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Microsoft and Apache - What's the Angle? 433

Posted by Soulskill
from the answer-in-radians-please dept.
A week ago, we discussed Microsoft's contribution to the Apache Foundation. Now, Bruce Perens has written an analysis "exploring the new relationship of Microsoft and the Apache project, how it works as an anti-Linux move on Microsoft's part, and what some of the Open Sourcers are going to do about having Microsoft as a rather untrustworthy partner." In particular, he notes: "...Microsoft can still influence how things go from here on. If they have to live with open source, the Apache project is Microsoft's preferred direction. Apache doesn't use the dreaded GPL and its enforced sharing of source-code. Instead, the Apache license is practically a no-strings gift, with a weak provision against patent lawsuits as its most relevant term. Microsoft can take Apache software and embrace and enhance, providing their own versions of the project's software with engineered incompatibility and no available source, just as they forced incompatibility into the Web by installing IE with every Windows upgrade."
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Microsoft and Apache - What's the Angle?

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  • by ipX (197591) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:00PM (#24442275)

    Apache.NET?

    • by ponraul (1233704) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:39PM (#24443177)

      Exactly.

      The fact that you're developing .NET matters; the fact that you're using it on IIS doesn't.

      With Apache interoperability, you'd be able to run .NET internet applications and web services internet wide.

  • Bruce Perens link (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Does that Bruce Perens link really need to be a mailto: link? His Slashdot user page might be more appropriate: http://slashdot.org/~Bruce+Perens/ [slashdot.org]

  • Relief (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erikina (1112587) <eri.kina@gmail.com> on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:01PM (#24442291) Homepage
    So a week later, and the best sinister motive they can come up with is Microsoft doing something they could've done without contributing to the project..

    *breathe a sigh of relief*
    • Relief? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) *
      They're trying to take the oxygen from Linux and you're breathing a sigh of relief. But suddenly you gasp. No oxygen! The room is spinning. It's getting dark...
  • extend (Score:2, Funny)

    by hey (83763)

    and extinguish

  • So, will we soon see FSF-blessed project?

  • WCF and CXF (Score:3, Informative)

    by GWBasic (900357) <slashdot@nOSPAm.andrewrondeau.com> on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:07PM (#24442369) Homepage

    I'm currently trying to get C# to talk to Java through SOAP. In C#, I'm using WCF (A Microsoft Framework), and in Java I'm using CXF (An Apache Framework.) It's very difficult.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      soon, if MS has its way all those problems will be resolved.

      You'll be writing C# through SOAP using WCF to talk to .... C# :-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shados (741919)

      WCF can easily make basic profile compliant services, and I've successfully integrated them in basically every imaginable environments that support it (and some that don't, via web service RPC), including Axis, also an apache project.

      So maybe the problem is CXF? Unless you're trying to do something very particular, it literally works out of the box with basically everything else.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This is because Java is way behind, at least Xfire/CXF/Axis2. You should be using Metro/Glassfish. They have full support for web standards including those used by WCF. You can even use Kerberos authentication from Unix to a Windows web service, which is pretty hot.
  • What's the angle? How about an aging relic of the 90s trying to appear relevant?

  • Anti-Linux? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by avanderveen (899407) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:14PM (#24442445)
    "...how it works as an anti-Linux move on Microsoft's part, and what some of the Open Sourcers are going to do about having Microsoft as a rather untrustworthy partner."

    I'm not sure why this would be said to be an anti-Linux move. I realize that this might be what people sense with regards to the contribution, but like the article said the "Apache license is practically a no-strings gift". With Microsoft's new talk of becoming pro open source, this might become like Apple's contributions to BSD. You don't here anything bad about Apple with their use of BSD, but at every chance possible commenters are willing to frame MS in a bit light.

    I just wanted to point out that this type of news should be addressed as unbiased as possible, as Slashdot isn't exactly respected as a home of unbiased views or anything.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm not sure why this would be said to be an anti-Linux move. I realize that this might be what people sense with regards to the contribution, but like the article said the "Apache license is practically a no-strings gift".

