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Interview: Bruce Perens Answers Open Source License Questions 190

We sent a stack of questions to Bruce Perens earler this week, and here are the answers. But before you start reading what Bruce has to say and taking it as gospel, he has a reminder for you: "I have to make the disclaimer that I am not attempting to practice law. The advice I give is to help you formulate strategies for participatation in the free software community, you may still need to consult an attorney regarding how you implement those strategies."


From: Jason Hammerschmidt

Open Source Licensing, and the latest craze to go public (such as RedHat's IPO) sometimes have conflicting values. When public, you have to cater to your stock holders, this can easily conflict with the open source communities goals. Although you can build a business model around secondary and tertiary services such as support and manuals, etc. there will still be a conflict of interest at the center of it all. Most important, the philosophy and integrity of our community can be easily compromised and undermined by stock holders. The fact that our community has the same ability to acquire stock means little unless we own the majority of stock, and this is unlikely to happen. What, Bruce Perens, is your view on this subject? And how can we ensure the safety of our beliefs?

yes I know this is two questions :) and I also know this isn't a strictly licensing question, but it is very closely related.


You'll notice that a some of the companies that are already participating in free software development have been public-stock companies for a long time: IBM, and Apple, for example. Yet, these companies found a way to participate in Open Source. In IBM's case, it's making something of research-derived products it might not have been able to continue in development or market otherwise. In Apple's case, they're attempting to keep up with Linux - truly a daunting task - by being open too. Also, they are trying to return benefit they've already gotten from the community, and they might be able to open some secondary markets in the future from ports of their free software. You'll notice that when we had a problem with Apple's and IBM's original licenses, we used publicity to influence them. Public-stock companies are very sensitive to publicity because their stock price can go up or down depending on what people are saying about them. If their strategy is one that will prevent them from getting effective participation from the community, that won't help their bottom line and the market will notice.

There is no conflict of interest here - it's a quid-pro-quo. If the participation of the community is not important enough, the company will exit the free software arena.

Every for-profit company that participates in free software development will have to find a balance between its own needs and those of the community if it is to participate at all. I have a scale that I use to describe free software participants that runs from benefactor to symbiote to parisite. I'd put Red Hat in the symbiote position right now, NASA is a benefactor, and the parisites know who they are :-). Parisites eventually lose because the community is too eager to help out their competition.



To what extent have the various "free" and not-so-free licenses been evaluated by people with serious legal expertise? I hear charges against, e.g. the GPL that it won't stand up in court, that it's too vague, and other things of that ilk. Has the FSF ever had a crackerack patent (or whatever area of the law is involved) go over their license with a fine-toothed comb?


The GPL has actually had a good deal of evaluation. Richard Stallman has an MIT law professor who helps him, and there has been a law school thesis and some private analysis.There are definitely holes, but there's also evidence that it could be enforced. Ironicaly, the UCITA, a proposed U.S. "uniform state law" that poses us problems because places a ban on reverse-engineering, also has provisions that make the GPL and other free software licenses much eaiser to enforce.

One of the biggest problems with the GPL and all other free software licenses concerns the definition of a derived work. The definition of a derived work in copyright law is mostly concerned with print, film, and sound works, and was formulated before software came along. Thus, it doesn't say anything about how reference should be treated. For example, if you copy my function into your own program, it's a derived work. If you simply call my function without copying it, it's not a derived work according to U.S. copyright law, although you are having the exact same effect that you would if you'd copied the function. It's trivial to make any program a shared library or a callable object through object brokers like CORBA or COM, so you can easily circumvent license restrictions about derived works if you are considering copyright law alone. However, licenses are a combination of copyright law and contract law, and under contract law you can be restricted from performing certain activities that the software author might consider the creation of a derived work, activities that you would otherwise be permitted to do under copyright law. And of course, if you don't except the license, you have no right to use or copy the software at all. The problem is that the GPL doesn't really define what those activities are. That should change.

However, we don't generally have to go to court to enforce licenses, so they aren't getting tested for enforcibility in court, which is the only real test. Publicity is our primary enforcement tool, and it's surprising just how effective that has been so far.

I am soliciting attorneys to do pro bono work (donated work for the public good) to help address problems with licenses. There's a BOF about this at the LinuxWorld conference in August.



Hi Bruce,

I recently started programming open source software for Windows (due to my unfamiliarity with Linux programming), and organized various OSS projects under the title of "Neon Goat Productions". However, I don't feel that I have a good grasp on the ideas behind some more advanced licensing techniques. First of all, if I release software under the GNU GPL, or other licenses, do I (as the sole owner of the copyright) have the option to change the license later on, either to another OSS license, or a closed source license? I don't intend on doing anything like this, but I definitely want to have the ability to control the future of my work. Also, if I release a project under the GPL, am I allowed to use portions of my GPL'd code in an independent, commercial program? I don't want to end up rewriting the same code for another job, just because the licenses aren't exactly the same. Finally, I am a bit unclear on releasing software under two licenses (for example, having the choice between either the GPL or the Artistic licenses). Since the Artistic license is less restrictive than the GPL, what would be the difference if the software was only released under the Artistic license instead of having an either/or clause?


David Parker


If you are the copyright holder of a program, you may issue that program under any number of licenses simultaneously. While you can't take the GPL back once you release a GPL-ed version, there is nothing that compels you to release later versions under the GPL. But this is all ignoring the issue of other people's contributions to your program.

The situation is much more complicated when other people contribute. They own the copyright to their modifications.

You can deal with this in several ways if you want to keep the option to distribute your work under a different license:

1. Simply don't use their contributions in your commercial product.

2. Insist that they sign the copyright of the modifications over to you before you before you will put any of their modifications in your main source thread. This is what FSF does, so that they have the option to revise the GPL later on without having to go to everybody who made a modification and ask their permission.

3. Use a license like the Netscape Public License that gives you the right to distribute contributed modifications under other licenses. Note, however, that the NPL only requires that for modifications to your files, and that if somone creates a separate file and links it in, they are not required to give you the right to distribute that file under other licenses. Of course you can write your own license that says something different.

Regarding the Artistic license, I'd suggest that you do dual-license with the GPL if you choose to use the Artistic, becuase that makes it absolutely clear that your work can be united with other work that is already under the GPL to make one product. I also don't like the language of the Artistic license. I discuss why near the end of my article on the OSD.


from: Mike Moses"

Would it be rude, inconsiderate, or copyleft infringing for a group of midnight coders to gather together collectively and form a company with a name like 'Open Source Consultants' or some other derivative with 'Open Source' in the name?


