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Comment Re:Makes sense (Score 1) 277

Well, most code stays in the same "niche".

For instance, I made contributions to the Second Life client. Some people actually reused my code. Where could I look for improved versions of it? Well, given that it was quite SL specific due to ties to their UI code, I'd say that in other people's SL viewers.

Comment Re:In other words (Score 1) 8

First, no, it would not be a complete rewrite. Pretty much just the function bodies.

"just", yeah.

Also a lot harder than you think. GPL code is still under copyright. To protect you against chances of infringement, you'd have to pretty much start by reimplementing the app by following a header file, and spending a lot of time wondering "WTF does this function do?", "what does this function return when passed a null pointer" and "Argh, this part is horribly ugly".

It can be done, but it's a pain in the ass, and coding your own app is a lot more enjoyable.

Somebody actually threatened me with your exact scheme once. 5 years later it has yet to materialize.

Second, you get the advantages of compatibility with add-ons, plugins, etc., for free.
Third, you get binary and user compatibility, so you can get access to current users.

Until development diverges, that is. Users mostly keep using what they were using before. You're going to provide something more impressive than "what you had before, only now you have to pay for it!"

Fourth, unlike the open version, which even the original devs would have a hard time making money selling the code, you're free to optimize and sell the resultant binary code - "100% compatible but 30% faster!" Or "we've removed over 400 bugs compared to the original."

So you get a few corporate customers maybe. 95% of the userbase won't really care. See how many normal people (ie, not companies) bother with paying for RHEL vs the marketshare of the other distributions. Heck, most companies use CentOS when they can get away for it.

Your bug fixing and improvements probably will require changing the ABI.

Comment Re:Makes sense (Score 1) 277

Heh! I don't care for terminology arguments. It's not important to me what it's called. It does precisely what I want it to do, and that's why I use it, and not because I'm committed to some philosophical concept of freedom.

But, most practical freedom does come with strings attached. Even back when everybody was proudly saying that America is the Land of the Free, it wasn't by any means anarchic.

Comment Re:Makes sense (Score 1) 277

If you want to write free software for the benefit of the IT community and not a certain unemployed American self-righteous zealot, you should definitely release it into the public domain or â" if you want attribution â" use some easier and more relaxed license (both to understand and read) than any GNU license.

I don't want any of those things.

I write for my own benefit, not for the "IT community". I want attribution, and your improvements to my code, or your money in exchange for a different license. I have no reason to give you code with no strings attached, no matter how much that might displease you.

Comment Re:Makes sense to the ill-informed ... (Score 1) 277

GPL is perfectly usable in a closed management model when the code is used internally, for example when you provide a service not a software product like google.

That doesn't apply to software that's intended to be sold to end users, which can take advantage of the GPL. For the rest, there's the AGPL. Google doesn't seem to like it.

look at the Linux kernel being locked into GPL v2 because all the contributors of patches and new features/functionality can't/won't authorize a switch to GPL v3

Actually that's in a way a benefit. Part of what I like about the GPL is precisely the situation with the kernel. By mixing together so much code from authors that would disagree with a change, are unavailable, dead, etc, it'd take the rewrite of a huge amount of code to relicense the kernel, to the point it's not worth trying. It exists in a weird category of its own where nobody really owns it, and nobody can ever become the owner. I consider that state to be desirable, even if there are problems like with the GPL3.

BSD licensed projects have been easier sells for some, for example Sun Microsystems and Apple Computers.

They like it better for sure, but why would be that a good thing for me? Darwin last time I looked at it was unusable and pretty much dead, for instance.

Comment Re:The sad part. (Score 1) 277

My guess would be that for programmers who plan a livelyhood based on writing wholly (or near to it) FOSS code, something like the GPL protects their interests and future business possibilities in the market more than a permissive license like the 3-clause BSD. For programmers who write a lot of code under proprietary licenses, I can totally understand that they would (1) want (or rather NEED) to use permissively-licensed libraries, and (2) thus would be much inclined to release their code under those same permissive terms.

Actually I'm not so sure of that. In my experience, companies don't like to help their competition. My company releases an open source product, and you can bet every bit of code has the GPL3 on it. There's no good reason for BSD licensing anything. We have competitors, why would we help those for free? With the GPL at least if we solve some thorny problem and they take that code, we can then get the improvements to that.

Same goes for me personally. I have no interest in helping a competitor in my free time, and if unemployed I don't want to be working for free for some company earning good profit.

To me, BSD people seem to have mostly an anti-copyright and academic background.

