Is FSF software really free.

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Michael Mclay

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Jan 27, 1991, 1:10:04 AM1/27/91
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In article <910116130...@zardoz.coral.com> d...@zardoz.coral.com (Don Dewar) writes:

RMS,

Please reread the following excerpt of a posting concerning your
attempts to impose morality on others. While I like many of the
FSF products, I absolutely disagree with your distribution tactics.

So, what is happening here is that because someone is trying to impose
their concept of free software on us, we may have to avoid using some
GNU software when we release our product. I think that FSF might
learn something here from a very serious mistake that our government
repeatedly makes: You can't legislate morality -- education is the
only way to help people make the right moral decision. The more you
try to force your convictions on someone else, the more they may
resist. If you show them the right way through your own example, you
are more likely to get the results you want.

If you truely want your software to be free, then distribute it as X
Windows and InterViews are distributed. We use the public domain
version of both these tools, however, organizations that aren't in the
software business are able to buy, for less than it would cost them to
do the work themselves, a compiled and tested version of X Windows
from DEC, Sun, IBM, HP and others. The programers who worked on X
Windows or InterViews cannot feel cheated when one of these companies
sells a copy of X Windows for $500 or $1000. They wanted their code
to be used by other and put it in the public domain so that this would
be possible. In order for some of the public to be able to use it,
however, more work was required. This extra work must be paid for and
that is why the $500 or $1000 was spent. There was no coersion
involved. See Adam Smith for details on how this works:-)

Why not have the FSF copyright read as follows:

I don't believe software should cost money. You can use what I wrote
for free. If you agree with me you will do the same. If you don't I
wish you well. Please be kind enough to tell others that I wrote this
code or parts of the code.

Thank you

RMS

Anything more than that is going to restrict the distribution of the
FSF software. If this were not true then at least one of the above
mentioned companies would have started distributing FSF software along
with their own.

The Soviets have finally admitted that Marx was wrong and Adam Smith
was right. FSF should do the same. It's ok to give the source code
away or sell the tapes for $195 each, just don't require that everyone
do the same. That only causes those who need additional support to
not be able to use the products at all.

--
Michael J. McLay
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Bld 220 Rm A355 (office), Bld 220 Rm A150 (mail)
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899, (301)975-4099

Jacob Gore

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Jan 27, 1991, 2:58:27 PM1/27/91
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/ gnu.misc.discuss / mc...@cme.nist.gov (Michael Mclay) / Jan 26, 1991 /

> If you truely want your software to be free, then distribute it as X
> Windows and InterViews are distributed.
>...

> Why not have the FSF copyright read as follows:
>
> I don't believe software should cost money. You can use what I wrote
> for free.

Perhaps you would also like all those "FREE KUWAIT" bumper stickers to read
"I DON'T BELIEVE KUWAIT SHOULD COST MONEY"?

Your posting reminded me of the old Saturday Night Live character, Rosanne
Rosanna-Danna (who knows how that's spelled...). She would always do
commentaries on something she completely misunderstood -- for example,
"`Help Soviet jewelry'... why should we help Soviet jewelry?".

Perhaps you should read the preamble of the GPL again.

Jacob
--
Jacob Gore Ja...@Gore.Com boulder!gore!jacob

J. Eric Townsend

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Jan 27, 1991, 4:16:43 PM1/27/91
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In article <MCLAY.91J...@thud.cme.nist.gov> mc...@cme.nist.gov (Michael Mclay) writes:
>[Waaaah, I don't like the "price" of FSF software!]

Hey, I'd love to have a NEC SX series, but those capitalist bastards in
Japan think they have the right to charge me a bazillion for it. AT&T
should cough up the S5R4 source as well, since there's no way I'll ever
be able to afford their licensing fees.

If you don't like the price, you can buy it somewhere else or pay someone
to invent it for you. It's what capitalism is all about, last time I checked.

--
J. Eric Townsend - j...@uh.edu - bitnet: jet@UHOU - vox: (713) 749-2120
"It is the cunning of form to veil itself continually in the evidence
of content. It is the cunning of the code to veil itself and to produce
itself in the obviousness of value." -- Baudrillard

Rich Braun

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Jan 27, 1991, 5:08:46 PM1/27/91
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Perhaps the motivation for the FSF's current copyleft policy isn't made clear
enough in the various distribution files.

RMS was a housemate of mine 8-9 years ago, back when Emacs was written in
Teco for ITS and the DEC-20 and it was just getting ported to other systems
(Gosling, et al, under Unix). He was incredibly frustrated at how people
kept ripping off his software and selling it for massive royalties. Though
the name "emacs" became a household word, it was no longer free on many
systems and it no longer represented RMS' views.

By the time the FSF was created, this lesson had already been well-learned:
the point is to create a massive set of building-block tools so the state
of the art will be advanced by people building on top of them, rather than
kept in one place by people constantly trying to make a buck building
basic systems.

In order to keep the software in the public domain and available on the
largest variety of systems, the copyleft was invented. And it's become a
very sensible way of motivating people to port the software to new systems
without trying to make a fast buck off of it.

The way to make money on Gnu software is to provide guaranteed support so
companies can use it easily, reliably, and across a variety of platforms.
Not to take a copy of it, port it to some new system, and sell it.

Another side benefit of the copyleft has been to create a series of de facto
standards which are superior to those put forth by some other organizations.
This is thanks to the reduced time-to-market created by the Gnu distribution
media: state-of-the-art advances appear much more rapidly in Gnu software
than, for example, in that of Lotus, Apple, OSF, or Microsoft, to name a few
names.

-rich

Alan M. Carroll

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Jan 27, 1991, 1:22:09 PM1/27/91
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In article <MCLAY.91J...@thud.cme.nist.gov>, mc...@cme.nist.gov (Michael Mclay) writes:
> In article <910116130...@zardoz.coral.com> d...@zardoz.coral.com (Don Dewar) writes:
>
> RMS,
>
> Please reread the following excerpt of a posting concerning your
> attempts to impose morality on others. While I like many of the
> FSF products, I absolutely disagree with your distribution tactics.
> [ ... ]

> Anything more than that is going to restrict the distribution of the
> FSF software.

[ Flame warning ]
I think you're confused. First off, the FSF and RMS don't owe
_anything_ to _anyone_. They have no obligation whatsoever to provide
any software to anyone for any reason. If the FSF is willing to accept
reduced distribution in order to enforce certain rules on use of their
code, that's their decision to make. I personally disagree with many
of the stated tenets of the FSF, but I absolutely support the FSF's
right to do whatever they want with their code. Write it yourself if
you don't like it, but don't whine because you can't freely distribute
someone else's code.

--
Alan M. Carroll "I hate shopping with the reality-impaired"
Epoch Development Team - Susan
CS Grad / U of Ill @ Urbana ...{ucbvax,pur-ee,convex}!cs.uiuc.edu!carroll

Craig Burley

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Jan 28, 1991, 1:19:10 PM1/28/91
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In article <MCLAY.91J...@thud.cme.nist.gov> mc...@cme.nist.gov (Michael Mclay) writes:

In article <910116130...@zardoz.coral.com> d...@zardoz.coral.com (Don Dewar) writes:

RMS,

Please reread the following excerpt of a posting concerning your
attempts to impose morality on others. While I like many of the
FSF products, I absolutely disagree with your distribution tactics.

So, what is happening here is that because someone is trying to impose
their concept of free software on us, we may have to avoid using some
GNU software when we release our product. I think that FSF might
learn something here from a very serious mistake that our government
repeatedly makes: You can't legislate morality -- education is the
only way to help people make the right moral decision. The more you
try to force your convictions on someone else, the more they may
resist. If you show them the right way through your own example, you
are more likely to get the results you want.

