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Wine Software

Wine Continues To Move Towards License Change 231

uhmmmm writes "The Wine developer's votes are in. Wine will change license, as was suggested would happen, but it's not yet decided to what exactly. Alexandre notes 'We now have to decide the implementation details, like the exact license used, whether to require copyright assignments, etc.'"
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Wine Continues To Move Towards License Change

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  • With the power that wine gives to *nux and the very nature of open-source software being free a licence to re-sell. It is important to protect the work and rights of the devolpers. And soon the day will come when Linux is 99.998% M$ compatable... an then... we will rule the world....
    • And soon the day will come when Linux is 99.998% M$ compatable... an then... we will rule the world....

      That would be cool, considering that M$ isn't even 99.0 % compatible with itself.

  • I dont get it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @09:03AM (#3031495) Homepage Journal
    How will changing to the LGPL help wine? How will it help the industry? Isn't the idea that someone might "make it proprietory" exactly what the wine project set out to acheive? Wouldn't it be great if a large number of companies were to figure out what wine is and how they can use it and finally put up some competition for Microsoft?
    • The main problem is forking.

      You can see this happening with the Linux distrobutions, each one has slightly different configuration tools, default, patched kernals etc.

      The big difference between the Distro's and wine is that while each Distro NEEDS to be complient with each other. This is one of the main reason the Linux standards group is making a standard distro. Basically you want people to be able to use any linux so they can change to your style of linux.

      With wine it is different. Currently say the comunity got 99% compatability but just couldn't figure out the last little bit :-( and some company did the 1% needed, the company could sell their wine. This is fine but for the fact that they have no reason to release the source :-( If they keep the source then they are the only company with 100% compatability even though they only did 1% of the code.

      By changing the linces they can make sure that any one company can't do this.
      • Re:I dont get it (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ded Bob ( 67043 )
        With wine it is different. Currently say the comunity got 99% compatability but just couldn't figure out the last little bit :-( and some company did the 1% needed, the company could sell their wine. This is fine but for the fact that they have no reason to release the source :-( If they keep the source then they are the only company with 100% compatability even though they only did 1% of the code.

        If a company only adds back a little bit and sells wine, an open-source developer could just write the code as open-source. You need not fear a company adding a tiny piece and keeping it proprietary. Besides, when you hit 99% compatibility, that 1% will not attract very many customers as most applications will be running.
        • You realy don't understand emulation.

          That last 1% compatibility may be the diference betwean what we have now and Office 95/97/2000/xp running better under wine than they do under Windows. It may be the little bit neaded to make 30 of the 50 most important Windows programs work.

          So yes. they have an extreamly valid point. Unlike a lot of other projects, Wine _has_ sean people attempt to fork it in varius ways. Sometimes they cave in and submit the patches, other times that code is lost to the comunity.

          You see with any emulation project the coding get's harder as it gets closer. The figure I herd was that the last 10% of compatibility was 90% of the work.
          • You realy don't understand emulation.

            I do understand specifications and how to find the differences when an implementation does not match the specification. It is difficult but not impossible.

            That last 1% compatibility may be the diference betwean what we have now and Office 95/97/2000/xp running better under wine than they do under Windows. It may be the little bit neaded to make 30 of the 50 most important Windows programs work.

            I did not get that impression from the developers on the wine mailing list.
    • Loading windows programs from Wine is only one way to make use of it. You can also compile windows software using Wine to provide a translation layer.

      I imagine the second option would be a lot more attractive if they could do that with proprietary apps with non GPL licences.

      AFIK WordPerfect for Linux was compiled using Wine.

    • Re:I dont get it (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mikeee ( 137160 )
      Isn't the idea that someone might "make it proprietory" exactly what the wine project set out to acheive?

      Yeah, that would be just the thing! If only there were a proprietary implementation of the Win32 API, there'd be no need for Wine at all!