      That's exactly it. GPL has strings, so promoting something with no strings is clearly anti-GPL, which puts you on the "them" side of the "with us or against us" stance promoted by the FSF, which means you are clearly against anything on the "us" side, which includes Linux, which means you are anti-Linux.

      "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition."

    • Re:Anti-Linux? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gbjbaanb (229885) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:03PM (#24442901)

      it goes like this, MS doesn't give anything to Windows-based open source [reddevnews.com] projetcs, just primarily Linux-based ones.

      So what are they likely to do with Apache? Integrate .NET in with it of course, whch won't work on non-Windows boxen. I think they hope that they'll get open-source developers to develop for Apache(.NET) and thus be locked-in to Windows.

      I think that's what people are worried about, MS are trying to gently persuade people to stop development for all platforms in favour of Windows only.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)

      With Microsoft's new talk of becoming pro open source, this might become like Apple's contributions to BSD. You don't here anything bad about Apple with their use of BSD, but at every chance possible commenters are willing to frame MS in a bit light.

      Oh, yes like I really want to trust a company who has a leader that Wikipedia says

      Ballmer is also known as a vocal critic of competing companies and their products. He has referred to the free Linux operating system as a "[...] cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." Ballmer was trying to articulate his concern that the GNU General Public License (GPL) license employed by such software requires that all derivative software be under the GPL or a compatible free license.

      or the leader that says "Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy. I'm going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to fucking kill Google,".

      And it isn't just Ballmer, Gates made it clear back in the early days of MS that they hated OSS in the open letter to hobbyists.

      Jobs hasn't said comparable things, neither has he said that he was going to kill a competitor, nor that h

  • by Manip (656104) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:21PM (#24442507)

    This might sound completely insane but did anyone consider that Microsoft might try and cut costs by using Apache for the backend in Windows Server 2010?

    Apple has done it with Apple OS X Server. It would allow Microsoft to keep up to date with web standards without having to spend vast amounts to do it. All they would really need to do is develop propitiatory modules that they could hook in.

    Microsoft really have very little vested interest in keeping IIS up-to-date. It isn't a big cash cow and I think most people would agree that it isn't a great web server (although does have some nice tie-ins with the OS).

    While I am posting I really dislike the article attacking the Apache licence. The Apache and BSD licenses are the purest form of what OSS stands for. It is freedom in the true sense and not freedom in the American sense (e.g. Freedom at the barrel of a gun).

    • by aster_ken (516808) <dustincook469@live.com> on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:57PM (#24442849)

      This will definitely not happen, and here is why.

      1. Microsoft has invested far too much time and far too many dollars into making Internet Information Services (IIS) what it is today.
      2. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) have invested far too much time and far too many dollars into making modules for IIS. Several ISVs have built their entire business around providing these modules for cost.
      3. Many of Microsoft's own products, such as Exchange Server 2007, Office SharePoint Server 2007, Office Project Server 2007, and more, have been built around the IIS architecture. Changing to a different back-end server architecture would cost Microsoft financially.
      4. Usage of IIS has been increasing dramatically since March 2006. Usage of the Apache HTTP Server has declined significantly beginning in that same month. Netcraft provides these statistics here: http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2008/06/22/june_2008_web_server_survey.html [netcraft.com]

      • by smoker2 (750216) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:00PM (#24443295) Homepage Journal

        Usage of IIS has been increasing dramatically since March 2006. Usage of the Apache HTTP Server has declined significantly beginning in that same month

        Nice try, troll.
        According to the page you linked, Apaches usage has actually increased, as has IIS. Admittedly, Apaches market share has gone down, but that's not what you said. There are still 8.5 million more Apache servers (serving 24 million more sites according to Netcraft) than IIS.
        Totals for Active Servers Across All Domains [netcraft.com]
        June 2000 - June 2008

        Not to mention that as the largest single OS vendor, Microsofts market share is bound to grow, as their users start discovering the internet. Apache users are largely self selecting in this respect.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by speedtux (1307149)

        Usage of IIS has been increasing dramatically since March 2006. Usage of the Apache HTTP Server has declined significantly beginning in that same month.

