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The GPL Impedes Linux More Than It Helps? 386

Posted by Zonk
from the cutting-into-fun-time dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "Linux ought to be even more successful than it is. On ZDNet, Paul Murphy ponders the reasons why. For one thing: The GPL impedes Linux more than it helps. Licensing issues, coupled with patent and copyright FUD, have caused developers and VCs to think twice before committing to Linux. Murphy also suspects that desktop Linux is stuck on stupid." From the post: "Basically, legal issues, or the threat of legal issues, caused some key applications developers to back off Linux while the general negativism of Linux marketing caused many of the individuals whose innovations should have been driving Linux adoption to hang fire until MacOS X and Solaris for x86 under the CDDL came along."
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The GPL Impedes Linux More Than It Helps?

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  • Actually (Score:4, Informative)

    by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:03PM (#13713915)
    The author admits that the headline was inadvertently applied from a post he intends to do tomorrow.
    • Re:Actually (Score:4, Funny)

      by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:09PM (#13713977)
      > The author admits that the headline was inadvertently applied from a post he intends to do tomorrow.

      Tomorrow's headline will be under GPLv3. Today's headline is still under GPLv2. It's OK to dupe today's headline tomorrow in order to get pageviews today, as GPLv2 headlines can be grandfathered in, and the revenues derived from the pageviews would be legit. But if he posted it tomorrow, he'd owe royalties to RMS - no, wait, nobody's supposed to owe royalties to anyone - but if he posted it tomorrow, I'm sure RMS would do something nasty to him! Maybe even start singing some of his poetry or something!

    • For cripe's sake!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rbochan (827946) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @03:18PM (#13716063) Homepage
      Please... _please_ stop getting "news" about Linux/OSS from zdnet blogs... they're nothing, and have as yet been nothing, but inflamitory bullshit designed to increase adhits.

      Now back to your scheduled flamewar.

  • Linux and GPL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by totallygeek (263191) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:04PM (#13713925) Homepage
    As for the GPL being blamed or targetted for restrictions on Linux, the same could be said for a number of necessities regarding Linux. For example, the requirement of purchase for some distributions and/or support restricts Linux. The inability for xxx piece of hardware to work restricts Linux. Both of those hurt more than help. The GPL is needed, IMHO, to protect Linux from growing in a proprietary status. Look at Unix: Solaris, AIX, OpenServer, QNX, etc.

    • It does help (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:30PM (#13714174) Journal
      In fact, if not for the GPL, IBM, HP, etc would never have signed on to it. They do not mind sharing source code, but they want to know that a company such as MS can not come in and hijack it.

      Right now, MS could support BSD and kill the market from under Apple. That is what happened in Unix, after it was closed. The big players slowly killed off the little guys by adding closed source that was unavailable to them.

      Besides, keep in mind that only Windows is a moneymaker (and that is due to the monopoly in Office). No other OS makes a direct profit. Not even Apple, or any of the linux distros.
      • Agreed. The GPL impedes Linux the same way that having seatbelts, brakes, and a muffler impedes the speed of a car. The destructive capability of runaway development without any safety gear to protect the developers and their clients is, in the long run, much faster than watching companies and developers crash and burn as they develop tools that can never be used again by anyone because of closed source.
    • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @03:27PM (#13716173) Homepage Journal
      Why does he think Sun is doing well with Open Solaris and CDDL? This is really out of left field. Is there some study that I haven't noticed, or just marketing FUD?

      Bruce

  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:04PM (#13713926) Journal
    Yes, all FUD asside (and this is mostly FUD) if linux switched NOW to another license it MAY be usable in some situations where it isn't now. But what makes Linux itself is its license. If it had a different license it would simply be another UNIX clone would it not, and most likly it would still be sitting in Linus's FTP server right where he left it many years ago.
    • by cbreaker (561297) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:50PM (#13714392) Journal
      BSD license aside, look at the licenses for other Unixes or other systems like Windows. You basically rent the stuff. You have to pay big bucks for it.

      So, Linux has an excellent license when it comes to being able to use the great code and complete operating system components without paying a dime. If these people are really dying to write closed source applications using open source code, well, I don't know what to say. I think they could *pay* to do that, don't you?

      So why didn't BSD get as popular as it is today without the GPL? Probably because corporations have been sucking out the peices they want to use and giving nothing back because they don't have to. The BSD community was never a sharing community. I don't think it is today either, although because of Linux it's become more so. Do you really think the *BSDs would be as popular now if Linux never came along?