      That's the most bizarre thing I've heard this week, but it's early yet!
  • Open Licenses (Score:5, Interesting)

    by opkool ( 231966 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @09:04AM (#3031511) Homepage
    Hi there,

    I'm in favour of a change in the Wine license that allows to :

    - Keep the Seurce Code Open

    - Let any software company to use it with their products in a way that WineHQ and the SoftwareCompany both beneffit from it.

    Wine, everyday a little bit close to implement all of the Win32 function calls, is seen as a very good oportunity for software makers. But...

    (Yes, I know, it's not the best thing. I love to see Linux native software only mysef. But if this new license allows a company to have a "Linux Version", IMHO this is a Good Thing for Linux.. Others have done it already: MusicMatch, Kylix 1.0 come to my mind.),

    But, of course, the terms "GPL", and "Open Source" are a heavy obstacle (but untrue) for companies interested in making money in any platform. Specially when they associate GPL and OpenSource with and "Viral License".

    Yes, there's Microsoft's FUD (remember Ballmer about "Linux as Cancer" and the likes?), lot of mis-information or simply plain lack of knowledge. And this can (is) prevent(ing) many companies to offer "Linux Versions" of their products. Quicken anyone? Children games? Stationary-making programs? software that comes with your hardware?.

    So, with WINE offering a new license that allows a for-proffit company to sell Linux-products is good for Linux. With Wine offering a new license that is at the same time Open and usable by SoftwareMaker Inc. is a goog thing.

    Hell, maybe they will even supply (paid) developers to the Wine project!

    Those are my thoughts. What do you thing? Why I am right? why I am wrong? I am very interested in the Wine project. And I will read this discussion.

    All the best.
    • Re:Open Licenses (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Uruk ( 4907 )

      Keep the Seurce Code Open

      The LGPL accomplishes that.

      Let any software company to use it with their products in a way that WineHQ and the SoftwareCompany both beneffit from it.

      The LGPL accomplishes that.

      But, of course, the terms "GPL", and "Open Source" are a heavy obstacle (but untrue) for companies interested in making money in any platform. Specially when they associate GPL and OpenSource with and "Viral License".

      Many people see companies and industry as this large immovable object, and we in the linux community can have our fun, but ultimately we need to make concessions in order to "fit in". Frequently, one of those concessions is people not talking about free software, and sometimes not even talking about open source. Well, these concessions are just plain wrong. Using free software, linux *muscled* its way into business and industry, simply by being better, by respecting people's freedom, and giving them what they want. There's no reason to believe that process can't continue just like it's going now.

      Many people get wrapped up in the popularity aspect of the software - what can we do to make it more popular - and end up losing sight of all of the things that made it cool and attracted you to it in the first place.

      I don't think that free software/LGPL/GPL talk is going to turn anybody away. Not any more than it has in the past, and let's look at the past track record - linux has gone from a quick hack by some nameless finnish student to one of the most used server operating systems on the planet. Talk about and develop linux in the way that it has originally appealed to all of us, and things will come naturally.

      • Little bit more... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by clump ( 60191 )
        Many people see companies and industry as this large immovable object, and we in the linux community can have our fun, but ultimately we need to make concessions in order to "fit in".

        I would have to agree. Gentleman like Mr. Gates, Mr. Glass, and other license 'viewholders' share the common belief of corporations not being able to use GPL'ed code. They would lead us to believe a company is going to be ever-profitable and ever-wonderful, but an evil engineer slips in 'print "Hello World!\n" and all of a sudden, Capitolism, Bambi's mom, and eveything nice dies.

        I can't see why people get so offended by the GPL. There is no example of an individual ever having been forced to use the GPL in a project. Somehow I still have the freedom to either a.) not use the code, b.) write my own code (perish the thought), or c.) find other code.

        The LGPL is a very generous comprimise. You get protected code that you can link against, allowing you to keep your project as seperate as you wish.

        Wasn't this the Wine development team's decision? Isn't that all that matters?
    • Re:Open Licenses (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cogline ( 188518 )
      I am in agreement. This is a great opportunity for M$ to loose ground to free software.

