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Re: OT: Two ways Microsoft sabotages Linux desktop adoption

On Wed, 2006-02-15 at 04:40, Joel Rees wrote:
> > 
> > There are misinterpretations, but they aren't as much of a problem
> > as the FSF's interpretation.
> ??

Apparently you haven't paid attention to their claims.

> > > The GPL allows dynamic linking to incompatibly licensed software,
> > > long as the separation is clear, and the basic requirement is that
> > > API should be standardized enough that there should be at least a
> > > theoretical possibility of swapping what is linked out for
> > > else. 
> > 
> > It boils down to what might possibly be considered a derived work
> > under copyright law. 
> partly

Entirely. If a work cannot be considered a 'derived work' of
something under GPL in the legal sense under copyright law,
the GPL cannot impose any restrictions unless the copyright
owner chooses them.
> >  The FSF has taken the position that if
> > a GPL'd library is unique, then anything that uses that
> > library is a derived work and thus subject to the GPL
> > restrictions even if it is distributed separately from
> > the library. 
> I think you are overstating the case.

No, they have stated exactly that, and made efforts
to enforce the issue.

> >  In the past, an author that wanted to
> > give a work away freely without the GPL restrictions was
> > forced by the FSF to rewrite a library (badly, it was
> > never really used) with all the corresponding functions
> > instead of just permitting users to link their own
> > GPL'ed library obtained separately.
> Are you speaking of an actual case, or an actual FAQ, or are you
> speaking of somebody's panicked interpretation after having used GPLed
> source without having read the license? 

An actual case, and an actual person who was trying to give
away free software.  This was before before google started
archiving every typed word so you may have to work to find
the gory details but I'm sure they are around somewhere. Look
for RIPEM and the history of the gpm library.  I think they've
decided that harassing people who are trying to give things
away was a bad publicity move and thus bad for their agenda
so subsequently the library has been lgpl'd.  But the same
people are still driving the FSF and their agenda hasn't
changed.  Look at the history of objective-c also, if you
need more evidence that allowing any contact with gpl/lgpl
code is safe for a company who expects income from their

> Anything which does not incorporate is not derived. Static linking
> actually brings in the library code, so it is derived. 
> Stallman describes his take on dynamic linking, it's there on either
> fsf.org or gnu.org for anyone to read. Publicly stated. Anyone worried
> about it can read that and see what they think for themselves.

The FSF position has been that whether the user does the link
or not is not relevant to whether a derived work is created.

> Until there are court cases, of course, it's just like any other
> -- we don't know what a court might decide, and we put ourselves
> somewhat at the mercy of the license holders when we use their

Exactly.  I don't personally believe that a copyright violation
is possible without actually copying any of the covered code,
but the FSF has demonstrated their willingness to challenge

> So what? (I personally prefer to depend on the mercy of someone who
> publishes under GPL more than of someone who publishes under
> EULA, for example.)
> > > If this weren't the case, no proprietary software could run on
> > > Linux, period.
> > 
> > No, the reason this is permitted is that other implementations
> > of the standard system libraries exist to prove that the
> > programs are not derived from GPL code.  There is, however,
> > the potential claim to be made against anything that uses
> > a uniquely-linux, uniquely GPL'd function.
> Potential claim? Oh, yeah, a certain level of paranoia is good, but it
> sounds to me as if you are basing your interpretations on the
> that anyone who publishes under the GPL is likely to be hiding the
> intent to pull an "embrace and extend" maneuver.

Of course they are.  That is specifically the intent, and
objective-c is one example of the results.

> To which, the answer is
> to fork. (Sure, it takes work.)

Yes, but the effort of doing that is what keeps anyone from
being able to compete with Microsoft.

> > 
> > It's not at all nice for the people forced to use only one
> > or the other. 
> You are always free to ignore the GPLed software, which was the way it
> was before the software was published under the GPL. 

Agreed.  And that's exactly what most people do, and it
keeps Microsoft in business.  I just don't see why anyone
considers that a good thing.

> The GPL specifies certain limits. I guess you find them uncomfortable.

It's not a personal issue.  I want to see competition for
Microsoft.  People may think that Linux just is not mature
enough or that someone still needs to do more work on it.  That's
not the problem.  Its impossible, and will always be impossible.

> If the GPL bothers you, why do you use Linux instead of the BSDs? I
> recommend them on their own merits, and, with a little work, you can
> almost anything that runs on Linux to run on those. If you find
> licensing so distasteful, that is.

I use what works.  There are places that Linux works, and it has
had the most effort put into it.  If a *bsd distribution existed
that worked as well as the Linux distos, I'd switch in an instant,
and if someone sold something with the capabilities of OSX for
the incremental cost of the proprietary code I'd never look back.
Historically, I give RedHat the credit for making Linux more
popular with their 4.x release that mostly 'just worked' on
most hardware at a time when the *bsd's were just recovering
from the AT&T lawsuit and you had about a 50/50 chance of
booting the freebsd CD.  This dumped so much bad-but-almost-working
code in so many laps that thousands of people were inspired
to fix all the broken parts (read some changelogs if you
don't believe it was really that bad back then...), and
for most if it, the people doing the work had no choice about
GPL'ing the results if they wanted to share it at all.

> I personally don't find the GPL distasteful. I'm sure I might be
> frustrated by licensing at times, but that's the one of the prices we
> pay here. (I find my own time and financial limits much more
> frustrating.)

Are you frustrated by the continued necessity to deal with
Microsoft code?  My opinion is that they have caused more
people more trouble and wasted time than anyone, ever.  My
point isn't that the GPL's agenda is inherently bad, it is
that it keeps GPL components from replacing proprietary
equivalents because they can't be combined and since some
of the proprietary components are necessary, it's the GPL'd
ones that go.  Thus the monopoly continues - and RMS has
done more to help it along than anyone.

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell gmail com

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