If you use the name Open Source in the title of an organization, that organization should use only software licenses that comply with the Open Source Definition, and not any "Open Source Definition", I mean the one that the Debian folks and I wrote and that we all know and love :-). I'd object to an "Open Source Magazine" that advertised non-Open-Source products, for example, simply because it would act to confuse people about what is Open Source and what isn't. That would be inconsiderate. It wouldn't be copyright-infringing because we're talking about a trademark, not a copyright. Also, the status of that trademark is rather iffy right now: it's still a trademark, but currently has no federal registration pending.


from: John L Grantham

I note that the companies that you say deserve praise for their efforts, Apple and IBM, are both hardware companies that in effect happen to produce software. In both cases, they make far more money from their hardware than they do software, so in effect they have less to lose by giving an open source license a shot, but have much to gain in the form of increased sales of hardware.

But what about companies that are primarily in software? How do you see them making money off of open source, when that is after all their main motive--earning cash? In other words, why buy an open source package when you can download or copy it for free? Finally, are there any large "traditional" software companies (ones from before open source became a buzzword) that you see making commendable moves like IBM and Apple? Best regards, John a.k.a. Ethelred


Obviously, it's easy for companies that vend free software as an accessory to hardware to make money, because it's a lot easier to copy a disk than it is to copy a PC! Companies like VA Linux Systems come to mind.

If your business must primarily be software, not support, not anything else, you can't make everything free. This, for example, is the strategy of Sendmail Inc., which makes proprietary add-ons for the free sendmail mail delivery agent. Digital Creations, makers of the Zope web content management software, aren't quite a software pure-play: They give away their core software, and they sell services to customize that core to vertical markets for specific customers, newspapers for example. Some of that customization work may not make its way back into the free product. They have also announced some proprietary add-ons for Zope.

Yes, there is a large traditional software company making a commendable move. Unfortunately, I can't tell you who they are yet. It's not nice for me to pre-empt other people's announcements - I did that to Troll Tech once and they got (justifiably) very annoyed with me.


from: Bill Gladen

With all of the companies that are coming up with Open Source Definition compliant licenses, it is getting difficult to keep track of what the various licenses actually contain. Is there any work being done on a template license that companies could just post a delta of?; For instance, if you had an Open Source Base License O, which contained clauses A-N, then companies could just draft their license which stated "This license modifies O in the following ways: remove clause B, replace clause C with clause C', and add clause T."

I am certainly encouraging new entries to use one of the existing licenses rather than complicate the situation with another incompatible license. However, when the choice is having them make their own license or not release the software under an Open-Source-Definition-compliant license at all, I'd obviously rather see them release the software.

We are still in the learning period where companies are figuring out how to meet their own needs while participate in free software while meeting their own needs at the same time. This is sort of winding down now, and in a year or so we'll be able to get together and draft some standard licenses. I'd prefer not to have companies release deltas to a license, becuase that isn't much better than having them make their own licenses if the delta gets big. I'd just want some check-boxes for license options that would all be qualified under the Open Source Definition.


from: Corinna Cohn

Amiga, Inc. has recently anounced that they will use Linux as the kernel for their new operating system. They have said that they will make heavy modifications to the kernel. As far as I know, this is the first highly adultered distribution of Linux. Can you explain, of the changes they will make, what parts of the source code must be released back into the community?

Thank you,

Corinna Cohn

Unfortunately, I have not yet been contacted by Amiga, Inc., so I can't say for sure what they are doing. If they make modifications to the kernel in the form of modularized device drivers, they can probably keep those proprietary. I'd hate to see it, though. I'd prefer to see them contribute all of their modifications back to the community, and there is little reason for them not to, since they are selling hardware and their device drivers would probably not run on anything else. If they modify Linux in general, not just the device drivers, they are compelled to distribute the source for those modifications.

It would be silly for them to embrace Linux without the benefits of free software. That would be missing the point. I don't think they'd do anything that dumb.


from D. Dale Gulledge

One of the hot issues in open source development in general right now is the issue of licensing an open source project in such a way as to maintain a profitable niche for the company that created the product. The issue is a hot one for me because a former boss of mine approached me for suggestions on how to handle a project as open source within a corporate environment.

As an example, Troll Tech attempted to deal with the controversy over the non-free status of Qt with their QPL. My own interpretation of their solution and that of other companies is that they make their work free for use in other open source projects but not for commercial use. Much of the controversy has arisen from where the boundary is drawn, since there are several companies selling distributions of and support for open source software. Neither those companies nor a significant portion of the open source community wants to see a license that would prohibit them from offering distribution and support services.

My question is, what is the best model for an open source license to be used for software produced within a corporate environment? The problem is twofold. First, the license must be acceptable to the open source community or it is a failure both as an open source project and as a component of a business case. Second, there must be a business case for it.

-- Dale Gulledge, Sr. Developer, Nortel Networks
Also, the author of the Emacs Calendar/Diary Desk Calendar formatting code, team leader for the Esperanto translation team for the Free Translation Project, and host of the Linux Users' Group of Rochester.

I know both sides of the issue, but I don't yet have the answer.


If I were doing it, I'd release my software under the GPL, and I'd also offer it under a commercial license. This part's a bit complicated: I'd insist that people who wanted their modifications to go into my main source thread must sign a separate and independent copyright for those modifications over to me, while they'd also maintain their own copyright. In other words, each party would own the modification and would have the right to do anything they wanted with that modification without consulting the other party. That way, I'd have the right to issue modifications under my commercial license, but I'd also commit to release all modifications that were submitted to me under the GPL. Becuase I'm using a split copyright rather than license terms to get the rights to the modifications, I'm not putting any odious terms on code that other people write. I'd continue to be an active maintainer and architect of the product so that people would want to submit their modifications to me.

In my opinion, this is the best of all worlds. The software is always available under the GPL. It's also available under a commercial license from which I can generate revenue. My original contribution continues to be a big enough part that it doesn't make sense for someone else to come out with a clone, but if I ever go out of business or lose interest in the program, someone else can make a commercial clone, writing out my contribution, and can get the modifications from their contributors under the same terms that I did. Until I do go out of business, there's not much reason for contributors to deal with anyone else.