        Those numbers were mainly due to changes in parked domains, nothing real.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Foofoobar (318279)

        4. Usage of IIS has been increasing dramatically since March 2006. Usage of the Apache HTTP Server has declined significantly beginning in that same month. Netcraft provides these statistics here: http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2008/06/22/june_2008_web_server_survey.html [netcraft.com]

        As Mark Twain said 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.' These stats are INCREDIBLY slanted as Microsoft paid several domain parkers to move to IIS thus making it look like alot of people use IIS when in f

  • So, if MS forks Apache, will they still be able to call it Apache, or will they have to make up a new name for trademark reasons? If so, it'll just be another fork, won't it?

  • what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirShmoopie (1333857) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:29PM (#24442573)

    So let me see if I have this right.

    1: If they activelly avoid compatibility with open source, they're being evil.
    2: If they just ignore it, they're being evil.
    3: If they try to co-operate with any open source project, they're being evil.

    What, to be blunt, the fuck is going on?

    Ok, I'm not claiming closed source vendors are great or anything, but to my mind, this smacks of closed minded zealotry, and as we know, courtesy of the worlds religions, that generally doesn't work out well in the long term.

    Is the open source movements plan to vilify any and all attempts of the 'establishment' to work with us? Is that the plan?

    I freely acknowledge that Microsoft don't really have much in the way of compatible philosophy, but if all we do is bitch, all we'll get is negative publicity and bad feeling from people who, shock, horror, are actually entitled to think that open source isn't the source of all that is good in the world.

    I'm an open source developer myself, but obviously not a 'proper' one, because all I care about is sharing my code.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shados (741919)

      People around here will only be happy if Microsoft donates Windows' source and all of its assets to Stallman, while bitching about how Windows sucks anyway and that GNU should drop it and let it die. Then they'll gloat about it for the next 20 years.

    • It's pretty simple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:49PM (#24442763) Homepage Journal
      They're trying to take the oxygen from Linux by becoming the dominant server for Open Source applications. But if you're an Open Source developer, helping them displace an Open Source platform isn't such a great idea, is it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        They're trying to take the oxygen from Linux by becoming the dominant server for Open Source applications. But if you're an Open Source developer, helping them displace an Open Source platform isn't such a great idea, is it?

        If they win on technical merit alone - by, say, contributing good code under OSS license to the projects involved - then I don't see anything wrong with it. Fair's fair - if OSS is by itself as good as it often claims to be, then surely it can stand its ground in that fight? You know, o

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by droopycom (470921)

      Another way to look at it:

      They are Evil, you are Good

      1) First they ignore you
      2) Then the laugh at you
      3) Then they fight you
      4) Then they try to join you

      We are at this stage now. Whatever they do is a step toward the same goal. It is not a change of heart. So they still are Evil....

  • So Confused... (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by elnico (1290430)

    The Usual Pattern:

    1. OSS story pops up on Slashdot.
    2. Someone posts: "Developing OSS is antithetical to making money!!"
    3. Deluge of responses: "You're crazy. There're all kinds of ways to make money off OSS. It's the way of the future!"

    And Now:

    1. Slashdot posts a story about Microsoft showing sympathy towards OSS.
    2. Deluge of posts: "This can't be! They must have evil secret motives."