      The possiblity of companies being able to take the same source and build it on Linux/*BSD as well as Windows means that much more of a market for them, at nearly no extra cost. Perhaps they might have to polish off certain calls, perhaps it might not be as smooth, but the audience/target market is that much larger.

      I am excited by this chance! As WINE gets better and better, it will allow more and more companies te chance to realse programs for multiple platforms! I eagerly look forward to the day when software pacakges at Wal-Mart have a sticker that says

      Built to run on Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/WINE

      This will be an elegant triumph of open source over M$ monopoly! (not trying to make a flame war, but I see this as the easiest way to break the monopoly.)

    • I think that it's consistent with the original intent of the WINE project -- which is to provide a real alternative to a Windows-only world.

      If developers are able to distribute their software with a known API, it will encourage them to

      1. develop for that API,
      2. Fix bugs in that API, and -- as a legal requirement --
      3. contribute those bug fixes back to the larger world.
      For someone who has a multi-million dollar project hanging in the ballance, assigning a person or two to work with the open-source world is cheap. If the result is a viable alternative to dual-boot systems, I'm all for it.
  • by resistant ( 221968 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @09:08AM (#3031522) Homepage Journal

    A nice side effect of the "BSD License" is multiple targets for Microsoft as there's more commercial exploitation of WINE, and thus more dissipation of the energies of Microsoft, especially as they draw more fire for trying to suppress their competition [lindows.com], thus a better chance for more open-source projects to thrive in spite of annoying the Evil Empire at Redmond.

    Nearly anything that increases commercial participation in Linux is good, especially if it directly attacks the Windows semi-monopoly. Seems good! :)

  • by msouth ( 10321 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @09:14AM (#3031550) Homepage Journal
    So, being the inquisitive type, I have to wonder what it was that Jeremy couldn't talk about that convinced him to raise this issue again after it had been "settled" before. Any ideas? Lindows? (--that's my speculation).

    This is like Apple switching to preemptive multitasking instead of cooperative multitasking. Cooperative multitasking was fine as long as everyone played by the (unenforced except by community practice) rules. But, at some point some big player, or a horde or little players, is going to come along and not play be the (unenforced except by community practice) rules.

    It looks like someone was making a bid to slurp up Codeweavers or something, eh? "Here's a lot of money, dude, give us your soul!" But a miniature RMS-resembling angel on the other ear said "GPL is the path to Free-dom!". And he swatted that one down, but then a more reasonable pixie sort of thing that looked halfway between a penguin and a demon says "Psst--use the Deprecated license, Luke". And that's what he put to the vote.

    • Actually, he seems to want protection under the LGPL to compete with the other companies using WINE: archive [winehq.com]

      I get the feeling that he is just trying to force other companies, using different business models, into his business model and get their code. It is just a little selfish.

      BTW, TransGaming, one company he complains about not sharing their code, has given a lot of code to WINE: archive [winehq.com]
      • Not quite the point. (Score:4, Informative)

        by dmaxwell ( 43234 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @10:31AM (#3032010)
        From reading the archive, I think Jeremy White was making another point. The problem is not so much that TransGaming is not sharing code. The problem is that everybody knows that they are doing a lot of heavy lifting to make games work. JW says that prior to TransGaming entering the field, the bulk of contributions to WINE were game related. Since no one wants to duplicate TransGaming's work, non TransGaming DirectX contributions have dropped off to almost nothing. He also mentioned that one developer spent three weeks duplicating some InstallShield functionality that CodeWeavers developed. Basically, proprietary companies are being seen by developers at large as "owning" particular segments of Wine development. In short, JW is worried about an ongoing brain-drain.

