Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Sun Microsystems

Bill Joy, ESR, RMS and more on SCSL vs GPL 232

Frank Sullivan writes "Upside Today has this excellent article on the relative value of Sun's "Community Source" license versus the GPL. Richard Brandt, an Upside columnist, wrote recently that Sun "doesn't get" Open Source. Bill Joy responded with an email saying that SCSL is less restrictive than GPL, rather than more restrictive. Brandt forwarded this to ESR and RMS, and a "frank exchange of views" ensued. Many interesting questions were raised, such as is the right to fork a bug or a feature? Well worth reading, if you're interested in the philosophy of source code licensing. " Wow. Well worth the time of reading.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bill Joy, ESR, RMS and more on SCSL vs GPL

Comments Filter:
  • As long as I get my pretty software in high-quality fashion I don't care what liscence they use. Whether it be GPL, BSD, or SCSL. I'm personally a fan of the BSD liscence.

  • On one level, I agree: if the sofware meets our expectations, should we really care what legalistic hoops the authors decided to jump through? On another level, however: GPL forever :)
  • As I see it, just the fact that this is being discussed is a good thing, more so that we can all read the discussion. Open debate is the opposite of FUD, because FUD requires ignorance to be effective.

    Furthermore, discussing the merits of the GPL is definitely a good thing, because it may one day have to stand up in court.
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Friday October 22, 1999 @07:52AM (#1594284) Homepage Journal
    First off, when Bill Joy talks about "improving" Linux, it's not clear whether he is talking about a sold distribution or an internal one. The distinction DOES matter.

    The GPL would allow you to keep an internal improvement to the Linux core proprietary and closed. You could distribute the binaries throughout the corporation and never have to provide a line of source.

    Secondly, he does not make it clear what kind of "improvements" he is referring to. Again, this matters.

    Anything that can be compiled and inserted as modules (INCLUDING code which modifies the kernel, as it's running) is NOT covered by the Linux GPL. Thus, such improvements CAN be shipped as closed, proprietary binaries. There's NOTHING to stop you from doing that.

    Third, the "normal" method of getting return is to sell your product. The GPL explicitly permits you do do this, just so long as you don't restrict the purchaser's freedom. There's nothing in the GPL that is inherently "anti-sell".

    Then, there's the matter of the choice of licence. This guy says he worked on the BSD licence. So why not use that? People are fine with it, you get to keep your binaries as closed as you like, and you don't have the complication of flooding the userspace with different, incompatiable licences.

    If there's something I'm seriously missing, please enlighten me! Otherwise, could someone from Sun kindly either fill in the blanks, explain why one of the million other semi-OSS licences (such as BSD) were unused, or rectify the situation by USING one of these other licences! Nobody is pressuring Sun to go GNU!

    I happen to like the GPL because it suits my needs. Sun doesn't think it suits theirs, and I respect that. But there's a million alternatives out there. We DON'T need Yet Another Licence, which conflicts with Every Other Licence. Unless there is a VERY good tactical reason for going that route, I would have to say it is mindboggingly STUPID!!!

  • This shows that the only reason Sun is opening up their source for any reason is so that they can get developers to fix their code, without really having to pay them. They want to be able to make more money. That's the only reason I could see why any big corporation would release existing software as "Open Source."

    Sure, there are programmers who program for the money, but there are also those who code because they love to code. Open source in the traditional sense is sort of like Marx's communism. Everyone lives together, and works not for material reward, but more of a spiritual reward.

    That's really the big difference. Those who work on GPLed software are usually not business people, and usually don't really care at all how much money anyone is going to be able to make off this product, or how. They just do it, because they want good software.
  • What I always find curious about the free software community is that they get irked whenever this word "profit" comes up. People have to make money somewhere, to pay all us programmers.

    I think the GPL is a very interesting liscense, but as slashdot has pointed out in the past, the full GPL has some ambiguities that, if I ran a company, I wouldn't like. LGPL is much better, and follows more along the path of the BSD-style liscences.

    Is it fair to say that Sun is making an honest attempt at "going both ways" in open souce? I think so. The SCSL's major difference is that it isn't quite so iron clad about the whole "derivative works", and what you can do with them, thing.

    For many companies, the GPL just dosen't make sense. The Open Source Community constantly bashes any company who wants to take those first steps into Open Source. Everyone has to realize that it won't happen overnight, and discouraging these companies will only slow it down by orders of magnitude.

    Instead, I think, we should be applauding companies like Sun and Apple who are at least making an attempt. Anything else is counter-productive to the long term goals of the Free Software Community.

    - Paradox
    Man of the C!!!
    perl -e "print join q( ), split(q.z. ,reverse qq;):zrekcahzlrepzrehtonaztey; );"
  • I enjoyed the article. I think it was great to seem them discussing differences of opion, you didn't see Bill Joy shouting, "'re a PUTZ" or anything like that.

    Everyone involved offered up well thought, interesting points. I am a fan of Java, and I think I may be a little more accepting of SCSL in regards to Java. SCSL isn't open source, it's a different tool meant towards a different end.

  • It all comes down to a difference in philosophy.

    Richard Stallman believes that not having access to source code causes material (and psychosocial) harm. Under the GPL, anyone who takes and modifies your code cannot turn it into a proprietary product. He views this is for the good of mankind.

    Bill Joy, on the other hand, believes that making just the APIs available is good enough. The FreeBSD [] license means that you are allowed to develop proprietary software (contrast this with Debian []).

    For those Java developers who side with Stallman on this issue, a GNU Java compiler [] does exist.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @07:59AM (#1594289) Homepage Journal
    I find it telling that Bill Joy associates Open Source with programmers working as waiters so they can give their source code away. I find it telling that many companies who oppose true Open Source throw this view in the face of the community whenever they are given half a chance.

    The fact of the matter is that although source code is not a scarce resource (Since it can be copied infinitely for free) programmers themselves are. Especially good programmers. People and Companies will always need to have programs customized or written from scratch, systems maintained, security reviewed, networks laid out and monitored and all the things that companies do. They need to get used to the idea that if they share some of the stuff they output -- the source code -- and everyone else does the same, that everyone will benefit in the long run. Right now Sun will show us theirs, but they don't really want to share. I suggest they be subjected to Barney videos until they get the picture.

  • Bill Joy is a "leading technology guru" for Sun, yet he apparently is unfamiliar with the shift key? Ouch!
    I don't mean to dismiss his argument based on grammar flames, but I find his text all but unreadable. I'm used to skipping /. posts because the poster obviously slept through English classes, but to get ee cummings affectations from somebody who really wants to be heard is, at least, disconcerting.
  • by Cironian ( 9526 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @08:02AM (#1594291)
    Eric Raymond: Very different. The SCSL enforces control with the threat of lawsuit and jail. Linus controls the kernel because the community grants him authority in recognition of his authorship.

    Richard Gabriel: What if Torvalds were a dictator? Would this be better or worse than Sun exerting some influence or control? Hard to say.

    The kind of control Linus has over the kernel (lets just leave out Alan for simplicity) is far better than what Sun does simply because if for example Linus started to think that upcoming kernel releases should only run on "Genuine Intel" processors, everyone would just start using a kernel distribution managed by someone else. Linus just managed to keep the control by the users respect for the quality of what he is doing, not because it says in some license that he is entitled to that control.
  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @08:03AM (#1594292)
    After reading this article I'm still not quite sure if Bill Joy Gets It (TM). The thing that bothers me the most is the discussion of the right to fork code, a right that we all agree the GPL provides (at least, I think all of us agree on this), and a right that Bill Joy tries to claim SCSL provides.

    Somehow he claims that the right to implement compatible applications (i.e. to reverse engineer an API in the case of Java) is the "right to fork" granted by the SCSL.

    I refuse to believe that this seasoned programmer doesn't understand the meaning of a code fork. Rather it seems he is just determined to divert the issue. It seems clear to me that SCSL doesn't allow code forking (i.e. complete, modified versions of the source may not be redistributed under SCSL or any other license).

    This is not a Good Thing (TM), from our (Free Software/Open Source community) point of view. Nevertheless we recognize Sun's right to license their code in any way they see fit, as they recognize ours. But I would at least hope they could be honest about it and not claim that their license offers something it doesn't.

  • Bill Joy wrote "scsl gives people the right to fork: they are allowed to reverse engineer from the APIs."

    Thankfully he has clarified the whole mess for me. If that's his definition of code forking, then I will never, ever, touch anything under the SCSL.

    Now, what I'm wondering, is it even possible to copyright an API in the first place? Wouldn't things like WINE get into trouble if that were so? Or is Sun trying to get kudos for giving us something we already have?
  • Did it seem like at the end Bill Joy wanted to stamp his feet, shake his fist and wimper "I'm right dammit." It is understandable that Bill Joy will have some disagreement with RMS, afterall, Bill Joy makes money from his code. It didn't seem that he understood the arguments at all. Take this part for example:

    Richard Brandt: bill--thanks for your thoughtful response. the issue to me seems to be this: i understand that you can benefit from your own innovations to java as long as they do not break compatibility. that is why i referred to "significant" changes being forbidden, and specifically defined those as changes that might break the compatibility. i noted that you can freely use enhancements that pass the compatibility tests.

    Bill Joy Responds: this is wrong because under this definition there are essentially NO significant changes to java because we have a very strict rule against breaking compatibility with few exceptions (mostly bug fixes, when something is broken in a way that staying compatible with the bug is worse than fixing it).


    Richard Brandt[k]: I don't like your way because it doesn't allow this...

    Bill Joy[k]: You're wrong. But what you said is exactly right.

    I understand Sun's desire to make sure they retain control of their code, and that they want to make a profit from it no matter what, but if that's what they want to do to do then they shouldn't try to fool people into thinking that the SCSL exists to help the community in any significant way. The important part of what it does is enable the community to maintain Sun's code at no cost to sun.
  • by Gleef ( 86 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @08:05AM (#1594295) Homepage
    It seems to me that, if Sun truly "gets it", all their stated goals could be handled by BSD-style (old or new) licensing and strict trademark enforcement. That would allow developers to do what they need to with the code, and allow Sun to squelch forking by preventing incompatible forks from using the trademarks. Any forks that don't use the trademarks won't be an "embrace and extinguish" attempt like Joy fears, just like changes to Mesa can't possibly hurt OpenGL.

    We all know that Bill Joy is very familiar with BSD licensing issues. It's clear, at least to me, that his only real objection to Free/Open Source software can be better solved by Trademark Law instead of Copyright Law. Therefore, there must be an unstated objection. Personally, I suspect the unstated objection is that Sun management is fearful of the Free Software Movement and wants to get some of the publicity benefit of being "Open" and "Free" without actually helping the movement.

  • You can say what you like about the technologies, but what I like about Perl, C++ and Linux (amongst others) is exactly the benign dictatorship model that ESR explains. C++ died a death (of sorts) when Bjarne submitted the process to ANSI/ISO standardisation, before that the entire team worked well together - afterwards it became a mess.