    I don't know what to think anymore.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:34PM (#24442615)
    What is it that Bruce is actually worried about happening here? All I see in that article is a lot of standard (for slashdotters) ideas mixed together, but no actual coherent argument end to end. Is the worry that if Microsoft joins OS, they'll cause ... what? Fragmentation? Destruction? Mayhem? What is the danger?
    • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:54PM (#24442813) Homepage Journal
      1. They want to talk to regulators as "insiders" in the Open Source community, asking for increases in software patenting that will actually block Open Source.
      2. Trying to become the dominant server for Apache Foundtion software is an anti-Linux play.
      3. There is a potential for embrace and enhance of Apache Foundation software.
      4. If they really want to be sincere community members, let's see them play by GPL rules, not by Apache's "anything goes" rules. What they're doing now is trying to seem members of Open Source without any of the obligation.
      • by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:22PM (#24443053) Homepage Journal

        1. They want to talk to regulators as "insiders" in the Open Source community, asking for increases in software patenting that will actually block Open Source.

        Is there any reason to think that this would actually work? Why can't a "real" insider just coherently explain that that position does not make sense?

        2. Trying to become the dominant server for Apache Foundtion software is an anti-Linux play.

        As long as they do this by improving their product, this is a good thing. Linux is not the sole bringer of good into the world; high-quality software is high-quality software regardless of its origins.

        3. There is a potential for embrace and enhance of Apache Foundation software.

        Better software is actually a good thing, there's only a problem if they start doing undocumented things to the protocols. And it sounds like they've gotten much better about that lately, even if not by choice.

        4. If they really want to be sincere community members, let's see them play by GPL rules, not by Apache's "anything goes" rules. What they're doing now is trying to seem members of Open Source without any of the obligation.

        Because all the community is GPL, and everyone else needs to be educated and brought into the fold.

        • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:34PM (#24443143) Homepage Journal

          They want to talk to regulators as "insiders" in the Open Source community, asking for increases in software patenting that will actually block Open Source.

          Is there any reason to think that this would actually work? Why can't a "real" insider just coherently explain that that position does not make sense?

          Well, last time I saw this happening they are using Novell to do just what you said.

          high-quality software is high-quality software regardless of its origins.

          You should be considering what the software is supposed to do to you besides what it's doing for you. For example, there's some high-quality software out there that has been designed to lock you in, such that you will find it difficult to port your applications to something else, and you'll never do so because of the expense.

          3. There is a potential for embrace and enhance of Apache Foundation software.

          there's only a problem if they start doing undocumented things to the protocols. And it sounds like they've gotten much better about that lately, even if not by choice.

          Undocumented things in the protocols is the modus opperandi of Embrace and Enhance. I agree that they've had to let go of a lot, mostly because of anti-trust prosecution. I don't trust them to give up the habit once the prosecutors are looking elsewhere. I see the Open Source involvement as a tool to get the prosecutors to look elsewhere.

          Because all the community is GPL, and everyone else needs to be educated and brought into the fold.

          Microsoft playing with strict rules would mean something. Microsoft playing with no rules means nothing.

  • embraceextendextinguish
  • ...if something they do appears to not be evil, that's only because we're not looking at it the right way.

    Microsoft has lots of money to hire key Apache developers, if they actually plan to use the code and want good service from its developers on a 24/7 basis. So, this $100,000 contribution and the partial patent grant aren't about interoperability.

    Who says Microsoft wants to use this code? From the earlier article, it sounded like they wanted to improve the code that other people use, to make it easier to use on Windows. And this way they don't have difficulties with convincing people to become @microsoft.com, or with convincing people to trust and work with people @microsoft.com.

    Last year, GPL went through a major revision, with the participation of dozens of attorneys from the world's largest companies, along with academics and individuals. That caught it up with the elaboration of copyright and patent law over the past quarter century. A second version, the AGPL, has evolved to deal with the business model of Google, software as a service instead of on the user's PC. That's fortunate, as GPL is going to be even more important now.

    Because writing and using good, unique software is something that has to be "dealt with". Re-implementing parts that could be useful isn't enough, non-shared software is Evil and must never be allowed to be written.

    Both kinds of developers may choose the GPL: the commercial ones because they want to keep their competitors from running away with the program without sharing their own work, and the individuals because they'd rather function as equal partners in enforced sharing than as unpaid employees who give all they create as a gift to the big company.