Circumvention is an important principle in free software. I feel OK about Red Hat selling my software becuase I can always circumvent them and sell it myself. The circumvention provision here might make developers more willing to contribute to a commercial product.

Sorry if this is a bit deep. I'd be happy to discuss it in more detail.



What licensing issues apply to older software written by now-defunct companies? Is there a point at which such software enters the public domain?

Software eventually enters the public domain, but it takes so long that no computer that can execute it The situation with software from defunct companies is a sad one. Someone always owns it, because in the case of bankruptcy, there's always a creditor (generally more than one) who assumes the property of the bankrupt company. So, the situation is that your old license still applies but you probably can't get any service or upgrades or enforce your warranty, and you might not even be able to establish who owns the software without an expensive legal search. But you still can't give away copies of that software without infringing on someone's property rights, and that someone might come after you to enforce them.

Big customers have tried insisting that their vendors place the source code in escrow, so that the customer will have rights to that source code if the company goes out of business or declines to fulfill certain responsibilities like upgrades and warranty service. That works great if you wield enough power that your software vendor will negociate with you, for example if you are the only customer for a particular product or if you are paying a very large sum. It doesn't work for anyone else. It would be nice if there were laws about source-code escrow that protected the little guy. It would also be nice if the terms of copyrights didn't run so long and thus work did enter the public domain within one person's lifetime. Every 20 years, the international copyright convention meets and makes the copyright term 20 years longer. This is an abuse of the intent of the original copyright law, which was meant to exchange legal protection for your work for your releasing that work into the public domain eventually.

Hey, these were great questions! I enjoyed this, thanks!

Bruce Perens

Editor's note: Bruce Perens' latest venture is the Web site TECHNOCRAT.NET

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Bruce Parens Answers Open Source License Questions

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  • This would be even more useful if it was archived somewhere outside of Slashdot. No hard feelingsRob ;-), but Slashdot is a news and opinion site to me.

    Somehow an archive of open source thoughts seems to make more sense on a seperate site or at least seperate section.

    Are there any open source FAQ's other than this one [] on

  • Calling it a benefactor is a lower rating then calling it a symbiote.

    Symbioses (like I can spell) is mutual benefit - two-way benefactors. Not only is linux a benefactor to rh (by linux, am referring to oscommunity), but rh is a benefactor to linux - both are benficiaries.
  • > /usr/games/fortune -m lawyer|less

    cd /usr/share/games/fortunes ; less law

    (yeah yeah, offtopic :))
  • That's pretty harsh on RMS, IMHO...but maybe deservedly so...I don't know the man. Plus I wouldn't say the GPL is immoral...if you don't like it, then don't write or re-use GPLed code. Dems da breaks, as they say. At least the source code is available at all. That's better than completely closed source...though maybe not as nice as completely open source...except for the author that wants his code used that way.

    As far as I'm aware, the GPL hasn't really been tested in the courts...and software licenses in general haven't undergone very much rigorous testing, either. But I'd agree that one line of code wouldn't contaminate a million. Part of the reason I asked my original question is that I think 'derivitive work' needs to be very carefully defined in the GPL. I hope the new version does so.

    Anybody have a link for the text of the LGPL? A cursory search hasn't turned anything up, and I don't have loads of time right now to hunt for it. Thanks in advance.

  • The difference is that, as someone else said, NASA would exist without Linux. Red Hat wouldn't.

    I'm not going to bother with the same terminology (symbiote/symbiont), since I don't know the words to use for all parties in a symbiotic relationship (parasite/host is a better known relationship, sadly).

    But, to explain, Red Hat lives because of Linux, and to large extent, Linux is what it is because of Red Hat (Gnome, big money contributors, jobs for so many kernel hackers, etc.). That, I think, is the relationship Bruce Perense means by calling Red Hat a symbiote (rather that term is accurate or not).

    Walnut Creek, on the other hand, can probably be considered to be a benefactor to Linux by Bruce Perens' system, by (for instance) hosting the Slackware distribution, selling the official CD's, and mirroring so many Linux-focused or Linux-related FTP sites. They certainly do gain money from selling Slackware CD's, but that's not their business. If Patrick Volkerding stopped putting together Slackware tomorrow, Walnut Creek would go on. Ditto with NASA.
  • No company at this early a stage in their development is expected to make a profit on their balance sheet - they spend all of their money on growth at this point.

    Get over the emotional reaction - they are taking part in a symbiosis between a company and the free software community. That is not to label them as less than a benefactor, it is simply descriptive of the relationship.



  • i think youre wrong, possibly misguided there. when i write free software i see a niche, something i want very badly, and which i can fill by writing my own code (and there is no code available which does what i want it to do). I dont write free software to subsidise/give something back/improve my moral standing etc.etc..i do it because i *like* coding and i *want* some functionality which doesnt exist yet. The fact that i release it under the GPL is becuase i would hate to see someone else make the effort to repeat the process which i just completed.
  • by Josh Turpen ( 28240 ) on Friday July 30, 1999 @03:51PM (#1773567) Homepage
    By reading this post, you agree to donate all of you assets into my bank account.

    I agree I don't agree

    Thank you for choosing I agree (I prefer direct deposit)... now continue...

    It's trivial to make any program a shared library or a callable object through object brokers like CORBA or COM, so you can easily circumvent license restrictions about derived works if you are considering copyright law alone. However, licenses are a combination of copyright law and contract law, and under contract law you can be restricted from performing certain activities that the software author might consider the creation of a derived work, activities that you would otherwise be permitted to do under copyright law. And of course, if you don't except the license, you have no right to use or copy the software at all.

    This has always been my qualm with the GPL. The restrictions on derivative works requires more legal power than copyright law alone provides. Enter contract law. Unfortunately contract law doesn't apply here. Reading the GPL doesn't mean you agree to the contract. Using the software doesn't mean you agree to the contract. As an example, clicking "I accept" when the Windows EULA window pops up isn't a legally binding contract.

    Even if that fails and somehow the contract becomes legal, all you would need to do, at least in the United States, would be to get an under 18 year old person to modify the text of the GPL to whatever you wanted. It is illegal for a minor to enter into a legal contract.

    Be wary folks. The GPL is on shaky ground in the 'derivative works' area.

    This page [] explains the problem more clearly.

  • First, thank you Bruce and Neuroid for your helpful answers.