Hmm, you're right, the government CAN'T legislate morality. So let's
start a new campaign to further this -- "FREEDOM TO BE A SLAVE". Yes,
clearly the U.S. Government has gone too far in fighting slavery. They
say they're protecting our "freedom", but what about OUR FREEDOM TO CHOOSE
TO BE SLAVES IF WE WANT TO? There are times and situations where this
would be ecnomonically beneficial to many people, but NO! Uncle Sam
has decided to LEGISLATE MORALITY and impose it on everyone. And thus
deny us our freedom to become slaves or buy the rights to enslave others!

If you truely want your software to be free, then distribute it as X
Windows and InterViews are distributed. We use the public domain
version of both these tools, however, organizations that aren't in the
software business are able to buy, for less than it would cost them to
do the work themselves, a compiled and tested version of X Windows
from DEC, Sun, IBM, HP and others. The programers who worked on X
Windows or InterViews cannot feel cheated when one of these companies
sells a copy of X Windows for $500 or $1000. They wanted their code
to be used by other and put it in the public domain so that this would
be possible. In order for some of the public to be able to use it,
however, more work was required. This extra work must be paid for and
that is why the $500 or $1000 was spent. There was no coersion
involved. See Adam Smith for details on how this works:-)

Yes, if you truly want your citizens to be free, they must have the option
of becoming slaves or acquiring slaves themselves.

Now, some might argue that the mere allowance that people can CHOOSE to
be slaves could lead to people being FORCED to be slaves due to economic
and other considerations. But there is "no coersion involved" here, really
-- just people exercising their freedom! After all, why should any company
hire employees, send them to college, train them, just to have them up
and leave whenever they get offered more money? Obviously they shouldn't
have to, and by allowing slavery you allow those companies to decide to
incur those expenses only for people who commit (via slave agreements) to
work for them for a given amount of time, no matter what!

Why not have the FSF copyright read as follows:

I don't believe software should cost money. You can use what I wrote
for free. If you agree with me you will do the same. If you don't I
wish you well. Please be kind enough to tell others that I wrote this
code or parts of the code.

Thank you

RMS

Why not have the Constitution read as follows:

We, the People, don't believe people should be slaves. So they don't
start out that way, and can't be sold into slavery until age 18 and
then only at their own consent. If you agree with this, you won't
sell yourself into slavery or purchase slave rights to others. If you
don't, we wish you well. Please be kind enough to tell those whom you
enslave that we didn't want it to be that way and didn't purposely make
their lives difficult enough for them to feel slavery was their best
option in life.

Thank you

Founding Fathers

That way, we'll all have more freedoms than we now do!

Anything more than that is going to restrict the distribution of the
FSF software. If this were not true then at least one of the above
mentioned companies would have started distributing FSF software along
with their own.

Yes, and anything more than freedom to be slaves or to enslave is going
to restrict the distribution of freedom among the nations of our small
world. If this were not true then at least one nation with pro-freedom
laws allowing slavery would have a separate constitution for those
citizens choosing not to have the freedom to become slaves along with
their own constitution.

The Soviets have finally admitted that Marx was wrong and Adam Smith
was right. FSF should do the same. It's ok to give the source code
away or sell the tapes for $195 each, just don't require that everyone
do the same. That only causes those who need additional support to
not be able to use the products at all.

And the U.S. should admit the same thing and allow slavery. It's ok to
say people are free, just don't require that everyone has to treat everyone
else as free, also. That only causes those who need slaves to not be able
to do what they want to at all.

--------
Now, in case it isn't absolutely clear, I don't promote the above sarcastic
views. Also, I think the comparison is overblown. But it is illustrative
of what I see as the essential crux of the issue:

Is it a good idea for an organization that promotes certain freedoms also
to promote restrictions that serve only to prevent the same freedoms from
being taken away from some people by other people who are enjoying the
benefits of those freedoms (but not passing them on)?

Let's take these arguments one at a time.

So, what is happening here is that because someone is trying to impose
their concept of free software on us, we may have to avoid using some
GNU software when we release our product.

No, the FSF does not impose anything on anyone, unless they incorporate
GNU software in "their" product -- which is only partially theirs if it
uses GNU software. The purpose of the FSF and GNU project is, I think,
to ensure that anyone who is using FSF software is able to read the
source code making up the programs they are using, modify the source code
(or hire anyone they want to do it), and so on. If the GPL (GNU Public
License) was less restrictive, anyone would be able to release "their"
product in a proprietary fashion even though it consisted of 99% FSF
software, thus defeating the purpose of FSF software for those who
got it through those channels.

You don't have to avoid USING GNU software when releasing your product, unless
it incorporates GNU software in its released form, as I understand it.
You can use gcc or g++ to compile your product, gnu emacs to edit it,
gnu make to make it, etc, though because they are "self-inserting", you
can't use bison and (?) flex to build your final product. But if you take
some source code from a GNU product and put it in your own, you are taking
advantage of the freedoms that come with GNU, and you are therefore required
(legally in addition to morally and ethically) to pass the same freedoms on
to your users. Otherwise, you presumably can make enough money (if that's
your argument, which is usually the case when most people complain about
the GPL's "restrictions") to write software equivalent to GNU software from
scratch. If you really think GNU stuff should be "totally free" (i.e. public
domain or at least something less restrictive than the GPL), then write the
equivalent software and place it into the public domain. Many people are
doing this anyway.

I think that FSF might
learn something here from a very serious mistake that our government
repeatedly makes: You can't legislate morality -- education is the
only way to help people make the right moral decision. The more you
try to force your convictions on someone else, the more they may
resist. If you show them the right way through your own example, you
are more likely to get the results you want.

The FSF isn't trying to force their convictions on anyone else as far as
I can see. Amnesty International does that far more than the FSF, and I
don't have a problem with them either. All the FSF says is "go ahead and
use our software in your own released software if you want, as long as you
make your own software as free as ours, so people have access to and use
of our software inside of it". They are trying to come up with a way to be
more flexible with respect to libraries.

Further, many people have shown "the right way" by releasing stuff into the
public domain -- which promptly gets snapped up, ported, and distributed
as proprietary, sometimes to a much larger audience than the original public
version, making the example basically disappear. I think TeX might be
an example of this, but I'm not sure. People writing free software shouldn't
be forced to be patsies, in essence, for those willing to take their work
and rerelease it as non-free software.

In any case, it is the government that is legislating morality via
copyright law. The FSF is simply making a particular use of that law
to help effect what is widely seen as a useful (and moral) goal -- the
greater availability of free software.

If you truely want your software to be free, then distribute it as X
Windows and InterViews are distributed. We use the public domain
version of both these tools, however, organizations that aren't in the
software business are able to buy, for less than it would cost them to
do the work themselves, a compiled and tested version of X Windows
from DEC, Sun, IBM, HP and others.

I don't know of any reason why such organizations wouldn't be able to buy
corresponding versions of GNU stuff from CYGNUS, compiled and tested and
supported, in the same price range. In fact, some organizations refuse to
acquire software without paid-for support, which is one of the reasons
CYGNUS was created. Let me ask you something: do those organizations who
buy prepackaged proprietary versions of X Windows for particular machines
have any competitors to go to if they don't like the level or price of
support? Not always, because if the vendor is also the hardware vendor,
keeps the low-level interfaces inscrutable, and doesn't publish source code
(or patents any attempt to access low-level interfaces), nobody else can
reasonably create competitive, compatible products. With CYGNUS, anything
they sell you (assuming it incorporates any free code, which is likely to
be the case) is going to be free, i.e. with source, so if you don't like
CYGNUS someday, you can go to another organization or hire programmers off
the street to do the job. (Anyone who argues that, well, you can always
diassemble or decompile a proprietary product, obviously doesn't care that
adequate support should not be obtainable only via huge amounts of expert
analysis of binary code!)

The programers who worked on X
Windows or InterViews cannot feel cheated when one of these companies
sells a copy of X Windows for $500 or $1000.

