Technology and Trends
 USENET Archives
  
From: battle@cs.utk.edu (David Battle)
Newsgroups: alt.os.linux
Subject: Linux in the spirit of the GNU General Public Liscense?
Summary: NOT!
Date: 23 Mar 92 21:15:30 GMT
Organization: University of Tennessee, Knoxville - CS Department
NNTP-Posting-Host: thud.cs.utk.edu


I have been overwhelmed with the *positive* responses through email to
my offer to provide distribution and support for Linux from those who would
like to have a solid distribution of Linux to play with.  One person (an
obviously-knowledgeable administrator of a largeish network of Unix
workstations) even suggested that this might be worth as much at US$150!!!
This is about 3 times the *maximum* amount I would consider charging!

Thanks to all who responded for your comments.

However, I was astounded at the near-hostile responses I received from
some of the people working on development of Linux (Linus has NOT commented).

I think that the way these developers feel is blasphemy to the GNU GPL.  The
GPL is clearly set up to allow anyone who wants to to provide distribution and
support services *and make a reasonable profit at it* while providing the
users with the assurance of the availability of source code and the right
to make copies.  I'm sure Stallman is happy to have Cygnus Support around to
take some of the hassle of distribution and support off his shoulders.  I'm
sure he's not at all upset that they aren't losing their shirts at it.  In
fact, I'll bet he would be tickled pink if they got filthy rich; it would
just go to show that his philosophy about freely distributable software is
economically viable.

Not so for the Linux developers I've heard from so far.  Unless I'm willing to
contribute my time for free (or at least absurdly cheap) they won't be happy
with me distributing and providing technical support for Linux, notwithstanding
my willingness to contribute back any improvements and/or extensions I make.

Given this, I don't think it is a good idea for me to try to provide this
service.  I would need cooperation (or at least tolerance) from other Linux
developers in order to provide this service effectively, and that doesn't seem
to be forthcoming.

My apologies to those who still have no way of easily and cheaply getting
a complete, timely, and solid distribution of Linux with all the sundry
source and utilities.

My pity on those misguided developers who seem to think that a vow of poverty
is needed from any potential development/distribution/support provider.  If
this attitude becomes prevalent among Linux developers, my prediction is
Linux will die.  It will quickly be replaced by something that people can
make a living developing/distributing/supporting; most likely BSD or GNU.

I would like to know how Linus feels about the distribution/support
situation.  I imagine his feelings would be much more positive.

-David L. Battle
battle@cs.utk.edu

From: torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
Newsgroups: alt.os.linux
Subject: Re: Linux in the spirit of the GNU General Public Liscense?
Date: 24 Mar 92 13:57:49 GMT
Organization: University of Helsinki

In article < kssijiINN1el@utkcs2.cs.utk.edu> battle@cs.utk.edu (David Battle) writes:
>
>I would like to know how Linus feels about the distribution/support
>situation.  I imagine his feelings would be much more positive.

Ok: I didn't comment before, as I hadn't much to say, and I'll just make
my standpoint clear here once and for all, as people seem to be
wondering. 

I feel that if David is serious and willing to take on anything like
what he suggested, it certainly can't hurt anyone.  If people are
willing to pay for David's services, it means they are wanted, and he
shouldn't be discouraged.  What he proposed is certainly allowed by the
copyright, and I think some of the reactions were a bit harsh. 

Naturally, I'd feel even happier if /I/ got all the money off this
enterprise, but on the other hand, I wouldn't want to bother with all
the distribution problems etc, so I have only myself to blame (*).  If
somebody wants to make the same services available as David, I'll be
happy, but I don't feel it's a good idea to try to undercut David just
because of a I-wrote-parts-of-it-why-should-David-get-the-money?
sentiment. 

I can't say I made any "sacrifice" in writing linux and making it freely
distributable: I enjoyed most of it (bug-reports aren't fun, and I
/hate/ hardware-dependent bugs, but they are interesting), and I got out
as much as I gave (if I hadn't made it public, I'd probably never had
implemented some features I now think are indispensable).  Also, most
persons sent me diffs well aware of the copyright: admittedly it changed
between versions 0.11 and 0.12, but I made it clear at the time, and
nobody minded it then. 

I hope David makes it clear to potential customers what linux is and
that it is available for free if you want to take the trouble to find it
and set it up - his service would be just that: a service.  If people
find it worth the money, then everything is fine.  The amount of money
he makes is irrelevant.

		Linus

(*) I also didn't want to make linux "guilt-ware", so I have even tried
to avoid asking for voluntary donations.  Sometimes I'm too stupid for
my own good. 