    So if you make something available for everyone, you become the "unpaid employee" of anyone who improves it? Regardless of the fact that any further improvements you make will actually create more work for them to do (unless they send their changes back upstream)?

    This also has philosophical issues, manufacturers of physical products don't get to forbid aftermarket modifications (and can't even void warranties just because of aftermarket work), why should this be considered a legitimate right for manufactures of knowledge (I know it's a legal right, but that doesn't make it reasonable)?

    And most important, GPL is what developers will use if they welcome Microsoft's participation in their projects, but only on the same terms as everybody else.

    Because BSD/MIT/X11 have wacky rules that apply differently to different kinds of contributors.

    • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:00PM (#24442877) Homepage Journal
      So if you make something available for everyone, you become the "unpaid employee" of anyone who improves it?

      Let's take an extreme example. The Java Model Railroad Interface developer used the Artistic license. A toy train throttle manufacturer called KAM used his software in their product, and sent him a bill for about twice his annual income because KAM claims a broad patent on any two computers communicating to control a toy train. The JMRI developer got pretty cruelly used in this case.

      It's not anyone who improves it who is a problem. But some folks, like KAM in this example, are really unsavory exploiters of the Open Source developer. Strong licensing (which doesn't mean the Artistic license, as the JMRI guy found out) is a good way to fight them.

      • So if you make something available for everyone, you become the "unpaid employee" of anyone who improves it?

        Let's take an extreme example. The Java Model Railroad Interface developer used the Artistic license. A toy train throttle manufacturer called KAM used his software in their product, and sent him a bill for about twice his annual income because KAM claims a broad patent on any two computers communicating to control a toy train. The JMRI developer got pretty cruelly used in this case.

        It's not anyone who improves it who is a problem. But some folks, like KAM in this example, are really unsavory exploiters of the Open Source developer. Strong licensing (which doesn't mean the Artistic license, as the JMRI guy found out) is a good way to fight them.

        It sounds to me like the real issue there has nothing to do with the license or with doing other people's work for them, and everything to do with stupidly bad patents.

        • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:17PM (#24443015) Homepage Journal
          Yes, it would be a lot easier to live with Microsoft without the software patent situation, but also you have to acknowledge that Microsoft chose to use that ammunition and is still doing so.

          Stupidly bad software patents are there in the U.S. because of our friend IBM, who brought the lawsuit against the government forcing them to allow software to be patented in the 80's.

          Subsequent legislation to increase this trend worldwide has been pushed by Microsoft. I've been there to see this first-hand in discussions with European regulators.

          Even without the patent problem, there would be significant problems associated with their monopolistic behavior. Much of their rise was achieved without use of software patent aggression.

          Bruce

  • It's Cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:44PM (#24442707) Homepage

    Microsoft can take Apache software and embrace and enhance, providing their own versions of the project's software with engineered incompatibility and no available source, just as they forced incompatibility into the Web by installing IE with every Windows upgrade.

    Right on, that's cool. That's the purpose of the ASL. It is written such that commercial entities can extend it in unanticipated directions. That's what makes it different from GPL-like licenses, and it is totally OK. Some people (like myself) prefer to release under GPL-style licenses because we want to prevent commercial proprietary extension, and that's OK too.

    Also, Bruce's commentary is fine. He's using an active case-in-point to demonstrate a behavior that some may view as a downside associated with using a liberal license, and which will help new joiners to the Open Source community to make their personal choice.

    Or, in short, there's no need for yet another GPL versus BSD flamewar. We can all do what we like with our code, and that's good.

  • by jchawk (127686) on Friday August 01, 2008 @07:57PM (#24442847) Homepage Journal

    I work for a fortune 100 company and we have a ton of middleware running on Apache Tomcat. Currently we have Tomcat running on old Sun Servers, HP Servers and newly procured Linux servers.