    These projects work by some gatekeeper keeping control by being first, being reasonable, and being respected, not by threat of courtcase and changing the rules under peoples feet. One of the first things you learn when managing programmers is that being the boss means you've got to let other people be right, be smarter, be quicker than yourself.

    The B.D. model works with this maturity - the old way doesn't ("I'm right 'cos I'm mother/teacher/bigger/P.H.B.").

    The license agreement, the legalese, the product, well they can be discussed elsewhere, but I trust the future of a product built with a process built on maturity and respect, rather than FUD, bullying and intimidation.

  • I actually disagree pretty strongly. I'm a
    full time Java developer. There's some pretty
    huge, gaping holes in Java. But I can't plug them.
    I've got to go through a complex bureaucratic
    process to get my changes approved; then Sun
    owns my changes.

    What this means, to me, is that because of Suns
    license, I'm *prohibited* from improving Java,
    under threat of legal action. I'm not *permitted*
    to do what I'd need to do to make Java into a serious system for building "pretty software"
    that's implemented in a "high quality" fashion.

    In the meantime, I'm crippled while Sun holds
    little "community meetings" to talk about what to

    I understand their compatibility concerns, and I'm
    even sympathetic. But I don't think that the
    appropriate response is to seal off the code in
    a private little universe, and demand fealty of
    anyone who would dare to try to improve it.

    I truly see Linux as a wonderful contrast. In Linux, I can go and change the kernel to fix whatever I believe is wrong with it. There's a central coordinator (Linus), which keeps the kernel consistent, and my code will never get into widespread distribution without going through the community and getting it accepted. That's exactly
    what Sun is claiming to try to accomplish with the
    SCSL - and it's working great under Linux, without
    the threat of legal action.

    But the big difference with Linux is that *I* own
    my changes. If I create a modified linux kernel
    for some particular application (say, an embedded
    system), I can distribute and use my modified
    kernel, regardless of whether Linus or the rest of
    the community agrees to fold my changes back into
    the official kernel.

    Here's the *real* difference, and it's the "forking" issue that ESR brought up. When I change
    the linux kernel, when I make the changes I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I can make
    changes that I know perfectly well should *never*
    be folded into the main kernel source. I can decide that I want to use linux is a totally different domain, and that the appropriate thing to do is to build a *new*, *incompatible* system, using the Linux kernel as a base. I can capitalize on the excellent Linux base, but take it on a new direction, different from the course being followed by Linus and the rest of the community. If I do that under SCSL, I'm not allowed to give my modified system to anyone,
    ever, or Sun will come after me in court.
  • IMO Open source is NOT like Marx's communism.

    There are many very important differences. Probably the most important is that we all have a CHOICE whether to release our work as open source and users have a CHOICE whether or not to accept it (or any other licence for that matter.) It's the element of choice that open source brings that means in very well in a capitalist system.

    Under Marx's communism (if I understood you correctly), everything would be effectively open source regardless of the authors wishes and everyone would have to accept that licence (even if they believed in closed source development [for example])

    IMO _CHOICE_ is what matters here. If everyone chooses the licence they prefer to release their work under, then the masses who get to decide which they prefer. Exactly the way it should be. Not some person (like Marx) or group of people deciding whats best for everyone else.

  • Bill Joy clearly doesn't mean "community" in the same way the word is understood in the Linux community or indeed almost anywhere else. For Sun and their (proprietary, closed) Java/jini "community", it is a feel-good warm 'n' fuzzy corporate euphemism for "franchise". At best. What the term means at worst is left as an exercise for the reader.

    Why did this article permit Joy to be the only one who addressed the so-called "right to make money"? I grow weary of this strawman argument that GPL doesn't allow programmers any income from their labor. But surely Mr. Anti-Socialism Raymond would have had a few choice words on this topic.

  • You wrote:
    -- The GPL explicitly permits you do do this, just so long as you don't restrict the purchaser's freedom. There's nothing in the GPL that is inherently "anti-sell". --

    This is a conflicting statement. The GPL is "anti-sell" by relation to what you call not restricting the purchser's freedom.

    If you GPL something, and then sell it to me. I am not allowed to redistribute it.

    How do you make money if you sell one copy and everybody else gives it away?

    Look at RedHat and And before you even say that RedHat is successful... Have they even made a profit yet?

    The GPL works for you,that's fine. Perhaps you prefer being a waiter and programming in your spare time. But not everybody feels the same way, and I believe Sun's license is an attempt to meet the needs of their customers.
  • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @08:36AM (#1594303) Homepage Journal
    my take on this. Bill Joy said:

    if you do something to improve linux, you have to give it back to everyone because of gpl. therefore, you don't own your own innovations and the reward for these (other than fame) goes to ???.

    ??? = the community , i.e. the same folks that gave you linux in the first place.

    Bill (is it Joy or Gates...) has quite obviously decided that money is the end all be all and if you can't leverage your product to make money you are a dad-gum fool. I'm starting to get the impression that software and capitalism don't mix too good, I guess it's that whole infinite supply thing.
  • The exchange of ideas in that article is rather muddy because of the misperception that GPL can and should cater to the classic corporation as well as the volunteer hacker.

    The GPL suits me just fine because I do programming for fun (as well as at work), and I have no notions of profiting financially from my code. If someone builds on my product and sells it for $50 a pop, that is fine with me as long as they comply with the license.

    However, there are companies out there dipping their toes in the water that most of us volunteers are already swimming in. Companies who (suprise!) do not believe in a business model like Red Hat's; they do not want someone to be able to come along and sell their $80 box under a different name for the cost of the CD. Using this new license they can enhance an SCSL'ed product and sell it w/o source and actually make a buck. This license is not aimed at individuals, it is for corporations and commercial use.

    That does not mean that the SCSL approach is not fundamentally flawed; I believe it probably is. (even the name using foghorn words like 'community' puts me off) It still gives Sun the last word on enhancements and fixes, and it also looks like you still have to pay royalties for commercial use. If Linux's success thus far is any indication, true open source will gradually win out over any closed source solutiuon in the corporate IT world as it has already for individual hackers.

    Also remember, just because a company is using SCSL does not mean that their output must be proprietary; they may release the source of their product (under SCSL of course) or they may not.

    It is not a question of the Linux crowd 'rejecting' SCSL; it is a matter of both parties using the license best suited to them.

  • This isn't true.

    Internet bandwidth costs money. Distribution media costs money.

    Perhaps you meant to say "low cost"?

    As far as your other claims. I as an individual have certain skills and certain things which I enjoy doing.

    Yes I can do tech-support for software, I've done it in the past. But you know what? I FUCKING HATE DOING IT!

    I prefer to create, and that is a skill that I have and in our world if people find my skills worthwhile they will pay me money.

    I don't think I need to get used to your new world order because I don't see any great inherent benefit from it. It doesn't benefit me, it doesn't benefit my company, it doesn't benefit mankind.

    Sure it benefits you because you can get everything for free. But why should I be forced to give away my labor just because you are a cheapskate?

    I think Bill Joy has the right idea here. If the APIs are open, and if the source code is open to review, everybody benefits.
  • > afterall, Bill Joy makes money from his code.

    That's wrong, of course, once you go back and consider vi, csh, 3BSD, etc.
  • A few comments here too :)

    The GPL would allow you to keep an internal improvement to the Linux core proprietary and closed. You could distribute the binaries throughout the corporation and never have to provide a line of source.

    This actually isn't quite true - you still internally have to provide source in order to abide by the GPL. So if one of your employees using the binary asks for the source, you cannot restrict his rights to it, nor the right for him to give it out outside the company (Although it would probably cost him his job)

    Anything that can be compiled and inserted as modules (INCLUDING code which modifies the kernel, as it's running) is NOT covered by the Linux GPL. Thus, such improvements CAN be shipped as closed, proprietary binaries. There's NOTHING to stop you from doing that.

    Yes, very true. Something needs to be done about this though - there is no binary compatibility between versions (or in some cases, compiles) of the linux kernel. It could very well happen that someone with a large enough change would branch off the linux source for their customers and provide a binary compiled version and a binary 'upgrade' module here. This would be a very lousy thing to happen.

    The thing that the SCSL provides is compatibility. Nothing prevents someone from forking linux kernel like XEmacs was forked from emacs (indeed, there have been a lot of groups who have seriously talked about forking the linux kernel). Then you have two linuxes, growing rapidly apart. This is exactly what a programming language like java _doesn't_ need. So Sun needed a license that made sure that compatibility was maintained with the base product. No other license does this (that I know of).

  • I thought that Bill Joy was just quoting RMS on this?
  • Everyone lives together, and works not for material reward, but more of a spiritual reward.

    Does having an OS that doesn't crash a "material reward" or a "spiritual reward"?

    The only way any form of Communism works in when scarcity doesn't exist, i.e. infinite supply. "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."
  • The SCSL is just a transparent attempt to steal PR from real open source efforts and put pressure on Microsoft.

    Well frankly, I am of the opinion that Sun parasitic relationship with free software should be met with a cold shoulder.

    Bill Joy has said: "scsl is LESS restrictive than gpl ala linux. it allows you to innovate and profit from your innovation in the normal ways. gpl does not."

    Sorry Bill, it doesn't work that way. The scsl puts up insurmountable obstacles to both using the code in other projects and also restricts the ability of a coder to help out with bug fixing a SCSL covered project. So is that what is less restrictive?

    Those who have followed this debate know the rest of the crap that Sun is trying to pull and If this kind of doublethink was restricted to the halls of Sun that would be fine, but remember Sun's prominance means that thier view of open source gets attention. This makes sun a tick on the ass of free software.

    So how's that for a rant.

    Chris DiBona
    VA Linux Systems
    Linux Community Evangelist

    Grant Chair, Linux Int.

  • Bill Joy makes a number of very valid arguments. Personally I agree with him and his motives.

    As far as this claim that Sun is only doing this so they can get others to fix their bugs for them...

    Who cares?

    I as a consumer welcome this. If I find a bug in the widget module, and I have the source code... I can fix the bug!

    I can then share my bugfix back with Sun who will incorporate it into the next release of the program. Then when we get the upgrade to the next release, not only do we get my bug fix, we get the bug fixes from thousands of other customers, along with new functionality from Sun's programmers.

    That's a win-win situation for me. As a corporate IT shop, I don't want to have to maintain our core infrastructure software. It's hard enough for me to maintain my own custom business software.

    That's why I am paying Sun for their software.

    Ohwell. It seems the Linux community does a lot of foot stamping and screaming whenever someone suggests that their model doesn't suit business needs. So be it, but I think Sun has the right idea here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 1999 @08:50AM (#1594316)
    I think someone needs to give this self-center, egotistical community a spanking. Here are some talking points.

