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:
If you want to point at various other vendors who have choosen BSD,
and NetBSD in particular, to place their products on, see:
- 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
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.
[Tags: bsd, gpl, licensing]