        There is another problem. He says that he and other core developers are often hired to implement spot bits of functionality that allow particular applications to be ported to *nix. The current licence encourages the clients to want to own the for hire work even though it is the end result (the application can be sold on *nix.) that is important and not a few snippets of code to WINE. If WINE were LGPLed, WINE developers would still be hired to assist with application porting but they wouldn't waste their time on work that doesn't advance the overall effort. This bears some explicit pointing out for would be trolls. The LGPL means that the ported applications remain the property of the clients yet would allow the changes to WINE to go back into the main tree. JW wants a clear set of rules so clients know before the fact what belongs to the project and what belongs to them.
        • From reading the archive, I think Jeremy White was making another point.

          I might have added more comments in my message than was in his post as I have read every message within the development list. It helps to be subscribed. :)

          JW says that prior to TransGaming entering the field, the bulk of contributions to WINE were game related.

          This is not necessarily true. It is more likely that the large drop in the economy has taken free time away from a lot of developers. Before they could think about running games, now they need to think about earning some money for their family.

          He also mentioned that one developer spent three weeks duplicating some InstallShield functionality that CodeWeavers developed.

          There is some response from Gav (owner of TransGaming) concerning this in the mail archives. I am too lazy to find it, but I believe he was not trying to hold that piece of code back.

          In short, JW is worried about an ongoing brain-drain.

          Jeremy should not worry about it. His company makes money by writing code for his customers. If a company needs more code, he makes more money.

          The current licence encourages the clients to want to own the for hire work even though it is the end result (the application can be sold on *nix.) that is important and not a few snippets of code to WINE.

          He has also stated that he informs all of his clients that he will give the code back to WINE. The LGPL will not change this for him as he already makes all of his code open-source.

          JW wants a clear set of rules so clients know before the fact what belongs to the project and what belongs to them.

          His company already has a clear set of rules (WINE gets a copy of all the code he writes) in this regard as I stated up above.
    • Wine is actually a trojan horse of a strategic nature. Microsoft, along with the Illuminati, the Republican National Party, and the Yeti, funnel millions of dollars into the development of Wine behind the scenes. The idea is that people on other platforms should still be tied to applications on Windows. At a certain point, hapless GNU/Linux users will awake to the startling reality that even though they're running linux, they spend all of their time running Windows applications. They'll all eventually cave in and return to the warm bosom of Microsoft, never again to stray from the teat that provides them the poison they love so dearly.

      It's all a conspiracy. I'm starting to think that ESR with his "open source" nonsense is actually also an operative for Microsoft, working deep, deep undercover to bastardize the "free software" philosophy by dumbing it down into "open source", all the while accepting licenses like the APSL, moving step by step, inch by inch, to fully proprietary licenses at which point he can join hands with Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Baalzebub rejoicing in their victory over the good things in the world.

      Of course, all of this could be simply about the developers of Wine wanting to change to a copyleft license to prevent some bastard company from coming along, stealing everything, repackaging it with a 2KB patch, and closing the source.

      Course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

      • Of course, all of this could be simply about the developers of Wine wanting to change to a copyleft license to prevent some bastard company from coming along, stealing everything, repackaging it with a 2KB patch, and closing the source.

        You are not saying that an open-source developer would not be able to duplicate a 2KB patch?!? ;)

        Seriously, as was stated on a wine mailing list, if it was just a small change any developer could duplicate it. A company would have to make a large change to actually be viable.
      • what, no aliens? C'mon! I want _speculation_, not this repackaging of what everyone in the industry already knows...
    • Heh, well, I hate to be the one to counter my own speculation, but it looks like Lindows is not a good candidate for speculating abuut.

      Roberston contributed this, among other things, to the discusion:

      http://www.winehq.com/hypermail/wine-devel/2002/02 /0312.html [winehq.com]

      But I have a new question to speculate about (see the "view by thread" on that page to understand):

      Who peed in Brett Glass' cereal? He seems really mad.

      • It basically boils down to Michael Robertson trying to gain control of WINE. He wants to own it. He wants to be *THE* source for Windows interoperability in Linux. This *is* after all the same guy who gave us mp3.com, trying to cash in on the success of the format after it had already broken, then trying to take the credit for being the man behind it all.
  • by jACL ( 75401 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @09:15AM (#3031562)
    Not trying to be a troll...hear me out.