    There is no open-source movement
    There are, however, open-source projects. If you are a coder and you first decision is the license followed by the idea for a project, you are not really a coder. You are a manager and your project will only succeed by luck or happenstance.

    There is a Free Software movement
    While I would disagree with RMS on just about everything, I respect the hell out of him. His clarity of purpose and resolute aherence to his core philisophy is a wonder to behold.

    Programmers are gods
    If you create the program, you control the source. You can choose a free or proprietary license. The code has no life of its own and the simplistic anthropomorphism that asserts that the source code does have a life separate from it's creator or maintainer is the product of one too many viewings of Tron.

    The madness of crowds
    A venue like slashdot tends to have the same effects as mob behavior as it has been chronicled since the French Revolution. The cry for companies to open their source code festers and swirls into a freenzy. Not a week goes by without a call to boycott or act against one body or another. Accept the fact that some of you may know it all. There is a big world out there and logic and conceit are not a good combination.

    The sheep
    One thing you should learn is that people are like sheep. If you are reading /. you might have the intellect to become your own shepard. Your most important tool is the word "why". Use it question you own assumptions. Question the assumptions of others. Question the assumption of your "community" leaders. Don't be a sheep.

  • The SCSL to me seems to want to _enforce_ what tends to happen naturally in most Open Source projects: There is a "core" group of developers who approve or reject any changes the rest of the world make to the code.

    Dunno what else they allow or disallow, because the SCSL is longer than most "normal" EULAs and I don't have the patience to read it.

    I'm guessing on length alone, it's way more restrictive than the GPL.

    Plus, unless Sun plans to pay people who submit patches, Bill Joy is flat-out lying when he says the SCSL allows people to profit from their code.
  • I think I'm more interested in Richard Gabriel's comments than any other part of this article. He is something of a dark horse in this debate.

    Gabriel argues that open source authors could retroactively revoke their open source licenses at any time, though it might take a court case to determine that. That may be. It is exactly what the University of Washington is attempting to do with PINE.

    But if so, that principle applies to all kinds of software licenses, not just the GPL. If an author can retroactively revoke a source code license, Sun could pull the SCSL after receiving improvements for a few years and leave developers high and dry. Indeed, based on the history of the principals, Sun is a lot more likely to pull that trick than Linus or RMS are.

    Gabriel goes on to ask, "What if Torvalds were a dictator?"

    In fact, Linus is a dictator -- a benevolent dictator. He makes all of the final decisions (modulo Alan) about what goes into the kernel. Traditionally, the development community seems to be happier with a benevolent dictatorship than with a pseudo-democracy.

    Between Gabriel's devils-advocacy and Joy's harping on talking about "stewardship" rather than "ownership" -- as though Sun were merely an altruistic third-party overseeing its own software products -- the whole thing makes me awfully queasy.

    One last thing. Bill Joy suggests that licenses like BSD are business-friendly. Yet he does not even use his own BSD license at Sun. He must not have much faith in Sun's ability to make money from a BSD license.
  • Actually, Sun benefits greatly from open source. Sun makes money off hardware, not software. If they can developers to fix their code, they can just concentrate on the hardware.

    In a sense they already have. Perl, sendmail, and Apache help sell Sun boxes, as opposed to NT boxes.

    Marx's communism is not like open source at all. The whole point of Marx is that you must get paid for the full value of your work, or you become alienated from it. A wage-slave might invent a product making the company millions, but if she gains $100 and a pat on the back Marx would claim that she may as well have done nothing at all.

    Personal gratification is worthless to Marx; only hard cash has value. So Marx would say that open source volunteers are suckers, being scammed by corporations to do work for them.

    Of course, Marx's view is flawed. People do benefit from spiritual rewards. Hegel (Marx's precessor) would agree with you, but Marx explicitly claimed that only material rewards mattered: "I want the money, not the title" is actually Marxist.

    Scott Ferguson

  • you wrote:
    "If Linux's success thus far is any indication, true open source will gradually win out over any closed source solutiuon in the corporate IT world as it has already for individual hackers."

    I agree, but I don't think I agree for the same reason.

    What Sun is offering is 'open source' software.

    The GPL/Linux community does not agree because it is not given away for free. There in lies the important distinction.

  • by Jack William Bell ( 84469 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @09:00AM (#1594325) Homepage Journal

    In a previous post to /. [] attached to It's the Developers, Stupid!: The Real NT-Linux Battle [] I mentioned my belief that the only thing that is really important is the API's and that the most important API's today are those which allow for component based programming.

    Clearly Sun and Bill Joy agrees with this statement. Firstly they have made great strides in making Java a modern component based environment through such things as Java Beans, Enterprise Java Beans and JINI. Secondly they have done everything they can to retain control of how those API's are developed in the future. Look at the licensing they employ. Look at the effort they went through to find an open standards organization willing to rubber stamp their requirements for Java itself. Look at this whole issue of code forking.

    The problem is that they are in business to make money. I cannot find fault with that. If they feel a need to control the API's for Java, then more power to them. But they should not expect me, or anyone else, to want to play the game by their rules!

    Nor should they expect me to believe the propaganda. Sun is trying to portray themselves as brothers with the Open Source community against a common enemy. What they are not saying is that they want to be Microsoft. That little fable about the "Lion's Share" near the end of the article was telling...

    In my opinion it boils down to this: We need a fast, simple, powerful and complete Open Source solution for component based development. An API (preferably a cross platform one) that you can write code to in any of the most popular languages. And it must have a reference implementation that is open source with a GPL license. It should be highly Object Oriented and should provide base objects for every major Design Pattern. It should front-end the OS so completely that you can write a new OS which directly provided the relevant API's (making it a kind of Meta-OS). The API itself should be open and there should be a standards committee that isn't loaded with representatives from the big companies. Plus, no-one is penalized for producing a non-compatible version (other than the fact that compatible versions would probably receive a greater market share).

    I have been working on my own for some time to develop the beginings of such a standard. A kind of hobby for me. And I know there are plenty of people out there who will claim such a thing already exists in (choose one) PERL, Python, Smalltalk, Gnome or some flavor of the month. I don't think any of those things meet all the criteria of the environment I want to see, but I can state one thing rather confidently...

    Until we pull together a produce such a thing the Open Source movement will have a lot of difficulty competing against Sun and Microsoft in the Business Systems space.


  • by NovaX ( 37364 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @09:00AM (#1594326)
    First off, when Bill Joy talks about "improving" Linux, it's not clear whether he is talking about a sold distribution or an internal one. The distinction DOES matter.

    I believe it doesn't matter. The GPL does not allow modifactions to be made that would co-exist under a seperate license. A module is not part of the kernel, it is a peice of code that is called by the kernel, loaded into memory, etc. If you changed code in the kernel, that must be GPL'ed. The same is with other programs under the GPL. The GPL does not make a distinction between used externally and internally.

    Secondly, he does not make it clear what kind of "improvements" he is referring to. Again, this matters.

    Why should he limit it to a list of types? He might not make a complete list, etc. He is talking in a general sense, for a profit-driven change, that the SCSL is better for th companies because other than bug fixes, they can make capital off their new code. The SCSL requires compatability so that things are not forked. The Linux community fixes this by "ignoring" these changes, as ESR says. Sun has to deal with HP, MS, and others who would be quite happy to "break" Java or other Sun innovations.

    Anything that can be compiled and inserted as modules (INCLUDING code which modifies the kernel, as it's running) is NOT covered by the Linux GPL. Thus, such improvements CAN be shipped as closed, proprietary binaries. There's NOTHING to stop you from doing that.

    I'd be quite interested in your explanation of how this is true.

    here's nothing in the GPL that is inherently "anti-sell".

    Its only anti-sell in that if you GPL your product, why would some one pay thousands for it other than support, documentation, etc? They are not paying for R&D, or the code. That makes it a bit harder to gain capital, especially since others will happily distribute your code, and compete in support, documentation, etc. That is not saying you can't sell GPL'ed programs, but its not as profitable.

    This guy says he worked on the BSD licence. So why not use that?

    This guy? Where have you been? BSD is one of the founding figures of open source, as is FSF. Bill Joy made numerous improvements to BSD, which played a major role in UNIX in general (as AT&T UNIX later incorperated BSD innovations). BSD has always been an open source license, except in the eye's of FSF, which cannot dictate as OSI has approved the BSDL and the community approves OSI's definition of open source.

    Sun doesn't use the BSDL because the SCSL has different goals, just like the GPL. Sun wants, IMO, this:
    1. Developers to have access to the code for further understanding how to work ontop of Sun's products/innovations.

    2. Developers can improve Sun's code and make a profit. This is only restricted in selling bug fixes.

    3. Developers cannot create forks, in the essense of creating incompatable versions of the Java programming language, etc.

    4. Sun can make royalties, a profit, while also bringing developers to working with Sun, and at times on Sun's platform.

    The GPL does not do this. The BSDL does not do this. Sun's philosophy here is different than the GPL's or the BSDL's. Sun understands the open source movement, and is not jumping on for free development as many companies hope to do (ie, Netscape had hoped to increase market share by free development). Sun rather wants to target for free developement, but just developement based on its technologies. This would increase Sun's market, and thus the company's profits.

    We DON'T need Yet Another Licence

    We need just the number of usuable licenses that fit the goal. Look at BSD OSes. Free is targeted for Workstation/Servers on the i386 platform (targetted, not limmitted to). Net is for a BSD on all platforms, and Open is for a secure BSD on many platforms. BSDI is targetted for an i386 BSD server with corperate support. You could not have 1 BSD that could do al of these as well. Linux can do all of these adaquately, but that does not mean its the bet at security, as server performance, at desktop performance, etc. It does a good job, ok job, or lousy job in every catagory. So do BSD OSes. Each OS targets a different use, and thus is better than another at that area.

    The BSD and GPL and SCSL target different things. Each are useful. SCSL is not open source in the OSI definition, but its goals are different than OSI's definition. Each are needed. Otherwise, they wouldn't be used.
  • i think that it's becoming obvious that there's a real rift here - its hard to say who's right. in my mind essentially the winner is whichever process creates the most vibrant set of companies, free/paid software, and general utility to humankind...on one side linux is spawning a feeding frenzy and the other java is too! the one thing i will say is that it seems that the sun way is better for true innovation in terms of creating new IP and releasing it but still profiting from it. the gpl is better for derivative works such as "unix clones"....if you look at the roadmap for linux its pretty muc hstuff that already exists but exists as proprietary products. java is NEW.
  • by NovaX ( 37364 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @09:08AM (#1594329)
    Well, I already replied to one poster on the whole article bit, so I'm going to shoot a bit of a tangent off now. For a while now I've been trying to get support for a site that tries to educate people about licenses - no bias. When I say no bias, I mean that anything contriversal would have to be footnoted with research. Unfortunately, not to many people have been to eager to help, other than say.. sounds useful.