First off, it doesn't matter what they sell the copy for. It matters that
they don't include the full source code of the product and permit free
use of that source code (which of course means no practical way to limit
the number of systems on which a purchased copy can be run at a time, unless
hardware protection is used).

If a company does sell a copy of X for $1000 without full source code and I
was an X programmer, I'd sure feel cheated. If I spent 3 years on X, only
to see some new inscrutable machine come out with no hardware specs, no source
release of their proprietary release of X, and ended up with lots of (rather
naive) customers, there'd end up being a bunch of machines out there using my
"free" software run by people who could not practically hire me to enhance
or fix my own software on their machines! To do that, I'd have to arrange
some kind of agreement (full-time job, contract, whatever) with the vendor,
who would hold almost all the cards (except for in-depth knowledge of X,
perhaps) simply by having done the usual things some companies do to get
into this position -- make an incompatible, obscure environment with inade-
quate documentation, do a little work to port some free stuff, make it all
proprietary, and convince enough people to buy it (price it low, for
example -- once they own it, they gotta pay for support, right?). I might
get paid $100K a year, if I'm lucky, to do support of the proprietary
version, but they'd be taking some $200-$500K off the top from the fees
they charges to the other firms. Meanwhile, they might well not allow any
changes I make to be free so they can make even more money off my own work.

Sure, for some machines, I could avoid the whole thing by doing the port
myself, making it free, and having it compete with the "official" port --
assuming I had equal access to hardware specs and such. But obviously the
firm most interested in such a thing -- the hardware vendor -- would not
pay me for that, since they'd already be expecting to make money off the
proprietary version. With the FSF and its high-profile products, gcc and
gnu emacs, most hw vendors contract out ports (or do them in-house) only
because they don't have the alternative of making equally successful
proprietary versions. Give them that alternative (weaken the GPL enough)
and nearly every vendor would go the proprietary route, and those of us
working on free software for everyone would have to spend LOTS more time
making whatever free software we'd already written continue to be free
by continually doing ports to new machines.

Personally, I prefer knowing that once I write GNU Fortran and release it
under the GPL, it'll always be free to anyone who gets it. If there's a
problem convincing some vendor to pay to port it to their machine without
making a proprietary version, then 1) maybe gf77 needs to be improved to
make it more attractive (to everyone, of course) so the vendor gets
"convinced" by current and potential customers, 2) I or anyone else who
has access to the machine's documentation can do their own port pro bono,
and of course that port'd be GPL-protected too, benefiting everyone, 3)
maybe people shouldn't buy that vendor's machine.

They wanted their code
to be used by other and put it in the public domain so that this would
be possible. In order for some of the public to be able to use it,
however, more work was required. This extra work must be paid for and
that is why the $500 or $1000 was spent. There was no coersion
involved. See Adam Smith for details on how this works:-)

"More work"? I'm no expert, but I can almost guarantee you that any work
needed to make X usable on a given system is some two or three orders of
magnitude LESS work than went into the public-domain portion of X. The
same goes for gcc, gnu emacs, and most large, complex systems. Admittedly
if you only wanted to port "cat" to a new system, the reverse would be
true -- especially if the system didn't already run UNIX -- but the
need isn't just for the small handy utility, but the large complicated ones
as well.

Why not have the FSF copyright read as follows:

I don't believe software should cost money. You can use what I wrote
for free. If you agree with me you will do the same. If you don't I
wish you well. Please be kind enough to tell others that I wrote this
code or parts of the code.

Thank you

RMS

Because then it would be the IFSF -- "Initially Free Software Foundation".

Anything more than that is going to restrict the distribution of the
FSF software. If this were not true then at least one of the above
mentioned companies would have started distributing FSF software along
with their own.

But releasing code into the public domain (or under fewer protections) would
restrict the distribution of the FREE aspect of FSF software to a far
greater extent. Right now the coverage -- percentage of free (non-
proprietary) implementations of FSF software compared to all implementations
of FSF software -- is, or is legally required to be, 100%. The coverage
on any public-domain software you care to name is likely to be inversely
proportional to its popularity -- something not widely interesting might
be 90-100%, but most things we care about would be down around 10%. That
means 90% (or more, depending on the actual demographics -- some
implementations might be more popular because of the kinds of machines
they run on) of the people using the product do not have a free product
in any practical sense of the word.

The Soviets have finally admitted that Marx was wrong and Adam Smith
was right. FSF should do the same. It's ok to give the source code
away or sell the tapes for $195 each, just don't require that everyone
do the same. That only causes those who need additional support to
not be able to use the products at all.

First, I didn't think the Soviets admitted that (yet). I don't know what you
think Adam Smith actually has said. Does he say that copyright and patent law
is great and should be applied not only to their original purposes (creative
works like music and nonobvious processes not relating to laws of nature),
but also to implementations of processes and user interfaces (copyright) and
obvious transformations or combinations of laws of nature (trademarks)?.
Further, the FSF is promoting greater free-market capitalist forces, not less.
They are in no way requiring everyone to write free software, just not to grab
free software using the left hand, tinker with it, and sell it as proprietary
software with the right hand. There is NO comparison with Marxism here at
all; you only draw one, presumably, because you have decided that both
Marxism AND the FSF's approach to software are "wrong". As someone who is
about as far from Marxism in political, personal, and religious philosophy as
one can get, I promise you the FSF ain't anywhere near Marxist.

I hardly recommend the abolishing of copyright or patent laws, myself, just
a reversion to their original (pre-1980 or so) applicability. Without
any copyright law, software vendors would not only not ship source code,
but would tend to require hardware "locks" to implement copy protection.
Without patent law, incentive to do serious research and development would
be much less (though I'm less worried about this -- sometimes I think
patent law is causing more trouble than its worth, as when a company decides
which of four formulas to use for a new medicine based not on which has
the highest effectiveness, least problematic side effects, and lowest
manufacturing costs, but on which has the most patentable coverage -- as
has happened already).

The essential point of the GPL is that it levels the playing field for
competition (though, again, only among people incorporating FSF stuff --
remember that other C compiler vendors can easily look at gcc code to see
how we do stuff, and then can implement their own versions, but we can't look
at their code). Instead of allowing various organizations to "hole up" and
away from competition using proprietary mechanisms (that are primarily
government-protected at the expense of a genuinely "free market", though
ideally to further a practical free market), it requires them to compete on
the basis of what they actually provide as far as features, reliability, and
support, not what they manage to lock their users into.

Remember that copyright and patent law are explicit exceptions to the
true free market system, and they were put in to try and improve the
ability of that system to function and progress.

The central, debatable issue with regard to the GPL is not "is it Marxist"
or "is it truly free" (it certainly is -- freedom does not always have
to include the freedom to deny freedom to others or to yourself, as I
pointed out above).

Instead, it is "is the GPL style of protection one that goes too far in
permitting free-market forces to control the progress of the software
industry?"

The argument can be made that more-free software allows people to develop
less-free software more easily (using that more-free software) and still
make a buck off of it, thus making it more likely they'll do it. Software
might get written that otherwise might not. For example, maybe a version
of GNU Emacs would get made that ran on a 640K IBM PC, like a laptop,
because the people with the expertise would decide they could get enough
return on investment (ROI) by making the resulting product proprietary.

A similar argument is used by Lotus and Apple (among others) to justify
protection of look-and-feel for programs. Without that protection, they
say there is no reason for companies to create good look-and-feel in the
future.