    I've been mulling over the GPL and BSD licenses for some time, trying to think of a way that businesses can make money while the community still benefits. (Isn't everybody?) So where does this come together?

    Perhaps the scientists have the right idea. There's currently a strong leaning in the scientific community about the free release of journaled articles six months after publication. The journal gets to make money, but the research makes it into the public domain after a short time period.

    Perhaps the approach that WINE can take would be for contributions to go GPL after a certain time period, say, six months or a year. A business can make money during that time, but as commercial systems become 'abandonware' after a period of time, the code can return to the community. Licensees could always choose to forego the time delay, publishing immediately.

    What do others think? Is this a good balancing point? It just occurred to me that this is what ID has been doing with Doom and Quake.
    • I've been mulling...

      Mulled WINE? How Epicurean.

      Is it free? (as in Beer)

    • I think it's a good idea. Of course, that's exactly the sort of thing copyright was meant to do in the first place: give people the chance to profit exclusively from their "intellectual property" for a short time period before allowing the information to be used freely. Of course, that principle has been badly abused and skewed toward the producer in recent years, and that's one reason why completely free licenses have become so popular. It's the free market's natural response to an imbalance. Personally, I think if copyright law were to be revised to function the way it was intended to in the first place, we could have the best of both worlds: a strong corporate presence and good commercial software, but also code that's released to the public after a reasonable time period.
    • I've been mulling over the GPL and BSD licenses for some time, trying to think of a way that businesses can make money while the community still benefits. (Isn't everybody?) So where does this come together?

      Cooperation between business and free software would be a cool thing, but is that necessarily the end-all be-all of software?

      Some people don't think so [nols.com]

    • Perhaps the approach that WINE can take would be for contributions to go GPL after a certain time period, say, six months or a year. ... It just occurred to me that this is what ID has been doing with Doom and Quake.

      This is a variant of the street performer protocol. John Carmack hasn't promised to GPL all his old game engines, although he did hint at the release of Quake 2. I think he would have released it sooner, if Anachronox hadn't taken so long.

      See, also, Aladdin Ghostscript, old versions of which are GPLed.

  • The results (Score:5, Funny)

    by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @09:29AM (#3031630) Homepage Journal
    Alexandre posted the results of his survey to the Winedev newsgroup this morning (in my timezone).

    Of people who expressed an opinion and who had contributed code, the results were roughly 2 to 1 in favor of moving to the LGPL.

    Of people who expressed an opinion and who had NOT contributed code, the numbers were more favorable to remaining with the X11 style license.
    <opinion source="me">
    People who code prefer LGPL, people who bitch don't.
    </opinion>
    • Re:The results (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @10:23AM (#3031956) Journal

      Maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't accept any votes from someone who hadn't contributed code. The choice of the license belongs to those who have contributed to the codebase and no one else. Those non-coders are welcome to voice their opinions, but only in a non-voting capacity.

  • Carrot and stick (Score:3, Informative)

    by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @09:49AM (#3031742) Homepage
    The current Wine licence has not substantially been abused. That's more a reflection of the state of Wine up to this point more than any intent to hijack the project.

    Yet, the current code is good. It's quite good. Yesterday, I fired up a demo version of Lightwave 7.0 under it. Most of the application worked flawlessly including interactive modeling, camera position, and on-screen rendering. Though I didn't test everything, the main problem I found was that the file dialog had a focus problem and would flicker. I can't see that still being a problem when an official 1.0 release of Wine is released.

    With the current licence, and the recient improvements to Wine, it is becoming a tempting target to hijack. With comparitively minimal funds, about 10 years of work could be rolled into a commercial product that never gives a line of code back.