    Obviously people disagree on things, from ignorance or real problems. Would it not be better to give more of a resource? Even here people are mixing up what FSF's and BSDL's license goals our and the SCSL's our.. which is why the emails went back and forth with RMS, ESR, and Bill Joy.

    If anyone wants to help, or other info, email me.
  • Well...let me make an analogy. There are people that say "I don't care where my hamburgers come from as long as they taste good." They're the people who are primarily responsible for the destruction of rain forests.

    There are people who say "I don't care where my tennis shoes come from as long as they fit well." They're the people who allow shoe manufacturers to get away with child labor atrocities in the pacific rim.

    I guess all I'm saying is, you are free to have an opinion, but don't be surprised when some of us adopt a very moral stance on the GPL. It's not JUST about software being Free($). It's about the freedom behind the software....and that's why the license DOES matter.

  • Here's where Joy really doesn't get it.
    [in SCSL]...
    5. you aren't allowed to try to do "embrace and extinguish," changing APIs and trying to hijack the stuff away from the community. this requires you to keep new "platform" APIs open to the community. note that linux, etc. don't have this provision, so are more "hijackable" by you-know-who extending stuff to be proprietary.
    EXSQUEEZE ME?! The GPL does so require that any code mods be returned to the community; it's the "virus" quality that we all know and love. M$ could no more "hijack" Linux or anything Gnu than I could hijack Coke by adding vanilla syrup to it and selling it at a roadside stand. I can't protect my new concoction because Coke owns the rights to its cola drink; more than that, if it was Gnu Coke, I'd have to give out the ingredients in my vanilla syrup! (Unless, of course, Gnu Coke was LGPL'ed, but we won't go down that road.)

    I have to wonder if the poor man has even read the GPL all the way thru.

    Sun makes two mistakes here. 1) Using legalese rather than respect to command leadership of the project, and 2) using Microsoft marketing tactics on folks whose bovine scatology detectors are stabilized double front.

    Neither works.

    I'm with the above poster. Bill Joy (and Scott his boss) should be subjected to Barney, the Teletubbies, and Cartoon Cartoon until they kowtow to the Great Penguin and agrees to open up Solaris and all the goodies that go with it, particularly Veritas....they're either clueless or outright lying, and I'm not sure which is worse.

    (do I really need to put the ballyhoo about Coke being a registered trademark of a certain Atlanta-based soda company? Y'all are smart, you already know that.)
  • by jilles ( 20976 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @09:18AM (#1594332) Homepage
    "For those Java developers who side with Stallman on this issue, a GNU Java compiler does exist."

    Interestingly enough the innovations to Java are not coming from the GNU community. There's a GNU Java compiler so there's no fundamental reason not to innovate. Yet, the GNU compiler is merely lagging behind suns implementation and does not any value to it. Really, what's the point of maintaining a gnu copy whose ultimate goal is to remain compatible with whatever it was copied from?

    The only reason that there is a GNU java compiler is that SUN doesn't provide a compiler for all platforms. GNU is a nice license for developing software in the LINUX community since it allows for massively parallel development of software.

    The GNU java compiler will never replace SUNs compiler, however, because for that to happen it would require companies to give away all the future innovations they are going to do. This won't happen.

    I really liked the discussion about forking and how the different licenses deal with it. In addition I really liked the fable about the lion, the fox and the wolf because it showes exactly where Bill Joys reasoning is flawed: the SCSL gives sun the power to decide between right and wrong. While this prevents forking it also gives sun ownership of the software and the power to steer the software in a direction that is good for them but not for their users. BSD style licenses prevent this by allowing any change under any license but these types of licenses are perhaps not so good at preventing forking (here my knowledge probably falls short). So here's a potentiallly unaddressed issue: how to prevent forking without centralizing control of software. The GNU license doesn't address this but the community around LINUX effectively prevents forking so far. This informal process is not enough however. There is nothing in the license that prevents the development of incompatible Linux forks.
    The BSD license does not prevent this either, there are many incompatible versions of BSD unix.
    Because of this, neither the GNU license nor the BSD license is perfect in my point of view.
    Maybe SCSL goes to far in its effort to prevent forking but I'm not aware of a better license that also prevents forking.
  • It seems that Bill Joy does not understand the fundamental enabling principles of the GPL, and their truly democratic nature.

    1. Modifications to another's work are judged by the community and ONLY the community, with no barrier to redistribution. In a worst-case scenario, if Linus doesn't like someone's mod to the kernel, but 50% of the rest of the community does, this 50% of the community does not have to wait for Linus or anybody else to approve anything in order to use the modification. It would sure be nice to fix some long standing Java bugs and OPTIMIZE some of the existing implementations without having to go through Sun or write my own versions of their implementations.

    "Torvalds is a philosopher-king, let's say. Do you prefer that to a democracy?". Bah!

    Imagine if we had to go through a single entity who controlled who got to run for President of the U.S. on the basis of the 'compatability of their philosophy' with the ideals of the controlling entity. That certainly is not a democracy to me. To call the SCSL democratic is playing fast and loose with the word. The GPL is WAY more a democracy, because there is no GATEWAY ENTITY.

    2. If the fork illustrated by #1 does happen, the GPL ensures that a third party can come along and find a way to make the two forked code bases distributable as a unit, with perhaps a compiler switch or a 'compile-time' module or patch. If this work passed community scrutiny, it will be accepted by a large majority. This is only possible because they have access to the source code of both distributions, and they can get it out to people to look at DURING AND AFTER the development process with NO SINGLE GATEWAY ENTITY.

    The problem with the SCSL is that SUN is the gateway entity. You can't distribute your mods or get help with development or testing without going through SUN to pass their compatability tests. So everyone involved in the development process must bind themselves to the SCSL, and you can't even solicit community review before the code is 'finished'. In essence, you have to use the JCK and pay SUN to do your QA for you if you can't afford to pay people to enter into the SCSL agreement, which most open source developers do not want to do.

    Granted, the Blackdown Java-Linux port is quite stable in it's pre-release form. If the SCSL weren't in the way, I for one would contribute a significant amount of effort to making that port successful, since I use Java almost exclusively in my software development services business. I would put particular effort into optimizing the Java APIs, which would result in faster Java everywhere, benefitting Sun.

    But Sun obviously isn't ready to take the step of making the free software community their development PARTNER. With the SCSL, they have come as close as possible without actually giving up anything. They just have to realize that if they don't give something up, nobody else will either.

    What disturbs me is that Sun tries to portray the SCSL as fair to the those on the other side of the agreement, and better that the GPL for the community. At most, it is a legal vehicle for releasing source code to paying licensees. At worst, it ensnares unknowing developers into not being able to work on clean-room implementations by exposing them to Sun's intellectual property on unfair terms. They are in deep public denial if they are trying to say that the SCSL is their answer to the GPL or any open source development process.

  • I prefer to create, and that is a skill that I have and in our world if people find my skills worthwhile they will pay me money.

    Open source doesn't prevent that. In fact, it's more likely that you'll be paid for exercising your skills than pulling in money from exercising your skills once. In other words, people with needs will pay you to address those needs by programming instead of purchasing a license to software which may or may not address their needs.
  • I am offended by Bill Joy's attitude that it's a wonderful thing, being able to add your own proprietary code to what everyone else has contributed and "not give it back". I gave up counting how many times he used that phrase. He seems quite proud of the concept.

    He doesn't have even a first approximation of understanding the GPL. It's the same blindness that thinks Linux can fork as his BSD has forked, and as commercial UNIX has forked. The very fact that the GPL requires changes be GPLd is why it won't fork.

    Put it another way: which license has prevented forking, and which one has encouraged it?

    And finally, at one point he claims that the Sun licenses are better because they freeze the API but allow innovation behind the scenes; he also denigrates Linux as being a mere clone of the Unix API. Which way does he want it? Is this jealousy?

  • I was referring not to Sun's 'open source' software, but to proprietary, closed source software solutions that are based on Sun's SCSL'ed code. By my original statement I meant that corporate IT will begin to see the dangers of such closed source solutions and pass them by in favor of open source products, which may be free or not (although free is better in my opinion).

    Bill Joy makes his point that the SCSL protects 'innovation' by allowing you to make modifications/enhancements and distribute them closed source (as long as you pay the royalty fee and pass the compatibility test). I think allowing completely closed source enhancements is a backward step, however. If nothing else, your paying customers should be allowed to use the source code for their own support purposes, a la classic UNIX style.
  • I started to get this weird feeling, especially in the last segment with Gabriel and ESR, that I was reading a transcript from a lawyers lunchtime discussion. BTW, wtf is a chaord?
  • Richard Gabriel: ...Next week we will be deciding the democratic principles and processes by which all changes to Jini are made. (We don't use the Java Community Process)

    Torvalds is a philosopher-king, let's say. Do you prefer that to a democracy?

    Design by committee is a terrible way to go about working on a software product. The architecture would start looking like Frankenstein's monster.

    It is in fact a key piece of open source projects that they have one person, or a small group of people at the core of the project, guiding the design and deciding which patches are integrated from the community.

    I guess the thing about commentators discussing SCSL is that they usually don't check the facts, philosophy, etc., or talk to the principals. I suppose that's a problem that Sun needs to solve through publishing, and we're working on it.

    I guess he's being self-referential here!


  • If you GPL something, and then sell it to me. I am not allowed to redistribute it.

    Absolutely wrong. You can sell it, give it away, whatever. You just can't prevent anyone else from doing the same, and you have to provide the source, if nto with the sale, at least provide access.

  • I have to disagree with you and agree with what Alan said. A lot of software or in this case your software doesn't really address the problem what some other people face. So, why the hell, do they have to pay for something that doesn't solve their problem? Shouldn't the users have the power to have their software "custome desgined" for them? your software might be good enought to slove some people's problems. However, I don't think you can say your software is good enought to slove all the problems.
  • you still internally have to provide source in order to abide by the GPL

    I believe that when the Corel beta license non-GPL flap came up, RMS said that an internal distribution (which the beta was NOT) need not supply source.

    there is no binary compatibility between versions (or in some cases, compiles) of the linux kernel

    Linus is on record as saying that's the manufacturer's problem, and he has no sympathy for them. If they want to lock up their code, then he will not hold back kernel development just to help keep their secrets.

  • I used to think so too, but you can fork GPLed code. You can't do it as an individual- only corporations can legally fork GPLed code. This is because they are legal individuals, and thus they are able to put their own programmers under NDAs (where you are not legally able to put your friends under NDAs w.r.t GPLed code) because the GPL applies only to them and the individual programmers are 'shielded' from being liable to the terms of the license.
    Doing so means they can accomplish substantially more development while remaining in an entirely closed process- and they will- the Corel beta argument was just the beginning, and apparently Corel was well within its rights.
    I don't like it either, but at this point a corporation has more freedom to fork and withhold GPLed code than an OSS developer has.
  • This is so typical of companies which are being harassed by Microsoft's dominance. We have seen Netscape's NPL, Apple's APSL, Sun's SCSL, and so on. Why do all of these licenses purport to be free software/open source licenses and then fall short of The Community's expectations?