The counterargument is that, after all, most of the computer industry
is founded on the freedoms "legislated" (for its users) by the GPL anyway,
and that didn't seem to slow it down. In fact, it might be the case
that a large part of why the computer industry currently is slowing down
is the fact that so many computers, software programs, and so on, end up
useless because the only organizations that could support them in a manner
affordable to their users went out of business, taking with them any
rights to the source code, thus turning many potential users off of using
computers in situations currently viewed as "fringe". No business in its
right mind would commit its corporate data base to a software package that
had proprietary (undocumented) file formats, came without source code (or
required huge $$ for source code access), and so on -- the risk of losing
that data, requiring lots of retyping, or at least hand-redesigning of
the system into another package would be too great. (Note that many
businesses are, in my opinion, NOT in their "right mind" -- but they're
learning.) Further, because it is no longer possible for good programmers
to freely look at source code, the improvements that used to come about
just by releasing a product with source now either don't happen or must
be worked out during testing, beta release, or successive major releases.
And we all know how slow that process has gotten in the last decade or
so.

With the GPL, the various camps can peacefully coexist, just at a higher
price/performance level brought about by competition. The proprietary
camp has to produce more actually useful stuff to maintain their
restrictions, because most ordinary stuff (compilers, operating systems,
text and word processors, spreadsheets) will been done (with, of course,
varying degrees of success) as free software (public domain, GPL-protected,
whatever). The "free to everyone including hoarders" camp (public domain
and other approaches) is certainly not threatened by the GPL at all, because
they can continue to make their own free software, even though they know
others might well turn it into non-free software. The GPL "free to everyone
who ever uses it" camp can make stuff they want to ALWAYS be free, and are
only at risk that any product they make that enough people in the "free to
everyone including hoarders" camp want to be truly free might get rewritten
by that camp into the public domain, making the GPL version languish.

There are several levels of "freedom" I can think of, and the GPL stands
nearest the "free" end:

1. Public domain (with source &c): anyone can do anything with it, including
creating a derivative work that is totally "unfree" despite being
released. Therefore they can attach proprietary mechanisms like file
formats to it, sell it as their own product, and hope to lock in lots
of customers before everyone realizes the main portion of the product
is free and trivially modified to lock them in (and thereby avoid the
trap set by the vendor).

This is like allowing firms to "sell" people Social Security cards for
their kids, without telling how they could get them for free (or for
some small fee, I forget) directly from the U.S. Government nearly as
easily.

2. Licensed (with source, free to copy or make derivative works as long
as original distribution is sent along): essentially the same as
#1, except anyone receiving a derivative product receives the original
version (with source &c) so they know it's free. However, they don't
necessarily get the source for the changes made to the derivative work,
so proprietary file formats and such can still be added. It will be
incumbent on marketing and sales people employed by the vendor of
the derivative work to hand-wave away the free basis of the work,
claiming the 1 week they spent repackaging the product took man-months
or man-years of intense research and development to produce, so they
shouldn't even look at the free version. Of course, in many cases,
customers of the derivative work will have no practical way of making
use of the free version of the work (getting maintenance done in house
or by hiring a programmer, for example) without doing something
drastic like switching hardware platforms, exporting and reimporting
all their data, reverse engineering the proprietary parts of the code,
et cetera. A few vendors might refuse to use software protected by
option #2 because it requires them to send out more floppies than if
they didn't need to send the original form along; perhaps the option
to provide a pointer to a site where the original form could be
obtained (at a nominal charge) for at least three years would help
in cases where lots of data is involved.

This is like those firms that "sell" you better credit ratings
or bad-credit-proof credit cards. They have to (or are supposed to)
tell you, or at least most everyone knows, that you could do most or
all of the same things yourself for less money. But they gloss over
that fact, don't tell you how you could do it yourself, and the
existence of such services often leads to increased obfuscation of
the processes that are available to everyone. (Do you remember back
when any computer you bought would come with complete hardware specs
so you could write your own operating system if you wanted? Well,
maybe IBMs didn't, but in any case, once proprietary software became
the norm, so did keeping important information secret.)

(Note: I first heard about this idea from Peter da Silva. He uses
this in his "Really Free Public License". I hope I have the pertinent
facts right, and he doesn't mind the attribution!)

3. Licensed (with source, free to copy of make derivative works as long
as they're also protected under option #3): This is (basically) the
GPL. Anyone who receives a product originally protected under this
option has a product still protected under this option. They've got
(or have access to) the source code (or, with the draft Library GPL,
object files for the proprietary parts of the package so they can
change the free library code and rebuild the application), so they
are free to hire programmers, use in-house staff, or use the standard
service contracts for support. Some vendors might refuse to use
software protected by #3 because they can't derive proprietary works
from it (though of course they're free to use #3 software to create
those works if the works aren't derivative of such software). Instead,
they either have to start from scratch, use "freer" software protected
by options 1 or 2, or license less-free software. Only using freer
software is likely to be as inexpensive as using #3 software and
releasing #3-protected derivative works.

This is like the "inalienable rights" doctrine -- if you have or use
this software, you are entitled to certain inalienable rights, and you
can't give them up or get anyone else to give them up to you.

4. Shareware (with source...): An honor-system version of more restrictive
options where people are allowed to use the software before they decide
whether to buy it. Usually, no derivative works may be created from
the source without contacting the author regarding licensing. However,
there may be sufficient freedom here for customers to support themselves
by doing their own maintenance or hiring programmers (though I'm not
certain how the concept of pay-per-copy holds up when the program can
be rebuilt after local changes have been made). (Really more than one
option here, I think.)

5. Proprietary (no source, but free to make copies): You pay for a copy,
usually, but you can install freely. No ability to access source
(at least not without a licensing negotiation), no ability to port or
support, therefore. (Really several options here.)

6. Proprietary (no source, not free to make copies): Applies to most
software today -- you can't share this software with your neighbors,
nor support it yourself. (Really many options here.)

You'll notice that people making software under options 4, 5, and 6, are
"free" to derive it from software protected by options 1 and 2. Option
3 basically stands by itself, kind of in the middle -- the only way for
software protected under #3 to get more restricted is for it to FIRST
get its protection "relaxed" by the authors to options 1 and 2. That is
why the FSF wants to avoid relaxing the GPL too much -- the result can
and will be that FSF software would (legally) find its way into much more
restrictive software.

Note that none of this has to do with charging for distributions. People
can distribute software protected by options 1-4 (at least) however they
want -- for free, charging per tape/disk, packaging it with their own
manuals (I think), whatever. The GPL does not require people who sell
copies of FSF software to charge $195 or any particular amount -- if they
can make and sell copies for less or more than the FSF, that's fine.
Obviously, placing it on the net for ftp access means people can get it
truly for "free" (ok, using the net costs someone money somewhere, right? :-).

Personally, I think option 2 is a decent alternative, because it ensures
that people are likely to know their software is derived from free software.
Of course, they might not notice until after they've bought the product
(maybe some wording could be used to enhance the effectiveness, by
requiring that all literature on the derivative work contain a prominent
sentence saying something like "Derived from the XYZ product written by
Nice Guys Ltd") and it still won't help them if they're on a peculiar
machine or environment and have no information on how to write their own
"driver" software for that environment.

However, despite some initial waffling, I've come to feel option 3 is still
the best because although it can limit overall distribution, it totally
prevents abuse of free software. If it turns out that too few vendors are
willing to permit (i.e. pay or at least provide documentation for)
derivative works running under their environments, then perhaps I'll change
to preferring option 2, but only after we've seen whether a few years
of such behavior by a few vendors causes those vendors to become stronger
or weaker (or, best of all, belly-up!).