From: spedpr@thor.cf.ac.uk (Paul Richards)
Newsgroups: alt.os.linux
Subject: Re: Linux in the spirit of the GNU General Public Liscense?
Date: 25 Mar 92 18:45:05 GMT
Organization: University of Wales College at Cardiff
X-Mailer: Cardiff Computing Maths PP Mail Open News Gateway

In article < kssijiINN1el@utkcs2.cs.utk.edu> battle@cs.utk.edu (David Battle) writes:
|
|I think that the way these developers feel is blasphemy to the GNU GPL.  The
|GPL is clearly set up to allow anyone who wants to to provide distribution and
|support services *and make a reasonable profit at it* while providing the
|users with the assurance of the availability of source code and the right
|to make copies.  I'm sure Stallman is happy to have Cygnus Support around to
|take some of the hassle of distribution and support off his shoulders.  I'm
|sure he's not at all upset that they aren't losing their shirts at it.  In
|fact, I'll bet he would be tickled pink if they got filthy rich; it would
|just go to show that his philosophy about freely distributable software is
|economically viable.
|
|Not so for the Linux developers I've heard from so far.  Unless I'm willing to
|contribute my time for free (or at least absurdly cheap) they won't be happy
|with me distributing and providing technical support for Linux, notwithstanding
|my willingness to contribute back any improvements and/or extensions I make.
|

I think the point here is that Richard Stallman is not on the poverty
line himself and he does get paid for working. He's quite happy to have
Cygnus provide the service they do because it's no skin off his nose if
other people also get paid for working on free software. 

However, the sentiments of many people working on Linux are
understandably quite different. They get no financial benefits out of
Linux and are working on it for fun and because it's a worthwhile
project. If all you intend to do is provide a service and make a little
money on the side then that's in this spirit. However, when you say
things like, "can I make a living out of this" and the such like then
their reaction is, not surprisingly, "why should I give my free time so
that someone else can get rich". This is basically exploitation of others
good intentions.

If you are just going to make a little extra money providing a service
to those without easy access to Linux, then good luck. If you intend
making a living off the backs of others then you deserve what you get.
This is certainly not in the spirit of the GPL.

|
|My pity on those misguided developers who seem to think that a vow of poverty
|is needed from any potential development/distribution/support provider.  If
|this attitude becomes prevalent among Linux developers, my prediction is
|Linux will die.  It will quickly be replaced by something that people can
|make a living developing/distributing/supporting; most likely BSD or GNU.
|

The above sounds like something from AT&T. If we can't make any money
from it then why bother. People have to live but the whole point of the
free software is that software development should not be guided by
profit but by the need for it.

I think the harsh words of those who are against your aims are due to
their reluctance to spend all their extra hours working on Linux, while
you get rich and they stay poor. Remember, many of those working on
linux are doing so because they can't afford to spend money on software
i.e. they are NOT rich.


Well, those are my thoughts on the matter.
-- 
  Paul Richards at Cardiff university, UK.

  spedpr@uk.ac.cf.thor	Internet: spedpr%thor.cf.ac.uk@nsfnet-relay.ac.uk
  UUCP:     spedpr@thor.cf.UUCP or ...!uunet!mcsun!ukc!cf!thor!spedpr
+++

From: tytso@ATHENA.MIT.EDU (Theodore Ts'o)
Newsgroups: alt.os.linux
Subject: Re: Linux in the spirit of the GNU General Public Liscense?
Date: 25 Mar 92 20:50:37 GMT
Reply-To: tytso@athena.mit.edu
Organization: The Internet


   From: spedpr@thor.cf.ac.uk (Paul Richards)
   Date: 25 Mar 92 18:45:05 GMT

   However, the sentiments of many people working on Linux are
   understandably quite different. They get no financial benefits out of
   Linux and are working on it for fun and because it's a worthwhile
   project. If all you intend to do is provide a service and make a little
   money on the side then that's in this spirit. However, when you say
   things like, "can I make a living out of this" and the such like then
   their reaction is, not surprisingly, "why should I give my free time so
   that someone else can get rich". This is basically exploitation of others
   good intentions.

Hmm... well, my reaction is that it doesn't make any difference if
someone tries to make a buck off of Linux, since the GPL states that
when something is distributed under the GPL, (1) the GPL must included
as part of the distribution, in an obvious place, and (2) either the
source must be included or a pointer to a place where the source can be
made freely available.  So anyone who gets pays $1000 for Linux will be
immediately treated to the obvious fact that they can give it away to
anybody they want.  I find it very doubtful that anyone would be able to
"make a living out of this" under these circumstances.

Also, if there are really stupid people out there paying $1000/copy for
Linux, you can be sure that I and several other people will immediately
go out there and offer to sell copies of Linux for $500/copy, and then
$100/copy, and then $20/copy..... and pretty soon the free market will
take care of driving the price to "natural" levels.

I really don't see the big deal and fuss.... the GPL is designed so no
one will be able to make outrageous amounts of money over the mere
distribution of the software.  Support?  That's a different matter; but
if you are selling support, (like Cygnus), you need to put in a lot more
effort yourself --- it's not like you're just mooching off the efforts
of other people.

						- Ted