    Because these companies are only interested, after all, in becoming the next Microsoft. The next monopoly. Such ambitions will necessarily conflict with The Community's interests. It is impossible to craft a license that will serve our interests as well as their aims of World Domination. They are trying to leverage a community's selflessness to achieve selfish goals. It just can't happen.

    Open Source was meant to help businesses grok the concept of free software. But it is sad that companies still Don't Get It. They still think that, somehow, open source is a way to "get around" free software ala GPL. It is not.

  • It's time for a SUN Filk. :) (Yes, it'll be related to the article, so it's on-topic. :)

    To the tune of The Chicken Song (by Spitting Image)

    Hold a JINI in the air,
    Push some JAVA in your node;
    Read the Sun Licence,
    And then open up your code.
    Boot the GPL,
    And profit off the hacks;
    Rig a PR coup,
    And get the pressmen off your backs.

    Hack some X/Motif,
    And some cross-platform utils;
    Take the hard-disks out,
    And then pay off all your bills.
    Open up your corp,
    And SCSL your boss;
    Fold your manuals up,
    And throw out JavaOS.

    The code is loud and grating,
    It's truly nausiating,
    The hard drive is vibrating,
    Let's do the "make" again!

  • >> I can then share my bugfix back with Sun who will incorporate it into the next release of the program. Then when we get the upgrade to the next release, not only do we get my bug fix, we get the bug fixes from thousands of other customers, along with new functionality from Sun's programmers. you're doing the Sun's leg-work for FREE. and you still be happy to buy the next release with your bug fix. Sorry, your statment don't make sense to me. I don't care about SCSL or GPL or whatever, but if I put my time and my brain cells on something(even fix bugs) I believe I should get PAY!!!
  • Suppose I don't like the java servlet API. Maybe I think it is too complicated. So, i throw a few pieces out. Then I produce a servlet engine based on this new 'simplified' API. 95% of all current servlets are still compatible.

    If I understand Bill Joy's comments, he says this is ok. I can 'fork' the servlet API by reverse-engineering it and modifying it.

    But this flies in the face of what I understand to be Sun's licensing WRT java standard extensions, of which the servlet API is a member. So, what's the deal?

  • Somehow he claims that the right to implement compatible applications (i.e. to reverse engineer an API in the case of Java) is the "right to fork" granted by the SCSL. I refuse to believe that this seasoned programmer doesn't understand the meaning of a code fork.

    I had exactly the same reaction. Your summation is too polite, though.

    The man is either STUPID or a LIAR.

    Possibly both, because if his intent is to deceive, he is doing badly.
  • Is Sun's attitude the result of selling the Open Source concept while trying to downplay the Free Software aspect? Was Richard Stallman right after all?
    Why ``Free Software'' is better than ``Open Source'' []

  • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @10:01AM (#1594351) Homepage
    The Intel users might not switch, but that's irrelevant. Everyone would have the right, under the GPL, to take ALL the existing code and make something useful. While I haven't read the SCSL, Mr. Brandt's representation of it implies that were Linux licensed under the SCSL, you'd merely have the right to a list of well-documented kernel calls...
  • To summarize: Lion asks wolf and fox to team up to kill a deer. Fox tricks deer into the open, wolf chases deer to wolf, Lion kills deer. Lion eats most of the carcass ("the lion's share"), leaving only scraps for the fox and wolf.

    This implies that the Open Source community is getting shafted after contributing equally to Java, Jini, etc. That's nuts. Sun put up the R&D money and paid for the coders to come up with these things. Nor would the Open Source community's efforts be equal to the people that Sun is paying -- most of the non-paid contributions would be in the form of bug fixes, which, while important, pale in comparison to the huge effort in actually designing a beast like Java in the first place.

    Sorry, but to me, this whole thing smacks of the Open Source community being unable to come up with ideas of its own and then slamming other companies when they won't hand over their creations. If you don't like the license, then don't use it -- find someone else's code to tweak or (Wow, here's an idea!), actually create something yourself. As Joy himself said, they "are not doing SCSL for the Linux community. If they believe they are a 'gift' culture, fine, but we are working to enable commercial and entrepreneurial investment."


  • Bill Joy seems to think that the goal of the GPL is, ultimately, profit:

    if linux succeeds ultimately in having a single standard and profitable companies around it, it will be considered another successful model. both models can coexist, and microsoft too.

    The goal of the SCSL is, obviously, for Sun to be able to take advantage of a volunteer development community, so as to improve their software as well as give them "street cred" with the open source/free software communit[y|ies]. But ultimately, their goal is to increase profits.

    The GPL's goal, on the other hand, is to promote the development and growth of robust, stable, [insert positive adjective] software. Its primary goal is NOT profit. Ideally, once there is lots of good GPL software out there, people will use it. But Bill Joy is apparently stuck on the idea that the only successful software model is one that creates lots of money.

    --- Dirtside

  • Neat article, but did anyone understand what the
    heck they were trying to say with the Lion story
    at the end?
  • Somehow he claims that the right to implement compatible applications (i.e. to reverse engineer an API in the case of Java) is the "right to fork" granted by the SCSL.
    Right. So releasing the code does you no good at all. In fact, you could consider it a trap. He says that
    thus you can clone the java APIs, provided you pass compatibility, i.e., you clone them all and you respect patents and copyrights.
    In other words, don't look at the code and make sure to pay Sun for the privilege of testing against their compatiblity tests. Otherwise, look at the code, and you can't contribute to projects like Kaffe for fear of copyright infringement.
  • The issue isn't whether a fork might happen. All licenses allow for forks, because the original copyright owners can always fork their own versions for their own reasons!

    The issue is whether a third party can legally offer a variant (strictly speaking, yet another fork) that represents the unification of two arbitrary forks.

    With the GPL, if the forks have been distributed, then the answer is, basically, yes, a third party can do that, without asking for permission, though it's polite to do so anyway, at least to find out if anybody else is working on the task.

    Forks of BSD's or SCSL's code, however, once distributed, might not be available as, or legally accessable and redistributable in modified form as, source code.

    E.g. EGCS was a fork from GCC2. The FSF couldn't stop EGCS, but the GPL ensured that EGCS was available as source. EGCS unified back with GCC, but any third party could have produced a unified version at any point.

    (Not a big deal, since the fork was more of developer resources than of code base, insofar as GCC2 had a very small "tine" compared to EGCS's as of a few months after the fork.)

    So Linux might (and probably does, in a limited sense) fork. Let's say Joe Quux gets a bunch of people to support his fork of Linux, because they don't like Linus's handling. Since Quux Linux must also be distributed under the GPL, i.e. with source code, anyone can come along and merge Linus Linux with Quux Linux to create their fork. The community chooses which fork to support in a variety of ways. Ideal? Hardly, but who better to decide what is the One True Version of, say, Linux than the community?

  • Bill Joy: object-oriented programming works by adding new packages and by extending existing objects with new subclasses/sub-objects. if you extend in this way, the sensible way, then compatibility is easy. don't get hung up on compatibility.

    this modular extension mechanism, by the way, is what makes writing in java about four times the productivity of c++/c, which are too low-level to get the benefits.

    To say that all extensions to an existing API can be done by subclassing is to live in an object-oriented la-la-land.

    You can only subclass what's there in the first place. Creating APIs that are general enough to be extended for any possible application in the future is really difficult and rare. Many of Sun's Java APIs are great for the 80% of applications that the designers had in mind when they wrote them. But try extending them in some novel way and you're wishing you could muck with the proprietary code under the hood, quite possibly violating Sun's definition of compatibility.

  • Uh? How many other java compilers do you know, which compiles directly to batch-optimized native machine code for a zillion platforms?

    And what kind of proprietary innovation are you talking about, that the SCSL compiler allows and the GPL compiler doesn't?
  • Bill Joy is a "leading technology guru" for Sun, yet he apparently is unfamiliar with the shift key? Ouch!
    Actually, I have noticed that a lot of the old Unix-hacks tend not to use capital letters. I believe it is a cultural thing, rather than a question of bad writting skills. There are plenty flawed ideas in the article, no reason to attack him based on his writing style. Of course, you may want to flame him for inventing csh and vi ;-)
  • You said: Sorry, but to me, this whole thing smacks of the Open Source community being unable to come up with ideas of its own and then slamming other companies when they won't hand over their creations. If you don't like the license, then don't use it -- find someone else's code to tweak or (Wow, here's an idea!), actually create something yourself. As Joy himself said, they "are not doing SCSL for the Linux community. If they believe they are a 'gift' culture, fine, but we are working to enable commercial and entrepreneurial investment."

    I say that this was exactly the point of my post. I do not want to deal the SCSL. I don't like Sun's attitude about the Java API's. (Why can't I improve it and provide my improvements to community? Why can't we let the marketplace decide what is best instead of trusting Sun?) So I am saying exactly what you are criticizing me for!

    I say that the Open Source community needs to get off its collective duff and come up with something better than Java. Better than COM/WinAPI. Better than (for that matter) Gnome/CORBA (which is Linux only currently). And then make it so complete and so cool that it becomes a compelling reason for business to migrate to open source solutions.

    Am I really having such a hard time making myself clear? I am, of course, assuming that you are not a Sun shill...


  • I run the risk of pissing a bunch of you off.. but here's my take. I think that the SCSL is a load of crap. I am very careful about what license I use. I think that people should really read the SCSL. And weep..

    in fact, here's my summary (taken from above post) of the terms and limitations.

    1. Developers to have access to the code for further understanding how to work ontop of Sun's products/innovations.
    You must give us your gonads to view the code. Developers who violate this provision will be burned at the stake.

    2. Developers can improve Sun's code and make a profit. This is only restricted in selling bug fixes.
    For every profit you make off of sun, we want a steak. That's right.. from Ruth's Cris too, not some Dingle Steak Hut!

    3. Developers cannot create forks, in the essense of creating incompatable versions of the Java programming language, etc.
    In the interrest of stifling real innovation, sun has decided that we're better that you are. We are cool. How dare you add an unsanctioned method!! Developers who wish to fork will be fried up like pork rinds by our favorite developer, Bill "Frydaddy" Joy.

    4. Sun can make royalties, a profit, while also bringing developers to working with Sun, and at times on Sun's platform.
    In addition, sun reserves the right to revoke your license if you present yourself without deoderant, clean teeth, and without toe-jam. If you even THINK about making more than us from Java, we'll send out the SPANISH INQUISITION!!

    In addition, should sun decide that you developers arn't good - we'll change the api (every version since 1.0) even though we say we arn't going to. All developers are bad. Except the ones who have bought us steak.

    Our pack of corporate lawyer bull dogs will happily come over to explain your violation(and we're sure you have violated something.. come on!). We will bring over our own copy of pulp fiction, thank you.