My personal interests are not to increase my own (or anyone else's) market
share, but to increase market size -- to make computers easier, safer (as
far as not being so easy to make fatal buying decisions), less expensive,
and more fun, so as to more easily promote their growth not only in the U.S.
but throughout the world. In a market like that, even if it was all based
on free software a la option 3 (GPL), anyone with talent, skill, and the
willingness to do hard work with computer software could do very well, thank
you. In our current market, we're rewarding those who have talent, skill,
and the willingness to use it all to convince people to buy products that
end up having "high switching costs", even if they know nothing about
software. (How many Mac users knew when they bought the Mac that Apple would
use lawsuits to prevent any other vendors from making available a vaguely
similar interface? Was that possibility depicted in their famous 1984 Super
Bowl ad? How many Lotus 1-2-3 users knew Lotus would sue to effectively
prevent them from ever having the option of buying competing products without
retraining their staffs? How many dBase users were told in advertisements
that the language and data base they'd be committing years of effort to
would end up being declared "proprietary", thus locking them out of access
to viable competitive products? All these tactics fall under the heading
I just made up -- "bait and tackle" -- bait people into buying something then
make sure it's something they can't easily switch from using later on (i.e.
they've been "tackled", and have to exert extreme effort -- the "high
switching cost" approach taught in M.B.A. programs -- to free themselves.
This is one of the tactics that has helped the U.S. lose its lead in so
many areas -- customers are getting smarter and not buying products from
firms that do this sort of thing, as in the "planned obsolence" of the U.S.
car manufacturers.)

It also strikes me that it is much easier for free software (source code)
plus a few computers to penetrate low-income neighborhoods than for
high-rolling corporations to put service and training centers in them.
I learned how to do software not in a poor neighborhood, but in a computer-
poor area -- a sleepy suburb in the early '70s -- and without access to
source code and a free exchange of information, I'd never have learned
enough to even decide to become a programmer. My grandfather learned to
become an electronics person (ultimately a rep, and a wealthy one at that)
by repairing radios for 25 cents during the depression -- and he could
never have learned that if schematics and books describing fundamental
principles of radio electronics weren't easily available (and he dropped
out of school after 5th grade and was in a poor neighborhood -- the U.S.
during the depression). When I picture today's youths in depressed areas
trying to learn how to do programming when all the computer games they
play, software they might have access to, and such, comes without any
source code, I find it hard to believe they're going to get very far.
They might learn rudimental programming from textbooks, but that's a
far cry from serious programming, and the most important way to learn
a field like software -- by mucking with and perhaps fixing practical
examples of the field -- is generally unavailable to them, unlike the
situation 20 years ago (compensating, of course, for the relative
differences in market penetration by computers).

Maybe some of them will somehow get hold of a UNIX workstation with
GNU utilities and start learning the easy ones, and by the time they
graduate high school they'll be learning gcc or emacs! What a great
way to climb out of a ghetto. Imagine if all the schematics and
principles of operations documents for all sorts of things -- VCRs,
TVs, microwave ovens, &c -- were as easily available now as they used
to be for radios and TVs, and kids willing to spend time studying the
stuff could get to where they'd repair such things for a few dollars
for neighbors, instead of those neighbors having to ship the units off
to repair centers in well-to-do U.S. or Japanese or German neighborhoods,
only to pay $100+ and wait two months for the units to come back!
Even if only 10 kids per depressed area (perhaps per city) got to that
point over, say, ten years, the effects could be tremendous -- repair
costs would be lower for people in the neighborhood, meaning their
expected costs of owning certain items would be less, meaning they could
either buy more or save up more for their kids' education; those 10
kids might become fairly popular and the effect of having popular
"nerds" on other kids could be significant in influencing them to take
education more seriously; even some adults might decide to resume pursuing
some academic area they lost interest in so they, too, could offer such
services in their neighborhood! Hey, maybe we need to start a Free
Hardware Foundation to do these things (anyone want to design the FHF's
first product -- a UNIX workstation with built-in CD player and headphone
jack? :-)!!!

Obviously I've gotten way off track.
--

James Craig Burley, Software Craftsperson bur...@ai.mit.edu

Daniel LaLiberte

unread,
Jan 28, 1991, 12:49:12 PM1/28/91
to
Alan and others reply to Michael Mclay's article with
misunderstandings of their own. Michael is not saying that FSF owes
anyone anything. And he is not whining that he, personally, does not
like the "price" of FSF software.

He is merely arguing, correctly, that many people won't use FSF
software because of its restrictions. And he suggests FSF free its
software from these restrictions.

I happen to disagree with him (about whether FSF should liberalize),
like those who criticize him but, folks, cool you jets and get the
facts right.

Dan LaLiberte
National Center for Supercomputing Applications
lib...@ncsa.uiuc.edu

Bob Sutterfield

unread,
Jan 28, 1991, 2:35:44 PM1/28/91
to
In article <MCLAY.91J...@thud.cme.nist.gov> mc...@cme.nist.gov (Michael Mclay) writes:
Please reread the following excerpt of a posting concerning your
attempts to impose morality on others...

...FSF might learn something here from a very serious mistake


that our government repeatedly makes: You can't legislate
morality -- education is the only way to help people make the
right moral decision. The more you try to force your
convictions on someone else, the more they may resist.

I couldn't agree more. Imposing morality through legislation is a
hideous crime against all there is in humanity that bears dignity.
But what does this have to do with FSF? They're not coercing you or
anyone else, by force of arms or any other means, to use their
software! Instead, they're leading by example, as you suggest:

If you show them the right way through your own example, you are
more likely to get the results you want.

Sounds like a good strategy. A good way to show by example, at least
in the computing community, is to write code and make it available.
Hmm, isn't that what FSF has done? It came to "put up or shut up" and
FSF put up their code. I think you and FSF are in "violent agreement"
on this point.

If you truely want your software to be free, then distribute it as
X Windows and InterViews are distributed. We use the public domain

version of both these tools, ...

I haven't seen a public domain implementation of X. Nobody I know has
bothered to write one, since the one from the X Consortium is covered
by a humane enough copyright. But they certainly could if they wanted
to, since the X protocol is publicly documented, and nobody can sue
you for reverse-engineering it. And last I checked, InterViews
carries a copyright too.

...The programers who worked on X Windows or InterViews ... wanted


their code to be used by other and put it in the public domain so

that this would be possible...

Some software that runs under X is in the public domain. The
Consortium implementation is copyrighted, and freely available.

There was no coersion involved.

(...only collusion... :-)

Why not have the FSF copyright read as follows:

I don't believe software should cost money. You can use what I
wrote for free. If you agree with me you will do the same. If
you don't I wish you well. Please be kind enough to tell others
that I wrote this code or parts of the code.

Because "free" as used by FSF doesn't mean "zero monetary cost of
acquisition." The above would allow someone to use FSF code in a way
that the FSF doesn't wish it used. It's FSF's code, and they can do
whatever they like with it.

Anything more than that is going to restrict the distribution of
the FSF software.

Perhaps "widest scope of distribution" is not a primary goal of the
FSF. Please don't expect others to implement your priorities!

If this were not true then at least one of the above mentioned

companies ["DEC, Sun, IBM, HP, and others"] would have started


distributing FSF software along with their own.

There may be other forces acting on those companies. For example, IBM
for a time distributed GNU Emacs with their workstation products.
They then became fearful of some unknown force and ceased the
practice. Other companies (e.g. NeXT) still distribute FSF software
with their own.

It's ok to give the source code away or sell the tapes for $195
each, just don't require that everyone do the same. That only
causes those who need additional support to not be able to use the
products at all.

If you need additional support for your use of GNU software, then
please contact Cygnus Support. They're an example of a company
dealing in GNU software that will be happy to take whatever amount of
money you offer, and give you tapes and support in return.

Jon Allen Boone

unread,
Jan 28, 1991, 4:45:33 PM1/28/91
to
mc...@cme.nist.gov (Michael Mclay) writes:
> The Soviets have finally admitted that Marx was wrong and Adam Smith
> was right. FSF should do the same. It's ok to give the source code
> away or sell the tapes for $195 each, just don't require that everyone
> do the same. That only causes those who need additional support to
> not be able to use the products at all.
>

There is nothing to prevent you from selling versions of gnu-ware -
you simply must make available the sources for the programs - many
people probably won't want to bother and will gladly pay you $$$ to
provide them with gnu-ware and support it.

