steal anyones code. But I think that an Open Source license should allow me to use it under its terms, without it infecting my code.
        • Yeah, I know YOU'RE okay (judging from how similar your work area looks to mine, you may be a long-lost relative) but we need a rule that applies to everyone, from RMS to Microsoft. We have to draw the line someplace, otherwise we'll eventually end up with line-by-line licensing in order to give everyone credit who wants it (lines 31-147 are GPL, here's the code; lines 148-415 are proprietary, no code for you; lines 416-419 are BSD licensed, so here's the code, etc...)

          If I put GPLed code into a product that also includes my own code, how can I respect the GPL guy's wishes to keep his work free when my desire is to release a proprietary product? Unless I contact the GPL guy and arrange some sort of dual-licensing arrangement, I can't see how his code is still under his original license.
    • Okay, I really don't like the GNU philosophy, and sometimes find RMS to be a boor. I would never choose the GPL for any of my own projects.

      But at least I have a brain! Why would anyone choose to use the GPL? That's easy! I may not agree with them, but it's not my choice to make. I can think of several projects where the GPL is the most appropriate license to use.

      All the BSD and Artistic License fans just wish you would go away, because you aren't helping the cause any. Hmmm, maybe you really are RMS in disguise trying to make it seem like we're all irrational fanatics.
  • It is so hard to know what license to use, that the first True AI at http://mind.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net] (freshly updated today on Fri.21.SEP.2001) is simply being released into the public domain, with a plea that porters and developers please enshroud the PD AI in the appropriate license so that WTO-style megacorporations do not steal from humanity the free AI source code of the coming Prosperity Engine of the Cybernetic Economy concomitant with the Technological Singularity as predicted by Vernor Vinge at http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~phoenix/vinge/vinge-s ing.html [caltech.edu] (whew!).

    BTW (by the way), under whatever open source license it proceeds, the Open Source AI Mind is now teetering on the brink of being if not the first True AI then at least the first public domain True AI, because as of today's PD release, all the major algorithmic bugs have been worked out and it remains apperently only to adjust the various activation-level weights in the simulated neural net. You have read about it first here on Slashdot.

    • I recommend being cautious about "releasing your code into the public domain". The problem is that there is *no* language in the Berne Convention whereby an author can bypass the lapsing of copyright which puts a work into the public domain. Some countries treat author's rights as inalienable, so they cannot put something in to the public domain.

      Much better just to license your code under one of the licenses whose only restriction is "Don't remove this copyright."
      -russ
    • I asked it, and got this response:

      Human: What license should you be released under?
      Robot: I BE RELEASED

      Well, there you go!

  • This is a good thing - we are working in an area were we are promoting freedom of choice. As developers licensing is not directly our area - having someone else make us some boilerplate licences (that themselves are open) is great.

    Complaining about diversity is not constructive - that way leads Windows.
  • I'm very happy to hear this. AsI've said before for Mono x GNU fight [slashdot.org], variety means freedom, freedom of choice.

    If we had only one license, GPL, it would be horrible, we would have no choice but use GPL. But we have choices, we can choose between many kinds of FreeSoftware/OpenSource Licenses.

    I prefer a hard argueing about which license is better, then a discussion about how nice would be to have at least an option for GPL

    Let's fight, let's defend our point of view, our preferences. Let's build a comunity with variety and freedom of choice

  • by ksb ( 517539 )
    I am about to release some code for PalmOS, whilst I want to make it free for all to change and used I also want to ensure credit for myself and any following authors is maintained. However, having said this I wont be using the GPL mainly because of it's controlling and restrictive nature, so I feel these new licenses at the very least give us developers some other pre-written options.
  • as your ability to hire lawyers to send out nastygrams, litigate a few high profile examples and enforce it is. Even well funded firms like Msft still end up with over 1/4 violation rate, so you can imagine that licenses used by Joe Blow Software running from a dorm room will be next to meaningless.
  • Four more sides to every mindless licensing argument.
  • I am so sick of listening to everybody spout opinions about MS admins who did'nt properly patch thier machines. IF you go to symantecs page on nimda they list the link to the MS patch needed for the virus. If you go the page listed it clearly states that the patch is not needed if you have service pack 2 already installed. This is untrue! My machine was up to date with all patches and service packs and was still infected. In conclusion, please complain about how microsoft sucks but keep in mind two things: 1) IF Linux ever got a decent market share viruses would be written for it. These people write viruses to cause damage, then why write it for a small portion of the market? 2) At least some admins were not at fault this time.
  • Even though it has numerous bashers- and seems to be consumer oriented rather than developer oriented, alot of new OSS projects go with the GPL.