    But I must take issue with this:

    They take value from the community

    How can you take value from a community like ours? Everyone fully owns their copy of a free program, and copies cost near-zero resources to make. Red Hat took their easily-had, fully-owned copy of, say, wu_ftpd, and made it easier for me to use. The creator of wu_ftpd still has his or her original source tree. (No functions or variables were harmed in the making of this RPM.)

    It's information. You can give without losing, accept without depriving others. Red Hat (indeed, any free software VAR) is only adding value (more free software, tools to make free software more convenient, support to make it more trustworthy, et c.).

    I encourage all of you to 'take' from me as many copies of Gzilla [] as will fit on your storage systems. Go ahead -- send patches, make an RPM, put it on a CD. See if I care. ;)

  • by youngsd ( 39343 ) on Friday July 30, 1999 @04:14PM (#1773571)
    (FYI, I am an intellectual property attorney, but that is no guarantee that I'm right in any of my conclusions. Don't rely on any of this -- see your own attorney.)

    In a software license agreement, if a term like "derived work" is not defined, I would assume that most courts would assume that it meant the same as the copyright term-of-art "Derivative Work". That term is defined in 17 USC Section 101 as:

    A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work".

    Okay, clear as mud.

    The problem is that with software it is difficult to draw the idea/expression dichotomy that is at the heart of copyright law. Copyright law protects the expression of an idea. If you take that expression and change it, you probably have a derivative work (i.e. translate it to another language, make a movie of it, etc.). If you take the ideas from a work, and incorporate them in another work, the result is not a derivative work (think Romeo and Juliet -> West Side Story [and yes, I realize that Romeo and Juliet is not copyrighted]). In cases where there are few ways of expressing an idea (how many ways can you write a while loop?), the idea and expression are said to be "merged", and that particular expression is not protected by copyright. In software, much of the source code (to my way of thinking) is likely covered by this merger doctrine.

    I tend to think that translating C code to pseudo-code is a lot like extracting the idea from a particular expression. Creating new C code from the pseudo-code (if the pseudo-code is really just the "idea") should constitute a new, non-derivative work. It is a difficult call, though, because (simply) copyright law was not designed for software, and it's doctrines do not fit well.

    Anyway, I am aware that I rambled, and I can see that I have strayed from the point at least a few times. But it is Friday afternoon, and I am too tired to go back and edit my work.


    (Too tired to think up a snappy sig-line)
  • I have a question about something that I've never really understood... I'm 15, so I guess I can't enter contracts, huh? Does that mean that if I had the desire and the ability, I could reverse-engineer Windows or something simply because I never agreed not to?
  • if you dont like the GPL, dont use software built under the GPL..most of us use the GPL, whether viral or not, because we want to stop twits like you from abusing our code and locking it up in stupid proprietary software.
  • NASA is not a for-profit concern. As a research organization, their use of Linux is itself for the public good. Red Hat, in contrast, manages to do good as a side-effect of making money. This is not to disrespect Red Hat - I'm glad they understand the relationship better than some people on /.

    This doesn't mean I'm thrilled with NASA's patent licensing policies, but they are a different sort of entity from Red Hat.



  • The GPL and the FSF are completely anti-commercial.
    This claim is as annoying as it is common. They are not; they are against certain business plans. They are against, for instance, Intellectual Property laws (not necessarily all of them, I'm not sure, but certainly the current ones), and hence don't much care for business plans that rely on those laws.
    If a company invests a million bucks developing software, Richard considers them *immoral* if they do not allow someone else to get a million bucks of benefit for someone else work for free.
    Would you mind clarifying that sentence? All of the 'the[ym]'s and 'someone else's and the grammar makes it a little confusing.

    As for the whole "open source" thing, I notice you didn't mention Bruce Perens -- regardless of whether he supports it now, he helped start it. Give credit where it is due :) Further, also thanks to the "open source," we have software that is "open source" but can't be used in typical "free software" ways, like code re-use or project merging. So end users can fix bugs if they want to (which is great), but the vendor also doesn't provide any service to the community (which free software does, and which is also obviously great).
  • Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

    Eric "Curly Brace" Raymond
    Richard "Square Bracket" Stallman
    Larry "Vertical Bar" Wall

    Put Hemos through English 101!
  • Are you saying that if I use a search & replace script to reverse all the variable names (names -> seman) that it wouldn't be the same work? Yipe!
  • Most users of free software, in their role of users, are "parasites". Most of them are not confined to that role, but also play other roles.

    Your friendly dog can also be seen to play several different roles with different "status". As a consumer of dog-food, he is a parasite. As a disposer of excess food, he is a symbiont. As a guardian of the portal... if that's the mailman, then he's a parasite (i.e., he fulfills his function, but not yours), if that's cousin Jean, then he's a symbiont (You want her to be greeted fulsomely, but you are a bit shy).

    Perhaps it isn't proper to divide thing up quite this finely.

    Users, as a group, are the reason that free software gets written. Sometimes the only target audience is the original programmer, but if he didn't plan on using it, then he wouldn't have written it.
    Users, as a group, are the reason that free software is released. If the author didn't want others to use it, then he wouldn't have released it.
    Different authors may have different reasons for releasing the software. Some may desire prestige. Some may want to get support in fixing bugs (or even completing the original design).
    Most, probably, have multiple reasons, from a desire to shine in front of their friends, to the hope for a job offer from a major software house. To varying degrees of intensity.

    Think of what the terms mean as points defining the edge (or centroid) of a concept in multi-dimensional space, and of actual entities as following paths, sometimes nearer to one of the points (say "At this moment, he is closer to being a symbiont than to any of the other points [i.e., concepts]"), and sometimes nearer to another.
  • IANAL, but I imagine that since when something is public domain it means that its copyright is, at least for legal purposes, owned by the public. You can't take MetaFOO 1.5's copyright away from the public any more than you could take Windows'. Of course, you're free to use the source however you want and even sell MetaFOO commercially. You can even use, say, 100% of the MetaFOO source code in a completely new product which you own.
  • Not even that. "Public domain" == "do whatever the hell you want with it." This includes relicensing, and yes, you can even say you authored the thing.

    In the case of most public-domain works, however, this is a non-issue. No one is going to believe I wrote Romeo and Juliet, for example. Likewise, nothing stops me from selling digital copies of that story, under an onerous license agreement. Heck, I can even mutilate Shakespeare's prose if I wanted to. It'd be largely an exercise in futility, however-- the work is already established.