    Nobody's called sun a Nazi yet. This discussion is still active.
  • by RachaelAnne ( 76777 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @11:08AM (#1594387) Homepage
    I think the point about forking is this:

    What if, god forbid, the current group "controlling" linux kernel distributions went nuts (i.e. for whatever reason they starting making wacky changes and "improvements" on the kernel that a majority of Linux users didn't like)? Under GPL, that majority (or a minority if they are disgusted with it enough) can take the source they do like and start a new group who "control" the development of the linux kernel. Under this sun license, apparently if a group of users/programmers decided that sun was developing java in the wrong way they could not take the last java they liked and develop it how they want.

    And that is what I always saw forking as -- and undesirable (and sad) thing that might happpen to a software project that *may* be necessary. In an open source project I think the ability to fork is paramount because one could contribute work to a project only to find that the "official" version no longer does what one thinks it should do. What does one do then? Lay down and cry or fork the project? (Assuming one wants to take the time. Presumable there would also be like minded individuals.)

  • Take a look at their site [] to see the definition. As far as I can see it is pleasant BS, but hey, Visa works on the principle...

  • I've just returned from the session Dick Gabriel
    was referring to: the second Jini community meeting, held this week in Annapolis, MD.

    Ok, this guy isn't sold on freeware (let's use the
    technically correct term instead of some marketing
    buzzword here, it is important). However, especially for Jini, the alternative he's come up
    with sounds very promising: a community of people and organizations who mutually agree on the SCSL, guide Jini to acceptance, and make sure that standards are abided by.

    I do happen to think that for Jini standards are a bit more important than for Linux. The idea is to put Jini in all sorts of devices, and if I were Canon I'd wanted to have some guarantees that the stuff would be long-term compatible before adding expensive hardware to millions of consumer devices (a dollar of hardware added on the design table is like $5-10 added to the street price...). So a community with a clear common interest (making Jini work benefits everybody, this is not a place where it is very useful to have many competing platforms) with some legal protection against Microsoft doing the embrace-and-extend thingy is the idea here.

    The word from Richard, but also from other senior Sun employees at the meeting who were closely involved with agreeing with lawyers upon the terms of the SCSL were clear. First, there's going to be a second-generation SCSL which is better to understand - the lawyers overshot a bit here. Second, Sun is entirely neutral with either of the possible Jini business models: Sun being the benevolent dictator or Sun handing over IP, license rights, etcetera to the Jini Community. Remember, this were Sun geeks speeking from their heart (I vouch for this), not a PR bureau defending the party line. For me, it means that Sun is thinking about what's going on, trying to find new models, and doing their best to belong to the Good Guys.

    For me, that's all you can expect from a major public corporation.
  • I haven't seen this said before so....

    Netscape attempted an open source release. They said very clearly that they controled the code, but if they ever mishandled that responsibility the community was specifically free to fork the code. Code, not API.

    But Netscape had nothing to loose. A functional equivalent of their product was being distributed free for major platforms, and the code was of such a quality and age that the developers who worked on the project started by rewriting portions of it. Also, Netscape had already been making much of it's money selling other products and support.

    Sun, on the other hand, has invested a great deal in products that are largly unequaled. To truely contribute these projects to the community would be very risky. They are not interested in being relagated to merely a support company.

    The community may also make them a bit nervous. This [] RFE requests Linux support in addition to MS Windows and Solaris. (Link is to JDC, requires free registration.) The RFE was submitted on Dec 08, 1997. Since then, it has accumulated over 400KB of supporting comments becoming the top RFE by a lead of 3729 votes (total 4476). It is still unsatisfied. Sun can't support Linux any more than it could support Mac. (Mac support [by Sun] was dropped as of Java 1.0) With an open source project, this would be no problem. The primary developer simply says, "If you want it that badly, write it." The developer can say this because if the community does write it, but the developer rejects their work, the community can fork the code. But, of course, Sun isn't open source....


  • What they are not saying is that they want to be Microsoft

    Oh come now, let's not get carried away. In order to do that they would have to:

    Stop applying sound principles of software engineering to the design of API's

    Start shipping broken software on a regular basic

    I'm not going to continue this, you know where it's going

    Sun may have its faults, but one of them is not giving us crap to work with, and I don't think they plan to start any time soon

  • by Modrick ( 64392 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @01:02PM (#1594424)
    Ok, since everyone is talking about all the
    things that could happen with the SCSL, I
    thought it might be a good time to tell you
    all a real problem with the current Java API
    and how Sun interacts with developers.
    I have been trying to get Sun to fix the
    Runtime.exec() API for more than a year.
    If you are a Java developer, you probally
    already know what I am talking about. The
    exec() method does not provide a useful
    way to set env vars or to exec() a process
    with a current directory other than the one
    the JVM was started in.

    If you are a JDC member you can read all
    about it at this URL. (Sorry, if you
    can not view this URL, but Sun will not
    let people look at Java bug reports without
    joining the JDC and agreeing to a license).

    [] e/bugs/4156278.html

    I submitted this bug report on July 10, 1998
    and it was not "reviewed" until June 28, 1999.
    It was then shelved for another 3 months when
    they decided to "fix" the problem. Now comes
    the tricky part. There is no real information
    about how they intend to "fix" this bug, and
    the reviewer mentions that they are not even
    going to fix "all" of the problems with this
    API, just the current directory problem. So
    I still have no real feedback and I will have
    to wait until the new release of the JDK to
    see how they decided to "fix" this bug. There
    is something really wrong here. This
    kind of crap would never happen on a real
    Open Source project.

    Mo DeJong
  • Of course I make this stuff up. That's what having an opinion means. I'll admit my statement was overly brief. Yes, spirituality is key to Marx. Marx claimed you couldn't gain spirituality if the product of your labor was stolen by The Man. That's my point.

    Take "alienation of labor" and exploitation. A Linux volunteer donates time to fix a few bugs for a device driver. Suppose the donation is small enough that she doesn't even get credit. Does she benefit economically? No. RedHat does, though. Is that exploitation? Once she's donated the code, she loses any control over it. Is that alienation of labor?

    Yes, the economic structure is fundamental. That's why communism has to be a revolution. You can't have partial communism in a capitalist society. The open source gift culture is not communist; it doesn't change the underlying economics. Last time I checked, open source hasn't eliminated my rent or grocery bill. In a sense, it's just a unilateral disarmament. Can you imagine Marx advising a worker in a pin factory to donate his time, establishing a gift culture to bring about the revolution? I don't think so.

    You really need to read Marx philosophical works, the early Marx, to see his brilliance. You can't just cut and paste the political advocacy of Marx in the Communist Manifesto and apply the conclusions to programmers. The preconditions don't match. Programmers aren't proletariat. In fact, we're mostly in control of the means of production!

    Now, I've gotten carried away because I like Marx. I don't mean to criticise open source (I'm happily typing on a Linux box.) It's just that you can't use Marx to promote open source. All his arguments go the other way.
    Scott Ferguson

  • I've been following the debate, and my take is entirely the opposite. Sometime in the near future, I'll have to go over the license and make sure my understanding is correct.

    The SCSL is just a transparent attempt to steal PR from real open source efforts and put pressure on Microsoft.

    In the beginning, this was entirely true. It was designed in a fashion that I don't believe this is true, but marketting and management are sometimes so evil and inept... (like, umm.. $300 million stolen from LLNL's NIF). But, Sun stopped doing that type of marketting and got its act together. The SCSL tries to merge one aspect of open source (not free software), in that developers can view the code, better understand the product/platform, and build on it. With Sun putting the SCSL on Solaris, this is the exact reason, developers can build ontop of Solaris far easier than on a closed platform, like Windows. That's a great benefit of Linux and free BSDs, correct?

    For Solaris, the aspect that developers can take the code and add features isn't to useful, unless perhaps they wanted to take the OS and set it up for a special purpose application, like a computer in your car. For other things, such as Jini, java, and various hardware, being able to add features and such can be very benefical fr a product line. Sun gets royalties to make a profit, the developers make money on their product, and Sun's hold to the standard of certain things, like Java, means the market Sun deals with will grow, as will its platform. This license is for Sun's market to increase, but to make it easier for the developers.

    That, IMO, is the essance. That is not to say Sun has some evils in the license, its grip is to strong. I think for a coprerate license, for someone like Sun, the goals above are very good, and do help its community. That doesn't do any good for the open source / free software community, but Bill Joy said they were different. Its using open source, in terms of the ability to see the code and hardware, and that's quite useful. I do think Sun could improve the license, but Sun has always liked to have control.

    So, its not open source in how we view it. Its a better method than closed source, and if Sun had jumped on the open source scene, with the GPL or BSD, I wouldn't have believed it. Its not logical in their revenue for the most part. SGI seemed to do it only for a last shot... though IBM has been the best of the bunch.

    SVLUG member.. just now in chicago.. :)
  • by zerone ( 83179 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @03:06PM (#1594439)
    CHAORD = pleasant B.S.? Please...

    A Chaord exists in the phase between CHAos and ORDer. It's any complex, adaptive, self-regulating system capable of constant learning and evolution. Like VISA. Like the Internet. Like Linux. Unlike any "for-stock" corporations.

    Allow me to repeat []:

    VISA. ($1.2 trillion in sales last year.) It's an info-age corporation with 30 years experience, growing 20% every year past booms bubbles busts bear bulls. No IPO's, take-overs, buy-outs, trade-outs, shake-outs, raids. Why? It's owned by its members. Shared in "non-transferable rights of participation". Dee Hock, who founded VISA, wanted to extend ownership to merchants and cardholders, but it wasn't possible at the time. Had it been, he believes it would be four times more powerful today.

    Key to Visa's success is chaos/organized *open* structure that attracts the by far most valuable (and least used) resource on earth: human ingenuity.

    call it "chaorganization". read about it here [] here [] here []

    SCSL will have great difficulty enabling any true chaord, because in the end, their "community" is responsible Sun's shareholding owners. Sun's aim is to first achieve ubiquity, and then leverage proprietary advantage. It's a shame, because JINI, especially, seems really cool.

    CHAORD is the keyword to the most fruitful integration of "open source" and profitable business in the long run. RHAT missed it. missed it. (chaords don't do IPO's) It's shocking that so few .rso/ know what the word means. But hopefully, that will change =P
  • As I sent to the author: There is no force of law involved in the Linux community, so comparing it to any kind of a nation-state is completely off. A much better analogy would be: The Linux community is a big, raucous party, and Linus Torvalds is the most popular person there. He can stand on a table and suggest we do fun things, and the community will probably listen, because it likes his judgement. But if he starts getting belligerent or wierd, the community can just ignore him. And if he tries to shut down the party, the community can move somewhere else and keep the party going.

    Francis Hwang

  • what do you mean with "batch optimized native machine code" what bullshit is this?????