      Not to mention, most BSD systems use a heavy amount of GPL code these days, and the Linux kernel on GNU toolsets really took the GPL to the public. What would your favorite BSD look like without any of it?

      Many programmers, and companies, are willing to contribute to GPL codebases because they're not willing to let the competition or some company to take their work, close source it, and sell it as something new and better to make bundles of cash. If they're going to give to the community, they want others to do the same. The GPL promotes that type of system.

      People will complain about it because they want to use the code like it was public domain but it's not. Maybe this is considered "holding it back" but in my opinion we don't want that kind of thing anyways.

      • by freshman_a (136603) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @01:31PM (#13714821) Homepage Journal

        Not to mention, most BSD systems use a heavy amount of GPL code these days

        Really? Care to show me where this "heavy amount" is at?

        What would your favorite BSD look like without any of it?

        Well, this for one: http://www.openbsd.com/ [openbsd.com]
        What would Linux look like without non-GPL code? You'd have no OpenSSH, no Apache, no PostgreSQL, and no X.

        ...they're not willing to let the competition or some company to take their work, close source it, and sell it as something new and better to make bundles of cash.

        I can't tell you how many times I've heard that argument before from the anti-BSD folks. Again, care to show me an example of where this actually happened?
      • Curious.. (Score:4, Informative)

        by sp0rk173 (609022) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @03:02PM (#13715854)
        When was the last time you used a BSD system? Generally speaking the only GPL programs in the base system are a handfull utilities here and there, and GCC. You better believe that once they can, the BSDs will switch to Tendra and away from GCC. OpenBSD has by far the least number of base-system GNU utils, FreeBSD the most. And still, the majority of the base system in FreeBSD is BSD licensed.
  • "Ought to be"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oGMo (379) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:07PM (#13713952)
    Why should Linux "ought to be" anything other than what it is? If Linux were something else, it would not be Linux. If that were the case, it might not even be as popular as it is.

    This is typical ZDNet FUD. Is there any evidence that intelligent, well-informed businesspeople (i.e. those who have clueful lawyers) have a remote concern about licensing when choosing Linux?

    • Re:"Ought to be"? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by interiot (50685)
      Why should Linux "ought to be" anything other than what it is? If Linux were something else, it would not be Linux.

      That's a pretty circular argument, almost like saying "everything that's sucessful can't be improved".

      It's entirely possible that licensing isn't one area of Linux that is in dire need of improvement, but don't use the argument "this is what got us here" to back it up.

    • Re:"Ought to be"? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by at_slashdot (674436)
      "This is typical ZDNet FUD. "

      I think that they discovered that this kind of article provoke outrage in Linux community and they publish them for the money from the ads they serve to the outraged (and curious) public.

  • Impedance... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kaz Kylheku (1484) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:07PM (#13713955) Homepage
    Well, you know, that's kind of like saying that air impedes an airplane. That's true, but it also flows over the wings and provides lift.

    Note that we could also say the same thing about proprietary, commercial software too: that licensing restrictions and costs impede its adoption. But they also create the circumstances in which that software is created.

    The goal of the GPL has never been rapid adoption of software, but rather adoption under particular circumstances.

    Anyway, has there ever been a time between 1991 and now when Linux and free software in general have not grown in user base?

    • Re:Impedance... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sootman (158191) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:37PM (#13714244) Homepage Journal
      "Well, you know, that's kind of like saying that air impedes an airplane. That's true, but it also flows over the wings and provides lift."

      Exactly. Very, very well put. (Bonus: air is also needed by the engines.) It's like he's saying "Ferraris are great, but they won't be popular until they're less than $10,000." You can't have it both ways. What makes a Ferrari great can't be done for less than $10,000. Yes, there are places where Linux being non-GPL would help, but Linux would not be where it is today if it weren't GPL in the first place. Everything has its pluses and minuses.

      And desktop Linux is not stuck on stupid, the author is stuck on stupid:
      "...Linux growth didn't slow because of competition - something else must have caused it and we need to understand what that was before we can work up a plan to do something about it."
      Um, maybe Linux just got to the point where everyone who wants it, has it? There are such things as saturation and natural limits. Just because Linus jokes about world domination does not mean that Linux is a failure if it isn't the only system in use on every computer everywhere. Would he consider it a success if humans killed off every other species on the planet?
  • i dont think linus is to keen about the GPL, he never actively promotes it.
    i dont know if he regrets using it for the kernel, but he is smart and rational and will never speak out against it.