    PD is the absolute zero of IP protection.
  • So UCITA, in providing legislative teeth to "shrink wrap" licenses, may ironically make the GPL more enforcable? A poster below commented about copyright-vs-contractual law, but the point is moot post-UCITA, right?
  • But UCITA makes this point moot (by providing legislative teeth to shrink wrap licenses), no?
  • Analogies are slippery things here. One could say that a thing is modified if the variable names were changed.

    To an extent, you are correct. But I feel that you are oversimplifying a complex matter. Perhaps you feel that GPL software is free. It isn't. A part of the cost of the GPL software is agreeing to the terms of use. I, personally, don't find them onerous. You haven't made it clear to me what about them you find onerous.

    This is rather like a religious person saying "If you want to be saved, by our rules, then you must go out and do good works, by our rules". And I do feel ambivalent about that, to the extent that I have generally avoided the religion. Even when I would nominally qualify. I don't feel the same way about the GPL, because it is so clearly a defensive act taken in the presence of a clear and present danger.
  • Did you really think that, e.g., Red Hat didn't make money out of their GPL'd software distribution, which includes LOTS of other people's GPL'd software?
  • Reading the GPL doesn't mean you agree to the contract. Using the software doesn't mean you agree to the contract.

    As I seem to find myself pointing out every other week, the GPL places restrictions on distribution not on use of software. That you do not appear to realise this does not lend credence to the rest of your arguments.

  • Actually, if you don't accept the license, the default is probably All Rights Reserved. Forget what the GPL does not restrict in that case.
  • I love ironiy, don't yew?

    Yea, my spelling is really bad, bad enought that when I do anything important at all, I spell check twice, reread it twice, and get someone to read it over if I can. Luckily, slashdot posts don't rank that high on my "critically impoartant spelling chek lyst." ;-)

  • Presumably you are the ward of an adult, who is responsible for your actions.
  • Pardon, but the GPL _does_ dictate terms of usage. You can't give a GPLed program away without also giving the source -- and instructions, effectively commands, to continue distributing the source.

    I'm glad to distribute source. But I'm not so glad to require other people to -- I'd rather they just include a link to my page.
  • What does it mean to "make money from your free software"? You can't stop people from benefiting from your software... Why do you want to stop them from benefiting in this particular way?

    No, the restriction you want is legally impossible. Not to mention childish. It's been tried before, and the result is always more limited usage, because it's impossible to use the software to its full extant (for example, CD dsitributors can't include it on their disks if they want to be moral -- but if they want to be immoral they can do it without fear, by simply putting something else on the disk and claiming to charge all the money for IT).

    The GPL has the same result -- slapping restrictions on the free use of software ALWAYS will reduce its usefulness, no matter what your intentions are.

  • I know they do, but they do it by promoting my software and other software that I support, and by giving it away for free.

    Redhat isn't trying to convince people not to use one application or distribution to make theirs more popular. I don't see how you could ever compare Redhat with companies like MS.

    Redhat makes money by helping Linux. Other companies make money by hurting the competition.
  • If you did post that with Lynx, you've answered your own question.
    If you didn't, then you could have simply labeled your post a test message and inserted some witty remark as an excuse. =)
    Either way: Yep. I'm posting with Lynx 2.8.1pre.11 right now. (It's not my machine, otherwise I'd use 2.8.2.)
  • The point of the GPL is not to enforce any rules upon USERS of the software. The license only dictates what you may do with the source code! And that's different. It's a copyrighted work that you modify. And because copyrights are universal on all 'creative' works unless specifically renounced, you can't claim ignorance. You had to know that the source code was copyrighted so not looking for the license is no excuse. (The GPL is actually less restrictive than the copyright laws would default to. The GPL lets you use all of the code, with only a few restrictions. Fair use of non-GPLed (or BSDLed, etc) code would be much smaller.

    So, you go to edit the code, find the license agreement, and agree to the terms of the license implicitly when you use the copyrighted material.

    And, this thing about being under the legal age... Try commiting a crime in front of a police officer if you're under age. I guarantee you'll be hauled in. The charges may be lighter or nonexistant, but you will be arrested. And, what does it matter? Assume someone in a non-signing country (to the copyright treaties) does the license-violating work on the source code and distributes it. Is this any different than someone in those countries setting up a warez or mp3 site? They may not be breaking their laws, but by downloading the copyrighted materials, or in the case of the source code, material which has been modified in a way the license doesn't allow for, will be illegal in your area.

    The defense against EULAs is that you bought the product and there was no contract then, and then when you go to use what you own, they try to get you to agree to a contract, but because you already own the product, they aren't offering you anything, so the contract isn't valid. That doesn't apply to the license agreements because you haven't paid anything for the source code, but are assumed to be getting value out of it if you use it (if it had no value, you wouldn't use it.)
  • Atually, probably the only thing that would be restricted would be saying that you wrote it, if you stood to benefit from having people believe that.

    Lies aren't illegal unless you have intent to defraud (or are in court, etc).

    If Microsoft took a public-domain program and then claimed that they wrote it, they'd (imho) be attempting to defraud people because if they claim to have written it, you should be able to expect them to understand it well enough to fix it, etc.

    You probably wouldn't win against MS, but considering that anything short of full disclosure can be seen as fraud in some instances, I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of this.

    But, all said, this wouldn't be copyright protection. Similar to there being a law against you hitting someone with a book, even if the book was free and the information in the public domain.
  • Well, my take on this is that if you make money from marketing something valuable that you got from our community for free, you have a moral responsibility to return value to the community. Some people are not able to see the moral dimension. I choose to consider that as their fault rather than my illusion.
  • My guess is that it's another big port or release from Big Blue itself, IBM. What big program would the Linux community most like to see ported?
  • Well, There is quite the significant difference between effect and affect...

    Just as much as between except and accept. See your answer to ;)

  • It all comes down to protecting your rights.

    If you don't want someone to do something, you can ask, but they can ignore you. Or, you can write a licensing agreement and they can ignore you and write their own software, or do as you ask and use yours. That's perfectly free.

    If you think the GPL restricts freedom, consider the use of a non-propogating license... If someone uses your (modified) code and don't release it at all, the users aren't getting any benefits of what you wrote. So, one clause intended to control the robber-barons of the world, or monopolistic practices. Your choice.

