[linux-elitists] GPL Violations [was Re: Mobile Phone Choices]

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Thu Jul 27 10:15:10 PDT 2006

Quoting Chase Venters (chase.venters@clientec.com):

> Contrast this to things that are BSD licensed (which is fairly close
> to public domain) - Apple builds XNU using pieces of FreeBSD, and then
> upon a move to the x86 platform, decides to stop releasing XNU
> sources. Grab and run.  (That's not to say that Apple isn't a good
> citizen in some departments; they do have a lot of other open source
> activities).

There's really less than you might believe of FreeBSD in APSL-licensed
XNU, I hope you're aware.  The original pre-merger codebase was mutant
Mach 2.5 with top layers from 4.2BSD; the post-merger (Apple "acquiring"
NeXT; substantively meaning NeXTians becoming Apple's management), that
was refreshed to Mach 3.0 with 4.4BSD Lite top layers -- looking a _bit_
like FreeBSD, but certainly not to the degree Apple Marketing would have
you believe.

(Userspace was likewise refreshed to the stuff common among all of *BSD
and Linux.)

Anyhow, your point about licensing is acknowledged (bearing in mind this
is exactly the derivative-works effect the BSD coders wished to
encourage, among others) -- and _would_ be correct if it were not for
Apple having a strong policy of contributing all codebase improvements
back to upstream projects under their original licensing.  Probably this
isn't always timely (they have a culture of secretiveness exceeded that
of even...  er... Google -- that being one of the reasons why the
OpenDarwin Project just shut down out of sheer frustration), but it does
happen, and happen widely and extensively (see: gcc).

BSD-licensing advocates would probably maintain that, even with the
upstream givebacks, Apple's separate proprietary fork is likely to prove
indefensibly expensive, fall behind, and not persist over the long term.
I rather think they'd be right.

> Not everyone sees eye to eye with ESR. Particularly when he boldly
> claims that the GPL is now useless:
> http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/onlamp/2005/06/30/esr_interview.html

More precisely, he feels it's now done its job; that free software's
advantages and self-sustaining nature have long been strong enough to no
longer need copyleft's network effect.  

He may very well be right.  Eric was guilty in that article only of
flamebaiting in his introductory wording, I think (and the trollworthy
article title probably wasn't even his).

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