    even at the top of linux kernel LICENSE, he added some extra notes of his own.
  • by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:08PM (#13713959) Homepage Journal
    So how's that look-like-Windows thing working for the Linux community? Is the wave of desktop adoption far ahead of where it was in 2001 and 2002 when this started? And, if not, why don't we stop doing it? Is it because we're stuck on stupid?
    Maybe some of the commercial ones are looking to limit the retrain time, but I don't think that Gnome looks a bit like windows (or acts like it), and I guess he certainly hasn't seen http://www.symphonyos.com/ [symphonyos.com]. And, yes, I read that article.
  • True to an extent... (Score:2, Informative)

    by ivan256 (17499) *
    The GPL claims to protect the user's freedoms, but that's plain wrong. The GPL protects other users freedoms at the expense of any one individual's ability to use a piece of code completely freely. Corporate lawyers have a hard time coming to terms with that, and for good reason. The GPL is as much an ethical statement as a license, and it's not something that a commercial producer of software should take lightly. The modified Artistic license and modified BSD license are much more user friendly, and if Lin
    • by arkanes (521690) <arkanes@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:18PM (#13714075) Homepage
      On the other hand, an enourmous amount of development happens exactly because of the GPL, because individuals agree with the ethical statement implied by the GPL. A lot of business people really dislike any talk of ethics or morality or correct action and prefer all relationships to be defined soley by a line item on an accounting sheet. And they call us nerds anti-social!

      I don't think takeup would neccesarily be better with a BSD license, either - as evidenced by the fact that BSD takeup lags far behind Linux.

      • by ivan256 (17499) *
        Indeed. That's why I said it's not clear that it would be better.

        I disagree that BSD takeup lags behind Linux. BSD licensed code ends up everywhere. Places you wouldn't even think to look. It just isn't called BSD anymore when it gets there. Again, up for debate/personal opinion whether this is good or not.
      • by AuMatar (183847) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:34PM (#13714219)
        I think it would be worse. Would IBM or HP put out big chunks of code under BSD, where their competitors could add it to their proprietary products (like Windows or Solaris)? Nope. The GPL allows them to do so without fear it will be used against them.

        I know I personally do not develop for anything that isn't GPL (or, occasionally, LGPLed). GPL is a way of using copyright law as a weapon. Company X wants to take the card I wrote, stick it in their proprietary code, then sue me when I make a copy of their program? I don't think so, I'm not playing that game. The GPL levels the playing field- if they want my code, they can have it, they just have to give theirs to me as well. If tyhey don't want to do that, they can rewrite it on their money. Sounds good to me.
    • by Entrope (68843) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:18PM (#13714076) Homepage
      The GPL protects other users freedoms at the expense of any one individual's ability to use a piece of code completely freely.

      That's absolutely wrong. The GPL allows you to modify and to use GPLed code in any way you please. What the GPL does not give you is the right to give the GPLed code to someone else without giving that person the same rights you got.

      • by ivan256 (17499) * on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:22PM (#13714110)
        It's funny, that you can say I'm absolutely wrong followed directly by saying exactly wy I'm absolutely right.
        • by Entrope (68843) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:30PM (#13714182) Homepage
          You said "use completely freely" when you mean "use and redistribute without restriction". Perhaps in your world, bait and switch is a common or acceptable tactic, but some of us prefer to use words according to their meaning. The use of software is entirely separate from its (re-)distribution.
          • You said "use completely freely" when you mean "use and redistribute without restriction". Perhaps in your world, bait and switch is a common or acceptable tactic, but some of us prefer to use words according to their meaning. The use of software is entirely separate from its (re-)distribution.

            Kinda like music?
      • "The GPL allows you to modify and to use GPLed code in any way you please"

        Ok, I would like to modify the code, then release it as a closed source, proprietary product.

        What?

        "What the GPL does not give you is the right to give the GPLed code to someone else without giving that person the same rights you got."

        So, not in ANY WAY I PLEASE then?

        Then why did you...wait...but you said...

    • by Jeremi (14640) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:27PM (#13714148) Homepage
      The modified Artistic license and modified BSD license are much more user friendly, and if Linux and most Linux software used those instead adoption would probably be greater. It's not clear that would be better though.


      It seems to me that we don't have to just speculate here -- we more or less have an example of what Linux would look like under a BSD license; just look at the FreeBSD/NetBSD/etc. Those OS's are fairly similar to Linux, and are BSD'd, not GPL'd. And it seems to me (feel free to tell me if I'm wrong) that Linux has rather more momentum/popularity/support than they do. Why is that? My feeling is that it is largely due to the GPL. Because Linux is under the GPL, people (and companies) feel more willing to contribute their time towards improving Linux, because they feel that their work is going to "the commons" and is more likely to benefit everyone and less likely to benefit only certain parties.