    I'm with Bruce. I'm not going to be an unpaid employee of a company I wouldn't work for if they paid me!
  • and nasa doesn't derive benefit from it's work in linux? you realise why donald becker and nasa are well served by good ethernet drivers, yes?

    in general most people feel that the best free software is software that solves the programmer's problem. linus needed an os - so he wrote one. he released his code to help others and also to get help extending it for himself. by your definition he is a symbiote.

    i think you need to rethink your definition. redhat spent $2.2 million on r they lost $100,000. if they cut their r&d budget they'd be profitable. i don't really use a scale, but that fact alone puts them to benefactor status to me.

  • Circumvention is an important principle in free software. I feel OK about Red Hat selling my software becuase I can always circumvent them and sell it myself. The circumvention provision here might make developers more willing to contribute to a commercial product.

    But alternatively, RedHat can circumvent you as well. If you wrote some software that you wanted to sell, but also make open source, you'd be out of luck once it starts appearing on every RedHat Linux CD. RedHat can sell it at a lower price. They have better distribution channels. People have actually heard of RedHat, not Joe Developer. RedHat can spend more money on marketing. RedHat has tech support. They also have pretty boxes. In other words, packaging, distribution, tech support and marketing are being rewarded, while technical innovation goes unrewarded. (except for the reward of creating it, but you can't eat off that)

    People always point at RedHat to say "see, Open Source works!" Sure, it works for non-developers selling other people's code. Yes, RedHat does write some code, but that doesn't contribute to their revenue. Because RedHat sells to Linux users, having developers is really a form of PR for them. A company that sold open source Windows software for end-users wouldn't need developers, since end-users don't care who wrote the software.
  • Not true.

    It's easy to imagine someone taking an existing project, forks it, and with the benefit of more developers, makes it looks nicer. Then they release a functionally identicaly, but spifier version, except that they don't do it with open source. And then, they make minor tweaks, breaking compatibility so that their version works with both, but your version won't work with theirs. And, if they have the ability to force preinstall of their version, many users will stick with it because they can't change.

    In such a way a company like MS could fork an open source OS and supporting apps, and deny most users the benefits of open source.

    If any of the code I write is in something you write, then your work isn't completely original, and still benefits from what I wrote. If you can't handle the fact that modifying code doesn't make it your own, then you're no better than MS. Go pick on your baby brother.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here we have no face. Our words are who we are. They are our badge and our pride. It is by our words and our words alone that reputations are built. Or destroyed. The craft of the master is not learned quickly, nor easily emulated, and is recognized the world around.
    If you choose to write like a demented child who defecates in his own bed, be not surprised that readers here should think you in need of a new diaper.
  • I'm glad to have the GPL, but the very fact that UCITA helps it should serve as a warning sign that although its intention is good, and its results beneficial, its purpose is deliberately restrictive.

    Let me rephrase that: the only thing that the GPL does which is not done by other licenses is take away people's freedom.

    Perhaps this is pragmatic. But I believe that in the realm of morals, there's nothing worse than pragmatism.

    The definition of open source makes no bones about its pragmatism, and I respect that. But FSF pretends to be especially moral.

    If you really want to write free software, make it truly free. If you don't want someone to use your software in some special way (such as distributing it to teachers whom you'd rather not instruct on the finer points of source distribution), don't put it in the license -- instead, just ask politely.

  • I know nothing about law, but I think there's some (very obscure) part of copyright law (at least in Sweden) that allows you to make photocopies of an out of print book, which you can't find a copy of -- at least for educational use.

    At least that's what one of my teachers once claimed when he made copies for the whole class of 50+ pages out of an old schoolbook of which he didn't have more than a hand full of copies.

  • An author of free software gives the source to the community, fully knowing that one of the things the recipients could do with the source is make money. 'Here, make money with this if you like' is an inherent part of the gift.

    There are no moral obligations being made, obeyed or denied here at all. 'It's your source too, now. Do what you want. Have fun.'

    I am able to see the moral dimension -- that we should share what we learn with our fellows, and let them be free as long as they don't hurt us. This is the highest moral law, and I uphold it at all times.

    VARs are bound by the licensing terms of the licenses of the software they use, but not necessarily by Bruce's Feelings on Money and Giving Back. They may well share your viewpoint, but we don't write software because we expect a present from [insert own VAR here]. A high percentage of users doesn't even submit bug reports. By your logic, most users are parasites: using, profiting from and enjoying free software. Is that really what you want to say?

    If the recipient of my gift pays some of our friends to write more code, well, that's just icing on the cake -- but by no means required.

    Freedom is good. Money is not evil (programmers love that Mountain Dew). Helping out your friends is good. Knowledge is good. VARs are good.

  • So incorporating a GPLed work 'infects' (I admit this term has negative you have a better one?) the work you add it to. Size doesn't matter, and neither does the relative 'value' of the component you are incorporating to the entire work. That being said, would you say that the GPL is an 'innappropriate' (though of course it's the author's decision whether to GPL or not) license to use in the case of something like a device driver, which would potentially be useful in other systems, whose programmers may not want to use the GPL. Does the LGPL 'fix' this? i.e. a driver under the LGPL could be part of a GPLed OS, and also be incorporated into a non-GPLed OS, without the authors of the non-GPLed OS being 'forced' to switch to the GPL if they use the driver?

    That may be a stupid question...I'm not very familiar with this LGPL thingy.

  • Main Entry: abstruse
    Pronunciation: &b-'strüs, ab-
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Latin abstrusus, from past participle of abstrudere to conceal, from abs-, ab- + trudere to push -- more at THREAT
    Date: 1599

    : difficult to comprehend
    - abstrusely adverb
    - abstruseness noun


    'nuff said
  • by innerFire ( 1016 ) on Friday July 30, 1999 @01:58PM (#1773677) Homepage

    Calling Red Hat Software anything but a benefactor is wrong. They pay people to write GPL'd code, and they sell a very high-quality software distribution for cheaper than Microsoft Windows 98 (that is, if you even feel like paying for Red Hat Linux at all, since you don't have to). What more do you want?

    They are as dedicated to free software as Debian, even if they don't actually have a social contract. They pour all kinds of resources back into the community. Bottom line: Red Hat is a benefactor.

    Bruce, if you get this, please make clear why you rated RHS as merely a symbiote. Thanks.