    One surprising thing to me is the number of Windows 2003 Servers that we have running Apache Tomcat as well.

    Maybe Microsoft realizes that there is some big business potential playing nicely with Apache?

  • by gillbates (106458) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:04PM (#24442905) Homepage Journal

    It does have its limitations. It's more of a share and share alike license than a path to public domain software.

    If I, as an open source author, want to give my code back to the community, with no strings attached, public domain is the only way to go. That way, anyone can use the code for any purpose they see fit. It is truly a gift.

    But GPL'ed code is not a gift, it is a license. It seeks to enforce - through copyright law - the notion of free software. That is, you can't take my free program and add in proprietary changes, and add restrictions to the use of the code.

    It's a good license. It does bring balance to the big picture.

    But it doesn't address one of the fundamental problems of open source: it's difficult to make a living writing open source code. Sure, you can make a living supporting open source code, but it is very difficult for the average programmer to make a living on what open source pays (usually nothing).

    Without the proprietary model, I would have to make a living doing something other than writing code. Which would mean, that because I would truly be an amateur programmer, my code would not be as good as it would otherwise. I'm able to make a meaningful contribution to open source code in part because I write code for a living.

    The consequence of being employed to write code is that I can't contribute code which would interfere with my employer's business interests. So while I'm able to use my general programming skills to benefit open source, I cannot produce open-source software in my area of expertise. Which, to me, is a real problem. But the GPL doesn't solve the ethical dilemna of an employee undermining his employer's business model. A large portion of us rely on the revenues generated by the pay-per-license proprietary model; without it, our customers would have to pay inordinately large sums of money up front for software, and we couldn't introduce new and innovative features because the budget wouldn't support it.

    I am a good programmer, and I do produce something of value when I write code. I have no problem with people sharing the code that I write, but we as a society need to understand that programmers need to be paid for their work. That is, if we are to have any reasonable expectation of software quality. Without the experience that comes from writing code professionally, the quality of software would be absolutely abysmal.

    And open source does have the proprietary model to thank for its quality - typically, the code written for open source projects is written the way a programmer knows it should be written, rather than taking shortcuts because of scheduling and marketing issues.

    I like open source, but I realize that I, and other programmers, need to be able to make a living writing code if we're going to contribute meaningful software to the world. Unfortunately, the GPL doesn't address this problem in an economically viable way. Even Stallman admits that in a free software world, programmers wouldn't make nothing, they'd simply make less. Problem is, I have a family to feed, and don't have the option of making any less money; if the whole world went open source, I'd have to go into management just to feed my family. I don't think it's very ethical to ask my children to starve so you can have your software free of charge.

    The GPL is good, and needed, but there needs to be a balance. I can contribute to free software because my employer's proprietary model allows me to make a living writing code.

    • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:40PM (#24443189) Homepage Journal
      GPL actually makes it easier to make Open Source software and be paid. It's called dual-licensing. Note that MySQL used it and just sold their 9-year-old company for $1.1 Billion. There are some things you have to be careful about to make this work, and it's a per-project decision rather than a per-contributor decision.
    • by spitzak (4019) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:23PM (#24443485) Homepage

      You seem to have missed the idea of dual licensing. The limitations of the GPL make other licenses valuable and thus the original author can sell these other licenses. Meanwhile the GPL release allows the author's solution to become popular, standardized, and expected by users, making the sale of it more valuable. You can be certain Qt would sell nothing if they did not also have the GPL version. In addition it appears GPL code is very useful for advertising your abilities as a programmer for getting jobs.

      GPL is actually *better* for professionals to get paid than public domain, totally opposite of your argument. Of course the reason is not something Stallman wants, but it is true.

