~Warning~: Pedantry ahead. Only read on if you dare.
(Then again, if you read more than eight bits of my past contributions,
you probably already recognised that I'm a proud and unapologetic pedant.)
> Other licenses may be more free in that they have less restrictions,
> including the copyleft.
Precisely. It merely depends on which freedoms we're referring to.
> That's great for them, but that's not the kind of commercial
> activity I want to support.
That's great for you. So what?
> If somebody uses open source code, they
> should be willing to show their changes for others to build on.
(Which isn't exactly what the GPL's copyleft enforces, because the only
"others" who must be provided with the changed source are downstream
recipients. There is no notion of "community" or "public" intrinsically
linked to it. For that, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocal_Public_License - incidentally, not
FSF-approved and avoided by others as well.)
> I have been a user of open source code (GPL) for over 20 years now
> starting with early versions of gcc. Before I released my own code
> under the GPL v3 I was paid by a major corporation with three initials
> to write open source code, usually under GPL2.
"GPL2", really? Do you mean "v2 only"? Or "v2 or later"?
> That same corporation
> was a major player in open source and spent a lot of time making sure
> they complied with the rules, including redistribution of changes. It
> works for them and it works for a lot of other people. I find it hard
> to imagine how something so simple gets twisted up in meta discussions.
I find it hard to imagine how this thread's current topic (which, by the
way, still was about "FreeDOS compatibility with DOS applications"... just
another sort of compatibility!) could be considered a "meta discussion"
that "twisted up" anything.
I'd specifically like to reject your compliment that this discussion is in
any way "meta", because in the current culture any software development
requires licensing decisions. Even just releasing source code without any
statement this or that way is considered to imply a decision. So,
arguably, licensing becomes part of writing software, merely a different
kind of technical matter. That is all so regardless whether a particular
developer appreciates it. And if they're the one to make these decisions
then I believe they should be aware.
> Show me where somebody was harmed by the copyleft provisions of GPL
> licenses ..
Isn't that obvious? Any incident can be considered harmful in which the
GPL specifically causes someone to refrain from re-using code (whether an
entire project or only a tiny part of it) and they instead re-implement
similar functionality, but worse. Note that I don't care about the
"success" of a particular business that depends on selling copies of
software without Free source, but (regardless of how the software is
developed and distributed) in such cases there is still harm for any
recipient/user because the software they get to use is worse than it could
be if everyone had worked together. (Arguably, whenever the software is in
some way networked and communicates with other users' software, the others
might be disadvantaged as well - for instance, because the
re-implementation adheres to protocol standards less well than the
copylefted alternative does.)
Unquestionably, in such scenarios a licence with (severe) copyleft is less
harmful than, say, one where the source isn't released at all. For that
reason as well, I consider it disingenuous to refer to copyleft as somehow
"viral" unless one would too refer to any kind of closed-source licensing
as "viral" in the same manner (though more severely).
What is unquestionable too is that copyleft of whatever severity is a
compromise that, well, forces individual recipients to pass on their
source changes (at least) to downstream recipients. And if you find that
compromise works for you, yeah, great, go for it!
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