Comment Re:The sad part. (Score 1) 277

I've personally witnessed the opposite happening: a project releasing under the BSD, then getting upset about it being forked and after I talked to one of its developers, it changed to GPLd afterwards.

Yes, people really don't think enough about licensing, but that goes for both those who choose permissive and strict copyleft licenses. People should think for a bit on subjects like "What if my code ends up in every computer on the planet, but I still get nothing from it? Will I be proud to say 'I contributed this bit', or will I be really pissed off?". Some people might choose the first answer, but my general impression is that people on the whole aren't all that altruistic and quite a few would fall into the second. I don't think it does anybody much good to pretend to be more altruistic than they really are.

In my experience at least many people who choose BSD have this IMO weird idea: that despite the permissive licensing, people should still be polite, and treat it as if it was the GPL in some cases. You can take the code, but you should contribute back. You technically can incorporate it into a GPL project, but it pisses them off (probably because the improved code is out there in plain sight, but they still can't use it), so you should be nice and contribute a BSD licensed version back.

The GPL is a more legalistic approach: here are the rules, if you don't like them then go away and write your own code. It also has a few more ways to adjust to the creator's wishes with options like the LGPL and AGPL.

Comment Makes sense (Score 4, Interesting) 277

IMO, if you're writing or releasing software, the GPL is preferrable. You benefit from patches, even being able to take those people don't intentionally contribute. You keep your code unusuable to those competitors who follow a closed management model. You also get to use it as advertisement if you're willing to offer an alternate license for money.

If you're looking to use somebody else's software though, of course the BSD is best. But the thing is that once you spent a few months working on code, a BSD license can be a bit of a hard sell for anything important, because you have nothing of the above. I think for most people some degree of attachment and desire of control develops after spending a lot of time on something.

Comment Re:Bacteria (Score 1) 22

I don't know of any such strains personally, but experiments to produce extremophiles certainly exist. (Here's one example: high-pressure E. coli.) A search query like this one is probably a good place to start.

Cool, thanks

This all being said, for us to find life on other planets that exists in some of these forms, there has to be a plausible path backing up the process; I think a lot of people don't quite get this. Just because you can breed, say, extremely radiation-resistant bacteria in a lab doesn't mean that life could evolve from scratch with that much radiation present. (Think of it like trying to assemble a ruggedized computer in the middle of a sandstorm.)

That makes sense.

But on the other hand, the current atmosphere on Earth is full of oxygen which would be a deadly poison to the life that initially appeared on Earth, if I understood correctly. When we look at a planet with a telescope I don't think we get enough data to figure out what conditions existed in the past. Maybe past conditions were more pleasant, or life managed to develop in a nicer area (like somewhere below the ground) and then migrated outwards.

So is it really that useful to know that an arsenic tolerant bacteria can evolve on Earth? We have a rather specific history here that may not be the only way that produces life, and that's probably quite different from how things go on many other planets.

Speaking of Mars, there was this idea that the experiments performed by the Viking lander may have killed the life it was trying to find. In light of that it seems to me that figuring out which forms of life can exist is probably a good idea, if only to figure out what instruments could be used to try to find it.

Comment Bacteria (Score 1) 22


I followed with interest the news of the bacteria that can use arsenic. Later (if I understood correctly) it turned out to be less impressive than initially thought, and can only substitute arsenic for a small percentage of the phosphorus it needs.

I was wondering if there have been any attempts to create such bacteria by artificial selection. Is there any sort of targeted effort along those lines to try to determine in what conditions can life exist?


Comment Questions on genetic engineering (Score 2) 10

Hi! Thanks a lot for this great opportunity. Hope it's not too much to ask several questions at once.

I've recently been involved in a discussion on this subject, so several questions came up:

1. Is genetic engineering on the level of creating catgirls, cabbits and such possible with current technology? I'm guessing that given all the progress and existence of things like glowing fish and GM food, it's probably doable, and the only reason such things don't exist yet is due to ethical and economical reasons. Put in another way, how far could one get into mad scientist territory if ignoring all rules was possible?

2. Are there limits to gene therapy? If one can artificially create something like the above, is it possible to make an existing organism rebuild itself into the same shape? I understand that it's probably not been attempted, but are there any known limits past which something of the sort wouldn't be worth trying?

For instance, as somebody with an interest in photography, I think it'd be very neat to be able to improve my vision and become a tetrachromat, or gain the ability to see IR or UV. Can gene therapy get something like that done?

3. What is your opinion on DIYbio?


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