Of course, if you change gnu-emacs (for instance) other than by
writing a elisp-script, then your code does fall under the copyleft
and you are required to provide sources for your own code as well as
the code the FSF supplied. However, again, there is nothing to
prevent you from selling the software - you just have to provide the
sources for free to dweebs like me who might not want to pay for what
you're selling and *not* be able to change it as I see fit.

-=> iain <=-

Mike Haertel

unread,
Jan 28, 1991, 7:41:02 PM1/28/91
to
In article <MCLAY.91J...@thud.cme.nist.gov> mc...@cme.nist.gov (Michael Mclay) writes:
>Please reread the following excerpt of a posting concerning your
>attempts to impose morality on others. While I like many of the
>FSF products, I absolutely disagree with your distribution tactics.

> [ quoted excerpt deleted ]

If you don't agree with our distribution policies, instead of complaining
about it why don't you write some software of your own and distribute it
under the policies that you would like to see? That's what we did; we
didn't waste our time asking proprietary software houses to please give
us copies of their stuff for free.

>If you truely want your software to be free, then distribute it as X
>Windows and InterViews are distributed. We use the public domain
>version of both these tools, however, organizations that aren't in the
>software business are able to buy, for less than it would cost them to
>do the work themselves, a compiled and tested version of X Windows
>from DEC, Sun, IBM, HP and others. The programers who worked on X
>Windows or InterViews cannot feel cheated when one of these companies
>sells a copy of X Windows for $500 or $1000. They wanted their code
>to be used by other and put it in the public domain so that this would
>be possible.

"free" is one of those ambiguous words that can mean too many things.

Since you're such a fan of Adam Smith, you should realize that there
is no such thing as a free lunch. If we gave our software away in
the way that you advocate, and you subsequently made a proprietary
modification and sold it for lots of $$$, then we would be giving you
a free lunch at our (and our user community's) expense.

>In order for some of the public to be able to use it,
>however, more work was required. This extra work must be paid for and
>that is why the $500 or $1000 was spent. There was no coersion
>involved. See Adam Smith for details on how this works:-)

Certainly the extra work must be payed for. Suppose it costs $200,000
to do the extra work. Then you charge $500 or $1000 for each copy until
you get your $200,000, plus a fair profit, back. And then you *keep*
charging $500 or $1000, because you've got the user community over a
barrel--they have no alternative except to get the software from you.
That's coercion in my book.

Another thing you are conveniently overlooking is that *our* work must
be payed for, and you seem to have forgotten that there are more ways
to pay for something than just money. For example, payment in kind:
people make improvements in our software, and send them back to us.
This could be considered payment, because we benefit, and so does our
user community. (Actually, we go to considerable effort to incorporate
other people's improvements, some of which are actually of no use to
us but might help someone in our user community. So we don't always
benefit directly, but we hope someone does.)

>Why not have the FSF copyright read as follows:
>
> I don't believe software should cost money.

This is sheer nonsense; software obviously doesn't come into existence in
a vacuum. If you think that's what we believe, then please think again.

We don't believe that software should be used as a means of coercing others.
And we force nobody to make modifications of our software and give them to
us; but we forbid anybody to use our software as part of a means of coercing
others.

> You can use what I wrote
> for free. If you agree with me you will do the same. If you don't I
> wish you well. Please be kind enough to tell others that I wrote this
> code or parts of the code.

>Anything more than that is going to restrict the distribution of the
>FSF software. If this were not true then at least one of the above
>mentioned companies would have started distributing FSF software along
>with their own.

Certainly our terms restrict the distribution of our software. They
prevent people who want to get a free lunch at others' expense from
using our software as part of their schemes. We have no interest in
supporting the efforts of such people, and shed no tears when they
complain that they cannot take advantage of us.

>The Soviets have finally admitted that Marx was wrong and Adam Smith
>was right. FSF should do the same.

If you think that our policies have anything whatever to do with either
Karl Marx or Adam Smith, then I'd like to know what you've been smoking.

>It's ok to give the source code
>away or sell the tapes for $195 each, just don't require that everyone
>do the same. That only causes those who need additional support to
>not be able to use the products at all.

That is blatantly untrue. The existence of Cygnus support provides a
direct counterexample. And you always have the option of hiring someone
directly to make the changes you need, an option that you do not have
in the case of proprietary software without source code.

You sound like one of many who just wants to use our software, and
doesn't give a damn about whether or not there is a large body of
freely distributable software, as long as you can get something
you can use *now*. You can criticize us all you like, but our
priorities are not the same as yours, nor is there any particular
reason they should be. Our current policy seems to be fulfilling
our goals; we would change it if it wasn't.
Mike Haertel <mi...@stolaf.edu>
"He's a tie with the ambition to become a full-blown suit." -- Jon Westbrock

Rich Braun

unread,
Jan 28, 1991, 8:43:03 PM1/28/91
to
All this flamage about the copyleft reminds me of a rather ordinary piece
of American thinking: the proprietary right to own property (as in real
estate), and to charge what the market will bear. And, in fact, to keep
the government's nose out of it. For two generations now, at least,
the common wisdom has been that you can't lose buying real estate; it
always goes up, never down.

This anarchic way of thinking has led to economic disaster for the New
England region, at the very least, and perhaps for the rest of the nation.

For those who think the FSF is some sort of a batch of left-wing anarchists
attempting to pull the supports out from under the software industry, I
submit that the real goal is to turn this kind of proprietary perspective
on its ear, and prevent the kind of disaster the real estate industry is
now experiencing.

If you give people the freedom to be greedy, greedy they will be. And
that is the road to economic ruin and pain for everyone.

-rich

Ozan Yigit

unread,
Jan 29, 1991, 10:46:18 AM1/29/91
to
In article <1991Jan29.0...@acc.stolaf.edu> Mike Haertel
<mi...@stolaf.edu> writes:

>If you don't agree with our distribution policies, instead of complaining
>about it why don't you write some software of your own and distribute it
>under the policies that you would like to see?

Quite a few programmers are already doing just that, for projects like BSD
4.n. I conjecture that within the next couple of years, every scrap of GNU
software will have a quasi-pd equivalent.

oz
---
Where the stream runneth smoothest, | Internet: o...@nexus.yorku.ca
the water is deepest. - John Lyly | UUCP: utzoo/utai!yunexus!oz

Craig Burley

unread,
Jan 29, 1991, 10:32:20 AM1/29/91
to
In article <8bd9hxm00...@andrew.cmu.edu> jb...@andrew.cmu.edu (Jon Allen Boone) writes:

Of course, if you change gnu-emacs (for instance) other than by
writing a elisp-script, then your code does fall under the copyleft
and you are required to provide sources for your own code as well as
the code the FSF supplied. However, again, there is nothing to
prevent you from selling the software - you just have to provide the
sources for free to dweebs like me who might not want to pay for what
you're selling and *not* be able to change it as I see fit.

No, they don't have to provide the sources for free to you if you don't
pay for the product. (I'm not sure if this is what you mean.) If you
don't want to pay anything for the product from a vendor, and don't
receive a distribution from that vendor (i.e. they don't give it to you
free), then you can't expect to get the source for free, either. If
they give away the object files or whatever, and it is derived from
GPL-protected software, then they must give away or offer to give away
the source for that software, too -- same if they sell the object files,
they must include the source and can't add extra cost for it (or at
least beyond "nominal cost" for shipping the source in addition to the
objects -- I can't remember if this is permitted).

Of course, since you can get the source (basically) for free, and with
it you get the (GPL-guaranteed) rights to use that source however you
see fit, you can't be restricted in copying the program (including,
explicitly I believe, the delivered object files) to as many other
machines as you like, and letting others copy them off your machines for
free (if you let them).