    The LGPL or similar licences would allow largely unhindered commercial production with a much greater chance that many changes would be folded back into the core Wine tree. A licence like this would not prevent a company or individual from making supplementary and seperate libraries that are closed, but it would encourage some more general code to be returned. That's at a minimum.

    The best case would be that larger changes are rolled back into CVS, and good feedback like the kind that came from Codeweavers, Corel, Transgaming, and Lindows (benifit of a doubt).

  • by CDWert ( 450988 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @09:49AM (#3031743) Homepage
    This is good, and I agree with the change, I think there has been a fair amount of bad feelings by developers when code has been wrapped in a proprietary product. Even though none of those poroprietary products have sealed their efforts, codeweavers does donate back to wine and transgaming is available via CVS.

    I am curious about what will happen to the existing wine trees out there and in process of development. If I am correct they will not be allowed to borrow from the tree effective date being the liscence change, they will in fact, with the amount of work that goes into wine, end up with a stale tree quickly.

    Is there a way around this ?

    There is obviously no way to make the liscence apply retroactivly, and that would be wrong, is there any way to ensure certain portions of the new tree dont make it into a proprietary product bundle ?

    • Let's say Wine is LGPLed at midnight GMT tonight. As I understand it, anyone could take code from the pre-LGPL Wine and pick and choose what to grab out of the latest-and-greatest-LGPLed Wine.

      From the POV of the licences, they could make massive changes to one or two files (from the pre-LGPL branch) and then import the remaining parts from the LGPL branch. At that point, they have violated no licences and are not required to release any source regaurdless of how the binary is distributed.

      That way, the commercial project could take advantage of having mostly current code while keeping it all propriatory.

      Will that last? I'd bet that over time this would start to get ugly and code management used to ensure that the licences weren't violated would be quite a chore. Without specifics, how much time is hard to predict.

      Corrections appreciated.

  • by Deven ( 13090 ) <deven@ties.org> on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @10:33AM (#3032027) Homepage
    The Wine project might be well served by imitating Sleepycat [sleepycat.com] and their dual-licensing model for Berkeley DB [winterspeak.com].

    Berkeley DB started as a small embedded database library which only supported hash tables and btrees. Since it was written for BSD Unix as a replacement, it was released under the BSD license. After a few years, it was widely used, but it still only offered access methods. When Netscape wanted more features, such as transactions, disaster recovery and multiple-user support, Sleepycat Software was founded to further develop Berkeley DB (on the strength of a licensing deal with Netscape).

    The new version of the software was released under the Sleepycat license [sleepycat.com], an OSI-approved [opensource.org] license which allows Open Source applications to use Berkeley DB, but (unlike the GPL) appears to be compatible with any Open Source license. For proprietary applications, Sleepycat offers a more traditional licensing option to companies who don't wish to distribute their source code. Revenue from such licensing funds additional development of Berkeley DB, to the benefit of all. (For example, Berkeley DB 4.x adds replication and high-availability functionality that surely would not exist without the funding received through this dual licensing.)

    Perhaps the Wine project should follow this example? Wine could be placed under a license like Sleepycat's, which would allow Wine to be freely used by Open Source projects (whether GPL or not), and proprietary companies could pay for a license which allows proprietary use. Funding from such licensing could be used to further develop Wine, to the benefit of proprietary and Open Source users alike.

    BSD or LGPL licensing allows proprietary companies to profit from the hard work of the Open Source developers without giving anything back. Sleepycat's licensing model forces them to give something back, either by contributing more Open Source code back to the community, or by paying cash for the privilege of avoiding that -- which could then be used to fund development that would benefit the Open Source community.

    It's a win-win situation, and it would ensure that contributors don't get exploited. It could also lead to funding that might greatly accelerate the development of Wine, even more than relying on companies like Corel to contribute back changes they've made to the codebase.

    I'm not a contributor to Wine, but I'd suggest they consider following Sleepycat's example -- it appears to work well for them, why not for Wine?
    • I'm lery of "dual licenses" because it seems to voilate one important part of Open Software(let alone Free Software as the Gnu philosophy defines it).

