Software licensing; GPL, BSD or public domain?

The discussion on GPL vs BSD  licensing will probably never end, unless one or both licenses cease to exist.

There’s an interesting post about the GPL license and BSD license, and the writer’s suggests that the public domain license is the license to be chosen for real freedom, as the other two lay restrictions on the user.

About the GPL license he notes:

That’s what the GPL really is. A binding contract : That is a set of restrictions on those who use, develop or modify content licensed under it. It is not now or has ever been a formula on “freedom”. The GPL is not the definition of “generocity” that is giving without expecting any return. I hope all you GPL advocates would stop treating it as such and call it what it is. A license and a binding contract. Nothing more.

I.e. GPL restrictions are there to keep the freedom to change, modify, and share the code.

With regards to the BSD license he remarks:

Unlike the GPL, the BSD license doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t and users of BSD license are well aware that, like all licenses, it is a binding contract between developers, distributors, and users. They have no delusions about how much “freedom” both licenses afford however the BSD still being a license it still has usage restrictions. Namely the copyright and disclaimer.

Developers using the BSD license don’t care nor want to police the actions of users once the source is copied. They’re not interested in “freedom” through coersion, which is actually slavery. They just want to make sure their products and sources are available from them regardless of need or future availability. If the users want to share their own modifications, then more power to them. But they’ll be damned if it’s by force.

I.e. the BSD license lets users do whatsoever they want with the software, even using it commercially (in closed source).

If real freedom is to be chosen, the author suggests going down the public domain route. This license places basically no restrictions whatsoever on your software. Anybody can use the software, may sell it or do with it what (s)he wants.

Read the post in its entirity.

Talking about blog posts discussing GPL vs BSD, here’s another recent one: BSD vs GPL (nevali.net – 30/12/2008)

7 Reasons why BSD is better than Linux

Matt Hartley, who is using Linux full time himself gives 7 reasons why BSD operating systems are preferred over Linux (but he also admits that BSD has its shortcomings):

  1. BSD is dead simple
  2. Create your own OS
  3. Speed
  4. Stability
  5. Software packaging
  6. Security
  7. Suitability for intellectual property (IP)
Follow this link for the full reasoning.

And a related sort of article I thought I’d link to:

Why you should use a BSD style license for your Open Source Project

This document makes a case for using a BSD style license for software and data; specifically it recommends using a BSD style license in place of the GPL. It can also be read as a BSD versus GPL Open Source License introduction and summary.

Please don’t start a flame war on BSD and GPL; I know all the pros and cons; I’m only providing links to articles, so if you don’t agree with the views held, please leave comments on the website I’ve linked to

Some advice for Microsoft: dump Windows

It’s time for Microsoft to dump Windows.

In fact, ten years ago would have been a good time to start. At the risk of berating the obvious, it’s clear that security will continue to be a major problem for Microsoft. The reason is their tether to legacy code, and their patchwork attempts to shore up their OS core. It’s time to let it go.

Apple did it, and did it well. They created a virtualized environment to run Classic MacOS apps in order to ease the transition. When they switched processor architectures, they developed Rosetta, which allows PowerPC apps to run on an Intel platform without modification, again, easing the transition. It can be done. It has been done. It should be done.

What would happen to Linux and FreeBSD if Microsoft decided to create a new UNIX based operating system? This is an article by Paul Venezia on Infoworld.com.

Read the full article

FreeBSD review and howtos from a Linux user

I recently decided to give the new 7.0 release of FreeBSD ago and was fairly impressed. I did use BSD along time ago on a home server for a few months but pretty much forgot everything about it from back then.

Firstly FreeBSD refers to both a kernel and userspace tools making it a whole operating system (userspace tools being the basic programs like shells and copy/move commands), this is different to Linux which is just a kernel and distros are technically called GNU/Linux to show that it is using the GNU userspace tools.

read further

I’m faster than you! No I am!

All FreeBSD interested people will remember the document that Kris Kennaway released (Introducing FreeBSD). In this paper he explains how dramatic improvements have been achieved in FreeBSD 7.0; especially with regards to SMP and SQL database querying (MySQL and PostgreSQL). According to his findings FreeBSD even outperformes Linux.

There’s always been a healthy competition between Linux and FreeBSD, but stating that FreeBSD is faster than Linux, that hurts….

After major improvements in SMP support in FreeBSD 7.0, benchmarks show it performing 15% better than the latest Linux kernels (PDF, see slides 17 to 19) on 8 CPUs under PostgreSQL and MySQL. While a couple of benchmarks are not conclusive evidence, it can be assumed that FreeBSD will once again be a serious performance contender.

Linux kernel developer Nick Piggin reran the benchmark and came to a different conclusion: In his benchmark Linux was faster than FreeBSD.

I’m not an expert, but what do you guys think of this? Is Nick doing a fair analysis and comparison? Anybody been using FreeBSD 7 in a “heavy duty” (SQL) environment who can comment on this?

GPL and BSD : impact

Very Grumpy Bunny has written a post comparing the GPLv2 and the BSD licence and explaining the difference when  applied to Amarok.

There are several BSD licenses, so many that you’ll typically see any particular license under BSD terms listed as a BSD-Style license. Example, the Vorbis and Theora codecs. The terms themselves are fairly simple.

#1: Anybody can access the source code
#2: Anybody can copy the source code
#3: Anybody can modify the source code
#4: Anybody can use the source code
#5: Anybody can relicense modified code

Sounds pretty simple, at least compared to the Gnu Public License. Here are the terms of say the GPLv2.

#1: Not everybody can access the source code.
#2: Everybody who can access the source code can copy the source code
#3: Everybody who can access the source code can modify the source code
#4: Everybody who modifies the source code must submit the changes back to the original author
#5: Everybody who modifies the source code must maintain the original license

That does seem a little bit more complex. Immediately we see that the GPL has restrictions placed on what can be done with the code. Ergo, the BSD-style license is more free… or is it?

Read the simplified terms of the BSD-License again. Note anything missing? Well, if you didn’t, here’s what is missing. Any changes that are made to the BSD code don’t have to be given back to the author. Anybody can take a segment of BSD code, do whatever they want with it, and never post any changes back, tell the author what they did, or anything else.

So, there is a critical difference between a BSD license, and a GPL style license. The BSD license adopts a care-free attitude about written software, while a GPL style license enforces restrictions around that software to make sure everybody benefits.

Whole post can be read here.