Note that people CAN, I understand, use GPL-protected software to create
their own software without ever having to distribute source -- as long
as they don't distribute the software, either (as in when the software
is used internally).

Scott E. Preece

unread,
Jan 29, 1991, 10:56:20 AM1/29/91
to

From: mi...@stolaf.edu (Mike Haertel)

| If you don't agree with our distribution policies, instead of complaining
| about it why don't you write some software of your own and distribute it
| under the policies that you would like to see? That's what we did; we
| didn't waste our time asking proprietary software houses to please give
| us copies of their stuff for free.

---
Right, this is the "If you complain about our philosophy, you're
whining, if we complain about other people's philosophy, we're fighting
the good fight" argument.
---


| Since you're such a fan of Adam Smith, you should realize that there
| is no such thing as a free lunch. If we gave our software away in
| the way that you advocate, and you subsequently made a proprietary
| modification and sold it for lots of $$$, then we would be giving you
| a free lunch at our (and our user community's) expense.

---
Right. This argument continues to make no sense. The FSF's
component of the package continues to be available free and in source
form to anyone who wants it without the proprietary modification.
This is not a free lunch. If the price charged is out of line with the
amount of work involved in the enhancement, other people will do the
enhancement instead of buying it.
---


| We don't believe that software should be used as a means of coercing others.
| And we force nobody to make modifications of our software and give them to
| us; but we forbid anybody to use our software as part of a means of coercing
| others.

---
This is sophistry -- "do things our way and you can use our products as
a base for free" is exactly the same as "Pay us some money and you can
use our product as your base without regard to our philosophy."
Coercion for political ends is equivalent to coercion for economic ends.
---


| You sound like one of many who just wants to use our software, and
| doesn't give a damn about whether or not there is a large body of
| freely distributable software, as long as you can get something
| you can use *now*. You can criticize us all you like, but our
| priorities are not the same as yours, nor is there any particular
| reason they should be. Our current policy seems to be fulfilling
| our goals; we would change it if it wasn't.

---
First off, I don't think your characterization of the original note fits
the words that it contains, which didn't sound like whining or a request
for a handout, but as a straightforward argument that your actions don't
match your words. Second of all, your sentence "You can criticize us
all you like" leaves off the consequent that your actions imply "but if
you do, we and everyone who likes us will make fun of you and accuse you
of being a freeloader and treat you like a jerk, because we're noble and
you're not."

scott

---
By the way, I personally have sometimes posted things I did on the net or
made them available to people who reported problems they would help and
I have reported bugs with fixes to FSF and other providers of free
software. Furthermore, Motorola has provided FSF software on occasion
to customers and has always (in the cases I am aware of) either provided
source or made it available, both the original GNU code and our fixes
for our hardware. We also are providing bug fixes to the X Consortium
and out other software suppliers.

Not only am I not asking for a free lunch, I'm not even asking for FSF
to change its policy; I am only pointing to what I believe to be
hypocrisy in that policy.

--
scott preece
motorola/mcd urbana design center 1101 e. university, urbana, il 61801
uucp: uunet!uiucuxc!udc!preece, arpa: pre...@urbana.mcd.mot.com

Robert W. Withrow

unread,
Jan 30, 1991, 11:15:58 AM1/30/91
to
>If you give people the freedom to be greedy, greedy they will be. And
>that is the road to economic ruin and pain for everyone.

If you *deny* people the freedom to be greedy, greedy they will be.
And that is the road to economic ruin and pain for everyone. (Witness
the USSR).

--
---
Robert Withrow, R.W. Withrow Associates, Swampscott MA 01907 USA
Tel: +1 617 598 4480, Fax: +1 617 598 4430, Uucp: wi...@rwwa.COM

Eric Youngdale

unread,
Jan 30, 1991, 12:45:48 PM1/30/91
to

spooky!wi...@uunet.uu.net (Robert W. Withrow) writes:
>>If you give people the freedom to be greedy, greedy they will be. And
>>that is the road to economic ruin and pain for everyone.
>
>If you *deny* people the freedom to be greedy, greedy they will be.
>And that is the road to economic ruin and pain for everyone. (Witness
>the USSR).

This argument does not wash. People are not being denied the freedom
to be greedy at all. They are being denied the right to be greedy if they want
to incorporate FSF software into the systems that they package. If you think
about it this is only fair. If FSF does all of the hard work of getting
something to work and supporting it, why should a vendor be able to "modify" it
and sell it as proprietary (i.e. distribute only binaries). If someone wants
to distribute only the binaries to a program, then fine, let them write the
whole thing from scratch. No one is forcing them to use GNU software.


------------------------------------------------------------------
Eric Youngdale INTERNET: YOUN...@V6550C.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Naval Research Lab SPAN: 11.13 (or 11277::)
Washington, DC FLAME-NET: NLA0:

"You cannot spell football without the foo."

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own and not
necessarily those of my employer.

Douglas F. DeJulio

unread,
Jan 30, 1991, 7:44:48 PM1/30/91
to
pre...@urbana.mcd.mot.com (Scott E. Preece) writes:
> This is sophistry -- "do things our way and you can use our products as
> a base for free" is exactly the same as "Pay us some money and you can
> use our product as your base without regard to our philosophy."
> Coercion for political ends is equivalent to coercion for economic ends.

Not quite exactly. Y'see, I support the political/philosophical ends
of the FSF, but I'm not a member (or even contributor at this point).
When they distribute software under their terms, I perceive that as a
benefit to me. I don't think there are many people out there who can
say "buying software from Microsoft puts money into their coffers and
therefore directly benefits me" other than stockholders and employees.
--
Doug DeJulio

Dick Dunn

unread,
Jan 28, 1991, 3:14:57 PM1/28/91
to
car...@cs.uiuc.edu (Alan M. Carroll) writes one of many flames in response
to mc...@cme.nist.gov (Michael Mclay)...

Mclay says...


> > While I like many of the
> > FSF products, I absolutely disagree with your distribution tactics.

...and goes on to detail why he thinks FSF's policies are counterproductive.

Carroll replies:


> [ Flame warning ]
> I think you're confused. First off, the FSF and RMS don't owe

> _anything_ to _anyone_...

I know you're confused. First off, Mclay didn't say that either the FSF or
RMS owed him anything.

>...They have no obligation whatsoever to provide
> any software to anyone for any reason...

...nor did he say they did. You're creating a straw man.

>...If the FSF is willing to accept


> reduced distribution in order to enforce certain rules on use of their

> code, that's their decision to make...

Their prerogative wasn't questioned. Mclay was simply trying to make the
point that *in his view* FSF's policies are counterproductive. This is the
same point that many other people have tried to make. The point is under-
stood by some FSF folks--notably Stallman, who says something to the effect
of "yes, I see what you're saying, but I'm placing this particular
principle at the top of my list." But it gets drowned out by FSF zealot-
advocates who must close their ears and shout that there's nothing wrong.
They just can't seem to believe that FSF is--BY CHOICE--not placing itself
in the mainstream of free-software efforts.

It doesn't bother me that the FSF takes a more radical position--it isn't
the choice I'd make, yet there are reasons for it. But I'm fed up with
the strident Defenders of the Faith behaving like they've got a monopoly on
truth and right. Every time you shout down someone who questions you, you
risk creating another opponent to free software.
--
Dick Dunn r...@ico.isc.com -or- ico!rcd Boulder, CO (303)449-2870
...Mr. Natural says, "Use the right tool for the job."

Brinton Cooper

unread,
Jan 31, 1991, 10:31:07 PM1/31/91
to

> If FSF does all of the hard work of getting
>something to work and supporting it, why should a vendor be able to "modify" it
>and sell it as proprietary (i.e. distribute only binaries). If someone wants
>to distribute only the binaries to a program, then fine, let them write the
>whole thing from scratch. No one is forcing them to use GNU software.

