On Mon, May 9, 2011 at 5:43 PM, Ben Sturmfels <b...@stumbles.id.au> wrote:

> On 09/05/11 11:20, Adrian Colomitchi wrote:
>> On Sat, May 7, 2011 at 2:44 PM, Ben Sturmfels<b...@stumbles.id.au>  wrote:
>>  On 02/05/11 15:34, rdbr...@pacific.net.au wrote:
>>>  Diomidis D. Spinellis's latest IEEE Software column "Choosing and Using
>>>> Open Source Components" is up at his blog
>>>> http://www.spinellis.gr/blog/20110501
>>>> and may interest.
>>> Thanks for pointing this out Rodney. Hope we see you at the upcoming
>>> discussion group!
>> My apologies for the question: haven't had enough time 'til now to attend
>> any of the meetings. Can you please update me with date/time/location for
>> the next meeting?
> Thurs 19 May, 6:30pm at State Library. Look forward to meeting you! :)
> For dates beyond that:
> http://www.softwarefreedom.com.au/free-software-melb/
>  It's a well written article, but does seem to be a little
>>> freedom-agnostic.
>>> I also worry about Spinellis' slightly twisted interpretation of the GPL:
>>>  Others (licenses), like the GNU licenses, play well with other
>>>  software licensed as open source but make life difficult for
>>>  proprietary offerings. This is especially true if you want to
>>>  distribute your work to others as a shrink-wrapped package, such as
>>>  Microsoft Office, or as an embedded software product, like a set-top
>>>  box. In such cases the only GNU-licensed components you can easily
>>>  use are unmodified dynamically linked libraries licensed under the
>>>  so-called GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). You get
>>>  considerable more leeway with GNU-licensed software if you don’t
>>>  distribute a product but instead offer a service (like Google) or
>>>  simply use your system privately within your organization.
>>> The GNU GPL says that you can't incorporate GPL licensed code into
>>> proprietary programs.
>> Slight correction here: yes, you can/may, as long as you don't distribute
>> the result of incorporation in any kind. And I'd argue that this is *not*
>> outside the spirit of the free software.
> The difference here is just terminology. For me, a program can't be
> proprietary until it has been distributed. So I think we agree there.

With this choice of terminology, total agreement. This settles the matter.

>  I'd argue that running/providing a GPL-ed software *as a service* and
>> asking
>> money in return is still in the spirit of free software and, to some
>> extent,
>> beneficial for the free software that is used (exposure) and/or for the
>> "consumers" of such a service. Examples: heaps of hosting providers
>> offering
>> LAMP (on quite low prices) - are they operating outside the spirit of free
>> software? Are they even "hurting" the spirit of free software?
> I encourage people to provide network services using free software. I do it
> myself in my business. I object to turning free software into a network
> service specifically to get around the requirements of the GPL (as the
> article suggests).


> Perhaps networks services would be an interesting topic for the next
> discussion group.

Yes, it would be interesting.
You see, I can't believe that "turning a GPL-ed software into exclusively a
service *just to get around the GPL*"  would be indeed a risk to worry
about: most of the time, the "pain" of operating a consistent service at a
non-trivial level of usage/security exceeds the effort to develop/maintain
the software (sort of saying: the cost of developing particular
customization is far exceeded by the cost of operating the customized
software... ).
But I have a hunch that there are other risks (for the free software) that
comes with "service-alization"

>  Finally, I'm more worried about the following in the blog:
>> <quote>Although it’s tempting, try to avoid modifying the open source code
>> to fit your needs; you don’t want to end up maintaining another large
>> component on your own.</quote>
>> Now, this *IS* outside the spirit of free software (at least the way I see
>> it). I can see the angle Spinellis is coming, but I do have huge issues
>> with
>> the form he expressed it.
>> It is one thing to say: "If you develop your own customizations, you face
>> the risk of broken compatibility with future releases of the free
>> software"
>> and a different thing to say: "Stay out of customizations! Believe me, you
>> don't want to spend anything in making the software better *even for you*
>> much less for anyone else".
>> The first is a fair warning. The second is bordering FUD of the same sort
>> as
>> Microsoft's "get the facts right" campaign.
> That's a good point. There is a trade-off between maintaining
> customisations and having to use software that doesn't fit you. Customising
> is the best solution in some situations. Perhaps Spinellis' wording was a
> little off.

Customising may be an important way a free software evolve to cover a
broader set of needs (as long as the same needs are shared by a larger user
base): discouraging effort in this direction *is* contrary to the spirit of
free software (sort of saying that, in my personal opinion, the wording is
not a bit but way off).

> Ben
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