      For example: Do you think IBM would be so willing to throw developers at Linux if they thought Microsoft could just come in and scoop up all of that nice code into the next version of Windows?

      • We do need to speculate, for two reasons. First, it's impossible to tell where modified BSD licensed code ends up. Second, Linux started from scratch, which left lots of interesting development to do that was already complete on BSD. That brought a lot of talented developers to the table that would have been bored working with BSDs existing framework.

        It's impossible to tell what Linux would look like under a different license... So it's impossible to tell if it would be better or not.
  • This is not hard (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gogo0 (877020) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:11PM (#13713993)
    For a large company looking to create software for Linux, all they need to do is write their own software and not link to any GPL'd code. This is no different than any other software (except that some might use win32 libs for gui, but I'm just guessing -I'm no programmer). There is no legal question in that, and I find it strange that a company would think there is one.
    • Re:This is not hard (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Chosen Reject (842143) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:39PM (#13714261)
      write their own software and not link to any GPL'd code

      I think this answers what I've been wondering for a while. That is: If I write my own program nearly all from scratch, but use a single call to some Linux API (let's say a simple network call) do I then fall under the GPL and have to give up all my code? Or do I only have to release the part where I make the network call? Or is it only if I statically link the network call in as opposed to a dynamic call?

  • by vlad_petric (94134) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:11PM (#13713994) Homepage
    I actually think that GPL is perhaps one of the best licenses around from a user's perspective (i.e. somebody that doesn't actively develop the GPL'ed code). When adopting a technology, the biggest threat for a company is for that technology to die/become discontinued/etc. GPL, by mandating source code availability, works to a certain extent as an insurance. In the worst case scenario, a company adopting a GPLed technology would basically need to pay somebody else to maintain it. It's still much better than a binary-only, discontinued software, that, let's say, suddenly has a buffer overflow discovered in it.

    As for Microsoft FUD - that's simply directed against any competitor. GPL is rallying banner for most of the opensource community, so naturally they're targetting it with their immense advertising budgets.

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:11PM (#13713996) Homepage
    Having ethics is an impediment to success in many fields. If the GPL weren't there to enforce the ethic of keeping the source open, of course it'd be more readily adoptable.

    You'd maybe see software technologies developed for linux integrated into proprietary commercial closed-source applications, just as they did with the BSD implementation of TCP/IP in MS Windows, or BSD/Darwin into Mac OS X.

    It wouldn't bring about the desired effect of keeping software Free, though. What do we want Linux to be?
  • Which is unfortunate, because at times it seems that Paul Murphy has finally caught a glimmer of a clue, but it keeps dancing away just out of his reach. FWIW, the GPL only gets a minor mention, and Murphy seems to recognize that to the extent that Linux growth has slowed, it is primarily due to FUD over imagined legal issues, not over any actual legal issues. In addition, the adoption rate of Linux will naturally slwo just because the more of the market you have, the harder it is to grow.
  • I have to wonder why people think the same old UNIX-vs-Linux flame war is interesting. One side claims that BSD-style licenses were responsible for UNIX forking incompatibly during the 1980s. The other side claims that strong copyleft licenses keep people from contributing. Both arguments contain some truth, but it's impossible to say that one or the other license is right for all applications because there are so many other factors that go into whether software ("free", "open source" or "proprietary") i
  • by Quinn_Inuit (760445) <Quinn_Inuit@NoSPam.yahoo.com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:13PM (#13714017)

    Even if the GPL is slowing corporate adoption, an assertion proved by nothing more than the statement "I think" and a fun little example of the post hoc fallacy, that's no reason to ditch the concept. Sure, more corporations might adopt Linux if it were a closed-source program, but why they'd want a relatively unsophisticated OS by some Scandinavian kid instead of the more robust UNIX is beyond me.

    Do you see what I mean? You can't separate the success of Linux from its community and core ideal. They rise and fall together. One of the things I respect about ESR is his realization that good code alone won't win adoption for a GPL'd program. This is about ideas as much as code--and philosophers and salesmen are as much combatants against Microsoft and chattel software* as any F/OSS programmer.

    *I asked RMS about that phrase. He didn't think it was all that good, but I still kind of like it. What do you think?

