[LINK] GPL .. good or bad?

David Lochrin dlochrin at d2.net.au
Fri May 1 10:38:21 AEST 2009

On Thursday 30 April 2009 21:40, Tom Koltai wrote:
>> It's possible to base proprietary work on GPL code.  I have a  
>> marvellous device: a TomTom.  It runs linux, and it is rock 
>> solid and stable and TomTom publishes the source etc to 
>> comply with the GPL but the main navigation application and 
>> data are proprietary and closed.   All legal and in compliance 
>> with the GPL.
> An example of a successful software marriage returning a 
> dividend to shareholders and keeping the public happy.
> 50/50 solutions like the TomTom are rare - but preferred.

Perhaps they're not so rare.

Many or most ADSL modem/routers use embedded Linux, and if Telnet access from the LAN side is enabled one can log in (e.g. # telnet  However some manufacturers don't publish the GPL code as a matter of course; Netcomm will apparently supply it if asked - http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies-archive.cfm/902351.html - and code modified by users is sometimes available for their modems.

The best example is the Apple MAC.  I believe Apple publish the OS BSD operating system, but the GUI is closed & proprietary.

I personally use a Linux distribution because it's rock solid, it does the things I want reliably, it doesn't get in my way with "rich user experience", and it's more secure.  But if I look deep into my soul, I ~do~ like using something created by people who cared rather than something churned out by a giant marketing organisation.  Maybe it's just a defect in my character (:-).


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