ZDNet: Caldera to introduce modified open-source license
May 10, 2001, 13:03 (108 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Mary Jo Foley)
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Ransom Love of Caldera says the GPL might not be the best
license going for commercial software, and to that end he plans to
consider other licenses. "Microsoft is attacking open source at its
weakest point: the GPL," he says.
"Caldera has some similar misgivings -- not about the
GPL model being the optimal one for open-source development, but
about how appropriate the GPL is for open-source software that is
sold commercially, Love acknowledged."
As a result, Caldera is "seriously looking at and considering
different licensing models," he said. Caldera is considering BSD
and "other licensing models" that "would be truly open source but
still allow folks to influence the (development) process," Love
Rob Landley wrote in
with these comments when he submitted this story:
Ransom Love fell for Microsoft's recent gambit, discarding the
GPL in favor of BSD-style licensing. That was the whole point of
Microsoft's recent attacks, convincing people to do that. Why? Very
Open Source is not a threat to Microsoft.
Think about it. Microsoft is thrilled to embrace and extend BSD
licensed code; the entire Windows network stack and many of the
standard command line utilities are derived from BSD. They even
stole enough BSD code (and found enough standards loopholes) to get
Windows NT declared posix compliant! It's not just BSD, they're
embracing and extending the internet as well. Most of their growth
since Windows 95 has been derived from the internet, and making
Internet Explorer the primary interface to it for 3/4 of it current
user base. How long did Tim Berners-lee's public domain web browser
remain in the public domain, anyway? Outlook and exchange for
email, front page for web authoring. Embrace and extend.
Embrace and extend is what Microsoft does for a living. They
had a new idea in decades, even DOS 1.0 was a clone of CP/M
they bought from a third party. Their OS development stalled after
1995 because they'd finally run out of ideas to copy from Apple.
Open Source must seem like a godsend to them, a pristine alaskan
wilderness to strip-mine.
If Microsoft was facing BSD, they'd just fork it. Grab the BSD
codebase, embed explorer and some Win32 compatability Dlls (not a
difficult problem when you have the windows
source code) , hide half of office in the system dlls just like
on Windows, and bingo you have a new Unix based version of Windows
incorporating every advance the BSD people have made.
But they're not facing BSD. They're facing Linux. And Linux is
protected by the GPL. They can't embrace and extend the GPL, the
GPL embraces and extends THEM. And that is scaring the heck out of
Idealism aside, the GPL is an effective, pragmatic solution to
the problem of monopolies that intentionally fork code bases once
they reach critical mass. The 1980's unix world was BSD based and
it forked itself to death as soon as companies saw that there was
money in it. Netscape hired all the Mosaic developers away.
Altruism doesn't keep corporations from strip-mining nature
preserves, and it won't keep them from forking open source projects
if they see money to be made, no matter how we try to "educate"
them about software environmentalism.
Richard Stallman created the GPL to fend off the monopolistic
practices of AT&T and Xerox in the 1980's, and it works just as
well against Microsoft in the 1990's. This is what it was DESIGNED
for. As Eric Raymond said, it's a "stake in the ground they can't
pull out". The GPL doesn't just put stuff in the public domain, it
nails it there so it can't be removed.
The GPL is a very effective immune system for open source
projects, defending them from proprietary embrace and extend
attacks. The GPL is what makes Linux a threat to Microsoft, not the
merits of the code itself or the amount of effort going into its
development. That's just a contributing factor. Linux* couldn't BE
a threat without the GPL.
Microsoft has recognized this, and it's about time we do
[* Richard Stallman tries to point all this out to people by
insisting people call Linux "GNU/Linux", which is about as annoying
as Kellog's insisting we call their product Kellog's Corn Flakes,
or Budweiser insisting it's "Bud Lite", and about as likely to be
universally adopted. He's a smart enough guy he assumes everybody
else will think through the dozen or so logical steps and figure
out what he means to say, and of course assumes everyone knows the
ideals of the GNU project and thus know what he means to imply.
What he's MANAGED to do is annoy a very large number of people
without actually getting his message across, but not all hackers
are great with the humanities side of things. It's a pity, he DOES
have great things
to say. The FSF could REALLY use a marketing department. Or at
least somebody to explain the concept of "judicious and focused
expenditure of political capital".]