  • Linux-GPL = BSD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redelm (54142) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:13PM (#13714019) Homepage
    Of course one can hypothesize and value whatever one wishes, but within some approximation, Linux without the GPL is just *BSD.

    Yes, Linus is a talented manager. But he also started without the tremendous codebase that BSD has always had.

    Personally, I'm getting a little fed up with the anti-GPL griping. I suspect the gripers of wanting to abuse code they didn't write. People married to the commercial commodity model of software so successfully exploited by Bill Gates. I have yet to hear an objection I find balanced. Most are just "I want more".

    • Re:Linux-GPL = BSD (Score:3, Insightful)

      by linguae (763922)

      Of course one can hypothesize and value whatever one wishes, but within some approximation, Linux without the GPL is just *BSD.

      I don't know about that. BSD and Linux have two different philosophies as far as design goes. BSD is a system, Linux is a kernel. You need a separate userland (not provided by Linus himself) in order to do anything with the Linux kernel.

      Yes, Linus is a talented manager. But he also started without the tremendous codebase that BSD has always had.

      I agree. He didn't have the

  • owners of OmniFi DMP1's can testify to this at length [sourceforge.net].
  • It seems to me that companies have always had a choice of other operating systems that would allow them more freedom to change the source code and not worry about having to contribute back to the community. Witness the BSD license.

    I believe that Linux has been significantly helped because of the GPL. Anybody that is worried about licensing issues with the GPL can just use a BSD derivative and call it a day.

    As for the CDDL I have a feeling it will get little attention since it is not compatible with the GPL.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:15PM (#13714037) Journal
    Licensing didn't drive me away from Linux. I am not a huge fan of the GPL - I agree with the FSF's goals, but I would rather Free Software win because purchasers realise the intrinsic value of freedom from any potential vendor lock-in than from thinly veiled coercion - but I still use things like GCC, Vim, and a number of other GPL'd programs. The thing that drove me away from Linux (and to OS X, and Free/OpenBSD) was the documentation. I've read Linux man pages that are terse to the point of containing no useful information, written in such appalling English that I wonder how the author could have managed to write a single line of C, or just plain wrong. In the BSD camp, the documentation is orders of magnitude better (and Apple also does well, by importing the FreeBSD man pages - and sending some corrections back).

    The other thing was stability between versions. Linux is notorious for changing kernel APIs between minor versions. This is fine if all of your hardware has maintained open source drivers, but if not then upgrading becomes a game of Russian Roulette - seeing which devices will stop working (it was USB mass storage devices in our department's Linux lab last year, for about a month, with SuSE Linux). Any unmaintained drivers eventually find themselves using a no-longer-supported API and stop working, while closed drivers are often not updated often enough to notice the kernel change until users have started complaining.

  • Hidden assumption (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mav[LAG] (31387) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:16PM (#13714056)
    From the article:

    IBM's endorsement of Linux, the SCO law suit in response, and Red Hat's negative market stance as the Sun killing would be Microsoft of the Linux era combined to destroy the automatic assumption among key innovators in the United States that Linux was "the place to be" -eventually moving many of them to the BSD and Solaris camps where they're now driving the fastest installed base expansions in the history of computing

    Murphy talks about an automatic assumption but he's hidden one of his own in this para: that the only key innovators in the US are vendors and venture capitalists. GPLed software lets just about anyone with half a brain and an itch to scratch be an innovator.
  • There would be no Linux if there were no GPL, or a licensing scheme like it.

    And the Microsofts of this world don't like GPL or anything like it.

    This is not a problem for Linux. It is a problem for companies like Microsoft. End of non-story.
  • the GPL is the only thing keeping Linux from forking, face it between official kernel releases the distros play games with it. When the new kernel is released they all come back. If they could keep their changes from feeding back into the kernel they might not go back to the official release and we will end up with the mess UNIX has had to deal with
  • by M00NIE (605235) <poweredbystrutsgirl.yahoo@com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:18PM (#13714079)
    I don't know about anyone else, but I felt like the man's arguments were muddled and meaningless. He posited lots of opinions with very little actual evidence, facts, or solutions of value. How about an example even?

    I was reading opinions like Linux is failing because of the GPL and kept thinking "in what particular way? Give me an example where the GPL is failing Linux - a hard real example such as 'technology professional X reviewed Linux and found this failing in the GPL so decided to go with another choice'". Or the opinion that Linux should try to be something other than a WinDOAs look alike - such as what precisely? I mean it's really easy to point out flaws, but just a tad more of an undertaking to provide real answers and solutions.