    And about proppietary innovation: name one propietary innovation that made it into the GPL version of the Java compiler. Right it doesn't exist (yet?). This is my main criticism agains GPL: it doesn't seem to produce new, original stuff. Java was new, original, innovative and yes propietary. So what. What did GPL add to Java?? Nothing. The best GPL java compiler you can find is a lousy SUN spec implementation.
    Its not about what the license allows it is about what people use what license. So far GPL only seems to attract the hippy kind of developer. Great for fixing bugs, lousy at creating new stuff. Linux, the hype of the late nineties, is nothing else but a implementation of a spec of the seventies (a very good implementation but nothing else). So far the open source process has proved nothing else but being good at reimplementing stuff that already exists. I know this doesn't sound nice to all us slashdotters but it is the truth. Think of all the hype words of the last ten, fiftheen years (databases, 4GL, internet, XML, JAVA, Unix, PC ......) all of these come from either companies like IBM/SUN/... or university research (funded by companies like IBM/SUN/...).

    Anyway I drank too much tonight so I had better press submit now :)
  • As far as I can see:
    RMS _thinks_ disadvantage of some code being closed outweights advantage of additional stimuli for developers while Bill Joy _believes_ otherwise. Neither of them can prove his point so we'll just have to wait. I'm personally rooting for RMS because, well, he's not trying to get rich off me and I'm a bit of an idealist I guess. Is there anything else to add to the argument? I really don't think so, correct me if I'm wrong..
  • "If the fork illustrated by #1 does happen, the GPL ensures that a third party can come along and find a way to make the two forked code bases distributable as a unit, with perhaps a compiler switch or a 'compile-time' module or patch."
    No it does not.
    Any corporation (but it has to be a corporation) can legally maintain a 'fork' under active development while refusing to release any information about their version of the GPLed code. They are only required to release source when they distribute binaries to 'another entity', and for the purposes of the law the corporation is ONE entity and they have as much right to restrict their employees with NDAs and draconian penalties as you have the right to insist that your left ankle not release your GPLed code until you're ready to do so.
    As such, any corporation is not only able to maintain a fork of GPLed source under tight control of the intellectual property, they are obliged to do so under their obligation to their stockholders and could be sued for not taking the opportunity to fork and try to take over the code. Not only that, by the same token they could be sued for allowing outsiders into their process of working on GPLed code because power and control that reaches the community is power that isn't going to the corporation, and they are obligated under the law to not 'give away' their opportunities.
    Corel was just the beginning- expect all corporations to understand this (and practice it, out of habit, even before understanding their position). Any GPLed code is subject to being forcibly forked into the community version, and more well-funded corporate versions for which no community involvement is ever possible- instead it is 'read-only' but you cannot effectively work with a fork when you are not legally allowed to share information, and unless you are an employee of the company, all they need do is use their customary NDAs (or indeed waivers of IP so the corporation keeps all rights to the interim code) and sue anyone for violating them. And win- because to the GPL, a corporation is _one_ person, and that person cannot be forced to release binaries, it can only be forced to release source with binaries. It's trivially easy to keep development going so that, when the source _is_ released, the dev team has already advanced far enough beyond that point that no merging with community versions is possible.
    I don't like it either, but THAT IS THE REALITY.
  • "If you create the program, you control the source. You can choose a free or proprietary license." Not neccesarily. If you are working on GPLed source (and God help you if you're using a license even less free!) for a corporation, you control nothing. You can be legally barred from communicating with other developers on the same program. Finally, you obviously can't choose the license for what you created (as the GPL is 'tainting'), but you also can be completely controlled by your employer and forced to code things the way they want them done by simple pressure- if you won't, they will fire you from the project and find someone who will.
    To put it in the context originally intended, if you are a corporate programmer, you could be forbidden to work on any program as an individual, and anything you do may be claimed to be company property. As such, you can write the code but not be free to choose the license- furthermore, the corporation can choose to use the GPL and continue to forbid you any contact with your peers, insisting that only final results be publically released. They can also order you to change around everything to make it totally incompatible with outside forks of your program, fire you if you refuse and confiscate the _interim_ code you had (anything released is fair game), refusing you access to the GPLed source you were in the process of writing.
    *hammer* *hammer* *hammer* at these points, seeing as they are going to be affecting us GPL programmers whether or not we believe it... it's really quite plain and the corporation would be right in the law when doing this. Yes it's a problem.
  • BSD has always been an open source license, except in the eye's of FSF, which cannot dictate as OSI has approved the BSDL and the community approves OSI's definition of open source.

    This is patently untrue, as anyone who has actually read What is Free Software? [] knows. The only criticisms the FSF has of the BSD license are:

    1. It doesn't keep the software free (i.e., it can be proprietarized at any time, without the consent of the authors).
    2. It previously had the "obnoxious advertising clause," which lives on in software licensed under older versions of the BSD license.
    The FSF has always conceded that the BSD license is a Free Software license; it's just not a copyleft license.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page []
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @04:59PM (#1594452) Homepage Journal
    "M$ could no more "hijack" Linux or anything Gnu"...
    Yes they could, and this is how. They can take anything GPLed and work with it. They legally will be working on it as a _single_ entity, that's the point of a corporation. They can get as many highly paid Unix gurus as they can afford, to do good work, and they can NDA them up the wazoo until the gurus can't even _breathe_ the smallest detail of the work to peers, because it remains a 'purely internal affair'. Then, all they have to do is release the final product, spend a _lot_ of money and effort to market the hell out of it, and quickly get busy on the next totally closed version, because the second they release a version they lose control over it and must change all the APIs in order to keep outside input from being relevant.
    None of this says MS can stop _other_ people from making Linuxes, or even that other people can't end up getting all the information and source from _old_ versions of MS Linuxes. However, that's not the point. They can hijack it because they can develop it in a completely closed manner because they are one entity under the law. The rest is pure arm-wrestling for marketshare. They're good at that, though not good enough to eliminate all traces of other linuxes in this situation. What would end up happening if they were really serious about this is that MS Linux would hit and hold about 60-70% of Linux marketshare, possibly through the bundling of proprietary software like IE, and never get more because it would be too hard to deprecate older versions, and any other distribution would be able to get total access to the guts of older versions- only the NEXT version would be totally inaccessible. This also assumes that people can be conditioned to seek out and acquire new versions of software.
  • html []

    Like it? Take it. It's an engine for generating entire universes, planets down to the 3dpi resolution, complete overwhelming amounts of synthetic data into the billions of gigabytes, and it's all generated from a 16M datafile and a series of extremely evil and effective hacks, and a profound desire for doing game optimizations and returning the results FAST FAST FAST so the game doesn't suck.
    No, it's not fractal. Yes, IT IS GPL. It's actually not even C (I'm told it looks like Python code- it's a funky Mac language called REALbasic that kicks butt for rapid prototyping but is not itself free) but that makes no difference- it is GPLed, and it is entirely original.
    Why isn't everybody doing it? Because it's too radical an idea to generate entire universes, whole planets entirely emergently, and then _explore_ them to find interesting places. Game developers usually want to write their 'maps' by hand, or at least edit them. In doing so, they limit themselves to little weenie maps ;) and there is another way, and it is FREE.
    I don't know who else is out there ready to hit the world with genuinely innovative stuff under the GPL. I'm doing it. Why? Because I have no confidence in the ability of the U.S. legal system to protect me or my ideas. I have no confidence in business to be able to help me implement them. All the promises about innovating and making millions off of great ideas are all crap- that doesn't happen anymore, those days are over. And since the promise to the independent developer is a lie, I'm giving it away like crackdotcom gave away Golgotha when they went out of business- except I didn't go out of business. Take this stuff, do neat things with it, I certainly intend to. There will always be a version of it you can use in code.
    GPL doesn't seem to produce new, original stuff, hell! _ALL_ the stuff I've GPLed has been new, and some of it has been original by any standard (mind showing me the other space based game universes with nineteen million individually plotted stars, most of which have specific and consistently repeatable planets and entire landscapes and resource maps? That's what this is).
    I rushed this stuff into public view out of fear that patents were being written that touched some aspects of it. Any aspect- I don't labor under the misconception that patents make sense, or expect that anyone was duplicating the more large scale aspects. I also rushed it out there because of just such attitudes as yours. I wanted to prove them wrong, and continue to work at doing that. GPL is not a world of derivative crud. It is a philosophical statement, it is growing, and it is a way for a developer to be guaranteed freedom no matter what the commercial world might do to step on it or stop it. As the commercial world grows more and more poisonous, the number of people doing wholly original work and GPLing it will only grow.
  • eek.. and I hate it when people say open source = free software.. and I just did that. Thanks a bunch for correcting that goof.
  • The community is fine but has been very encouraging, and a bit upset, that StarOffice didn't go GPL?

    Would you agree that if Sun refrains from using the term open source in a reference to the OSI definition, but rather in a reference that developers are able to see and with Sun, build on Sun's technologies, that there's nothing to be annoyed about? I now Sun at first made the claims of open source, but I haven't seen for a long time of Sun casting SCSL under the same light, but actually making sure to differentiate it from what people generally think of. (which gets others annoyed, because thus open source may have a different definition than OSI's.. more of, you can see the source code, perhaps with or without restrictions).
  • Those communist societies owned things too. It's quite easy to look stupid in the eyes of people who know better (as you so nicely put it), isn't it?

    I've read a good bit of Marx in my time (Communst Manifesto, Manuscrpts of Economics of 1844 (something like that), and some of capitalism. I'm right now reading a bit of Mills', Principles of a Political Economy. If you read Marx's real essays, not the summery that CM provides, FSF's goals do have some striking simularities. I wouldn't label it communism without thorough research, and I wouldn't label communism as evil either (though ESR seems to). I actually like Mills' ideas far better than any socialism, capitalism, communism, or facism (of course).

    The ideas Marx proposed, as were ideas RMS proposed, made people involved take notice, despise them, but could not neglect them. Perhaps not see the same means for the end, but see base theories. Neither is bad, though both could be a bit to extreme. To bad we can't reserect Mills'. :)
  • "Batch optimized native machine code" is simply the most important thing that happened to Java, ever. And it happened in the GPL'ed version, which mean that your main point is nil and void.

    The rest of your post is similarly lacking in facts or sense. The GPL is designed to keep innovations free, not proprietary. The GPL has attracted lots of non-GNU developers, while you have been unable to mention a single non-Sun contribution to SCSL.

    That most new ideas come from researchers, mostly at universities, and mostly government founded, can hardly be a suprise. That is what they are paid to create.
  • "Batch optimized native machine code" is simply the most important thing that happened to Java, ever.


    What the fuck are you talking about. What is this
    batch optimized native machine code you keep talking about. Is it some form of Java to native code compilation (hardly revolutionary, we've been compiling languages to native code for nearly fifty years now)???

