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ZDNet: Walking the open-source tightrope

Mar 06, 2001, 21:02 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Evan Leibovitch)

"The moment you assert ownership of software in such a manner that you, exclusively, are able to charge money for its use, you're going to run afoul of free software advocates, no matter how you try to sugar-coat it. The definition of free software is pretty explicit, and doesn't allow for any restrictions on how programs may be copied, modified, or used. Even software that is free for personal but not commercial use is considered neither free software nor open source. So there's not a lot of room to move."

"Having said that, a number of companies have tried some novel approaches to walk this tightrope. They want to earn some revenue from licensing fees without angering too many parts of the Linux community."

"One of the more novel ones came from British developer Vita Nuova, whose unique approach to licensing I described last year. You pay once to license the company's Inferno OS, then can redistribute as much as you want of the binaries (and much of the source) without extra fees. While interesting, this approach hasn't made Inferno (now in its third release) visible outside the embedded market."

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