    Reading all this felt a bit like someone saying they think my shoes are ugly without any real information on how they could be better or why particularly they're ugly. I mean he has a right to his opinion of things but ultimately, if he was hoping to actually keep my attention, I would think he would try to at least give me something concise, with real value and of some interest to me. Ultimately I was left with the impression that he can insult Linux, and the point in that exercise is what? Was it just me who was left feeling that way?

  • I did due diligence once when a company was assimilated by VC investors. We had to list every OSS package we used and its license. For starters, look here:

    http://www.opensource.org/licenses/index.php [opensource.org]

    It's a long, tedious list of legalspeak. You may end up depending on "Akbar and Jeff's Semi-artistic Hut License" for a critical piece of SW. Kind of gives a VC the willies, especially if he can get a new Hummer by forcing your company to buy his buddy's crapware instead and pocket the kickback. (Not that that h
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:20PM (#13714095)
    While Desktop Linux has been improving, it is stuck because of a lack of interest and motivation to make it a desktop replacement. If you look at this article with Mark Shuttleworth of Ubuntu: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MarkShuttleworth [ubuntu.com], it's fairly easy to see that people don't particularly care about the perspective of Linux for anyone except developers and those to whom "source code" even means something. It's generally the same thing with the GPL, where it's written from and for a programmer's perspective. Sure, I as a "user" like the source code and completely understand the "freedom" in that context because I actually appreciate and use the source code.

    From a real "user's" perspective, however, source code is useless. Unless they have the technical knowledge to change something, or the resources to hire someone to change/configure something for them, it's a total non-starter. From that perspective, Windows, while bad in many respects, actually offers more "freedom" to an end user in terms of what it allows them to do by themselves without having to go through a steep learning curve and specialize in something that should be a tool.

    I have been using Linux for well over thirteen years, and I absolutely *loathe* how hard it is to do simple things. I want a fully integrated GUI. Sure, I can do it the hard way, and I like that the power of the CLI is there when I *choose* to go into it, but for the most part, it completely sucks. Apt-get my !@#$. ./configure your way to hell. I want something where there is a standard way to install something.

    If source code is the way, then make a completely GUI-oriented, extremely simple, build tool that will take the source as a package and install it without having to type a single command. I would say that perhaps Gentoo was on to something, but from what I understand the community is even more elitist than most.
  • So long as Linux relies on GPL, Microsoft cannot co-opt the code into Windows. SCO can also roll Linux code into its Unix and not apologize.

    I agree with the above poster's comment that GPL gives Linux life as well as drag--but more lift.
  • Linux works great, but you have to recompile for every little change to the system.

    Notice how on most OS's you can own a CD of an application and just install it? Because there are STANDARDS! That's what hurts third-party support.

    Flexibility is good, but if they would make a usable standard and stick with it, we might not have to worry about recompiling so often.
  • So why is BSD dying?
  • by cowscows (103644) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:21PM (#13714101) Journal
    I think he's trying to hard. He starts by asking why all of the momentum that Linux built up during the late 90's is hard to see today. I'm just going to take a guess and say that maybe a lot of that enthusiasm went down with the dot com crash. You know, when the big tech bubble burst, and pretty much everyone's hype fell through? When businesses finally realized that just throwing more and more money into their IT departments wouldn't magically increase their productivity by 600% each year, perhaps that something to do with it?

    I don't think it's been a problem with Linux as much as a more realistic take on the tech industry. Plowing ahead at the blistering pace of the late 90's was fun, but it resulted in a whole lot of wasted money, and it's recent enough that people are still remembering that. It's just a little bit harder to sell that kind of hype right now, so we don't hear as much of it. Meanwhile, Linux is continuing to do what it's always done, there's plenty of development going on for it, and new people continue to adopt it. It might be a little slower right now, it's definitely quieter at the moment, but progress hasn't hit a brick wall.

    I think this guy is looking for a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist.
  • Just look at Ubuntu. It is an evolution of Desktop Linux, is closely tracking Gnome, and is defiantely not trying to be a Windows-Work-A-Like.

    Hardware support (Totally Rad Laptop Support!) is also greatly improved.

    For someone who actually works with Desktop Linux every day in a reasonably large (~300 computer) installation, it has improved hands down. Applications are getting better and third parties
  • by blueZhift (652272) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:32PM (#13714193) Homepage Journal
    IANAL, but I think the GPL protects Linux rather than hurts it. Without the GPL, there probably would not be the free and open Linux we see today. It would likely be just another struggling proprietary OS destined to disappear once its owner was bought out or went bankrupt or just gave up on it (see OS/2). I really don't care if giant corporations adopt Linux or not, I just want a good tool that helps me get work done and helps me have fun on occasion as well.