    "The GPL is designed to keep innovations free"

    What innovations? This is my main point: GPL is great for maintaining existing code, perhaps even for reimplementing existing code but not for creating something entirely new. The reason, in my opinion, is that if you are able to create something entirely new (i.e. innovate in a significant way) your creation is worth money. Only idealists give valuable stuff away for free (i.e. GPL it) the rest of us will try to sell it. GPL is only useful if the improvements are incremental rather than revolutionary.

    "while you have been unable to mention a single non-Sun contribution to SCSL"

    I haven't bothered mentioning any. This doesn't mean I'm not able to do so. As you may know SUN has been working together with industry parthners like IBM, Borland and even Microsoft. Surely MS hasn't contributed much but I don't think you can claim that nobody contributed anything.

    "That most new ideas come from researchers, mostly at universities, and mostly government founded, can hardly be a suprise. That is what they are paid to create."

    So you agree that innovation doesn't come from the open source community but from people whose job it is to do research (either from industry or from universities).
  • You probably have a nice research project going on. I haven't checked it out but I trust you in that it is original and innovative.

    Unfortunately it doesn't exactly disprove my statement. My statement was a very general one (GPL projects generally don't introduce new, revolutionary stuff). Of course you can always find an exception to such a general statement (which is what you did).

    "I don't know who else is out there ready to hit the world with genuinely innovative stuff under the GPL. I'm doing it. Why? Because I have no confidence in the ability of the U.S. legal system to protect me or my ideas. I have no confidence in business to be able to help me implement them. All the promises about innovating and making millions off of great ideas are all crap- that doesn't happen anymore, those days are over."

    So *slap* back: this statement clearly proves that you are an idealist (The pessimistic kind).
    You have lost your belief in selling good ideas for money (which is what you do in capitalist society as America). Basically you are denying that people are getting rich everyday by gambling on internet startup stocks.

    GPL seems to attract paranoid idealists like yourself like flies. It doesn't prove a thing to me.
  • There is nothing revolutionary about Java. It is basically C++ without the hard-to-implement parts, which outputs pseudo-code like the old P-code compilers from UCSD. Integration with Web wasn't new either, tcl, Perl and Pyhton all were there first. The only thing that makes Java special is the incredible amount of hype. And the only development in the Java community that makes it useful, is the generation of batch-optimized native code.

    Gcc was the first commercial succesful compiler that combines multiple front-ends with multiple backends. Previous efforts were research projects.

    CVS was the first useful merge based version control system with distributed workspaces that worked ov

    Emacs was the first IDE with a lot of the features that only recently have found its way into commerciel IDE's, such as context sensitive help, quick indexes, language knowledge, file merging, version control, and the whole rcd cycle.

    There are plenty of University research projects distributed under the GPL, look at the fsf home page for some of them. This is not surprising, as the university researchers for a large degree (and industry researches as well, but less so) are _part of_ the free software community, and the academic ideals are so similar to the free software ideals.

    Compare this with the absolute zero level of inventions you have demonstrated in the Java/SCSL community. Typically, the people motivated by greed don't innovate, they merely package the innovations done by the people motivated by ideas.

  • "The whole point of the danger of the fork is that you are going to have two actively developing groups working on increasingly incompatible code confusing the market."
    No, that's the whole point of the fork- if your agenda is to dissipate the potential threat of Linux. Look, pretend you read that bit of analysis in the middle of the Halloween Document, then maybe you'll see it in context. I'm just trying to highlight potential attacks before they happen so we have an idea what to do about them. I've talked to RMS on the subject. He is not happy that people can be forced to work on GPLed code in an unfree way, but he thinks the community can always outperform anyone silly enough to restrict people's communication. I'm not sure that's true. Prove me wrong! :)
  • Absolutely. I _have_ lost my belief in selling good ideas for money. I also don't believe people getting rich by gambling on internet startups are a good thing. I've been reading articles and analyses (some linked from Slashdot) suggesting that the tremendous emphasis on cash-out is leading to profusion of internet businesses which are not remotely viable businesses, in which the only point is to cash out, and no sound business plan or procedures are in place. Businesses which are experiencing 130% turnover in five years (if that!). Businesses which, although they have no plan for the future beyond the cash-out, although they turn over like a revolving door, are buying up intellectual property at a staggering rate through building patent portfolios to prevent anyone else from doing work comparable to theirs- without doing *squat* to see to it that they will be longterm stable businesses able to _deliver_ on those patented benefits to the consumer for years.
    So on the one hand, business seems to be trying to stake out permanent claims to areas of computing. On the other hand, it seems to be so in love with cash-out that these permanent claims risk becoming ghost towns (nuclear waste zones?) when the companies cash out, get bought and cease caring about being able to deliver on their promises- producing large areas of computing where nothing is happening, but the 'land' is owned by whoever bought out the company that used to be there, and No Trespassing signs are up.
    THIS is what your getting rich truly means in the modern day. Capitalism may not have failed- indeed, communism did not fail AS A CONCEPT, so how could Capitalism fail? But OUR VERSION of Capitalism is in the process of crashing and burning.
    I opt out. If it was a military or civil matter, I might be throwing grenades, so bitterly do I agree with what's going on. It is not, it is an economic matter, so I am doing everything I can to aid the biggest enemy of the current Capitalism that I can find. I figure that's the free software movement, since it is solely concerned with establishing products that work, available to all, and that are impossible to withhold for economic punishment. So I'm doing what I can with that. It may not be the greatest thing to ever hit the world, but I know what I want to do with it.
  • Sun Community Source License. They use community source. I generally don't see Sun, any more, using the term open source, or any term.. they usually just say SCSL and don't care about explaining it. I don't really care to much, as a long as they don't try to pitch it all as the same, try to ride on anyones sucess, or anything else annoying. From what I've seen, they killed the maretters who tried to do that innitially.. haven't seen them play SCSL as open source for a while (ie, Bill Joy's goal was to make people understand the SCSL, while everyone elses was to attack Joy and ignore him).

    Now, what would the term be if you just let people see your source, with or without restrictions? I don't mean any marketting term, just say, "here.. take a look at my source."
  • I don't necessarily disagree with you. As a european I am frequently amazed at the extreme shape things tend to take on the other side of the ocean. In my opinion the amount of money currently made with internet stocks is just a symptom of how sick the society over there is. I'm glad we sorted out this matter by pointing out that your opinion is based on idealism rather than facts.
  • Definition:
    Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessess.

    In his arguement, he rightly says that to be altrusistic, he must give to the public domain. That means anyone can use it, no strings. Putting restrictions on that, especially the GPL's where any modifications must return to him, and his community, that's selfish. If a company did this, people would think they're greedy. So, not to be hypocritical, using the GPL is being greedy.. selfish.

    Thus, while the origional poster can say he is altrusistic (because of freedom of speech), he'll also be lying his ass off.
  • I'm bartering the right to use my source, and my price is the right to use your derived works.

    Well, you are right that SCSL is for Sun, though I think you neglected that when you write code when complying with the SCSL (which implies that you are thus deriving from Sun's code), it is yours. Sun doesn't own your code, and you can GPL it or give it away, except for anything that is not your own code (ie, if it has Sun's). Thus the SCSL is a great tool for developers to understand how to work with Solaris for building ontop of it, and the same with other platforms such as Jini. That's Sun's goal, and its quite a useful feature over closing it like Microsoft. It helps developers, and does not reduce Sun's control of its own code.
    So again, your right n the fact that the SCSL is not meant, at all, to be like the GPL.

    On communism, I think your wrong. However, I don't think communism is evil, so saying the GPL and FSF have communist aspects is nothing horrible.

    For those who like to drop the C-word in their GPL talk, the fact that we're doing it by choice (unlike any communist system, which can only work by making damn sure you can't choose an alternative because you would) is not the only argument against your idea.

    The GPL is property rights for programs. Right of ownership of anything is quite non-communist. After all, if I own something myself, I might be able to get more of it. And then I would keep the "more." Then I might get more. If this is money, I might have more money than my neighbor, and this is what communism tries (and fails miserably) to avoid. If you think GPL has anything to do with this system, I think you have a problem.

    That is only because we are in a democratic capitalist state. Thus, we must play by capitalism and thus there is a choice. Communism is not forcing you not to use an alternative, it is forcing capitalism not to exploit the worker. In Marx's Wages of Labor, Rent of Land, and Estrangement of Labor (right?), he shows how the worker is exploited, and how he is not given freedom. The goal is that the worker recieves th fruits of his labor, not the capitalist. Anything a worker does is only a commodity, and he must sell himself as a commodity, etc. The result of his labor goes to the capitalist, not the worker. Because landowners, property (Marx means land!), are really capitalist (the entire idea of rent), that's exploitation. Marx says communism will be a society where the worker recieves the fruits of his labor, and goods will be equally and fairly distributed based on need. This does not mean you do not own your car, it means you do not own your land.

    The FSF says code should be free. It views code as land property, where there is no real owner (this is my interpritation from their docs). If code is GPL'ed, the origionator does not own the code, except that he can re-release it in another license. He cannot, however, remove the GPL as it takes the code away from him and forces it open. Its all very muggy and I don't want to try to compare the two here, because I would make numerous mistakes.

    Communism has so far failed because these were NOT marxian communist societies. The prolotariate did not revolt, and it was forced. That means it doesn't work from the start, and things go bad. I don't believe that the GPL is the answer for open source, nor is communism for society. Both in the real worl have forced on the worker (here, the worker is not the devlopers, but every regular user), and is cheared by a small group that ignores many, many factors as it gains power. What is needed is for an analysis based transfered from John Stuart Mill's Principles of a Political Economy to really understand how to manage code licenses. (code licenses are very similar to societies, and neither should be based on an ideal, and not constrained by that one)
  • *ahem* _nice_ spin ;P
    It isn't. I've never been much for idealism. In this context I would like to think of myself as a realist- my best bet for doing well and being known in the industry in future is to do what I'm doing, start GPLing stuff NOW and not waste time attempting to GetRichQuick in the computer industry. For what I do, the facts are that doing creative work in the industry is very like trying to be a professional musician- if you want to have worse odds than playing the lottery and be exploited at the same time, go for it!
    That's the "facts". I don't see how accepting these facts is 'idealism', indeed it might well be called harsh cynicism about the industry. To me, the idealism is all these merry businessmen thinking they can make infinite money by playing peculiar money games- and especially, the idealism of the naive and stubborn programmers who persist in believing that they have a chance at hitting the big time. Doing what, I might ask?
    I won't accuse you back of being idealistic, but I would suggest that I don't fit the pattern either. Maybe the fact that I want to do something good in society is enough, but your comment does certainly sound more dismissive than that. I'm glad we sorted out this matter by pointing out that my opinion is based on facts rather than just idealism and _unwillingness_ to play vaporbusinessman. In fact, there's a very crap chance of that even working: people might as well go program free software, then at least they can be sure of keeping their own work!
  • "Maybe the fact that I want to do something good in society is enough"

    If that's the fact you fit my definition of being an idealist.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"