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A Voice in the Dark

In AD 2101 war was beginning. What happen? Someone set up us the bomb! We get signal. What? Main screen turn on. It's you. How are you gentlemen!! All your base are belong to us!! You are on the way to destruction. What you say? You have no chance to survive. Make your time. HA HA HA HA.... Take off every 'Zig' You know what you doing! Move 'Zig' For great justice.

Friday, July 01, 2005

ESR Says Something Right

In an interview at ONLamp.com, Eric S. Raymond says we don't need the GPL any more.

I've always agreed with this, because the GPL restricts people's freedom. You can't argue that freedom is good, and then take it away from people. It's hypocrisy. But to examine this more closely, does the GPL actually do what it wants to do?

I like the BSD and MIT licenses. They're really, truly free. And I think the GPL does more harm than good, because I've had this conversation more than once:

Manager: We need to do this.
Developer: I can use this package to do that right now.
Manager: Great! Bolt it into our application.
Developer: It's GPL. We have to release all of our source code if we do that.
Manager: Ooh, that's completely unacceptable. Throw it out and write your own.

In the fantasy-land of open source advocates, the conversation continues:

Developer: I refuse to reinvent the wheel! Information wants to be free! Free Kevin!
Manager: Oh, all right. You're lucky I'm Church of England. Release the source!

A major coup is thereby scored for the open source community, which gains sudden access to an entire major commercial application... in fantasy-land. Reality check: if you ever do try to have that conversation, the Manager tends to respond "I also see that a developer wants to be unemployed."

The end result is that a developer has to reinvent the wheel, an application ends up with the newly-reinvented wheel, and no source gets released. So you've done exactly what the GPL is designed to prevent: contributed to closed source rather than open, shipped a fragile and untested feature instead of a stable and reliable one, and wasted developer time on something that had already been done.

So the GPL is, IMO, broken. Not only is it unnecessary, it was never good at what it was supposed to do anyway.


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