    The fact that Linux is free and open means, almost by definition, that it cannot have "success" in the usual sense. It cannot be easily sold shrinkwrapped for profit. And it cannot be closed up to thwart competitors either. By the same measure, it also means that it cannot fail either, for there will always be someone for whom it is the right tool at the right time even if MegaCorp Inc. can't make a dime off of it. The GPL makes this possible. Linux isn't going to die anytime soon, but it probably isn't going to be the OS of your grandma either, that is until it's widely used in cell phones, but that's another story!
  • We all yell at ATI & Nvidia to "open-up" their drivers. As in release it under the GPL.
    ATI & Nvidia don't want to because they say that the competition will learn all the cool tricks.

    I know nothing about programming. Can't the competition just download a driver, decompile it and see all the tricks inside? It's not like they can hide the 1's and 0's.

    How would releaseing the drivers as GPL make the drivers better?

    The FUD from ZDNet is thick. Could this video card issue "prove" that the first comp
  • The desktop (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ardor (673957) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:35PM (#13714224)
    ah, the ultimate goal: Desktop Linux. He is right, its stalled. Distros like Ubuntu *almost* reach competitive usability. Almost because there is always some stuff that doesn't work properly. But this is rapidly being cured out.

    Two potential reasons for the stall:

    1. Lack of self-explaining software.
    Software should not require the user to read the manual for the most basic tasks, the user should be able to find them out easily. KDE apps usually are self-explaining, GNOME apps too, however most other opensource projects aren't.

    2. Application installation. This is a nasty one. The immediate answer is usually that the distros all have such a nice package system. Yeah, but what if software XY isn't in the package database? Tough luck, have fun compiling (if its not a binary-only version). This is where Windows is lightyears ahead: setup screens all look the same, behave the same way, and are easy to install. Linux? ahem... The only ones who got it right were Loki, who created their Loki installer. It is dead easy to install UT2004 in Linux. ALL apps should have self-extracting graphical installers, and the installation system should be *DE*centralized.

    3. Hardware support. Despite the advances in the last years, hardware support still sucks sometimes. Try to get a TwinkeCam to work with Ubuntu 5.04. Its impossible unless you want to downgrade the KERNEL to a 2.4 one. Compiling the driver is not possible because of broken code that is incompatible with the 2.6 kernel (even with the 2.6 patches to the Makefile).

    4. The community. Look, if you want people to choose Linux instead of Windows, you have to change something. "RTFM" is intolerable. Questions like how to mount a network share should not end in some obscure /etc/fstab editing instructions, this should be possible with a nice graphical app. In fact, NOTHING regarding desktop usage should ever require xterm usage and/or configfiles editing.

    To sum it up: People like stuff that "Just Works". Linux desktops rarely just work. The moments when they don't are far more frequent than with Windows and OSX desktops.
  • by overshoot (39700)
    The author ("Paul Murphy," "Rudy de Haas") makes no bones about being a Solaris partisan.

    Make of that what you will.

  • Linus Torvalds announcing that at LKML that from then all Linux code should be released as CDDL or BSD license.
  • Like riding a bike (Score:3, Interesting)

    by samjam (256347) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:40PM (#13714275) Homepage Journal
    It reminds me of when I was helping my daughter learn to ride a bike.

    She was peddling along and I was running along by the side holding the back of the seat to keep it steady.

    She said "I'm doing it, dad, I'm doing it - dad, get off, I'm doing it."

    It was only my holding on that stopped her falling down, but she couldn't see that.

    So, the GPL might stop a few VC's from investing in something Linux-y, so what!
    If it wasn't for the GPL, then GNU/Linux wouldn't have become what is now starting to tempt VC's.

    What do I care for VC's, GNU/Linux suits ME and a lot of people find it that way. I've debugged, contributed source and a few bug fixes, and it's been an absolute bargain for me.

    Sam
  • "I want to have my cake and eat it too"

    The GPL has pros and cons. Advantages and disadvantages. To argue what Linux would be without the GPL, is to argue what Porsche's marketshare would be if the cars were free. It doesn't make sense because Porsche wouldn't exist. The BSDs are maybe as close as you come to "Linux without GPL". Why aren't they taking over the world then? Perhaps because the GPL also provides a lot of source that the BSDs never get. Now you can get into a flamewar over which is better, but
  • by jjn1056 (85209) <jjn1056@ya h o o .com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:40PM (#13714277) Homepage Journal
    ...controlling a higher percentage of market share you could be right. I have no way to test this. But for me progress is not about marketshare but about the advancement of ideals that support freedom in many senses. Too often we are seduced by market forces and the power that comes with more sales and higher marketshare. For me I'd rather have less and be free then have more but be restricted.