Hear, Hear!

I'm simply amazed that this argument even exists. Richard Stallman and
the GNU project have already revolutionized computing. Although "free
software" is the main impetus for this project, GCC may have saved many
"orphan computers" from oblivion. We have been *given* wonderful
products to use. Even the development of commercial, non-free software
can be done using GNU products. What you can't do is sell a GNU
product!

Heavens; you cannot typically modify and sell a Sun product, a DEC
product, an Encore product, an ATT product,...either.

Even if one disagrees with Dr Stallman's vision, there is no logical
basis for arguing that FSF "should not" operate as it does.

Lighten up folks. Mr Youngdale is right: If you don't like the rules,
don't play the game!


--
_Brinton Cooper BRL - Where "Research" is our Middle Name.

Amanda Walker

unread,
Jan 31, 1991, 11:20:08 PM1/31/91
to
Over the years, I have held many different opinions about the FSF and
the GNU Public License. My current one is very simple: I have no problem
with the GNU Public License or the Free Software Foundation's policies.
I do not think that the GPL is an effective approach for all pieces of
software across of of spacetime, and such I diagree with some of the
positions in "The GNU Manifesto," but that's a separate issue.

I'll be frank; I disagree with RMS's political position. I do not
think that all software should be free. I do however, think that
it should certainly be possible to *build* free software, if you so
desire. Because of this, I fully support FSF's right to distribute
software under the GPL, and thus mandate that any work done on it
beyond personal hacks remain public. GNU Emacs, for example, is one
of the most successful cooperative ventures in this entire industry,
principally because all concerned know that no one "take it private"
and profit by other people's effort. This "commercial safety" allows
even notoriously capitalistic companies to contribute to the effort,
without the fear that someone else will sue them or that their expense
will profit someone else. GCC is shaping up to be a similar kind of
thing. All of this is happening with very few lawyers getting involved.
This is A Good Thing.

The one area in which I disagree with the GNU Manifesto is the idea
that *all* software should be covered by similar terms. However,
neither the GPL or the Free Software Foundation can require you to
put software under the GPL unless you choose to. People may argue
with you, but the GPL won't go around infecting your software by
itself :).

I guess my position is pretty simple at this point: I am willing to
deal with GNU software on its own terms, and other software on *its*
terms. Some software is free, and some's not. What's the big
problem?

--
Amanda Walker
Visix Software Inc.

Mike Berger

unread,
Feb 1, 1991, 5:04:30 PM2/1/91
to
ama...@visix.com (Amanda Walker) writes:
>I guess my position is pretty simple at this point: I am willing to
>deal with GNU software on its own terms, and other software on *its*
>terms. Some software is free, and some's not. What's the big
>problem?
*----
My only problem with it is one of semantics. I wish they'd stop calling it
"free". It may be free of monetary cost, but it is not free of restriction.
I have no problem abiding by the terms of the GNU software use agreements,
but their hype reminds me of the car salesman who includes an automatic
transmission for "free" - as if you would buy the car without it.
--
Mike Berger
Department of Statistics, University of Illinois
AT&TNET 217-244-6067
Internet ber...@atropa.stat.uiuc.edu

Thomas J. Trebisky

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Feb 1, 1991, 6:04:03 PM2/1/91
to
YES - it certainly has been free for me.

Reading the recent series of griping about the Gnu copyleft has rankled
me enough to want to post a few comments. I have been able to obtain (from FSF)
a dandy C-compiler, assember, and other utilities "free - just like air".
Of course I have access to the Internet (and someone is paying the bills)
but I view that a lot like interstate highways - the tax dollars pay for it
and I get to use it. So tell me where else I can get my hands on a free
680x0 C compiler, with or without source code? Of course, I have no intention
of incorporating gnu software in some product for resale. And what right
would I have to profit from someone elses work?? It strikes me as the height
of ingratitude for people to gripe about the minimal restrictions the FSF
places on what they give away. Get a C-compiler from DEC or Microsoft or Sun,
and see if you get the source code or any rights to redistribute it under
any terms whatsoever. If you want to distribute software and make a profit
from it, you should write it from scratch and avoid the Gnu source code.

I say all this not because I am a loyal "gnuite" or some such thing.
I just appreciate how access to the gnu software has helped me.

BTW It ain't public domain if the source code ain't public domain.
--
Tom Trebisky ttre...@as.arizona.edu (Internet)
Steward Observatory University of Arizona Tucson, Arizona

Graham Toal

unread,
Feb 1, 1991, 2:54:08 PM2/1/91
to
In article <MbdqW0a00...@andrew.cmu.edu> dd...@andrew.cmu.edu (Douglas F. DeJulio) writes:
> I don't think there are many people out there who can
>say "buying software from Microsoft puts money into their coffers and
>therefore directly benefits me" other than stockholders and employees.

Oh yes I can ;-) Since FSF doesn't support these boxes of oozing pus,
the only way I have a chance of getting a compiler that works on them
is to pay Microsoft for their products so that with any luck they will
eventually be able to afford competant programmers who can write
compilers that work :-)
--
(* Posted from tharr.uucp - Public Access Unix - +44 (234) 261804 *)

RANDY S WELCH

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Feb 2, 1991, 12:40:55 AM2/2/91
to
In article <25...@adm.brl.mil> a...@adm.brl.mil (Brinton Cooper) writes:

[..stuff deleted..]

I'm simply amazed that this argument even exists. Richard Stallman and
the GNU project have already revolutionized computing. Although "free
software" is the main impetus for this project, GCC may have saved many
"orphan computers" from oblivion. We have been *given* wonderful
products to use. Even the development of commercial, non-free software
can be done using GNU products. What you can't do is sell a GNU
product!

I concur, I use almost exclusively all GNU programs in my development
environment, emacs, fileutils, tar, cpio, etc.. ( gcc soon! ). Without
such I'd be on a machine that keeps drifting further and further out of
the mainstream. At least now I have relatively 'modern' programs. My hat
goes off to all the people who work on the GNU project.

I don't worry too much about the GPL, my company doesn't sell software
publicly, all of our software is for in company use.

Just my .02 worth...

-randy

--
Randy Welch Mail to : ...!ncar!scicom!bldr!randy or rwe...@du.edu
Boulder, CO VOICE : 303-442-6717
"Unfortunately, life contains an unavoidable element of unpredictability"
-David Lynch "The Angriest Dog in the World"

Marcus Daniels

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Feb 2, 1991, 7:02:30 PM2/2/91
to
What restriction is proving to be unreasonable for business users of
GNU products? Is all the squirming for libg++ alone? Is it that vendors
wish to distribute, say 'tar' without supplying source code.
Or a number of the utilities? A commercial product that wished to
incorporate a number of the GNU utilities would seem to be complicated
enough that the additional media cost wouldn't seem to be
significant.

I've been following this newsgroup for some time and I have yet to
see any hypocrisy or inappopriateness of the FSF position. From
the start RMS has said GNU was as much a social project as a software
project.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- mar...@eecs.ee.pdx.edu / ....!uunet!tektronix!psueea!eecs!marcus
- "The power of accurate observation is called cynicism by those who
don't have it"

Amanda Walker

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Feb 3, 1991, 2:48:39 AM2/3/91
to
In article <1991Feb1.2...@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>

berger@iboga (Mike Berger) writes:
>My only problem with it is one of semantics. I wish they'd stop calling it
>"free".

Just remember that they mean it in a political sense. I agree that the
ambiguity is annoying, but "Emancipated Software Foundation" just
doesn't have the same ring to it :).

--
Amanda Walker ama...@visix.com
Visix Software Inc. ...!uunet!visix!amanda
--
"... a `target pistol' is not a `useful' thing either. When was the last
time you *needed* to use deadly force to protect yourself from a paper
silhouette?" --Robert White

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