Re: GNU Public Licences Revisited (again)
- From: "Arthur J. O'Dwyer" <ajo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2005 18:12:28 -0400 (EDT)
On Tue, 23 Aug 2005, Randy Howard wrote:
Arthur J. O'Dwyer wrote:On Tue, 23 Aug 2005, Joe Butler wrote:
(In the following response, I'm paraphrasing what I understand to be Stallman's position on the matter --- what I write isn't necessarily what I personally believe. Personally, I'm ambivalent but leaning toward Stallman's view.)
Fair enough, so don't take any of this as aimed at you directly. :-)
I knew what I was in for. ;-)
So, what's the reasoning behind these licences that don't allow a commercial (closed source) apps from using them?
Software should be free.
No. Free software is fine, fwiw, but I do not see an argument that all software should be free. There is no moral reason for it
Huh. Well, Stallman disagrees. (Similarly, some people don't see anything inherently immoral about pot-smoking, or abortion, or murder,
or promoting democracy. Some people do. It's all relative, the post-modernists would say. Certainly it's /subjective/.)
If Microsoft (for example) distributes an operating system that the user can't tweak, check for security holes, or give to his friends, that's just plain wrong.
No it is not. It might be a bad idea for you to buy it, and if you do, you get and deserve the results obtained.
Ehm? Sounds to me like maybe you do think it's wrong --- you're just refusing to come out and say it. Stallman says, "Non-free software is morally reprehensible." You say, "Anyone who buys non-free software and finds out it's junk deserved what they got."
If there is anything wrong in the software arena today, it is that so many people are willing to pay good money for bad products.
(I'm assuming you're /not/ equating "non-free" and "bad" here. :)
software. But, once again, people have a choice, thanks in large point to open source software, NOT to agree to such things. Of course, the legal argument might be stronger /without/ open source alternatives. As it is, it's difficult to argue that you were /forced/ to agree to get work done, when alternatives are available.
Right. Which from the moral standpoint is a good thing: Since free alternatives are available, people must choose between good and evil, rather than simply "following orders" (to invoke Godwin's Law;).
And by putting everything under the GPL, we ensure that the bad software makers will never be able to come back, since they can't pull the same "steal the code, tweak it, and release it as closed source" tricks they did back in the '80s.
Sorry, but I don't see this. There was very little 'open source' software to steal from back then. Apart from the TCP stack, what other examples can you point to?
Well, I was thinking of the stuff that (as you probably know) I wasn't actually alive for --- the early operating systems, compiler technology, the core ideas of threadedness, Fortran, Algol, Lisp, what have you. Which, unencumbered by copyright and trade secrets (according to legend), spread to influence a lot of work done thereafter.
If I'm wrong, please remove the "same tricks they did back in the '80s" and replace with "tricks they could still do in the future if not for the GPL." ;)
So? People shouldn't use closed-source software, because it's wrong.
No, it's not wrong.
"Look, I came here for an argument. This is just contradiction!" "No it isn't."
[...] In fact there are times when you have no choice. There are a lot of vertical apps for which there are zero open source alternatives, for example.
As I mentioned below, in Stallman's view there is no excuse. Does the murderer get a free pass if he'd starve otherwise? No! So why should the user of evil non-free software get a pass simply because there's no alternative yet? Let him write his own program, if he's too impatient or disconnected to get someone else to write it!
Yes, commercial apps have problems too, but you don't have to spend three days tracking through release notes, CVS, wikis and what not figuring out what a 'valid bug report' looks like, you can just pick up the phone and ask for help. There is a difference to end users on the support end with commercial via open source software.
Definitely. Stallman calls this "a choice between monopolies." With commercial code, you get locked into a single tech-support provider, who, being a monopoly, usually does a decent job. The tech-support market for free software is much more chaotic and free-market-capitalistic, and in practice ends up being pretty bad, at the moment.
A closed source app is not going to open its source just so it can use some GPL. If the source was allowed to be used by all, without the restrictions on commercial apps, that would benefit a lot more people, wouldn't it?
No, because then Microsoft (for example) would take it, improve it, and release the improved version as closed-source. Everybody loses.
I think you missed the point. If the lifted code was good, and Microsoft put it in their products, then all their customers would benefit. yes, MS would benefit, but so would their customers. It's anathema to open source developers, but the end result of having massively peer-reviewed code in more places would be beneficial overall.
More places than what? Microsoft's code isn't "massively peer-reviewed." Giving code to Microsoft for free would be increasing the amount of /non/-peer-reviewed code in the world, not vice versa. (And besides, so what? This isn't about engineering practices, it's about morality.)
In a large degree, the GPL works to prevent this benefit from taking place, under the guise of stabbing microsoft and other commercial vendors.
As a pure consumer, would you be better off personally if all of your commercial software product vendors had access to open source code to include in their products? Yes. Would it be worth it to you to pay money for chunks of code from various places glued together /and supported/ from a single vendor? In all likelihood, yes.
Yes. Would it be beneficial for you to clean out your employer's checking account? :) "Beneficial" and "morally right" aren't equivalent. (We've been through this above, too.)
(Tangent: Stallman uses the murder-is-wrong analogy to ridicule those programmers who complain that they can't write free software because they need a commercial salary. "So it's okay to kill someone and take their money, because you need money?" No! A big salary doesn't excuse wrongdoing!
Yes, easy for Stallman to say, when he has food on the table. Telling others that they have no right to work for a living is such crap. In fact, it is the biggest fault I see with his arguments. You can't expect others to starve to further your personal agenda.
Oh, Stallman isn't against /working/. He's against /non-free software/. In the same way, most people aren't against /entrepreneurism/. They're only against /kidnapping/. If someone says, "But I'm a kidnapping entrepreneur! It's what I do for a living! You can't deny me my right to work!", we'd find it rightly ridiculous and offensive. How is the situation any different with paid programmers, *once you accept* (or agree to take as given) that non-free programs are morally wrong?
And if you really can't make an honest living in /free/ software design, you should go do something else for a few years. Build houses, or become a policeman, or do something else that's not intrinsically immoral.)
Such complete hogwash. If Stallman wants to live in a tent, mopping floors between coding session, that is his right. To expect others to do something similar, while calling them immoral if they don't is /evil/.
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