    The reason is simple: they want developers. There seem to be more people coming out of the woodwork to contribute to a fledgling GPL project than for any other type. This is especially true for new projects with few developers.


    Its also a guaranteed way to get users. If your project is useful or fun at all, then the license
    will attract at least a few eyes. Users certainly like to recieve GPL programs- even if they never download the binaries.


    Ironically- most sucessfull large OSS projects fall under less restrictive yet gpl compatible licenses. (Xf86, perl, python, apache, postgresql, moz, libpng)


    On the other hand- Gnome, KDE, samba, gcc, glibc, vim, emacs, and the linux kernel themselves are exceptions. The desktop environments are easy to explain- theyre a collection of small projects. And the linux kernel has exceptions- such as for loadable modules.


    Personnaly I license my stuff under the GPL or LGPL. Ive been burned by shareware with small bugs that I was dying to fix- so I try not to make anything that contributes to that model (no bsd/artistic). I just want people to have the source- and I dont know hov that could offend anyone.

  • I can't believe they forgot the MindGuard Public License [zapatopi.net]! More software ought to use this license. Excerpt:

    A "work based on the Program" hereinafter means either the Program itself or a work containing a portion or the totality of the Program either with or without modifications, translations, transliterations, or transformations. (Hereinafter, the term "modification" shall include, without limitations, the last four terms of the previous sentence excluding the term "or" unless "or" is used to refer to a boolean function applied to modify the Program or any part of it.) Each licensee is addressed as "you", as in the statement "You are a licensee". (The statement "You are not a licensee" will hereinafter have no logical meaning.)

  • by Compulawyer ( 318018 ) on Friday September 21, 2001 @12:01PM (#2330174)
    When I saw the /. summary, I was concerned. Then I read the license. A true jurisdiction provision states that any disputes must be litigated in a specified forum (usually the home city/state of the company that wrote the license). Such provisions can be extremely burdensone, even to the pint where under the right circumstances, courts will refuse to enfore such provisions.

    Thankfully, the X.Net license does not do this. What it has is a Choice of Law provision which is drastically different. It specifies that no matter where a dispute is litigated, the court must apply California state law and United States (federal) law.

    I can see where this could potentially lead to problems, however -- courts generally (especially state courts)don't like to have to use another state's laws in their own courtrooms. Also, what happens if California decides to enact the UCITA?

    All in all, the X.Net license is a model of simplicity and clarity.

  • This whole licensing thing is turning into a mess. If I want to write an application and re-use bits and pieces of a dozen other packages which are "Open Source approved" but use different licenses, I'm basically out of luck because I would be violating every license by combining the code and adding a bunch of my own. So much for "free as in speech" and the idea that Open Source helps reduce 'wheel reinventing.' This situation is especially annoying, of course, if the program I'm writing is solely a personal project without any commercial intent whatsoever. Is there a good answer to this scenario?
    • Is there a good answer to this scenario?

      That's one reason why I choose to use the BSD license. Everyone can use my code without having to worry about running afoul of any legal clause.

      It's a pain in the butt having to reinvent the wheel just because the only wheels you can find are proprietary and closed. But it's every bit of a pain to reinvent the wheel because the existing wheels are open but legally incompatible with the axles.

      Solution? Let the free market of licenses decide. If you take a good look, there are a great many licenses but only a small handful that are used by more than one project. It seems to me that the market is deciding upon (L)GPL, MPL, and BSD/MIT as the major licenses, with a few more minor licenses. If you look at those big three, you'll see that they can be classified as "strong copyleft", "weak copyleft" and "unrestricted". They balance nicely.

      If you don't want people having to reinvent the wheel with regards to your own code, then choose one of those "big" three. Choose (L)GPL if you want strong copyleft, MPL if you want weak copyleft, and BSD or MIT if you want unrestricted.
      • You might also want to note that Mozilla is going to the (ugly, IMO) MPL/GPL/LGPL for its licensing, so that it can be used in LGPL and GPL projects. MPL/GPL is also a nice mix, as it gives you compatibity with the GPL.

        To me, it looks like the market prefers some version of the Artistic license to the MPL.
        • To me, it looks like the market prefers some version of the Artistic license to the MPL.

          I would have mentioned that, except that virtually all AL licensed code is also dual licensed with the GPL (ala Perl). The MPL though is used by quite a bit of code outside of Mozilla, and is very popular in the Java community.

