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[20111226] On the continuing decline of the GPL
Pointed out by Mishka, who found this 451 group's blog posting, I'll let the image speak on itself, even if it does not target NetBSD in particular:



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[20090812] Licensing: GPL on the decline?
Found via slashdot: There's an article on Yahoo!.Tech that asks if the GPL still matters. The article describes that only one out of two dozen companies pick the GPL for products they put under an open source license, and that alternatives like the BSD license are increasingly popular.

Points covered include the GPL limiting developers' ability to make money, benefits of GPL alternatives, possible problems that the GPL may bring in the future, and what alternatives there are to the GPL. We're not there (yet) to completely drop the GPL, though, but increasing mindshare that "Open Source" doesn't automatically mean "GPL" is good. IMHO.

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[20070630] Article: Welcome to GPLv3 and LGPLv3
GPL Version 3 and LGPL Version 3 have been released. There's an article with more details and links on the FSF website.

I guess I'll go and find some time to read the original license text, before looking at any "rationale" that apparently is needed to tell what's meant that's not clear from thel icense itself. Doh!

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[20070630] Article: GPLv3 license marks GNU's decline
Citing from Jem Matzan's article: ``The GNU General Public License version 3 is unleashed to the world today, ready and willing to conquer perceived problems with the legal system in the U.S. and other countries. It's been carefully considered, debated, and examined by very smart people with a lot of experience with software license law and advocacy. Programmers, lawyers, and businesspeople have looked it over and petitioned changes until most parties were reasonably satisfied with the result.''

The article goes on into the details of the new version of the GPL, it's revised definition of "freedom" and esp. how other projects like NetBSD view the new license, citing Martin Husemann from the NetBSD board of directors: ``We don't think that the switch of GNU programs from GPL v2 to GPLv3 will affect NetBSD or its users much, since we are not in violation of the additional provisions that GPL v3 stipulates. It is a long term goal of NetBSD to become GPL free, but the potential change in license will not affect the scheduling of that goal. Furthermore, the GPL programs in NetBSD are clearly separated from the rest of the source so one can easily distribute a GPL-free NetBSD system (with missing functionality specially in the toolchain parts).

Since pkgsrc does not redistribute third party packages, it is also not affected. For users of pkgsrc, and creators of binary pkg sets or CDs/DVDs, it has versatile provisions to express licensing restrictions implied by the created packages (like LICENSE=, ACCEPTABLE_LICENSES, NO_BIN_ON_FTP, NO_BIN_ON_CDROM)''.

The author concludes that ``The Free Software Foundation has dumped a load of restrictions on us with GPLv3 and told us that restrictions lead to freedom and that it is good for us. That's a little too Bush administration-like for me. [...] GNU, this is as far as we go. I'm breaking up with you. I think we should see other groups of userland operating system tools (or users, as the case may be). I'd prefer it if you took my number out of your cell phone and pretended we never went out.''

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[20061101] Thoughts on the old GPL vs. BSD license squabbling
This one was pointed out by Olaf Seibert (thanks!): When trying to convince people that the GPL is so much better than the BSD license, one argument that you hear a lot is that GPL forces people (and companies!) to open up their code for the benefit of everyone. Nice idea - but is it true?

Harald Welte, who's done a lot for making people understand what the GPL is and is not (e.g. with his GPL Violations project) has drawn some conclusions on that benefit: ``if somebody asks me, how much the actual Free Software source code benefits from the code that was released by the vendors, my honest reply would be simple and sad: None.''

There are other benefits like public awareness, community building etc. that are also of importance to the whole Open Source community, and that a software license may or may not have an impact on, so this may be up for further discussion.

Making code available at least is not what the GPL helps about, so I guess the BSD license isn't that bad after all. Surprise! :)

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[20060117] GNU General Public License (GPL) Version 3 Draft 1
Read it and participate in the discussion of the license in a constructive way. This license WILL affect all of us, whether we like it or not. From a very rough look, it has become even longer, going from 13 to 19 clauses. (Just why do I have to think of the European Constitution right now? ;-)

Please let me add that I do think that the GPL -- while it has a few problematic terms -- is, in general, a very nicely written license, as it's very specific about what to do and what not to do. This can serve as a good introduction to the whole licensing topic to people who don't know about laws (like programmers :). Of course the size of the document rather turns people away, unfortunately.

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[20050529] 21c3 Videos: NetBSD, pkgsrc, GPL (Updated)
Stefan Schumacher has pointed me at the videos from the 21st Chaos Communications Congress some time ago, but I only managed to watch them today, as there's a small tweak to the mplayer codecs.conf needed to watch them (or rather, listen to the audio!). With that tweak, the following gems can be watched now: Have fun with the videos, and if you can't hear any audio, remember to tweak your codecs.conf! (Thanks to Tonnerre on #NetBSD/IRCnet for the hint!)

Update: Thomas Klausner has updated pkgsrc/multimedia/mplayer-share to not require a special codecs.conf file. Make sure you have mplayer-share-1.0rc7nb1 installed to get the updated file!

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[20050209] Corporate reasons for BSD over GPL (Update 1)
I was asked on how to convince some decision makers at a (mostly?) hardware company to 1) use BSD-code instead of GPL-code for the start (i.e. use NetBSD over Linux) and 2) make them release the code to the public after making changes. Here are my thoughts:

  • A general consequence when putting code under the BSD license or releasing new code based on existing BSD-licensed code is that the code can be kept closed. E.g. when shipping hardware, there is no need to add the source.

  • In contrast, when you put new code under the GPL, or write code based on a program released under the GPL, it is mandatory that you release the full source of all your changes. Many big companies have been bitten by this with Linux, see www.gpl-violations.org to find that prominent companies like Siemens, ASUS, Sitecom, Gigabyte and many others are affected and were sued over this (apparently?) difficult to follow requirement of the GPL.

  • When using BSD-licensed code as a base, it's your own choice if you want to keep your changes private, of if you want to contribute them back to the community. Contributing the source has both benefits and drawbacks, which have to be considered.

  • Drawbacks of opening the source are that competitors will have access to your intellectual property. When using BSD-licensed code as a base for your work, you can choose to keep your changes private. With GPL, you have to open them up, if you want to or not.

  • Benefits of releasing source to the bright public may have various benefits usually found when arguing for Open Source: people can use the code and base their works on it, the code can be audited by 3rd parties for e.g. security reasons, etc.

  • A particular benefit of releasing a work based on BSD-licensed code again not (only) to the bright public but especially to the original project is that the contributions can be incorporated into the project, and get maintained by the project people.

  • One of the goals of the NetBSD project is to offer a complete operating system kernel available under the BSD license only. To integrate code into NetBSD, and the kernel in particular, it has to be BSD licensed. Integration into NetBSD (which of course requires releasing the source) will lead to benefits from the efforts of the NetBSD project, its community as well as the vendors supporting it.

If you want to point at various other vendors who have choosen BSD, and NetBSD in particular, to place their products on, see:



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[20041018] Making Linux s/GPL/BSD/ license for $50kUS?
Aparently some company offered to pay $50.000US for a version of the Linux kernel source that's put under the BSD license instead of the GPL (which allows re-licensing GPL'd code).

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