    For me the GPL is the only license I see that succeeds in that, at least in the ways that are meaningful to me. Now, I suppose those freedoms may not be meaningful to you. I can't judge it, only be sure of my personal convictions in the matter. Time will tell who is right, I think.
  • by RelliK (4466) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:49PM (#13714385)
    FUD: GPL hurts Linux because developers and VCs are scared to touch it. [note: emphasis on VCs]

    Translation: We can't take the code developed by thousands of programmers over 15 years, make it proprietary, and contribute nothing back.

    Response: Yep. that's the whole fucking point!

  • This article is flawed.

    The author claims that the growth of Linux has slowed but offers no stats to support his argument.

    Then he tries to explain what he hasn't proven with two points which are are basically the same.

    GPL and related licensing issues, combined with considerable FUD over patents and copyrights.

    IBM's endorsement of Linux, the SCO law suit in response,


    I've been developing Linux business systems for nearly 10 years and I've never heard of a company not adopting Linux for legal reaso
  • Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by greg_barton (5551) <greg_barton AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @01:23PM (#13714735) Homepage Journal
    So what if Linux isn't being adopted as quickly as it should?

    What's so great about "quick"?

    All of these businessfolk, always wanting things to grow quickly. I'm much more concerned with Linux adoption growing the right way, than as quickly as possible.

    I know what some of you are saying, "With that attitude the Linux world will lose a lot of business." Yep. Get over it. ANd don't be so greedy, kiddo.
  • by bitspotter (455598) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @01:39PM (#13714922) Journal
    For those late to the licensing meeting:

    The GPL is designed to protect software freedom. Business and adoption concerns were secondary, if they were considered at all.

    I used to be concerned about how popular GNU/Linux was. I thought it followed that development momentum followed popularity, and GNU/Linux had to be the standard. Now I realize that I just love the amount of freedom and development momentum the platform has already, *right now*, and I care less about world domination.

    I'm sure there's quite a bit more "market share" to be had by GNU/Linux, but there's already plenty for me to and the community to thrive on. Apparently, it's also enough for a fairly robust business segment, as well. That's enough.

    Business and user adoption is not the most important consideration to how "successful" an OS platform is. Try measuring it using the stick it was intended to be measured with.
  • by cinnamon colbert (732724) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @07:30PM (#13718418) Journal
    windows already does the desktop office thing ok; in any area, getting a new system to replace an old system means the new guy has to be a lot better.
    So, since linux desktop will never be a lot better then office windows, linux will never win by copying

    If you look at the history of software, big changes occur when you get a new app that does something cool.

    linux will be on every desktop when it has a new app like visicalc
  • by rc.loco (172893) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @10:24PM (#13719341)
    Not much more to say than that...he's offering FUD at discount prices. All you can eat. Two for the price of one.

    But seriously, there's nothing here. He's jumped on the same old anti-GPL train that has been going around for a while. Let's not give this guy anymore airtime...there's no value in his suppositions.

  • by Hosiah (849792) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:24AM (#13719976)
    Whenever I read the derogotory comments about Linux's desktop situation, I am dead certain that they have tried, and hence base their opinion on nothing but KDE and Gnome. Well, I don't use those. For everybody's information, there are about 50 desktop environments and window managers for Linux http://xwinman.org/ [xwinman.org]. Specifically, Blackbox, Fluxbox, Window Maker, IceWM, and XFCE are notable alternatives, with Fluxbox my hands-down favorite. There are also the family of TWM-based and CDE-derived managers. You don't *need* KDE running to use KDE's kicker, nor do you need Gnome to run gnome-terminal (I have both of those programs accessible from my Fluxbox menu); in fact, *any* executable application can be run from *any* environment (except window managers themselves...although you can switch desktops without shutting down X. And I've run KDE's desktop in a window...in FVWM!).

    If only more people discovered the alternatives, it would both out-class the current desktop market, and put to death that Linux can do nothing on the desktop but follow Windows around. There is literally something out there for every single taste and kink. Of course, we're *all* stuck supporting Windows-clones just for the people who insist that every computer in the world must look, smell, feel, taste, and sound exactly like Windows or they won't use it...but I digress.

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