      Open Software should be available for ***everyone*** to use. Single users to multiple users. Non-profit to big profit. None of that should matter if you really want "open" software. Restricting it to be open for some (non profits and profits that pay) but not others has all sorts of dubious problems.

      I do recognize that some groups do need to make money but I think that APIs/library usage are the wrong places to do it for Open Software.
      • I'm leery of "dual licenses" because it seems to voilate one important part of Open Software(let alone Free Software as the Gnu philosophy defines it).

        It's not as idealistic as Free Software. It's more realistic. Let's face it, companies exist to make money, and if they can exploit the hard work of volunteers to make an easy profit, they will. Most companies won't contribute back out of "social conscience" like individuals might -- if they did, they could even get sued by stockholders for breach of fiduciary duty for not seeking the maximum profit possible.

        The companies that do contribute back to the community do it to the degree they feel it will be advantageous (to the company and its stockholders) in terms of saved development costs (avoiding the need to maintain a forked tree) and/or public relations/marketing benefits of appearing to be a "good corporate citizen". If a contribution back to the community would sacrifice a significant competitive advantage, it probably won't be contributed back unless it's forced (by the GPL, for example).

        Open Software should be available for ***everyone*** to use. Single users to multiple users. Non-profit to big profit. None of that should matter if you really want "open" software. Restricting it to be open for some (non profits and profits that pay) but not others has all sorts of dubious problems.

        The GPL isn't really open in that way. The GPL demands that you "play nice" if you want to use GPL'd code -- by releasing your code under the GPL as well. For many proprietary vendors, this is a completely unacceptable demand, so they avoid GPL code like the plague. The "dual licensing" model offers an alternative -- if you won't "play nice" by opening up your own code, you can pay for the privilege of using the code anyway -- and that money will be used to fund improvements in the software for everyone.

        This is a win-win situation. Those who are willing to release their code can freely use it, and get the benefit of development which likely wouldn't have occurred without funding. Those who aren't willing to "play nice" must pay, but they also benefit from that development work in the long term, and they still save money over redeveloping the same functionality.

        The GPL's approach to proprietary software is "I'm going to take my ball and go home." This dual-licensing approach is "if you don't want to play nice, then pay me to make it worth my while." This is pragmatic rather than petulant.

        I do recognize that some groups do need to make money but I think that APIs/library usage are the wrong places to do it for Open Software.

        On the contrary! This is the best place to do it because there is leverage in this area. If you make a good library (like Berkeley DB), proprietary vendors will be interested in building products around it because it will save them money to pay for working code (and support) rather than trying to reimplement the same functionality from scratch. They won't reinvent the wheel if paying for a proprietary license is cheaper, and the revenue from the proprietary licensing can fund new development work.

        Now, consider an end-user application, such as a word processor. It's something end users want and need, but other proprietary vendors have no reason to pay for a proprietary license if the application is available under an Open Source license, because there's no need to build a larger product around it. There's no leverage, so it would be very difficult to support a business and fund new development work if nobody is willing to pay for it.

        Free Software and Open Source Software are great, but they tend to ignore a basic problem -- while distribution of software is cheap, production of new software is expensive. If nobody is paying for the distribution of the software, how do you fund the development?

        Stallman suggests writing new software as consulting gigs, and requiring it be placed under the GPL. That may work for him, but it won't work for most programmers. Most of us have to work full-time jobs to support ourselves, and often only get to work on Free Software by sacrificing our "free time" to the cause. That's no way to have a life, even if it does get some software written and released.

        We need a solution which allows talented developers to spend their days programming for the common good without starving in the process. I'm not sure yet what that solution might be, but I'm quite certain that spending all your time writing software that will be given away (and in some cases exploited) isn't the answer. Maybe one more copy of a program isn't worth a lot, but the time the programmer spent crafting that program is a valuable, scarce resource. And the economics just aren't working.

