[LINK] GPL .. good or bad?

Tom Koltai tomk at unwired.com.au
Fri May 1 12:56:35 AEST 2009

> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Lochrin [mailto:dlochrin at d2.net.au] 
> Sent: Friday, 1 May 2009 10:38 AM
> To: Tom Koltai
> Cc: 'Kim Holburn'; 'The Link Institute'
> Subject: Re: [LINK] GPL .. good or bad?
> 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/90235
>1.html - and code modified by users is sometimes available for their

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

>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 (:-).


Interestingly we probably all remmeer the recent TomTom problem

Somewhere in my box archives, I have a Microsoft 7" floppy disc with
Xenix 1.0 written on it - that I was given in Seattle.
Yet in 1995, I sat with Kirk McKusick at his home in berkely discussing
the ins and outs of the Windows NT Beta 3.2 and its encroachment on BSD.

Funnily enough Kirk didn't mind (Adrian standpoint) but he also knew
that the Regents of Berkely would wring every penny they could out of
uncle Bill - and eventually that's what happened.

So lets exaimine GPL Unix.

Every fork that made money was an independent OS spin-off highly
leveraged through capitalisation investment and public company exit.

For those of us old enough to be cynical - I reiterate - GPL is good for
the commercial world and an interesting fall-back for the non-commercial

Last time I looked it still cost money to buy sushi. That has to come
from somewhere.

The battle between Sun/Microsoft/IBM has always really been about the
CVS fork. Who did which - first and eaxch wishing they had taken an
earlier position in the GPL.

E.g. - I wrote some tecktronix (scr) and hp laser printer drivers in
1984. Sun wanted them exclusively as did SCO and DEC and ICL - so I gave
them to everyone. The world was happy again. (They only took me an
afternooon to write - ok ok the HP drivers took me three months - and I
pinched parts of the mapping from somewhere else - but I then ported
them to five flavours of unix in an afternoon.) 

So GPL is good - but it isnt until the commercial realisation of either
the code, a part of the code or the service that the code makes possible
that GPL completes the loop successfully to be able to continue to

Oh that - plus new programmers moving up the ranks. Thank-god for
increased population growth again..... That $3,000 baby bonus seems to
be doing the trick.


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