          Dual licensing is an interesting concept, and I have no doubt that we will see more of it.
    • Well, the problem is that there *is* no good solution. The people who have chosen different licenses have done so because they wish the software to be distributed with the particular set of restrictions. If the licenses are compatible, then you have no problem. But how do you determine this? It's not obvious.

      If you're not going to distribute the software, you have no problem. But I think you want to be able to give the software away without charging for it.
      -russ
  • write some code already!
  • Not using the word "contaminate" for the process of contamination is like renaming shell shock to "post-traumatic stress disorder" - No one gives a sh*t about it any more. Likewise, "handi-capable" or "differently abled" people. It's nonsense.

    Also, from http://opensource.org/docs/definition.html#9 [opensource.org]:

    The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.

    Then, they go on to say:

    Yes, the GPL is conformant with this requirement. Software linked with GPLed libraries only inherits the GPL if it forms a single work, not any software with which they are merely distributed.

    A single work? This sort of thing always chaps my hide. Let's say that your program will operate with any libc other than GNU's. Arguably this means you should have written things differently, but let's go on.

    Now, it's my understanding that any package which will not function without a GPL'd package must be GPL itself. If this is true, then your program now must be GPL'd, even if you don't include Gnu libc in your distribution.

    Am I correct? And if I am, how is this not contamination?

  • ... is that the developer only has to understand the license he works with, but the users have to understand them all. The main question user's have being, "Can I make copies of this?"

    I wanted to burn my friend a copy of my RedHat 7.1 CDs, but I had to break a warning sticker when I first opened the 7.1 package, and there was a click-through EULA when I installed, so I'm assuming there's non-free stuff on there. I ended up *giving* him the CD's (I don't even know if THAT'S legal), Install Guide, even the receipt, and I swore allegiance to Debian GNU/Linux, and their "Use non-free software? [y][n]" during install. For me, as a user, the GPL is peace of mind. I don't have time to research the 2000 licenses out there, sorry. I know the GPL, I know the BSD, and I know the MS-proprietary licenses. I don't have time to learn the intricacies of all the other licenses.

    Multiple licenses are both a strength (diversity), and a pain (diversity). At least it's all available in English for me, linguistic diversity would be insane. What I mean by this, is that diversity is good, but it can interfere with order and progression if used improperly, or if it's diversity for diversity's sake. And *one* non-free piece of software on a distro can destroy the freedoms the others provide, if, for example, that license doesn't allow copying. And then we'll end up pirating stuff, just like we did when we were Windows users.
  • ... is that the developer only has to understand the license he works with, but the users have to understand them all. The main question users have being, "Can I make copies of this?"

    I wanted to burn my friend a copy of my RedHat 7.1 CDs, but I had to break a warning sticker when I first opened the 7.1 package, and there was a click-through EULA when I installed, so I'm assuming there's non-free stuff on there. I ended up *giving* him the CD's (I don't even know if THAT'S legal), Install Guide, even the receipt, and I swore allegiance to Debian GNU/Linux, and their "Use non-free software? [y][n]" during install. For me, as a user, the GPL is peace of mind. I don't have time to research the 2000 licenses out there, sorry. I know the GPL, I know the BSD, and I know the MS-proprietary licenses. I don't have time to learn the intricacies of all the other licenses, sorry. If you're close to GPL, I'll treat you like GPL. If you're like BSD, I'll treat you like BSD.

    Multiple licenses are both a strength and a pain. What I mean by this, is that diversity is good, but it can interfere with order and progression if used improperly, or if it's diversity for diversity's sake. And *one* non-free piece of software on a distro can destroy the freedoms the others provide, if, for example, that license doesn't allow copying (can't legally burn my RedHat CD because of RealPlayer or whatever). And then we'll end up pirating stuff, just like we did when we were Windows users. And personally, I think that one reason Linux is superior *IS* the ethical factor built right in via the GPL. Ethical Software! Who woulda thunk it? Very cool.
  • Why on earth is a story about the OSI under the heading of "GNU's Not UNIX"?

    I know that a lot of people consider RMS's requests to not confuse Free Software and Open Source to be pedantic, and that confusion is possible because so much software is both Free and Open Source.

    But, come on! When you're talking about the organizations themselves, there's really no excuse for mixing them up. If slashdot can't even get this basic stuff right, how can we expect the mainstream media not to screw it up?

    May I suggest either an "Open Source" or a "Licensing" category.

    If you're not careful, you'll be sorry when RMS starts using the term GNOSI/Linux. :)
  • Having a look at this [netbeans.org] page, it makes me wonder whether Netscape should have put a stricter license on the MPL.;)

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