        And you know the really sad part about this situation? If someone does come up with a solution, it will necessarily have to take a different form than Free Software currently does, which will anger all the zealots who demand that everything must be free and GPL'd, but who refuse to examine the fundamental problem which has yet to be addressed. Of course, many of these people claim to be fighting for "free speech" when they're really more interested in "free beer", truth be known...
  • Half full? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ahde ( 95143 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @11:37AM (#3032279) Homepage
    While I'm not thrilled about the sudden fad of projects abandoning the GPL, there is one potential positive thing that can come of it. It shows corporation that may be thinking of developing for linux that they can start with the GPL and fairly easily switch to a proprietary (or BSD style) license with relative ease -- especially compared to going the other way around. In both instances, you would need to track down contributions from independent copyright holders, but in the case GPL software, it would be easier to re-implement (or link to) than proprietary modules.

    This may help companies that would like to grow a user base with a GPL product and then pull a bait and switch on their users and close it up and start charging. Or charge for "add ons". From the companies perspective, it shows that while the GPL may be viral, the disease is not terminal (sorry for pun). One downside they may perceive are that users will continue to use the earlier GPL versions, but everyone loves new features.

    While this sounds like encouraging bad ideas and proprietary trojan horses into a free software, I'm confident that the majority will eventually see the benefit of open source and be reluctant to branch. If not the majority, then survival of the fittest. We don't really *need* seven office suites (5 plus vi, emacs, and latex is plenty.1) anyway. Sure, there'll be times (when the stock price takes a dip, or a new accountant is hired) when companies make mistakes and experiment with creative new money making schemes, but eventually, it will become obvious that the expense of proprietary software development outweighs its benefits.
    • While I'm not thrilled about the sudden fad of projects abandoning the GPL, there is one potential positive thing that can come of it...

      Actually, Wine is currently licensed under an X11-style license. What's under consideration is a switch to a copyleft license such as the GPL or LGPL. See this thread [winehq.com] for details.

  • Do Results Matter? (Score:2, Informative)

    by BrotherPope ( 8102 )
    One thing that bothers me about the change is the (lack of) reasoning for it. I like Free Software, don't get me wrong. I prefer it. However, I am paying for my subscription to TransGaming's WineX and have no problem with supporting the company or the product. I have my reasons:
    1. If the subscription numbers reach TG's goal (meaning they're earning a healthy return on their investment), TG will give its code to WineHQ. By supporting them, I'm doing my part to get this code released to the community.
    2. TransGaming has accepted the risk involved in hiring top-notch developers. This is not a trivial amount of risk. The payoff comes on the back end, not the front. By this, I mean they make it off of products and subscriptions and in an ideal world other Wine-dependant companies would sponsor/pay them to release code bits under a free license early. This contrasts with a consulting contract that guarantees money for services and software. Already, their DCOM work has lost its value in a sponsorship scheme because someone else developed it separately and released it under the Wine license. TG took the risk and ate the cost and their programmer still got paid.
    3. TG gets results. In just a couple of months, they've advanced WineX to support DirectX 8. Earlier today, they put out a press release [transgaming.com] announcing support for Max Payne [transgaming.com]. For $5, you can get a copy of WineX with copy-protection support or get it free from CVS without copy-protection under the AFPL.


    As a subscriber, I see my monthly contribution to TransGaming as a contribution to Wine development. TG keeps key portions of its code close to its chest (or as close as you can get with the AFPL license), but they have donated a lot of code (See http://www.winehq.com/hypermail/wine-devel/2002/02 /0646.html [winehq.com] for a short list) and they will in the future.

    But now, I fear that my contribution will be devalued by the added cost of TransGaming/WineHQ cooperation. If it costs TG more to prepare a patch for the LGPLed WineHQ tree, it's like losing subscribers. Or looking at it another way, it's like my money didn't go to contributing back to WineHQ. Instead, it got lost to the 'overhead' introduced by this push toward 'Free Software'.

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