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Re: Flight Computers

On Wed, May 01, 2002 at 06:44:35AM -0500, Mike Murphree wrote:
> On Wednesday 01 May 2002 03:32 am, Phil Karn wrote:
> >
> > >and then be hamstrung by GPL licensing.
> >
> > Sounds like you've fallen victim to Microsoft's FUD (fear, uncertainty
> > and doubt) regarding the GPL.

Normally Phil is pretty level headed but it sounds like he has fallen
victim to the FSF's FUD about non-GPL.

> > Nothing in the GPL stops you from using
> > Linux in a proprietary imbedded application, as the TiVo amply
> > demonstrates. Indeed, many VxWorks users are considering a switch to
> > Linux precisely to avoid paying per-copy royalties.  Having full
> > access to the source and the large community of programmers who
> > maintain it are also definite plusses.
> *But* if I make changes to the kernel proper, to make it more suitable for
> my application, per the GPL I have to release my modifications to the general
> public.  My customer absolutely would not allow it.

Exactly the kind of modifications Phil described to VxWork's PPP. Under
GPL Phil's employer/customer could not ship his modified PPP in a
value-added application without giving away the sources and use rights
to Phil's work. GPL hamstrings the very work which distinguishes
quality, supported, worth paying for products.

Under a free license (more BSD, not GPL) Phil could modify the provided
PPP with no risk to his customer/employer. Then at any time his
customer/employer could decide to release source to his work, or not.
With GPL the decision has to be made up front whether to fund Phil's
work on what will be a non-exclusive attribute to the finished product.

Hypothetical example, don't know that we still have two solvent TNC
manufacturers, but to what point would Brand A fund development of GPL
code that someone else such as MFJ can freely pick up a week later? Who
will pay to have the code a week in advance? This is something which has
happened several times in non-GPL FreeBSD: a company funded development
of a module, recovered their costs over the next year or so, and only
then released the code under a BSD-ish license. Specifically softupdates
and vinum.

Possibly the largest "reward" to corporate BSD contributors such as
Apple is that their fixes and enhancements will not suffer bit-rot if
committed to the public codebase. Recently Apple provided a
demonstration suite which would melt FreeBSD's NFS. Also provided a
start on patches to repair same. As a result the next time FreeBSD code
is rolled into Darwn, Apple won't have as much difficulty with the NFS

Under GPL one is assured of the availability of source code. But one is
explicitly not assured of the quality of such code. A big problem is if
the GPL code is not of sufficient quality one is stuck having to fix it.
And to use GPL code in a proprietary product, one is stuck sticking
their neck out by ensuring the quality of the GPL code to one's paying
customers. That is not a free risk.

Without paying customers its hard to afford the cost of renting
electrons from the power company so our toys play.

> Unfortunately certain government agencies are jumping on the Linux bandwagon 
> as a desperate attempt to resolve some of the cost problems they have, 
> without always having sound rational for doing so.

s/Linux/Windows NT/ and the above describes exactly the situation about
8 years ago.

No time to do it right. Plenty of time to fix it with budget overruns.

David Kelly N4HHE, dkelly@hiwaay.net
The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its
capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.
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