  • I think this is an absolutely a great idea. I'm sure there were many more interesting e-mails. Is there any chance that Bruce will answer a couple of others? By the way, thanks for your insights Bruce!

  • Now that UCITA has passed, Open Sourced software will become more important, and in turn, a properly put together license (GPL) is absolutely necessary. The end user is going to want a License that isn't overbearing, and yet still offers consumer protection (to an extent.) Licenses such as the Microsoft EULA include consumer protection titles, but it's mostly to cover Microsoft's (or the respective company's) ass, and release liability.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • by neuroid ( 6952 ) on Friday July 30, 1999 @02:10PM (#1773683)
    I am not Bruce Perens, nor do I play him on TV. However, I think I know where he's coming from.

    I think he's talking about the type of relationship between a company and Linux, not the amount that a company (or organization) has benefitted Linux. NASA would still be NASA without linux. Therefore it is a benefactor. NASA probably benifits from it's involvement with Linux, but Linux does not define what NASA is.

    Redhat puts more into Linux, but Redhat would not be Redhat as we know it without Linux. You could also probably say that Linux would not be Linux as we know it without Redhat. That's what 'symbiotic' means. I think Mr. Perens would be the last person to bash Redhat...unless he's jealous because more poeple have heard of 'Redhat software' than 'Bruce Perens'. ;-)
  • by Tiro_Dianoga ( 68651 ) on Friday July 30, 1999 @02:15PM (#1773685)
    This is an excellent and timely piece, especially because of the coming RHAT IPO. Bruce is one lawyer I will brake for.

    That last question depressed me a bit, considering all the millions (billions even?) of lines of code that will be lost, as time marches on. This reminds me of the library book CmdrTaco had that was out of print yet still locked up in a copyright. The book was of great importance to his work, but photocopying it would have been illegal, and hogging it it would have been to the detriment of others in his community who might have needed it.

    The loss of IP is a great travesty of modern humanity. Imagine the great works of this century's intellectual and technical minds. Once these materials are gone, forget it. However well-written legislation that can protect both profitable business and the consumer might be a solution. But it needs to be executed concurrently in N. America and the E.U., and thats almost a meta-physical impossibility :)

    But I have hope, and I'm pulling out my stationary pad right now.

    /usr/games/fortune -m lawyer|less

  • Here's a question for all you Peren's wannabes:

    As mentioned in the post, the term "derived work" in the GPL license is not clearly defined. What if I were to look at some GPLd C code, translate it to pseudo-code, then translate the pseudo-code back to C code without refering back to the original source. Would this be a derived work? What if the code started in C but ended up in Perl?
  • I reforamtted it manually. Now it looks better. :)
  • heh! Very nice point. However the same thing would apply to any continuing 'project'. Microsoft for instance.


  • It's a stupid business model that fights the very essense of information, and it means you have to create artificial scarcity (tell some people they can't have it) where there ought to be abundance.

    How is it different from movies or music? Or do you think it's your right to go see any movie you want for free?

    Maybe you like working in tech support, but I'd rather not. I don't want to consult. I don't want to write custom hacks. I want to write code that works properly. And why would someone pay to have a custom version done, when they can just wait to have it released for free?

    I'm really beginning to think that what many Open Source advocates really care about is "free as in beer", not "free as in speech".
  • Posted by Synsthe:

    RedHat isn't a symbiote. They're a parasite.

    Here we go again. Atleast this guy has a name.

    They pay people to develop GPL software only so that they can make profit off this software.

    Companies survive by making money. It's the way things work, get over it. This doesn't make them bad by any means, this means they're doing business like any sane business would do business.

    They have given nothing of real value back to the community.

    No? They haven't given back a very newbie friendly distribution of Linux? They haven't aided in the development of various GPL software products that _you_ can download for _free_?

    No, they haven't given back at all.

    RedHat has donated no hardware,

    Whose servers do you think and run on?

    Taken from their site:

    Red Hat provides web, FTP, and other Internet hosting services for open-source community projects, including:
    exmh mailing lists
    Alpha mailing lists (SANE archive)
    BLINUX mailing lists (a project to enable visually impaired people to use Linux-based
    operating systems)
    Linux OS Security mailing lists
    m68k, sun3, and sun4 development mailing lists
    PAM mailing list
    procps mailing list
    uclinux mailing list
    video4linux mailing list
    CVS server for GNOME/GTK+/Gimp (

    You were saying?

    Their behaviour grows more and more like Microsoft's every day.

    They are a parasite, period.


    Mark Waterous (
  • Posted by Synsthe:

    On a side note, since when is somebody required to donate hardware before they're "worthy"?

    Mark Waterous (
  • by neuroid ( 6952 ) on Friday July 30, 1999 @07:06PM (#1773697)
    I have a question:

    GPL has been called 'virus-like' due to the fact that all 'derivitive works' must also be covered under the GPL. This fact has been pointed at as being one of the major 'evils' of the GPL. I have been told that, for instance, a device driver covered under the GPL, which is written for Linux, cannot be used in another kernel because it would 'infect' whatever kernel it is used in with the GPL. What do you guys think? Is this the way the GPL actually works? And if so, is it an unreasonable demand?

    This is the answer I come up with:

    A kernel that uses a GPLed device driver is not a derivitive work, because said kernel stands on it's own without that device driver. For instance, a kernel without support for a soundblaster awe-32 sound card is still a fully functional just lacks that specific piece of functionality. Of course, the driver itself is still under the GPL, so the source code for the driver must be released, etc. But the rest of the kernal is independant of the driver. If I'm right, however, what about things like the code for Linux's SMP functionality? A kernel is still a kernel without SMP...So can the SMP code be imported without infecting the kernel? You could keep breaking pieces off of the linux kernel until the 'new' kernel you are creating is almost entirely Linux GPLed some point it would become a derivitive work, yes? Or am I just confusing myself here?
  • "They pay people to develop GPL software......"

    Uh, how does this make them a "parasite, period."? If they WEREN'T releasing this software being made "so they can make profit" under the GPL or some other non-corporate Open Source license then I could see your point. Releasing software under the GPL, BSD, etc. is inherently "real value". Making money is not intrinsicly evil only certain ways of making it. What do you do to pay for your beer and skittles? Are you a parasite as well? The best understanding I can get of your reasoning says that EVERYBODY who "makes profit" is a parasite. This may fly with extreme socialist/communist types but doesn't make much sense to anybody else.
  • But a contract has damn well been broken if say a binary only Microsoft Gimp for NT was released. Does anyone think a judge would buy the following:

    "That GIMP source code was really useful as a starting point for our value added product but we didn't agree with the license........."