      For small companies and people, the GPL is the only way they can advertise and get their ideas and standards used by others. It flattens the playing field so that it the design of computers is not 100% controlled by whoever has the brand name recognition and advertising budget. This is why Microsoft fears it, not because it thinks it will be forced to open-source their own stuff or that software will all become zero-cost.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:22PM (#24443049) Homepage

    Apache, in a way, is Microsoft's kind of software. It has lots of cruft, features that have been added over time and don't interact well. So it's hard to clone or replace. Lots of things plug into it using its API, so it has slave projects. That's the kind of lock-in Microsoft likes.

    (Technically, all an Apache-type web server really needs to do is support serving of plain pages, and FCGI. With that, you can do anything, because there's an efficient way to pass off work to other programs. Interprocess communication is a good thing. But that's not the way Apache grew.)

  • by SEE (7681) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:29PM (#24443101) Homepage

    In that case, what, exactly, would change with this scenario?

    The contribution to the Apache Foundation would have the same PR effect, so that wouldn't have been affected at all.

    The ability to embrace-and-extend would be slightly differentiated, but not all that much. Microsoft would integrate some new System Libraries into Windows Server, and any Microsoft-only extensions of Apache would be made dependent on them. The calls to the Windows System Libraries would be GPL, but the code in the libraries would remain closed, and adding their features to the GPL version of Apache would require a WINE- or Mono-like project.

    And, um. What else is there? Well, Microsoft would logically be contradicting its GPL statements, but Interix/Services for Windows/SUA/whatever it is this week already did so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) *
      GPL3 handles this particular issue differently, it wants a standard interface instead of a system one. The system exception is there because the original GNU stuff was developed on Sun's proprietary Unix, and RMS had to make it possible to legally run on that platform. Once GNU had its own platform, it wasn't necessary to make that exception any longer.

      Given a standard interface, we can code it. It's the secret ones that are a problem.

      • by SEE (7681) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @11:52AM (#24448053) Homepage

        System Libraries (I use the capitals to specifically indicate a reference to the capitalized term in the GPL 3) don't have to implement a Standard Interface. They can instead serve as the interface to allow the use of the work with a Major Component. Which simply means Microsoft would have to make the non-Free extension code part of or highly dependent on code in a Major Component, called via a System Library.

        As long as the GPL allows covered software to be run on non-Free platforms, the owners of the non-Free platforms will be able to embrace and extend the GPL software with non-Free code. You can set up some hoops, if you like, but they can always tilt the platform to serve as a ramp through the hoops.

  • by mrboyd (1211932) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:54PM (#24443261)
    Why is it that free software advocates can't stop whining when someone plays by their own rules?

    It seems that Apache license allows you to modify and re-distribute without giving back the source. I bet the Apache foundation people gave a bit of thought about something like that happening before they chose the license and obviously they decided it wasn't that important.

    Do people really think Microsoft will suddenly manage to destroy the Apache foundation because they said they wanted to contribute? I would suspect their sponsorship is going to strengthen Apache Foundation's capacity to penetrate more corporate entities. In some places the open source argument does mean anything to the decision makers but vendor support and an IBM/Microsoft backing certainly does.
    Others like IBM have been doing just that and no one seemed to care. (http://www-306.ibm.com/software/webservers/httpservers/).

    There are two versions of IBM HTTP Server, based in turn on 1.3 and 2.0 versions of open source Apache, but with small alterations to allow IBM to attach extra features. The code bases are maintained inside IBM, where IBM keeps them up to date by selectively picking up and applying bug fixes from the open source Apache CVS repository.

    Go get your IBM httpd trial and see if you get any source with it. (I didn't check because I don't really care).

    I'm also pretty sure that amongst all the project of the Apache Foundation, the Apache httpd server is probably not the most interesting for them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) *
      Why is it that free software advocates can't stop whining when someone plays by their own rules?

      Well, some of us have been saying for about 15 years that BSD-style licensing can be cruelly used by folks who want to be cruel, and that unfortunately the world has enough cruel folks that we're going to be hurt. So, don't tell me that it's my rules that are the problem.

      And I am no fan of how IBM handled Apache either, and we also have IBM to blame for the software patent situation.

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