    The GPL regulates distribution for pragmatic reasons but the restrictions are not aimed at users and never were. The restrictions are aimed only at a particular type of developer. The word "parasite" was bandied about earlier. The GPL only restricts the freedom of "parasites" and I have no qualms with that whatsover.
  • > Reading the GPL doesn't mean you agree to the
    > contract. Using the software doesn't mean you
    > agree to the contract.

    But distributing it does bind you. This is a quote from Version 2 of the GPL (June 1991):

    "You are not required to accept this license, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works. These actions are prohibited by law if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the Program), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the Program or works based on it."

    In a nutshell, if you use the software for your own use and don't distribute it, you aren't bound to accept the GPL. Once you've copied and distributed the software, though, that means that you must accept the terms of the GPL since they are what allow you to copy and distribute in the first place.
  • Now, tell us about effect vs. affect. Last time I opened that can of worms, there were at least 30 follow-up postings arguing the point.
  • I don't think the ability of a work to stand alone is relevant to the question. If you combine two works, the result is a derivative work of both.

    But this is entirely avoiding the intent of the author. If the author had wanted you to link to a non-GPL work, the author would have used the LGPL. Whether or not it's legal to go against the author's intent, it isn't nice.



  • I think this is why Native Americans had so much trouble with the Europeans at the gift exchange back in the early 1700s. The Europeans didn't understand the "give something back" part.

    When I write free software, I am doing it to expand the available pool of free software, not to subsidize someone's proprietary software. If I did not have the protection of the GPL, I'd simply not write free software. I have no wish to be someone's unpaid employee. The GPL protects me from that.



  • Do not forget that we, the people, make this world.
    Personally, I do not intend to limit myself to please some less competent person, who would like me to be equally stupid.
    In the end, I do not think any surviving insect is interested in human intellectual property anyway :)
  • Robin the Limo Driver, Fix the spelling of my name please!
  • Oops, I think the law professor is from somewhere other than MIT. If I'm not mistaken, MIT doesn't have a law school.
  • I'm not trying to dis Red Hat. They are a symbiote. They take value from the community, the software we have written, and make money with it. They return that value by paying for people to write more free software. Give and take. Quid-pro-quo. Symbiosis
  • I'm not a lawyer. Really!
  • The others asked pretty much same questions as the ones we forwarded to Bruce. That's what the "editorial selection" process really was: eliminating duplicates.

    This was our first try at a "reader generated" interview. Next time, it'll be smoother, and the selection process will be more open.

    And I'm sure that Bruce will not only be checking in here later on (he has other things to do, you know) but will do other things with us in the future, as well.
  • Well, Valerie wants me to take her out, so I'll be off slashdot for a few hours, but can answer questions later.
  • Heh, They mispelled your name twice ;-) Once in the title, and once in the brief... :-) Stuff Happens... (Suprizing how often, I got a written job offer for a place I interviewed at a week ago, and couldn't accept it because it was a contract that had my name spelled wrong all over it).

    Heh.. Somone was typing just a little to fast, and doesn't realize the spelling checker doesn't do names...

  • Anyone who posts major content articles that get lead slots
    Care to explain what "that get lead slots" means? And while I agree that it is not being professional, the day I expect Slashdot to be run in a professional, rather than casual and comfortable, manner, is probably the day I stop relading the main page every half hour :)
  • Like I said, they're against certain business plans, not anti-business. If the business plan just happens to be the traditional way, too bad; but it's not targetting business , but certain business plans.

    Learn to read, and maybe even to think.
  • Right! You can read.

    Now try to think.

    The FSF doesn't call itself the "Restricted Software Foundation" or the "Pragmatic Software Foundation". They call themselves "Free".

    Yet even BSD is more free. The only thing they offer is bondage.

    Python's license is more free. Yet because of the GPL, Python can't be distributed with GNU Readline.

  • Under current U.S. copyright law, copyright expires fifty years after the death of the last surviving co-author.

    Given the number of "authors" that have worked on Linux, and will work on it in years to come, that date could be a long, long way off...

  • I count one spelling error, "earler," by Roblimo; and that one, you can miss by reading for content rather than grammar. Perhaps the questioners and Bruce Perens made spelling errors, but I doubt Roblimo typed that all out rather than using the [X,Windows] clipboard. And never mind that it is a rather long article to write error-free without editing or the use of spell-checker, which I doubt anyone uses for articles (although keeping errors to a minimum for readability is always appreciated).
  • And also, it's Bruce not Pruce, and when used with an apostrophe its Perens' not Peren's . But then you put this up in a big hurry becuase I dragged my feet on it for 48 hours, so it's my fault anyway.

    P.S. For the word nuts, "Perens" is not related to "parens" for parenthesis, but is latin for "traveling", so "Bruce Perens" reads in Latin as "Traveling Bruce". Same as the root for the English words peripatetic and peregrination.

  • Fixed. You know how it is when something runs way past deadline -- and you end up having to redo a whole bunch of page-busting HTML to remove hard-coded line breaks etc. in a hurry, besides. :)

  • Yes, there is a large traditional software company making a commendable move. Unfortunately, I can't tell you who they are yet. It's not nice for me to pre-empt other people's announcements - I did that to Troll Tech once and they got (justifiably) very annoyed with me.

    You'd almost not notice this, but this might be something big? I myself am already wondering who it could be... somehow I think it's unlikely it will be Microsoft - if it is I will reconsider many of my opinions though.

    Wishful thinking would let me hope Macromedia because they have some great tools. Is Macromedia 'traditional' though?

    Remind me to stay cool though. This commendable move might have so little impact on me myself. I should not lure myself into dissapointment for making the error to think that (open source == Linux port).

    Maybe EA Sports will open source their game engine and get rich by selling data and image files to us. ;-)

    Or does anyone else have better guesses/views/opinions/rants?

  • For everyone else: Bruce knew the idea of doing this Q & A thing was pre-alpha, and kindly consented to participate in the experiment. And as always happens in such situations, it turned out to be lots more work than we expected. Plus (again, as usual) we both had lots of other stuff happen in our lives to mess up the week.

    Some great questions, though. And great answers, Bruce.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie