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Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 07:28 AM EDT

Richard Stallman has written an article on Java, "Free but shackled: The Java trap," and Sun's Dr. James Gosling didn't much care for it or all the speculation about Sun that he's been reading about in the media, so he has also written an article, reproduced on Newsforge, which he thinks refutes it. What it really does is show what Sun's problem is with the FOSS community.

Richard's is free to republish verbatim as long as the notice at the end is preserved, so I am republishing it in full. Dr. Gosling's is silent on that issue, so that means it's copyrighted and only fair use would be allowed. And that pretty much tells you the story. It's a metaphor.

Oh, and one other thing: Gosling calls the GPL "viral".

Because Gosling's is a reactive piece, I'll place relevant snips from it after Stallman's and you can make up your own mind. I've certainly made up mine, and so you don't have to guess, I will repeat what I told Sun's PR guy the other day when he asked me why the community has issues with Sun: it's the GPL. They don't support it and they don't get it. When you consider that it's been estimated that 75% to 80% of all FOSS is under the GPL, that tells you exactly where the lines are drawn, and if Gosling's piece represents Sun's position, Sun isn't on the FOSS side. How could they not know that attacking the GPL would alienate the community? Either they are so out of touch they don't know or they don't care. Either way, it's not looking very good. Which raises the question: what to do about Java?


Free but shackled: The Java trap
~ by Richard M. Stallman

A program is free software if its users have certain crucial freedoms. Roughly speaking, they are: the freedom to run the program, the freedom to study and change the source, the freedom to redistribute the source and binaries, and the freedom to publish improved versions. (See Whether any given program is free software depends solely on the meaning of its license.

Whether the program can be used in the Free World, used by people who mean to live in freedom, is a more complex question. This is not determined by the program's own license, because no program works in isolation. Every program depends on other programs. For instance, a program needs to be compiled or interpreted, so it depends on a compiler or interpreter. If compiled into byte code, it depends on a byte code interpreter. Moreover, it needs libraries in order to run, and it may also invoke other separate programs that run in other processes. All of these programs are dependencies. Dependencies may be necessary for the program to run at all, or they may be necessary only for certain features. Either way, all or part of the program cannot operate without the dependencies.

If some of a program's dependencies are non-free, this means that all or part of the program is unable to run in an entirely free system--it is unusable in the Free World. Sure, we could redistribute the program and have copies on our machines, but that's not much good if it won't run. That program is free software, but it is effectively shackled by its non-free dependencies.

This problem can occur in any kind of software, in any language. For instance, a free program that only runs on Microsoft Windows is clearly useless in the Free World. But software that runs on GNU/Linux can also be useless if it depends on other non-free software. In the past, Motif (before we had LessTif) and Qt (before its developers made it free software) were major causes of this problem. Most 3D video cards work fully only with non-free drivers, which also cause this problem. But the major source of this problem today is Java, because people who write free software often feel Java is sexy. Blinded by their attraction to the language, they overlook the issue of dependencies, and they fall into the Java Trap.

Sun's implementation of Java is non-free. Blackdown is also non-free; it is an adaptation of Sun's proprietary code. The standard Java libraries are non-free also. We do have free implementations of Java, such as the GNU Java Compiler and GNU Classpath, but they don't support all the features yet. We are still catching up.

If you develop a Java program on Sun's Java platform, you are liable to use Sun-only features without even noticing. By the time you find this out, you may have been using them for months, and redoing the work could take more months. You might say, "It's too much work to start over." Then your program will have fallen into the Java Trap; it will be unusable in the Free World.

The reliable way to avoid the Java Trap is to have only a free implementation of Java on your system. Then if you use a Java feature or library that free software does not yet support, you will find out straightaway, and you can rewrite that code immediately.

Sun continues to develop additional "standard" Java libraries, and nearly all of them are non-free; in many cases, even library's specification is a trade secret, and Sun's latest license for these specifications prohibits release of anything less than a full implementation of the specification. (See and, for examples.

Fortunately, that specification license does permit releasing an implementation as free software; others who receive the library can be allowed to change it and are not required to adhere to the specification. But the requirement has the effect of prohibiting the use of a collaborative development model to produce the free implementation. Use of that model would entail publishing incomplete versions, which those who have read the spec are not allowed to do.

In the early days of the Free Software Movement, it was impossible to avoid depending on non-free programs. Before we had the GNU C compiler, every C program (free or not) depended on a non-free C compiler. Before we had the GNU C library, every program depended on a non-free C library. Before we had Linux, the first free kernel, every program depended on a non-free kernel. Before we had Bash, every shell script had to be interpreted by a non-free shell. It was inevitable that our first programs would initially be hampered by these dependencies, but we accepted this because our plan included rescuing them subsequently. Our overall goal, a self-hosting GNU operating system, included free replacements for all those dependencies; if we reached the goal, all our programs would be rescued. Thus it happened: with the GNU/Linux system, we can now run these programs on free platforms.

The situation is different today. We now have powerful free operating systems and many free programming tools. Whatever job you want to do, you can do it on a free platform; there is no need to accept a non-free dependency even temporarily. The main reason people fall into the trap today is because they are not thinking about it. The easiest solution to the problem of the Java Trap is to teach people not to fall into it.

To keep your Java code safe from the Java Trap, install a free Java development environment and use it. More generally, whatever language you use, keep your eyes open, and check the free status of programs your code depends on. The easiest way to verify that program is free is by looking for it in the Free Software Directory ( If a program is not in the directory, you can check its license(s) against the list of free software licenses (

We are trying to rescue the trapped Java programs, so if you like the Java language, we invite you to help in developing GNU Classpath. Trying your programs with the the GJC Compiler and GNU Classpath, and reporting any problems you encounter in classes already implemented, is also useful. However, finishing GNU Classpath will take time; if more non-free libraries continue to be added, we may never have all the latest ones. So please don't put your free software in shackles. When you write an application program today, write it to run on free facilities from the start.

Copyright 2004 Richard Stallman
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide without royalty in any medium provided this notice is preserved.


Here is the relevant snip from Dr. Gosling's article:

"As for Richard Stallman's Free but shackled: The Java trap , it's hard to know where to begin. He has his own rather peculiar definition of 'Free' that I think violates the First Law of Thermodynamics (energy is conserved): developers put a huge amount of energy into creating software and if they can't get that energy back in a way that balances, then the system falls apart. I've been in this discussion countless times and I'd like to avoid landing there again. GPL software is not 'free': it comes with a license that has a strong political agenda. Like GPL software, the Java platform is 'free' in many senses: you don't have to pay anything for the runtime or developers kit and you can get the sources for everything. Unlike GPLd software, the Java sources don't come with a viral infection clause that requires you to apply the GPL to your own code. But the sources for the JDK do come with a license that has a different catch: redistribution requires compatibility testing.

"This is just context for the real point I want to make: when you have platform software like Linux or the JDK, the platform interface (in the case of Java, the VM and API specifications) divides the world of developers into two groups: those who work under the interface to implement it, and those who work above the interface and build applications based on it. These two communities have needs that conflict. In particular, a blanket freedom for developers under the interface, to do whatever they damn well please, is incredibly disruptive and damaging to developers above the interface. The catch in the Sun Java source license is all about defending the needs of developers who work above the interface. This ends up being constraining to folks who work under the interface, but in a way that is hugely beneficial to those who work above. We believe that for a developer who has built a Java application they have a right to trust that when some other developer says 'I have a Java VM for you to use', that their application will work.

"So yes, like the GPL, our source license does have an agenda. It's not a hidden one, and we believe it's a very beneficial one (at least, to application developers!)."

Obviously he hasn't got a clue how offensive this is to anyone who cares about freedom for software. There are alternatives to Sun's Java, particularly if IBM were to decide to throw some resources to the GNU Classpath project, which I sincerely hope they do.

IBM's current JDK is based on Sun's code in part, I believe. What if IBM took the parts it does own, combined it with Kaffe and threw some resources at Classpath? Wouldn't that work? Somebody needs to do something, because if this is indicative of Sun's position, it doesn't look good.

Viral indeed. It's a license that cares about freedom to modify, distribute and copy. It cares about those freedoms for users as well as developers, not just the interests of those writing an application who wish to tightly control its direction thereafter and make some money from their software. That's the way the world used to be, but it's not the future.

So it's a culture clash. Sun folks are probably perfectly nice people if you met them at a party. But they don't see that the world has changed. Gosling's sentence about developers needing something back tells it all: "developers put a huge amount of energy into creating software and if they can't get that energy back in a way that balances, then the system falls apart". Except FOSS proves it doesn't. That argument is so yesterday. It's funny, because he writes earlier in his article about how liberating it is if hardware can be commoditized:

"Where this relates to Java and Sun is that because such a huge fraction of customer applications that run on Sun hardware is written in Java, we can treat CPUs (and even operating systems) as commodities, in the same way we treat disk drives. We can use whatever underlying CPU technology (x86/x86-64/Sparc/...) or OS technology (Solaris/Linux/...) is most suitable for the situation at hand. We aren't constrained by the instruction set or OS interface that is baked into our customers' applications. This is hugely liberating for hardware design."

He just can't connect the dots that commoditizing software is liberating too. If you have a proprietary interest, it's hard to see the benefits to others of you letting go, I suppose. Gosling is a Sun Microsystems fellow who managed the group that created Java in the early 1990s. Java is "free in many senses," he writes. Yes, but not the one that matters to us. Sun and Gosling are free to cling to the old ways as long as they can. And they can believe that you can make money from software and that the old ways were best and software should not be commoditized. But the world is moving on. History doesn't care what you prefer.

If Sun wants to know why the community does not trust it, that is the answer: We are users, most of us. In the old days, the community was mostly programmers. Maybe then Gosling's argument made more sense. But the community is users too now. The GPL benefits us. The argument between programmers above and below the interface isn't relevant to us. There is a public policy argument that needs to be addressed. Software has become too important to leave it an argument between types of programmers. And we users have a choice. We naturally will choose a license that cares about us. That would be the GPL.

The GPL also protects us from the SCO's of this world. SCO has made me allergic to proprietary code, because I see now what can happen if proprietary code falls into the wrong hands. It doesn't matter to me, personally, if a developer wants to write an application and release it as proprietary software. I buy and sometimes use such specialty software. But I care if a language is proprietary. I care if an operating system is proprietary. I care if the proprietor has the power to seriously disrupt everything for everybody just to make a buck for his selfish self. That isn't politics. If Sun chose to do a SCO, is there anything to stop them? That's a real question. And the real answer is that if Java were under the GPL, they would be blocked.

If that's viral, I want to catch it.


Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL | 570 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: tintak on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:01 AM EDT
Well said PJ.
Lets hope that the FOSS movement can make Java as irrelevant to the users of
software as GNU/Linux has done to M$.

'it is literally impossible' for SCO to itself provide
direct proof' Mark J. Heise 02/06/04

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: dcminter on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:11 AM EDT
I think Gosling actually has some very good points here - not least of which is
that Gnu software itself is not entirely free in the political sense.

I also dislike a lot of the invective that has surrounded this pair of
arguments; they reek of jealousy of Java. Sun wrote their implementation, and
they opened the specification so anyone can produce their own implementation. So
far, the open source community has not done so, and I think that that is a huge
shame. But it's not Sun's fault, nor is it Sun's responsibility to fix it by
giving away the family jewels.

You see, this reminds me a lot of a situation where there were a lot of free
tools around, but nobody had written the core that could acommodate them. In
that case, the tools were from Gnu, and the core that came along was Mr

But that didn't make Sun bad people for keeping Solaris/SunOS in the family, any
more than it made IBM bad people for wanting to hang onto AIX. Or Andy
Tannenbaum for keeping his restrictions on Minix.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Here Please
Authored by: PJ on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:11 AM EDT
Please place corrections in this thread, so I can find them quickly. Thank you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:15 AM EDT
I don't think that the problem is with Sun. I think that it's with us. Or at
least with the free software zealots whose main motivation is their political
agendas. Even as a dedicated Linux user, I'm more inclined to side with Gosling
than RMS on this issue.

Nearly four years ago, RMS had this to say about Sun, "StarOffice is such a
big and important contribution to the Free World that I feel we must reevaluate
our view of Sun in consequence. Even if they don't contribute anything else,
StarOffice constitutes a substantial change in their overall treatment of our
community. We have a responsibility to recognize this,"

Note the "Even if they don't contribute anything else". Now he's
getting grouchy that they aren't contributing Java too. It's Sun's code and,
quite frankly, they can do what they like with it, regardless of what RMS

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: CnocNaGortini on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:18 AM EDT
If Sun chose to do a SCO, is there anything to stop them?

Or, even more worryingly:

If Sun, or anyone who buys them up, chose to do a SCO, is there anything to stop them?

[ Reply to This | # ]

JNew Links or Off Topic (OT) discussions here
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:18 AM EDT
Please put links to new articles of interest to Groklaw readers below here.
This will make them easy to locate and serve as a smelting pot of topics for new
Groklaw articles.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: vettemph on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:19 AM EDT

Gosling calls the GPL "viral".

Smiles are contagious. :)

[ Reply to This | # ]

violating the laws of thermodynamics?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:20 AM EDT
Gosling fails to understand that the laws of thermodynamics only work when
you're looking at the whole of a complete system. Looking at a single software
project and seeing if you're getting a return on your energy investment fails to
take into account the mirriad of other projects that you have access to in
gathering ideas, seeing what works, leveraging of tools, etc.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:20 AM EDT
"If that's viral, I want to catch it."

Actually quite a few people in the foss movement also believe it is viral. I
occasionally follow various FreeBSD lists, and a number of the more outspoken
contributers rant about the viral nature of GPL at every opportunity. They
believe that a totally unencumbered BSD style license is the way to fly.

My personal feelings: BSD style for the stuff I borrow, and GPL for the original
stuff I create <g,r,d>.

- Harry (sorry I don't have my account info handy)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:20 AM EDT
In case you don't get it there're lot's of software companies that actually have
innovations in their products.

GPL:ling the source code would only mean that the competitors would freely copy
the ideas to their products. I work for a small software company that has a
great innovative product. We've invested at least 8..10 man years into the
product and the sales are starting within few months.

The last thing we'd like to do is to GPL the software now. We have a lot of
competition from bigger companies and they'd rip the code the moment it would
became available.

Our product is not for john does. It's for big corporations with big cash. Is it
unreasonable to use closed source in that scenario?

We have a innovative product that helps big industries to save millions in cash
each year.

We'd like to keep it closed source (which means we cannot use GPL:d libraries.
LGPL or BSD style is generally ok). At least until the development costs and
perhaps a little extra has been gained. Maybe we'll open it in the future maybe
we won't. The bottom line is that we need cash to survive.

BTW: we do have services too (that depend on our product) but the service income
is not big enough to support our company. When the market penetration of your
software is still small or the software is made for very narrow segment you
cannot extract enough money from services. You have to sell licences too.

And finally, peace to all and excuse my english.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It seems Sun understands enough GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:25 AM EDT
If you look at the efforts that Sun has gone to to support GPL and open license
(the Apache license) based implementations of Java than it would seem that they
do in fact understand things sufficiently.

So Sun retains final control over Java, they have licensed out the
implementation information in such a way that someone can go and create their
own FOSS-licensed Java VM and DK and still even get to call it Java.

Does this preclude Sun from closing up Java in the future? Of course it
doesn't, but I doubt that they would be able to retroactively close up the
earlier versions.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Conservation laws
Authored by: jiri on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:33 AM EDT
Perhaps Dr Gosling's second quoted sentence reveals the real mistake: he thinks
software obeys conservation laws. A friend suggested the other week that maybe
SCO is making that mistake. The RIAA certainly seems to be making that mistake.
But it is a mistake nevertheless.

Perhaps it's that stupid phrase "intellectual property". Pretty much
all other kinds of property do obey conservation laws, and it's only natural to
assume that IP works the same way if one isn't careful about thinking it
through, simply because it has the same name.

As far as SCO is concerned, there's another piece of "the map is the
territory" thinking: conflating the two entities called SCO in their court
documents, simply because they have the same name. Perhaps it's the same

Please e-mail me if you reply, I usually read with "No comments".

[ Reply to This | # ]

Gosling Emacs...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:35 AM EDT
I think part of his emotional response to Richard Stallman comes from the fact
that both worked on an Emacs implementation.

You can find a little part of that ancient history in this talk by Richard
Stallman "Lecture at KTH"

To quote te relevant part:

In the summer of that year, about two years ago now, a friend of mine told me
that because of his work in early development of Gosling Emacs, he had
permission from Gosling in a message he had been sent to distribute his version
of that. Gosling originally had set up his Emacs and distributed it free and
gotten many people to help develop it, under the expectation based on Gosling's
own words in his own manual that he was going to follow the same spirit that I
started with the original Emacs. Then he stabbed everyone in the back by putting
copyrights on it, making people promise not to redistribute it and then selling
it to a software-house. [...] At this point, the company that Gosling thinks he
sold the program to challenged my friend's right to distribute it, and the
message was on backup tapes, so he couldn't find it. And Gosling denied having
given him permission. [...] So it's sort of strange that they then changed their
mind and refused to sign that agreement, and put up a message on the network
saying that I wasn't allowed to distribute the program. They didn't actually say
that they would do anything, they just said that it wasn't clear whether they
might ever someday do something. And this was enough to scare people so that no
one would use it any more, which is a sad thing.

So James Gosling has the honor to be one of the main reasons of making the lives
of the GNU Maintainers much harder because since that time the FSF has required
writting agreements and copyright assignments for all important GNU works on
paper with real signatures. He showed the Free Software community that people
cannot be trusted :{

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: OrlandoNative on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:36 AM EDT
While I understand the fears of the FOSS community, and, for that matter, agree
with their basis; I think that an automatic, knee-jerk reaction against anything
not specifically GPL licensed is a mistake. Stallman may not agree, but, IMHO,
he's more a fanatic than an everyday user. And quite possibly has more
technical skills than most, as well.

One of the first, MAJOR requirements from the beginnings of Java development at
Sun was that the capabilities of Java 'infrastructure' - if you will - be the
same; no matter where it was running. To ensure this, Sun placed the
'restriction' in it's licensing that one was REQUIRED to either support the
entire specification, or else not distribute at all.

That was the basis of the original Sun-Microsoft Java licensing lawsuit...
...because of Microsoft's version of the JVM and development tools being
'different' (and not explicitly noting those 'differences'); it was easy to
inadvertantly code a Java application that would only run on a Microsoft
Windows-based host.

In a way, it's actually quite like the GPL - namely, the GPL doesn't keep you
from taking a GPL licensed work, and adapting it to your needs however you might
want; even mix-and-matching in proprietary things. However, once you decide to
'distribute' (or sell) the amalgamated work, the clause about requiring a GPL
license on the 'derivative' kicks in.

Similarly, the Sun Java license. You can do anything you want, internally, with
Java. Sun doesn't care. But if you distribute (or sell) what you've done, then
it has to pass the Java specification tests.

Over the years (we're talking over 30 years now) that I've been involved in IT;
I've seen countless cases where one couldn't take a program, written in a
particular language, and recompile it with a compiler supplied by a different
company than that it was originally developed under, without it either working
entirely different, or else not compiling without errors at all. Sometimes this
even happened under different versions/releases of the compiler software FROM
THE SAME COMPANY. I actually had that happen to me once. It took weeks to find
and fix all the problems... ...we had hundreds of affected programs in that

In the *nix world today, we call that, to an extent, 'forking'; and while,
intellectually, most of us don't really oppose such things, in reality it
creates a nightmare for most sysadmins.

One has to remember that 'different' isn't necessarilly 'bad'. After all, to
most of what has come before, FOSS is 'different'; but we don't consider it
'bad', do we?

If the GPL were the end-all of all open software licenses, it would be the ONLY
one. But it isn't. That right there should offer some pause for thought.

No matter what unpleasant connotations it may have (especially in the IT
community); in a sense, the GPL *IS* viral. Unless a distinct, clear boundary
can be made between one's own contribution and the GPL'd code it's 'aggragated'
with; it requires a similar license for the derivative - if that derivative is
distributed. I'm not saying that's bad; or even unfair. It's just part of the
'price' required if one want's to use GPL'd code as part of the basis for what
one want's to do. And you know it up front.

The case with Java is exactly the same. You know the 'costs' up front. You can
get the source. You can create whatever internal derivatives you want; but if
you distribute them, you have to abide by the licensing terms.

To me, the big concern is the availability of source. With it, I'm not 'tied'
to an operating company. Without it, I am.

That, to me, is *enough* freedom in this particular case.

[ Reply to This | # ]

FOSS proves this statement
Authored by: DeeKs on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:36 AM EDT
"developers put a huge amount of energy into creating software and if they
can't get that energy back in a way that balances, then the system falls
apart". Except FOSS proves it doesn't.

Actually FOSS does not prove that it doesn't, FOSS actually proves this
statement, FOSS developers do get something back and if they don't then the
system (or code they maintain) falls apart (gets abandoned)

The only difference is what FOSS devs get back, now I could say they get
prestige, and for some I would be correct, I could say it's scratching an itch,
and for some I would be correct, and for some it would be money, and I would be
correct, I could say it's many things, and it is.

It is impossible to create a definitive list, because it depends on the person
what they get back, no one in FOSS does it for no reason, there is always some
kind of pay back. (and sometimes the payback is the ability to use FOSS

[ Reply to This | # ]

The GPL -is- viral
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:38 AM EDT
... or if it isn't, it certainly intends to be. From

"Combining two modules means connecting them together so that they form a
single larger program. If either part is covered by the GPL, the whole
combination must also be released under the GPL--if you can't, or won't, do
that, you may not combine them."

The way the GPL is written polarises the software written with it as "with
us" or "against us". If the software standards become GPL-based,
all software must be GPL regardless of the wishes of the author. The LGPL and
various other free licenses are less restrictive and see much wider commercial

The GPL doesn't distinguish between the code that I wrote remaining free
throughout its lifetime, and the code that others wrote that simply depends on
mine. It forces the software others write to either follow my own license or
use/develop another software base.

The GPL creates two infrastructure towers. The open source one and the closed
source one. GPL software can't use other software, and other software can't use
GPL software. You can't build bridges between them. That isn't the intent of all
free software authors. When I write free software I want it to be used by as
many people as possible. I don't just want free software to use it.

Fundamentally, I want the reason software developers change to the free model to
be because their customers demand nothing less. I don't want it to be that all
the infrastructure is free. That's not a good reason to switch, and I belive
that forcing that decision extends the lifetime of commercial software, rather
than shortening it.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:40 AM EDT
First, it is very unnatural to restrain fundimental ideas and methods, which is

what proprietary software and software patents do. For the software
developer, this is not much different than having schools offering
for literacy, and requiring every child to pay when they use an idea from a
modern shakespear who has "rights" to the works they were educated
with, or
requiring licenses to be permitted to engage publish (access to) media, which
is equally incompatible with the idea of free speech. By distributing software

to others and yet retaining artificial proprietary control over what is given
away, proprietary commercial software companies do very direct social harm
to their own customers and to the public at large. In some cases they go
further and subvert basic consumer rights by licensing that for example
expressly prohibits the docterine of first sale, or that tries to interfere with

freedom of speech by not permitting product reviews to be published.

In regard to the GPL being viral, the only thing the GPL requires is that you
treat others the same way you yourself were treated. By being able to
incorporate the work of others, you must also promise to enable others to do
the same. Hence, there is both a direct benefit and cost to the GPL, it is not
one sided agreement the way Gosling seems to feel. Incidently, this idea of
incremental improvement is a fundimental part of science, and part of how
we came to have the world we live in today. The GPL simply provides a mean
to enforce good behavior. For the software developer this means both being
able to build upon other people's past works, and being able to receive and
use contributions on their own products from others. The BSD license, by
contrast, allows people to lock away improvements to past works in
proprietary products.

As a commercial software developer, I find the GPL is also the most effective
means to promote and develop products, and the best ethical choice given
that there are preditory companies out there quite willing to eliminate
personal and commercial freedoms.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Overreacting to the word "viral" ?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:42 AM EDT
Dr. Gosling was observing that both Java and GPL-software are, in some senses, free and also that both have a catch attached to that freedom. With Java, the catch has to do with your rights to build your own VM and claim that it is a Java VM (you must demonstrate compliance). With GPL, the catch has to do with which distributed products can embed and restribute your GPL technology (only those that themselves meet a particular notion of free).

Perhaps Dr. Gosling could have used a less pejorative term than "viral infection", but it seems to me that his observation was correct.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:44 AM EDT
1) I have to agree with RMS. He has the correct long
term view.

2) Physical laws don't apply to peoples behavior. The
correct view would be to replace the "conservation of
energy" with "greed". That is why people are always
looking for perpetual motion machines: to get something
for nothing.

[ Reply to This | # ]

True Freedom
Authored by: geoffrobinson on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:49 AM EDT
Only the Lord Himself is absolutely free. There will always be contingencies on
freedom. If you want to use GPL-code, you gotta release it under the GPL. That's
an understandable restriction. That restriction means the GPL isn't absolutely
free. It lessons freedom to preserve it for everyone.

Freedom also has true costs. The GPL could cause Java to fork, destroying the
purpose of Java. I am sympathetic to not releasing Java under the GPL per se.
Maybe a license which says "here's all the code, but you can't call it Java
if it diverges from our standard."

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:49 AM EDT
"Developers put a huge amount of energy into creating software and if they
can't get that energy back in a way that balances, then the system falls

And how does that relates to Opensource/freesoftware? Why is above sentence
relevant when making or don't making the source available. The Java stuff if
free downloadable any way

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: eSavior on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:12 AM EDT
I am not a big fan of stallman, but I agree with what he says about java.

Java is a special case, program code is not compiled into machine code its
compiled into byte code then interpreted by the java interpreter. Thus anything
and everything I write I am dependent on a interpreter.

If I write something in C and compile it, the compiler only enters the equation
once, but in java it enters the equation every time I run it. So essentially the
interpreter is part of my code, a sort of indirect shared library. I can licence
what I make under the GPL all I want but if the users of my code ever want to do
anything with it they are tied to sun. I cant even write a hello world program
with out it going through the interpreter every run. Thus stallman's point java
code is free but shackled.

I think proprietary software does exist and will continue to exist in certain
areas, but I think in core areas it needs to open up. Operating Systems are
core, and laguages used to make programs are core. Basically anything that is
required for a single program to run should be open.

/* Doom */

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:12 AM EDT
"We have not sold our soul to the Dark Side. We haven't overnight turned
into mindless lap dogs. We've had a lot of experience with Microsoft over the
years, and it has made us very cautious."

They turned into lap dogs gradually?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman vs Gosling (and Sun)
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:18 AM EDT
PJ writes, "It doesn't matter to me, personally, if a developer wants to
write an application and release it as proprietary software. I buy and sometimes
use such specialty software. "

To me, you are not as vulnerable as if the OS or Language is proprietary, but
still vulnerable with regards to that application. So the bottom line is it
simply depends on what you are comfortable with. Thus there is nothing
inherently evil in proprietariness; if there was you wouldn't use such programs
at all.

Personally I would be glad to see Java become GPL'ed. However, I understand
Sun's desire to have control over the language. It's theirs; I'm not going to
condemn them for wanting to keep it, it's their right. And if they choose to
release it so that I can use it without spending money- wow, good for me! That
is, if it's good technology, which I think it is.

I think the world is best off with both proprietary and FOSS solutions... we
need FOSS for the market pressures it brings, and for the wonderful code folks
like myself are able to peruse and improve, but man (or woman) does not live on
code alone. In our (United States) capitalistic society companies have found
that making code proprietary has thus far been a model that's worked quite well
for bringing in the cashola. With that cashola, programmers eat, and code gets

One can say, "Hey- look at Red Hat!" or Suse. Those are successful
moneymaking efforts based on FOSS, yet I say that Red Hat found a model that
works for them: rather than charging for code, they charge for distribution and
support; enough to pay the programmers- and since their product is based on FOSS
they don't need such a large cadre. ...And look what we get: Recently I
installed Debian on my machine; I'm sorry to say the install procedure is
positively neandrathal compared to RedHat. And the finished product is not
nearly as polished and ready to run. RedHat's business model has given them the
cash to pay programmers to write and make greater contributions to the cause.
But what if you want to make money writing code, rather than assembling the
written code, supporting it, and distributing it, as RedHat has done? I hate to
bring up that old argument but it won't go away..

My experience was proof to me that finding a business model that works is
critical to advancing the state of the art; money == (faster) progress (in

BTW, I am writing my Java-based software for distribution under the GPL, because
I love the GPL. I can afford to, my employer pays me well to support end users
running financial apps. Wish I could depend on end users sending me money for
my efforts writing this software, then I could write it full-time... but the
satisfaction is enough, and I appreciate all the good work that people do, like
Stallman and PJ and Linus.

I remain unconvinced that the 'old' model (proprietary) is in danger of
evaporating in the face of the 'new' model (FOSS). The pressure of FOSS-
specifically the GPL- is changing the landscape, not bulldozing it completely.

So I don't blame Sun for their licensing or their stance on intellectual
property. They are simply looking for ways to get paid for writing software. I
hope their Java license continues to allow me to distribute my program for free
(as in beer). I trust that it will.
-Mike Schwager

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: booda on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:21 AM EDT

I have to agree with Dr. Gosling...what are you people smoking?

You can use Java to write, and distribute what you write under the GPL. Or any other license you wish. Jakarta projects, anyone?? As Dr. Gosling describes quite clearly, there are people who work "below" an interface, and people who work "above" it.

It is perfectly reasonable to me to desire an environment where the development something is directed, given clearly defined goals and directions. Which, in my mind, is exactly what Sun is doing with Java. In other words: "We guarantee that this is how things will work. Enjoy, develop, release, and license as you see fit, we won't get in the way." Sounds good to me! I am a Java developer, Jakarta committer, published author (books, not articles), and publisher of content under Creative Commons license. 12 year of I.T. experience, mostly at director level. I think having a balance between complete chaos and a flexible, owned, directed specification is a nice thing to have, especially in the corporate world.

I think Sun and Dr. Gosling do get the GPL. Perfectly. As Gosling points out, the Java specification is public, and anyone is welcome to implement it however they see fit. Sun even explicitly grants patent rights.

PJ said: Obviously he hasn't got a clue how offensive this is to anyone who cares about freedom for software. There are alternatives to Sun's Java, particularly if IBM were to decide to throw some resources to the GNU Classpath project, which I sincerely hope they do.

Hmmm....Sun creates an environment where every application you write works on every platform the a VM without recompilation. And works the same way. No surprises. They let you do this for free, they give you the tools for free and support the VM on the three largest platform bases (Windows, Linux, Solaris) for free. They let you license what you write using their free tools and their free environment however you like. They publish the specifications to the environment and the tools so that everyone can see them, and they even let others have input in their direction. Sounds to me like a group of people that care about free (as in speech) software!!

PJ said: So it's a culture clash. Sun folks are probably perfectly nice people if you met them at a party. But they don't see that the world has changed. Gosling's sentence about developers needing something back tells it all: "developers put a huge amount of energy into creating software and if they can't get that energy back in a way that balances, then the system falls apart". Except FOSS proves it doesn't. That argument is so yesterday.

Actually, the argument is today, and he's right. FOSS developers do get something back: their egos are fed. Call it what you will, whitewash it however you want, but FOSS developers are not Mother Theresa clones. They expect something in return...they expect that their name will be everywhere, and that their peers will respect them. If you think Gosling isn't right, then I invite you to go to SourceForge and Freshmeat and compile a list of all the projects that have been started and announced, and never got to production. We're talking about thousands of, if the GPL worked perfectly the way you say it does, then none of those projects would be orphaned. But they are, which proves one thing: FOSS developers give up. When do they give up? When their efforts seem futile, or they run out of time. When do their efforts seem futile, and when do they run out of time? When there's no payoff (no return as Gosling points out) for their efforts. That payoff includes ego boosting, peer respect, and *gasp* money. Either someone pays for their time, either directly or indirectly, or they eventually stop. DUH.

The FOSS world is a system. A system cannot continue unless it has inputs and outputs. The outputs are the software. What are the inputs, then? Could it be money, perhaps??? Or other things of value???

Its a nice fantasy to convince yourself that everything happens for free, but the truth is, it doesn't. Richard Stallman gets paid. Eric Raymond gets paid. Bruce Perens gets paid. Eben Moglen gets paid. I get paid, everyone gets paid, in one form or another, because if we didn't, we wouldn't do it. Simple, simple, simple!! I am continually amazed how many people confuse "free" with "no money", even after Stallman, et. al. beat it into everyone's heads day and day out that the "F" in "FOSS" means "do what you want" not "no charge".

PJ said: He just can't connect the dots that commoditizing software is liberating too. If you have a proprietary interest, it's hard to see the benefits to others of you letting go, I suppose. Gosling is a Sun Microsystems fellow who managed the group that created Java in the early 1990s. Java is "free in many senses," he writes. Yes, but not the one that matters to us. Sun and Gosling are free to cling to the old ways as long as they can. And they can believe that you can make money from software and that the old ways were best and software should not be commoditized. But the world is moving on. History doesn't care what you prefer.

Gosling did commoditize software...he designed an environment where what you write works everywhere all the time the same way without extra effort on your part. Sounds pretty liberating to me!! No more "./configure; make; make install" with hours spent trying to figure out why some script is failing, and having to debug some developer's mistakes because he was too interested in "writing cool code" instead of writing documentation and providing support (if you can even reach him/her...for the most part, you can't!). No more RPM bs. No more dependency issues. Compare installing and configuring Apache and PHP from source with installing and configuring Tomcat. I guarantee you that installing the JDK and Tomcat takes less than 5 minutes on any modern system (less on Linux and Solaris, maybe a little more on Windows). Apache software typically is the same even though it isn't in Java, but for the most part (many years as sys-admin here), installing FOSS software is a crapshoot unless it comes with the distro you choose.

Gosling clings to the "old ways"? ROFL. He was the one who changed everything! Write Once, Run Anywhere! Unless you are a developer or sys-admin, you simply cannot understand the ramifications of Gosling's invention.

You can make money from software...that's the whole point. If you think the intent of FOSS developers is to not "make money" from software, you are absolutely incorrect. Everyone needs to make money in one form or another. Whether you get paid for services and give the software away for free or you charge for the software and give the services for free (or charge for both), the intent is the same. FOSS developers are not angels or superhuman beings, they're just people paying bills like everyone else.

You're right, PJ. The world is moving on. And frankly, anyone who believes that the software world, the I.T. world, could be moving on as much as it has and is without Java is not being rational. What, we would be running distributed enterprises with Apache and PHP? CGI programs written in C? Try developing a web services framework for a multi-national corporation using C...or worse, .NET (should be .NOT). Guess what? You can't do it without starting a deathmarch project that will never end. You can do it with Java, though. And Java is free, and anything I write in Java I can license anyway I want, including the GPL. Hmmmmm.....I wonder now what Gosling doesn't get?

PJ said: If Sun wants to know why the community does not trust it, that is the answer: We are users, most of us. In the old days, the community was mostly programmers. Maybe then Gosling's argument made more sense. But the community is users too now. The GPL benefits us. The argument between programmers above and below the interface isn't relevant to us. There is a public policy argument that needs to be addressed. Software has become too important to leave it an argument between types of programmers. And we users have a choice. We naturally will choose a license that cares about us. That would be the GPL.

The users would have nothing if it weren't for the programmers above and below the interface. The GPL does benefit users. I can distribute my Java applications using the GPL. What you are missing is this: Sun's choice not to license Java under the GPL is their choice. There is more than one way to license open source beyond the GPL (check if you don't believe me). It isn't "GPL, all or nothing". That's illogical and unreasonable. It is perfectly possible to benefit users and developers both while still supporting the FOSS world. Don't believe me? I suggest you take a moment and read the license for the Apache web server. If you think Sun is evil, then the Apache Software Foundation is evil as well, because they're doing the same thing. Release open source at no charge, but maintain control to a certain extent while staying public, open, and most of all, flexible. This is key, and what you either missed in Gosling's reply or conveniently chose to ignore: the main concern for Java is compatibility. That is the core: Write Once, Run Anywhere. If you can't control compatibility, then you can't have Write Once, Run Anywhere. If you can't have that, and your product (and company) are designed around it, you're screwed. Thus, maintaining compatibility is key, and doing that requires a guiding force, whether it be Linus Torvalds over the GNU/Linux kernel or Sun over Java. Guided control is not automatically bad.

Extremism is not the answer. Striking a balance achieves the greater good in the long run. You can make money with software. You can release software openly. And freely. And best of all, you can do all three with or without the GPL.


[ Reply to This | # ]

I Refuse to Drink Stallman's Kool-Aid
Authored by: Ruidh on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:22 AM EDT
I am a pragmatic person, not an ideological person. I support Free Software and,
when I spend my own money on software, I spend it on Free Software.

But that dosn't mean I will put ideology first in my selection for appropriate
software. The marketplace is a big place. There's room and a role for Free
Software and a role for proprietary software. I couldn't do my job without
proprietary software. I need industry-specific software and I need it to be
updated for regulatory changes. I'm competing with the other potential users of
such a package and I'm not going to give away any competitive advantage I might
have. I need a proprietary software package.

If it weren't for Java, it would have been more difficult for me to support my
wife's computing interests on a Linux platform. Java is an important,
cross-platform programming environment. Sun's insistance on compliant
implementations has had it's benefits for the Java community and it largely
stopped Microsoft from Balkanizing Java with its incompatible implementation.
Sun will have to continue to promote compliant Java after the settlement in
order to maintain the value of the platform.

If RMS can write a better Java than Java, I invite him to do so. Until then, I
expect that he will keep out of my decision to use it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Liar Community loves thermodynamics
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:23 AM EDT
I found it highly amusing that Gosling would abuse thermodynamics in his unfounded criticism of Free Software. After all, abuse of thermodynamics is also one of the favored tactics of another sort of Liar: creationists.

Creationists abuse thermodynamics by claiming that evolution involves reducing entropy, and that this violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Of course it does not, since the laws of thermodynamics refer to a closed system with no energy input. The Earth (where evolution takes place) is an open system wherein living things take in energy from the Sun. (If this were not so, then the living processes of a single plant would violate the Second Law, to say nothing of evolution.)

Because thermodynamics is so poorly understood, it is a natural choice for the Liar Community, as represented here by Dr. Gosling. It is unfortunate, though, that such an esteemed researcher has chosen to join the Liar world instead of the Free world -- it is a loss for the world as a whole.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:32 AM EDT
Unlike GPLd software, the Java sources don't come with a viral infection clause that requires you to apply the GPL to your own code.

I don't get the sense Mr. Gosling tries to make here. You can compile a 'C' program using the Gnu C-compiler and still distribute the resulit just fine, also as a closed-source program. Nothing viral here.

Now if you modify and extend the compiler itself (or any other GPLed program) and use it in your organization, there still is no problem and no requirement to disclose any information. Only if you decide you want to distribute your modification then you need to provide the same freedoms that you originally used to do your work. So the GPL is viral in that specific respect: modification and re-distribution of a GPLed program But ASFAIK you are not even allowed to modify Sun's Java implementation for starters, let alone distributing it freely under whatever specific license. So where is Sun's Java compiler more free than GPLed software?

Mind you, i am using a BSD-like license for my own stuff and the BSD style licenses are indeed more free. I just don't see how Sun can claim anything here, as they are not releasing Java and the libraries under a BSD license.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:39 AM EDT
Software industry is like a gold-rush - too many people who hope to make
millions out of it. I see software as a tool for my "real" work and it
is just great if I can also modify it by myself (if I know how).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Too many people here are missing the point
Authored by: uchuha on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:41 AM EDT
Several writers have said that they have some problems with
RMS's arguments, but seem to actually be responding to a
different argument than the one he is making.

Reading Stallman's piece, I don't see where he's saying
that Sun shouldn't be able to liscense their code however
they choose, or that developers shouldn't be free to choose
to use sun's version if they aren't interested in making
Free Software which is guaranteed to stay free.

What he's *is* saying is that *if* you aim to write Free
Software *and* you want to be sure that it will stay free,
then you should make sure that your Java programs work
correctly with a free implementation of Java, otherwise you
are falling into a non-free trap.

There, is that so bad? Is that poison kool-aid? I think
it's just common sense.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Astroturfers? Att: PJ!
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:49 AM EDT
Did we all of a sudden catch a fair share of 'turfers
after, say, the first twenty comments or so?

Listen: The whole debate about the "viral" nature of the
GPL shows how many still don't grok the License - I mean,
it's a complete distraction from the issues at heart here!
There's nothing remotely viral about the GPL - I should
now, being a biochemist / cell biologist by education...

Listen: If you develop a program, and incorporate someone
else's GPL'ed code into your project, you should know!
That's what due diligence is for. And, most importantly,
_if_ you do, you have a _choice_, possum: Either GPL the
whole thing - distribute it with complete source and
attributions - OR take that someone's GPL'ed code out of
your program and roll your own. Any other action makes you
a greedy thief. Yes that reads GREED - not virus!

Listen: This is all about common decency: If you happen to
"find" some code out there, don't assume it's yours to take.
Respect the licence, whatever it says - it's not yours to
begin with, no matter what others might think. And don't
think for a second that the GPL is any worse - or different
- than any of the other licenses out there, be they
proprietary or not.

Actually, some proprietary source code licenses might be
much worse since they try to make you blind if you ever
look at the source code in question - but that's an entirely
different matter...

Cheers all! ;-)

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: rand on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:55 AM EDT
Grokshill is up and running. According to the opening article,
The site is aimed at debunking false and questionable reports and advice from analysts and reporters relating to computer technology. While some reports show apparent bias, it is our goal to provide evidence to show how:
# The original information in the reports is false
# The data collection methods are faulty
# The analysis draws unwarranted conclusions.
It's already looking good and drawing thoughtfull reader coments. It's worth a look.

carpe ductum -- "Grab the tape" (IANAL and so forth and so on)

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: Lindows changes name - gives in.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 11:12 AM EDT

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 11:19 AM EDT
So you have no problem using LGPL or BSD licensed free code
in your project, but you are unwilling to give anything back.

Thank you very much.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 11:20 AM EDT
Although I agree with the ideas of RMS, I think he is a bit utopic about his
beliefs and the GPL itself.
I agree also with socialistic ideas, but the world is not prepared for it yet,
just like the GPL.
What RMS is trying to do is to liberate the software from all secrecy
boundaries, the idea have merits, but in the present is very difficult, if not
impossible. The evolution of software is leading to that, more and more software
is being transformed in a commodity, but not all software can be that.
The realization of this is in the form of the LGPL, but not all libraries are
based on that, so you have to be VERY carefull to not put some GPLed code in
your closed project.
The key to this is freedom, yes, I know you can make closed source projects to
GPLed Operational Systems, but it is costly to evaluate all the libraries used
in it.
The GNU project could mantain a list of all GPLed code, LGPLed code and include
even some non GNU licences.

The concept of Java is great, we use it very much (5 big projects until now) and
I don't know what we could do in case of forking the platform into inumerous
imcompatible implementations. Java is too new and yet have to mature into a C++,
and losing control of the implementations at this part of the way is awful. When
the specification is more mature, SUN could make a step towards evolution and
open the full code and specifications and award a seal of quality for instance
to all implementations that use the standards, but until now the specification
is still evolving, so I think it's not the time for that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Check out Python and Perl
Authored by: cybervegan on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 11:42 AM EDT
Python and Perl are exactly what Sun says can't be done without a proprietary
license; free, powerful, oop, community-deveoped computer languages.

I know *very* little about Perl, so I'll talk about Python, but I believe Perl
is similar in many respects, too (and I will of course be corrected if I'm
wrong) ;-)

Python is licensed under a GPL-compatable license, see

To quote from the above page "...this license is compatible with the GPL
(sez RMS)." - yes, Richard M Stallman says it's OK.

Basically, it differs from the GPL insofar as you can release software that
depends on the Python interpreter, without having to offer it under a
GPL-compatable license. This is so that people can choose to sell their
software, which requires the python program, without breaching the license.
This was in response to user requests, I believe.

It has a freely available (i.e. comes with the installer) language
specification; It runs on most hardware/os combinations (such as Linux on
PC/Mac, HP UX, AS/400 etc.) and it has a *huge* lively community behind it.

There is a very active development community, with a truly democratic formal
process under which feature changes to the language are proposed, discussed,
designed, tested and implemented into the language - the PEP (Python Enhancement
Proposal) process. The 'inventor' of Python, Guido van Rossum, was appointed
the title of BDFL (Benevolent Dictator For Life) when he 'donated' it to the
community. Linus is effectively the BDFL for Linux.

Sun always says that language fragmentation would be a problem for Java if they
donated it - with many incompatible 'special' versions appearing.

Python has just-about-always been 'open', and it is just as 'old' and mature as

That brings me to another, important point: There's a version of Python, dubbed
"Jython". It uses a different byte-code specification to Python: it
uses JVM bytecode. This enables Python programs to run (often without any
modifications) as Java programs. The real icing, on this particular cake,
however, is a completely exposed Java class hierarchy, fully accessible to
Jython. A lot of developers have made some serious noise about this, and have
even 'crossed over' to Python as a result of Python's superior manageability!
I'm not sure if Perl offers anything like this (yet).

Python and Perl prove this 'fragmentation' theory wrong. I'm sure there are
other Free languages that do equally well, too.

This just reiterates that "Free is more than just cost" again.


I wish I never had taken this dare
I wasn't quite prepared
doll me up in my bad luck
I'll meet you there -- verse 2, "Doll" by Foo Fighters

[ Reply to This | # ]

Who cares about java
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 11:59 AM EDT
In my (considerable) experience both writing and using Java apps, Java falls
short in so many ways, it doesn't matter what happens to it. It has already

[ Reply to This | # ]

I've said it before and I'll say it again
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 12:11 PM EDT
Sun is no friend to FOSS or the open source community. Just
look at their behavior: they praise FOSS on the one hand and
denigrate it on the other (We offer Linux on Sun hardware/Linux is
not a viable business option). Sun is only in business for Sun;
not the consumers. If they can avoid FOSS and releasing
anything under a public license, they will.

And Java? It needs to die a quick death. There are too many
replacements (C#, Python, Ruby for example) available for users
and developers to waste their time on Java/Sun.

[ Reply to This | # ]

GOSLING missed the issue & you're all arguing about side issues
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 12:13 PM EDT
the central issue is, if you want to do a free program should you use Java?

All these other arguments are side issues.

Java is not free. Your free work can be hijacked by its dependencies.

Choose a language which is unencumbered. Although with parasites like Darl out
there this may be a difficult thing.

C and some of the academic languages are probably immune to any kind of
hijacking because commercial interests have had zero input and all the licenses
and documents are in the clear. Python, Perl, Scheme, Haskell, C, Forth,
Pascal, Lisp are probably better than Curl, Eiffel (not sure if the definition
is open on this) and Java.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • C is from AT&T - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 01:08 PM EDT
Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: dw55124 on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 12:16 PM EDT
When will Richard Stallman get it that his contued insistance on using the word
"free" when he means "liberty" only creates confusion in the
corporate types that he's in conversation with? To a business person, the
opposite of "free" is not "shackled" or "bondage"
or "enslavement," but rather, "cost." To them, advocating
software should be free is advocating that software companies should not have

Now, that isn't Richard Stallman's position, though he is well versed enough in
economics to know that the natural result of liberated software will be that the
market will drive the price of software to zero. So the very notion of software
companies is flawed in a world of liberated software. There can be service
companies that focus on software, but not companies that sell software and
nothing else.

By choosing the words he chooses, he fails to engage the business people he
engages in a neutral context over the discussion of personal liberty and the
importance and role of software in a modern world where personal liberty is
respected. Instead, by using "free" he drives the business people into
a context where what is being discussed is profit and expense, not personal
freedom. It's no wonder that Sun and others don't get what he is saying.

[ Reply to This | # ]

right to fork
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 12:23 PM EDT
As I understand IBM originally offered SUN to open source IBM's own Java
implmentation or create open source implmentation. As I remember the license
given to IBM forbids IBM to create true open source implementation of Java.

Sun was required only to make it possible to create open source implementations
and provide test suite.


So my guess that the same license forbids IBM from contributing to classpath.
There is possibly and issue with Intel implementation of Java because Intel
stopped open sourcing further development runtime (see late messages
on mailing lists to get an idea, they say that development happens but is not
open-sourced for undisclosed reasons).

BTW IBM expains its position with almost any vote on JCP. See
[url][/url] for example.

I think it is right to fork what is sun is afraid of. This right to is right to
make Java that is not compatible with Sun vision for it. Sun for long time
resisted enumeration, templates, value types. Finally under C# presure
enumerations and metadata are added. Also templates are being added to Java
after long resistance. Sun still resisting badly on value types. They do not
want competing visions, but competing visions for future is a nature of open
source. If comunity did not like Java development process, the process would go
elsewere from Sun to place that offers significantly better vision. This would
put greater presure on quality of process maintained by Sun, and Sun is already
under resource presure.

Side note: Despite numerous refutations stating that Rich Green has not left Sun
in disgust. None (that I have seen) came from his mouth. This speeks more than
The text hereby is placed in public domain.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 12:29 PM EDT
Personally I could care less about java since I use Python for everything that
one would use java for. I run python because it is totally free. Running java
code is like running MS Word sure you own the document but MS holds the key
which means you don't really own it. So if you like handing Sun the key to your
code that is your business but it ain't going to happen with me.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not offensive
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 12:34 PM EDT
This is just context for the real point I want to make: when you have platform software like Linux or the JDK, the platform interface (in the case of Java, the VM and API specifications) divides the world of developers into two groups: those who work under the interface to implement it, and those who work above the interface and build applications based on it. These two communities have needs that conflict. In particular, a blanket freedom for developers under the interface, to do whatever they damn well please, is incredibly disruptive and damaging to developers above the interface.

I think this part is not offensive, but merely a statement of facts (although albeit used as part of strawman argument, the rest of which doesn't really connect too well).

The point he is making if X develops an application (e.g. a word processor), and he uses the operating environment Y (e.g. JVM or Linux kernel), then X's application would always be broken (and probably unwriteable in the first place), if the APIs to Y were in constant flux.

This applies equally whether Y is an operating system, kernel or the JVM. Imagine for example, if Linux were to suddenly going to totally abandon POSIX, and invent it's own API to replace it.

I'd say of course Gosling's constant flux straw-man scenario is hokum to a large degree. Obviously that ain't going to happen with Linux (because there is an unwritten "contract" for Linux kernel saying it will be *largely* backward compatible). There is a small kernel of truth in this part of his argument

(a) backward and cross-platform compatiblity is important (pretty much everybody agrees to some extent on this),

(b) honest men and women can honestly disagree to a degree about how important,

(c) Sun's model appears to be aimed at the extreme end in favor of compatibility,

and (d) I don't know if there is any document saying about plans/guidelines for future ("official") versions of GCC, Linux, etc. compatibility - of course people can do something different with forks - but I'm talking about the main "official" tree. Perhaps there should be.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: Stowell - we beat Red Hat
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 12:49 PM EDT

SCO spokesman Blake Stowell on Wednesday characterized Robinson's ruling as a
partial victory.

"Although the court did not honor SCO's motion to dismiss . . . by ruling
that the case should be stayed, the judge recognized that many of the issues in
the Red Hat [suit] will be addressed in the SCO v. IBM case."

Stowell said the ruling allows SCO to "concentrate its legal resources
toward its case against IBM."

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 01:25 PM EDT
My feeling is that Sun has watched Microsoft's "Embrace and Extend"
strategy at work for many years, and has been stung by it in the past. I think
that they wanted to make Java immune to "embrace and extend", they may
be a bit paranoid (possibly for good reason), but the issue for them was not
with the FOSS community, but rather was with Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Proprietary from free software
Authored by: kawabago on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 01:54 PM EDT
I think he was making the mistake of thinking that if you use open source tools
to write a program, you are required to release your program under the GPL.
That of course, is not true. The so called 'viral' aspect of the GPL applies
only to your modifications of existing GPL'd programs. Entirely new programs
you write, you can release under any license you like. It is probably the most
important point to make to anyone new to the GPL because there certainly are
situations where proprietary code may be desireable, although most people may
never encounter such a situation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What is the problem?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 01:55 PM EDT
Reduced to its core, Sun wants to maintain control over its programming
language. Is that BAD?

Whatever wordings he chose (yes, sometimes the package matters more than
the content) he does have good points.

Anyway, they're his points concerning their efforts.

He doesn't ask you to agree.

I don't see why this should make them bad and I don't see why this should
have to result in action from the "free software movement".

For once I find myself not agreeing with a Groklaw statement.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Freedom and the GPL
Authored by: stutchbury on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 01:56 PM EDT
I understood that the 'F' is FOSS stood for free as in freedom.

Sun's implementation of Java never was FOSS - it was created by Sun, is owned by
Sun and has been licenced under very liberal terms by Sun to anyone who wishes
to use it under those terms.

The fact that those terms are not as 'free' as the GPL is Sun's (and Sun
alone's) freedom of choice.

I am part of the FOSS community (as a user and having released code under the
GPL), but also write proprietry code (to pay the mortgage). I do not find
Gosling's opinions offensive - quite understandable even, given the enormous
pressure he has been under to 'free' his baby.

Java *interface* is already as free and open as any FOSS under the control of
your average development team, but without the risk of forking.

This is quite different to the iron fist approach of others (who's paranoia
drives them to try to own everything).

Having worked at Sun (on and off for nearly three years) and despite losing much
respect for them in the last couple of weeks over the M$ debacle, I believe they
are still the most open of the 'old school' technology companies.

FOSS and closed source can live together - if they respect each others freedom
of choice. Rather depressingly, some members of the FOSS community (eg first
post on this article and even your commentary, PJ) have similar respect for
other's freedom of choice as SCO et al...

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPL, core libraries and mature GPL software gobbledygook.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 02:12 PM EDT
We're dealing with libraries that are embedded into the core of programs here.

The basic GPL alone in this case would require that every program built using
these tools would be automatically GPL, which might be seen to personify the
viral nonsense.

The FSF recognise this and provide an exception for some of their tools, the
"runtime exception" listed at

If Sun wanted to then presumably they could use same.

With regards to Stallman's "unusable in the Free World".
Do you mind me asking, when is it ok to want to keep a hold on your software?

Say a piece of software is mature enough not to need updates and has all the
features that's sensible. It's well designed / standard enough that training and
services are no longer required. It was GPL'ed from the start.

As I understand it, not only does the purchaser get the source (A GOOD THING),
but also the right to distribute a single purchased copy far and wide, for
almost any production cost they choose (condition 6, GPL 2), provided they don't
infringe trademarks and patents.

So your customers immediately become potential competitors, and all you can
depend on is their disinterest in publishing your product on the web.

And even assuming no competition,
each of your customers will buy one copy. To cover your expenses you have to
have other products in simultaneous development while you are awaiting the
doomsday mature date. Nightmare development scenario for a small business.
And maintaining a revenue stream is directly opposed to making your product

For infrastructure where admins can justify support and training costs, and
convince the finance director, GPL has been shown to work and has benefits over

But when Sun's LGPL Openoffice matures, will StarOffice die? Anyone here
planning on buying the next retail version?
Will it just be for the nice manual? Or will it just be the empathy troubled
fools like me that paid for their copy of winzip.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 02:20 PM EDT

A bunch have folks have said this in one way or another already but it bears repeating: In actual practice GPLed programs do not decend into tweaking chaos. Kernal, Gnome, KDE, etc., etc. Can you even name a fork from any of those off the top of your head that anyone takes seriously? Didn't think so. The GPL community exerts enormous pressure to not fork needlessly and/or poorly and they will ignore you into irrelavency if you go ahead anyway.

Look at the of success stragety Sun has pursued. Their tight fisted control license allow Microsoft to do massive harm to the language via the exact mechanism that they are so afraid of with the GPL: incompatible JVMs. This is harm that persists to this day since the MS JVM remains deployed and supported under the settlement.

MS would not have touched a GPL'ed JVM with a 10 foot cattle prod.

"The tighter your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 02:24 PM EDT
I can't help but feel that M$ business practices have
severely tainted the whole S/W & computer industry.

When people really have choice, they can make what
ever choice works best for them regardless. They
are free to change if that becomes necessary for
their benefit.

Unfortunately, M$ came along and basically tried to remove
choice from EVERYBODY. In actuality, open or closed
really shouldn't matter as long as YOU have that choice.
When that choice gets taken away and you have no options
is when the real problems start.

GNU/GPL tries to give you a choice. Multiple closed
apps that basically do the same function give you
choice. The best survive, some loose.

The real villian is the one that tries to remove choice.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 03:04 PM EDT
You know, you really should read Animal Farm. Maybe you'd be able to put
Stallman in his rightful place in the world (under a damp rock ;). Your lack of
knowledge of computing makes you the perfect mark for people like Stallman. He
works you in just the same way SCO work the press. Can't you see that?

On the subject of offensiveness, have you any idea how offensive is to an
honest, hard working person such as myself to labelled as evil by Stallman
simply because he does not agree with proprietory software? Perhaps you'd like
to rephrase your comments as well?

On Java. It's nothing to do with Stallman. He didn't invent it. He didn't fund
it. It's not his IP. He has no business telling others what to do with their
time, money and property any more than it's my place to tell you what to do, how
to spend your money and what to do with your property. If you don't like the way
Java is then don't use it. That's your right but please display some respect for
the rights and views of others.

Paul Thomas

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thermodynamics and vira - please!
Authored by: Kristoffer on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 03:05 PM EDT
Before Mr. Gosling digs deeper into the first law of thermodynamics (and his
absurd analogy about the conservation of the energy put into software
development), someone should remind him of a few wise words from Thomas
Jefferson in 1813:

"He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without
lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without
darkening me."

Furthermore, I am sick and tired of the alleged "viral nature" of the
GPL. The GPL is a license that you don't even need to accept to use the
software, then you're just back to copyright law and it's restrictions.
Specifically, a virus is an agent that is incapable of growth or reproduction
apart from living cells (i.e. a virus needs a host). GPL'd software is very much
alive and growing on it's own. To me it seems that it is those wanting to
include GPL'd software without accepting the GPL that are of a "viral
nature" - they need GPL'd software to grow and prosper.

./ Kristoffer

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 03:12 PM EDT
Gosling argument is based on a standard mistake: mixing
trademark and copyright.

If he is serious about a Java VM being certified, he just need to do
the same as the Opengroup with Unix: register the Java
trademark and allow its use only for certified Java VM,
while allowing the specification to be implemented without

This will allow the development of a free software implementation
of Java while forbidding non-conforming implementation be called

[ Reply to This | # ]

IBM will seek Summary Judgment!!!
Authored by: kuwan on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 03:15 PM EDT

See my link here for the details.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: KevinR on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 03:43 PM EDT
I've made similar points a couple of times. Good luck to you. The most
difficult road at the moment is that of the small software company or specialist
developer. If you reveal the code the big boys can eat you for breakfast
without even having to pay lots of coders. If you keep the code closed then a
lot of the GPLd libraries do deny you access. So you get eaten and beaten by
both sides in the FOSS wars.

As someone who made a living as a S/W developer for about 17 years - before the
tech crash - I know the problems you face and the issues and risks.

A lot of the comments here have chosen to beat you up. We are starting to see
more pro-FOSS trolling on the site - it makes me sad; it used to be only
anti-FOSS trolling. You deserve respect for trying to go your own way. Yes you
have leveraged your product on FOSS/GPL software - but what was the alternative:
Buy compilers from M$FT, Sun, who? The best non-FOSS compilers were put out of
business and eaten up years ago (A pause to remember WatCom...).

RMS wants software to be free - I respect his honesty - but do not always agree
that its possible. The GPL tries to encapsulate his view but does inhibit
closed development on top of its platform. Thats OK too - but it does make it
hard for the small guys to choose. Its great for IBM, its tough for M$FT ---
but the guys in the middle get thumped from both sides.

I continue to look at the mechanisms used by Apache & MySql (and to a degree
by Redhat) to make their material nearly GPLed. Their licence agreements are
not plain-text.


[ Reply to This | # ]

GPL software is software reasearch
Authored by: ajrs on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 03:51 PM EDT
GPL software is software research. All it requires is that if you distribute a derived work, you also distribute your additional research. Just like big fat foot notes or case citations. How can anybody who had even written a paper in high school not see that as OK?

As for thinking there is no benefit in releasing software as GPL, ask Mr. Stallman if he has ever benefited from a program compiled with gcc that he didn't write himself. Like the linux kernel, or Apache, or Mozilla, or PHP...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reality check soon
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 04:11 PM EDT
I've been heavily involved with Java on Linux for years now.

I can tell you the Sun people are slowly cutting their own air supply.

A lot of people were willing to give Sun a chance. After all (if you ignore the
moral aspects) enlightened despotism is a very seductive model, and Sun sure has
been claiming a long time they want the best for Java. Plus they won over enough
universities to ensure everyone would look at them kindly at first. So why not
let them ? They have the will, the people, the brains, etc.

Wrong wrong wrong.

Sun wants the best Java that meets its needs (and those of the few big players
it listens to to keep a semblance of community). But Sun standards are not your
average Linux standards. In fact they are almost consistently lower than those
of your average Linux distributor.

Consider this. After all this time Sun has yet to release stuff that is FHS
compliant. Font handling is catastophic, and no one will be able to tell you
when Sun will actually consider using fontconfig (if ever). There were *big*
*bugs* when distributions moved to UTF-8 locales (despite Java using unicode
internally from the beginning), when Linux moved to a new threading model, etc.
Hell even the standard api to unzip files is so broken it's been slowly moving
to the top-25 most reported bugs in the past years. Not to say than the despite
Java Sun people have for anything linked to a particular OS ensures Java apps
always have big trouble integrating with everything else.

Sun will tell you they can't change anything because it would impact API
stability and break user apps (only they do change the apis whenever they wish
to). Or that they do not have the ressources to fix everything (but people would
help just like RedHat did when it fixed a lot of apps when they moved everyone
to unicode). The truth is Sun Java will never get the polish of a foss system
because all the people that could try to fix stuff overtime are prohibited by
the licensing to touch a single Sun wart. Of course one might try begging Sun to
merge a fix, but don't count on it unless it is on Sun's agenda.

And Sun agenda is an awkward server engine, nothing else. Sure they'd like a
desktop Java. But they won't devote significant ressources to it, and their
lock-in ensures no one else will. (and now you have the real reason the Java
Linux Desktop is not coded in Java).

After a while Linux Java people either decide to quit, or to focus on migration
to gcj/gnu classpath to get rid of the Sun problem.

(see for example)

So either Java will die on Linux for lack of interest, or it will survive as GNU
Java only. Either way I don't see Sun keeping a sliver of the influence it has
now - people who had to devote significant ressources just to get around Sun
obstruction won't be won back that easy.

Remember Gnome vs KDE ? Motif vs gtk ? Proprietary compilers vs gcc ? It's not
so easy to kill a free alternative you've fostered onto yourself. Even after
you've given up all your pretensions (openmotif). You have to be actually very
good to remain in the race (QT/KDE). And Sun Java is certainly not good enough
on the desktop now, nor is likely to get feature parity with GTK/QT systems
soon. They've neglected it too long. Being good server-side is not sufficient -
Linux got insanely great because people were tweaking stuff on their own systems
(or to give another example - x86 stuff is eating big iron chips, not the other
way around. Even Sun is selling amd64 systems now).

It's a damn shame. A lot of good engineering went into proprietary jvms and is
likely to be wasted forever. But that's proprietary code for you - ultimately,
an expensive dead-end.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: IBM response to bifurcation
Authored by: jmc on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 04:21 PM EDT

I've downloaded and converted it to PDF here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A few thoughts on the "compatibilty" issue.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 04:35 PM EDT
Specifically, on the quote from Gosling, "We believe that for a developer
who has built a Java application they have a right to trust that when some other
developer says 'I have a Java VM for you to use', that their application will

There's another software community which takes this sort of thing very
seriously, and very successfully, for a lot longer than Java has been around --
and has still managed to produce software that's compatible with the GPL.

I speak, to be precise, about TeX. The license on that is essentially a
standard free-software license in the terms that Stallman would agree with,
although it's somewhat closer to BSD than the GPL because it doesn't contain the
requirement that one release derivatives as free. However, there is one simple
caveat, which has largely solved the compatibility problem: If you write a
program that is based on the TeX code, you cannot call it "TeX" or
have the executable file use that name unless it is strictly compatible with the
original version. Further, most packages for TeX are released under a similar
rule that says that, if the derivative version is not exactly compatible, it
must use a different name.

Thus, for instance, there is pdfTeX, which runs much like TeX, but also creates
PDF files, and has some additional features. There is eTeX, which is much
closer to TeX, but again it has some additional features. Since they are not
called "TeX", and the executables are named "pdftex" and
"etex" respectively, there are no restrictions on what capibility they
can have. Further, as sort of an interesting side note, eTeX has a
"compatibility mode" in which it is strictly compatible with the
original, and if you create a copy of the eTeX executable named "tex",
it will run that. Thus, it's one of the more common implementations of straight
TeX as well.

Thus, it's very reasonable to expect that, if I have a TeX file and run it on my
TeX installation here, or run it on someone else's TeX installation elsewhere, I
will either get the same output from both systems, or on one system or the other
I will get an error due to a missing add-on package.

I would think that Sun could very easily do the same thing, by putting a
limitation on their Java specification that states that "You may not call
an implementation of this specification a Java VM(tm) unless it strictly meets
this specification." They should, I think, be able to enforce this with
trademark protection (isn't Java a Sun trademark?), which is rather more
intended for this sort of thing anyhow. And it would definitely fit their
stated goals of being able to trust that any random Java VM will act like
developers expect it to, without being draconian in the ways that their current
license seems to be.

Now that I think of it, doesn't the UNIX trademark also work that way? You're
free to build to the spec to whatever degree you desire, but you're not allowed
to call it UNIX(tm) unless it's certified to fit certain compatibility


On a completely different note, I have a strong suspicion that this license
isn't really aimed at the FOSS community, anyhow -- it's aimed at Microsoft.
Microsoft has a history of releasing Java VMs that aren't quite compatible with
Sun's and using those for market advantage, and if Sun released Java specs under
the free license that Stallman is implying they should, I think they would be
immediately giving up any legal right to complain about Microsoft doing so.

- Brooks (has an account, somewhere....)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 04:42 PM EDT
OK, let me tell you this, and let us make no mistake about it:

First Law of Thermodynamics: You can't win.
Second Law of Thermodynamics: You can't play even, either.

Toon Moene (A GNU Fortran maintainer and physicist at large).

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Glenn on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 05:07 PM EDT
I agree with Mr. Stallman on this one all the way. The best way to ensure
freedom for JAVA is to support the free implementations and ignore Sun's
shackled version.
At the rate that the GNU programs are evolving and Linux is evolving, the
companies that insist on hiding the source for their products, shackling them,
and extending them to introduce incompatibilities will find themsleves becoming
It will not happen overnight, but unless Sun and M$ can use the legal system
or pay off enough politicians to legislate against FOSS, the tide will
eventually sweep them away.
Sun and M$ both are going to have to learn to actually innovate, produce
superior products, and compete if they are to survive.


[ Reply to This | # ]

PJ, you don't get it
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 05:26 PM EDT
Legalities (copyright misuse, first sale, etc.) aside for a moment, read this:



[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: More garbage and FUD from Didiot and Forbes
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 05:39 PM EDT
Not worth the effort to turn it into a link - it's the same old garbage,

It figures Forbes would be in on the scam - given hooks into Canopy;
disappointing, not surprising. And not unexpected: PJ's analysis of why SCO
just suffered a major setback (in the RH case) obviously called for new lies to
counter the truth from the court. Result: stock up, 0.14

It's sad to see liars. It's sadder to see saps buy into SCO lies, via stock or
"product". Is there no agency willing to step in *before* damage is
done, just once? Why are SEC, FBI, etc., so impotent? Why is DoJ asleep at the
wheel - again? Is the circle of bought people growing so large, or are the
agencies overwhelmed (by their own ineffectual wait-see attitude)?

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS would have hijacked Java
Authored by: dullblade on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 06:01 PM EDT
and futzed with it even more than they already have with their always slightly incompatible VMs had Sun decided to give the farm away to please 'free' software pundits.
Nevertheless, Sun is no friend of Linux or, apparently the GPL. I found both ends of this argument to be offensive. Stallman seems to be always saying 'these people have the audacity to spend great amounts of money and time developing software in an effort to be renumerated, so they are EVIL. We must knock off on their hard work as soon as possible before they manage to make a living, so let's start by boycotting the original product while we wait for the 'free' version to catch up, which may be never, but at least we won't have paid anyone.'
Meanwhile, the Goslings of the world rail like idiots against the GPL which no one is being forced to use.
Stuck in the middle are the actual developers, people who have spent a great deal of time (and money) honing their skills in anticipation of making a living. They get to hear users tell them their stuff should be free, while at the other end of the spectrum, corporate wolves are ready to exploit their efforts for their own sinister purposes. I suspect the reason Sun is cosying up to MS is because, at one end, we have RMS telling people to abandon them (meanwhile, the 'free' tools are not materializing at a pace that could be considered relevant), while at the other end, MS holds the desktop hostage (again, where is the comparable 'free' version?), therefore ultimately controlling the destiny of Java. If Stallman and his cult of sycophants spent as much time developing software as they do casting aspersions at everyone else, then maybe Sun wouldn't have had to 'sell out'.
Finally, I couldn't let this one go:

(RANT begins)
'And they can believe that you can make money from software and that the old ways were best and software should not be commoditized. But the world is moving on.'

Absolutely! I mean where do people who spend years honing skills, then many more hours and dollars get off trying to make a living? After all, it is just common sense that software developers should divest themselves of their creations and live on the kindness of strangers. If they want to make money, they should get into indemnity insurance! There, they can jealously guard their proprietary 'comparator' style code for discerning the 'freedom' of other's code and charge a premium to others to use it - all with a veneer of FOSS 'freeness' to cover the stench of the Venture Capitalists behind it.
(RANT ends)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 06:20 PM EDT
1st law of thermo. What goes in, either gets stored or goes out, energy cannot
be created or destroyed. GPL actually obeys this law far better than Dr Gosling
realises. A GPL developer puts in a little bit of code to a project and gets the
complete project back. I believe Donald(?) Becker once said silmiar. Something
along the lines of, "I wrote a few network card drivers for free and get a
complete OS back in return, and your telling me I did not profit?"



[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 06:30 PM EDT
I will throw another thread in.

Canopy bought SCO and has bought defunct companies who's assets are only useful
in IP or similar litigation. What happens if Sun chnages its mind? or if Sun
went bancrupt and someone like Canopy bought the? If they chose to close java or
derive an income off the backs of all java developers what would stop them? The
present SCO claims on Linux are of close to zero merit as you can get. A similar
situation with java in the hands of Canopy or similar would not be me thinks.



[ Reply to This | # ]

Time to Rally the troops!
Authored by: javajedi on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 07:02 PM EDT

Thanks to you and Groklaw and the resulting conversations I have had with many
of my developer friends and aquaintances I have a renewed sense of purpose. You
see I have always believed in free software (free as in Stallman) and the reason
I took up Java was because cross platform, cross OS software is a huge benefit
in freeing up developers and users alike. For some time after the Sun Microsoft
deal announcements I felt betrayed and concerned about my favorite development
language. I have seen others mention making Java irrelevant just like M$ is
becomming. But I see clearly now that that is not the answer and that is not
what RMS was saying in his Java Trap message.

Before there was a free C compiler did the free software movement decide to make
C irrelevant? No, they wrote their own compilers, they did what was necessary
to free the language rather than abandon it.

One thing Gosling said seems to make sense from the point of view of many
developers who work (like myself) "on top of the interface". It would
be extreemly disruptive to me as a developer to suddenly find that the
underlying JVM has changed and my code that I have spent the last 6 months
refining suddenly does not work any longer. But this very statement by Gosling
contradicts his reasoning. It is for that very reason that an open sourced JVM
(the below the interface part) will stay compatable as an open source project
because the moment the JVM development community breaks functionality for the
"on top of the interface" community, there would be too much of an
uproar and either the broken functionality would be fixed or developers would
not go on to use the new broken JVM and there would be a fork in the road (and
in the code base).

The very same thing is what keeps the open source gcc C compiler compatable and
the open source perl programming language or Python, or PHP. Why is it that
with every new release of the gcc C compiler under the GPL code written using
the previous release still works? Because it is written by developers,
developers who care and understand about the importance of backward

So, just as in the early days of the free software movement and the formation of
the GPL, when there was no free as in freedom C compiler, a new compiler needed
to be written, the solution now is not to disguard a viable language but rather
to rally the troops and work on the open source implimentation of it!

You have no idea how much the discussions here on Groklaw have helped me out,
especially in this particular moral dilema!

So, for any of you Java developers out there... Who's with me? :)

The Matrix is real... but i'm only visiting...

[ Reply to This | # ]

StStallman means Liberty, not Freedom
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 07:24 PM EDT
Stallman has it wrong. He is not creating Software that is Free, he is creating software that promotes a certain kind of Liberty, with certain Rights. Open Source wants Freedom than Free Software proves, at the cost of Liberty, and with less promotion of the Rights. And Gosling wants Freedom--to make money, and to avoid even the Rights of Open Source. Gosling offers us a Utilitarian's notion of Freedom and Liberty--the Liberty only to be efficient, without any goal in mind except that efficiency. (Even profit-takers must want money for some purpose other than having it).

Here is a famous definition of Liberty,

From Blackstone's commentary, 1803 edition (writing before the American Revolution even though this edition is after) (

"[England is] perhaps the only [land] in the universe, in which political or civil liberty is the very end and scope of the constitution. This liberty, rightly understood consists in the power of doing whatever the laws permit;**

** Facultas ejus, quod cuique facere, libet, nisi quid vi, aut jure prohibetur. Inst. 1.3 1."

Let's ponder that--the faculty of doing whatever, except some force (like the RIAA) or some regulation (like a GPL contractual obligation or copyright law) prohibits. That's not usually what we mean by Liberty and Freedom. Usually we mean the absence of Law, not its existence, but there must be *some* laws, and rightly framed laws allow us more Liberty and Freedom, and preserve more Rights, rather than just a few poor ones (like the contract Gosling would have us accept).

Liberty is the ability to do whatever you can get away with unless superior force comes along (the constraint on Natural Liberty) or the Law stops you (the constraint on Civil Liberty). Software wants to be Free--it has Natural Liberty to be copied. The Liberty to copy, however, is constrained by Civil Law, and various other Rights, as ought to be balanced in the Constitution, Legislation, and Law courts.

Freedom, by way of contrast, is simply an absence of constraint--a matter of engineering. The engineering design goal for Law and Politics is to get the most Liberty by having the fewest or best laws. Maximal Freedom and simultaneous maximal Liberty, consistent with design goals which are external to both Freedom and Liberty, such as ethical software, civil rights, or commercial success--that is what everyone wants.

The GPL is a voluntary contract that conveys certain rights in exchange for taking on certain obligations. Those obligations take away some Freedoms, in order to create a community that has more Liberty (or a more desirable Liberty, having more Rights of a certain sort) than we otherwise would have with a different contract.

So Stallman and Moglen have devised neither Software Freedom nor Software Liberty, but a contract (the absence of Freedom, note, and reduced Liberty as well). The GPL takes away freedom and liberty, but the Ordered Liberty of the community gives it back, so that the contract "pays its way"--unlike Gosling's, which is a net loss. The purpose of the contract is to create a community of sharing, i.e. to enable by Law a well-ordered society of software developers and users, of a certain sort. Consistent with various Rights (of modification, distribution, availability of source), and with a few constraints as possible--hence maximal Freedom--they create a domain with more Freedom (fewer constraints) than proprietary software. So Stallman is not completely off base to call it Free Software. But more importantly the Ordered Liberty within the Law guarantees Rights. Protecting those Rights is the external goal, and Liberty and Freedom dance to their tune, not vice versa.

The GPL (like the Law it invokes) takes away a Freedom, constrains us with an obligation, and orders our Liberties so that we have more Rights. We do not obtain more Freedom, but Liberty, which is better.

The GPL protects from both unrestrained force (even misuse of the legal system --though it hasn't solved the threat of Software Patents). It also grants more Liberty than copyright law would give, within the legal framework. In terms of Liberty (freedom from Law and Force), it earns its keep.

Stallman and Moglen have created a certain kind of Rights-promoting, or Liberty-promoting software, one that engineers the Freedoms to support that end. Gosling, in contrast, has done no such thing. He has suggested an onerous contract would be more efficient for certain engineering goals--high quality, write once, a uniform and larger user base. This is mixing politics and law with economics and a business/engineering case--Rights and Utility are two different things! Java licensing does not even come close to addressing software Rights--it doesn't trample them as badly as some other proprietary licences, but it doesn't do much to promote either. *Allowing* the GPL means that we in the Free Software Community are still at Liberty to exist on the existing terms--well that's nice of them.

We must not fall for Gosling's (or Stallman's rhetoric about "Freedom"). Gosling is hoodwinking us into trading our Rights, secured by our choice to subsist in the the Free Software domain, and not live in Sun's world--for Design Efficiency. We will be well-fed servants, he tempts us, but not at Liberty to do certain things in return for this cornucopia of engineering success. Stallman, on the other hand, likes the word "Freedom", libertine academic that he is, and doesn't talk so much about what he should--Liberty, Rights, and why we must give up Freedom (as little as possible, mind) in order to obtain them. He appeals to our Baser, Libertarian appetites. Stallman needs a political philosophy that is more than a kind of rhetoric. Why are these Intellectual Rights, as opposed to Intellectual Property Rights we give up, important? We as a community do indeed value them, but we do not articulate our philsophy properly.

Stallman is fond of chiding the Open Source community, but in reality they (and BSD and Apache) want more Freedoms than he. They want those Freedoms instead of Rights. Freedom for commercial exploitation, and for engineering goals. Gosling and OSS are one on this issue--all Freedom from Law or social duty is a kind of Libertinism. It is the kind of Freedom that Libertarians and Minarchists keep talking about. Does giving people fewer Rights, while giving them simultaneously more Freedom harm them? The Libertarians like Eric Raymond are silent. They wish only to destroy, not build up.

It is correct to say that Freedom from the viral (recursive) clause is a Freedom-- more Freedom yes. But it is the system property, Liberty, not the local property, absence of constraint, that the viral clause guarantees.

The Public Domain is perfectly Free, but does not spontaneously result in a community. There being no community or laws regulating its use, there is no Liberty to be had.

So do not confuse Liberty and Freedom, RMS! As for Gosling--just go away, please.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: blacklight on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 07:37 PM EDT
"I will repeat what I told Sun's PR guy the other day when he asked me why
the community has issues with Sun: it's the GPL. They don't support it and they
don't get it" PJ

My personal beef with the Sun is that both McNealy and Schwartz referred to the
Linux community as the Napster people. The dynamic duo is free to say what it
wants, just as we are also free to make it pay through the nose for its words of

[ Reply to This | # ]

RIP Sun.
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 07:42 PM EDT
Since the settlement with M$, I have been waiting for Sun to say something. I
have a historical sympathy for them.

They said the wrong thing. Forget the technical arguements over Java, or which
license is best etc. etc.

PJ is totally correct. Unfortunately, Sun are politically incorrect. There is a
philosophy behind open systems, which many commercial organistions have had to
accept over the last few years. Those, which have taken notice, and adjusted
their business model to suit, stand to continue to be successfull and hopefully
make good profits. (IBM etc. and what a turnaround for Novell).

However, without fail, those which have adapted, make committed statements in
support of open source. Sun, can't bring themselves to make the jump. Their
future direction to the customer is "hazy". I fear they are doomed.

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Put up or shut up - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 07:52 PM EDT
    • Put up or shut up - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 08:02 PM EDT
Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: blacklight on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 08:07 PM EDT
""developers put a huge amount of energy into creating software and if
they can't get that energy back in a way that balances, then the system falls
apart". Except FOSS proves it doesn't. That argument is so yesterday."
PJ, quoting and commenting on Gossling.

I disagree with PJ: I believe that IBM went with Linux specifically because of
the GPL, which gives the enabling mechanism for innovations by successor parties
to be cycled back as feedback to the original copyrights owner.

If I were IBM, I would definitely not prefer the BSD license, which is in my
unchanged opinion a license to rip off. I believe that BSD is full of worthwhile
projects that were simply strip mined for their code and ideas by commercial
entities, and left comatose afterwards.

The great thing about the GPL is that we can either view it as the gift that
keeps on giving, or a "the more you give, the more you get" type of
perpetual motion machine. Great civilizations become great when they develop a
built-in mechanism for nurturing cumulative improvement. Similarly, the GPL is a
great license, because it offers a mechanism for cumulative improvement.

In my opinion, no relationship between humans can remain stable in the long run
if it is unbalanced be it a marriage or a friendship or a business relationship.
An asymmetric relationship between humans where one party does all the giving
and the other does all the receiving simply cannot stand the test of time. The
GPL, unlike the BSD license or an outright gift to the public domain, offers a
mechanism and an opportunity for a symmetric relationship.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: HMTKSteve on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 09:46 PM EDT
It seems to be many people are confusing "open source" software and
"propietary" software. As well as GPL.

The way I see it GPL protects the original author in a way that if I were to
take the GPL code and make a product from it I have to GPL my code as well. If I
don't want to be "shackled" with a GPL license, then I better just get
off my behind and write all the code and not "steal" it from a GPL
project. I have no problem with this.

As for open source, it's opposite is closed source, NOT proprietary. As we know
some MS "propietary" code was recently leaked. Every programmer worth
his salt knows to leave that stuff alone. All you need is to
"accidentaly" include some of this code in an open source project.
Remember, they can see open code, you can't see closed code.

I see NO reason why someone cannot publish proprietary code with full
copyrights. If they provide a strict license on the code where in the end user
is allowed to change the code as needed to improve their use of the software. As
long as the end user does not "Steal" the code or try and base a new
software product on it.

I have no doubt that there is a ton of "similar" code in proprietary
software. There are only so many ways to draw a circle on screen or request a
user to enter their name.

As far as JAVA goes I PREFER that Sun maintain total control over what JAVA
"IS". I want JAVA to be "write once, run anywhere" I don't
want a JAVA fork.

I prefer to use C++ over JAVA and I have had a heck of a time with
"compiler lock-in". I started writing my code using GCC then switched
to Borland. All of my code worked fine. I then tried out a free trial of
CodeWarrior and ended up with tons of problems. Rather then rewrite tons of code
I decided to use CodeWarrior's IDE for certain tasks and Borland for compiling.
There was also the situation where Borland simply generated smaller executable

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, April 14 2004 @ 10:37 PM EDT
I would probably prefer open development over necessarily releasing java code
under GPL.

Currently (from what I can gather) Java is mostly developed in house based on
the JCP which decides what is in and what isn't. They do integrate some modules
from the Apache Group, and from other third party sources, some of which I
believe contain protected Intellectual Property.

I would like to see a more modular approach the Java API Library, I would like
to be able to mix implementations at deployment. EG. I might prefer on my
machine to use SwingWT instead of the standard Swing libraries. It is my machine
after all and I should be able to do this if I want.

Forks of Java would probably be a bad thing, and forking of an open source java
is probably inevitable. Mostly because of the clumsy or convoluted way some
things are implemented. People would almost certainly want to replace Swing with
their own implementation (ala SwingWT) that would have minor incompatibilities
with the overall standard.

Even if there was an independent GPL Java implementation, it wouldn't be much
better than the Sun implementation. (After all it would have to be largely
identical in function). Sun would be unlikely to accept code from the GPL
version (the whole "viral" license issue). The language would still be
stagnant and dependent on the Sun controlled JCP to improve it. Effectively even
Open Source Java would not be permanently and irrevocably free.

An example is the HTML viewing/editing components in Swing. They are out of
date, overly complicated and near useless. If I was to write an implementation
(for the GPL version of Java) that supported all the latest W3C standards and
worked perfectly. It would never end up in the Sun version. End users couldn't
even use it instead of the standard version without recoding all their

I don't have the answers, I don't have a clue. However I back RMS's
reservations. The future of Java is soley in the hands of Sun.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thermodynamics, credibility through honesty, my toilet
Authored by: vruz on Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 12:27 AM EDT
We know the Universe in the end will either
collapse and start a new big-bang, or it will
gradually become null by entropy.
(**very** rough astrophysics from a non-physician)

I still don't see in which of the known universes
of Mr Gosling information can't be generated,
replicated verbatim, or re-ordered by investing more
energy to keep this information without decay
until the end of the times.

If a given social group (company or joint renegade
gang of underpaid developers) decides this certain
information is worth being replicated and improved,
they can choose to keep working on it for as long
as they live and pass it on to coming generations of
succesive social groups that want to do it.

The only thermodynamics-related thing I see here
is the hot replies Mr Gosling can get because of
such an unhappy comment.

I could try to be balanced and make the effort to
understand his views, the political implications,
even the business troubles his company has to

The thing is, when you are debating at this level
of relevance, you can't b.s. people as if
they were ignorant by plainly *lying* (he is a
renowned researcher and just can't be unaware of
this) then losing credibility and coherence.

I don't know you, but if someone tries to lie
to me like that to prove his point right, I
will cautiously put the rest of my efforts of
understanding on hold until I'm given proof
this person is not lying to me anymore in the
rest of his (less clear) assertions.

Also, by (my) definition, someone who lies to
you like this is not a friend, and certainly
not a solidary colleague.

Even if sometimes the personal qualities of
Mr Stallman are a bit striking for my taste,
he is not known for taking things lightly,
and I'm pretty sure his sayings and chosen
wording are the result of his most finest
analysis and honesty.
You can like him or not, you can agree or dissent
on his views, but you can't call him a liar.

While this can be enough for you or not,
it's certainly indicative to me, and a valid
starting point for discussion.

These are the only irreductible truths I can
see at the moment.

--- the vruz

I checked, and fortunately my toilet still
works according to the *true* laws of

--- the vruz

[ Reply to This | # ]

Java needs a standards group
Authored by: Thomas Frayne on Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 02:18 AM EDT
As far as I can see, the problem with Java is not with the license, but with the
specification. Java is a de facto standard, controlled by Sun, and anyone can
develop an implementation of that standard, but only Sun can change the

Since we now don't trust Sun, we don't want it to be able to change the standard
in such a way that the Java implementations that we are writing become
non-standard while we are developing them.

We need a trustworthy standards group to define the Java standard, approve
changes, and certify implementations. That way a GPL'd implementation of the
standard could not be jerked around by Sun.

Those writing Java applications to a given level of the standard would be
assured that their applications would run on any implementation of that level or
above, GPL'd or not. Developers of GPL'd implementations of the standard could
propose new features for the next level without worrying that Sun might
arbitrarily put conflicting features in its own new implementations: if Sun
tried to do this without approval of the standards group, it would be producing
a non-standard implementation of Java.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reason, Knowledge, and Success
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 12:34 PM EDT
We are ALL followers. Only a small number of us (less than a dozen) can
be true leaders in any one technical niche. As followers, each one of us
must listen carefully to the leaders and each other.

No license could POSSIBLY fit all situations. This observation is NOT based
on any one license. The GPL versions are well suited to tool chains and
OS services. The BSD versions are well suited to obsolete SW that needs
serious updating.

The knowledge of how technology evolves into a commodity provides a
business model that IBM and HP are using. At the same time, MS and Sun
are fighting against the common model by breaking standards and creating
artificial scarcity.

Over three years, one generation achieves supremacy as a commodity. Price
points, volumes, configurations, and the typical adopters vary wildly over
those first three years but then settle down.

Success is what drives and amplifies this engineering process. Anything
that hinders this process, like licenses, just slows it down. Successful
execution is the only thing that speeds it up.

The license debates are good for the community; however, license wars are
bad. The FSF has been successful to date and serves as one model. There
are no winners in the debate or war except the enemies of FLOSS. Businesses
and users are turned off by this high noise level.

MS is the antithesis of the normal business model because they try to
insidiously break every single standard to build motes around their OS. MS
cannot document their own APIs sufficiently and has created huge security
holes due to their business practices. MS is enabling the virus problems.

Rather than drive normal people and businesses away by amplifying the
noise, I suggest we keep identifying and examining the terrible consequences
of MS' business practices. Otherwise, MS will use their $53 B to make our
SW illegal.

Beware of RMS as your leader but listen very carefully to his statements.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why the religious wars?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 07:40 PM EDT

I really don't get this. Why is it necessary to paint all of "proprietary software" vendors with one brush, and all "free software" vendors with another? There is much variation within both camps, and neither is all-good or all-evil.

I would make the following points:

  1. Operating system and other "foundation" software provides a unique opportunity, virtually unparalleled in other industries, to establish monopolies which are not in the public interest. Two reason for this are that (a) an operating system increases in customer value as a consequence of every piece of software written which runs on that operating system (hence becoming no less than a "necessity of life," and enjoying enormous "unearned" price leverage), and (b) once one establishes market dominance with "system X" in the operating system world, most new application software will be written to run on "system X."
    Both Unix (Sun and others) and Windows (Microsoft) have sought to profit exorbitantly from this phenomena over time, although Windows has been much more successful. (RedHat, BTW, seems similarly motivated to produce a "proprietary Linux" and similarly benefit from its market dominance - note, for example, that RedHat now touts ("FUDs", in my view) "RedHat" (not "Linux") as "the standard," and is now imbedding RedHat "trademark" information into their distributions which render them uncopiable unless the trademarks are first removed (which may "break" the distribution according to RedHat - more FUD?).)
  2. Both the SCO phenomena and the Microsoft phenomena largely stem from the unique monopoly leverage afforded by operating systems. These examples cannot be taken as representative examples of software in general, and particularly cannot be taken as representative of application programs which don't engender their own proprietary data format. PJ errs enormously in painting all "proprietary software" with one brush.
  3. A proper solution to the "operating system" problem involves competent legislatures, legislation, and court systems, both in terms of intellectual property principles (particularly, keeping interfaces open and "unprotectable" by IP laws), and in terms of anti-trust principles. Governments in general have so far failed miserably in dealing with this issue.
  4. In the absence of competent government action and the resulting Microsoft/Sun/SCO/etc. problem, the open source software community, with its Linux and other efforts, is nothing less than a godsend. However, it is in large part a wonderful response to government ineptitude, more that it is a wonderful response to the general problem of producing software, and that context should be kept in mind.
  5. The current problem in the OS (and other "foundation" software) arena, and the "open source" response, should not be construed as applying equally well over the arbitrarily wide province of software in general. It is not necessary, desirable, nor appropriate, that every application developer in the world be forced into the "open source" (or similar) mode, that every application be forced into that mode, or that every "proprietary" developer be demonized (by either RMS or PJ).
  6. The open source community, in general, has not come anywhere close to meeting the needs of the marketplace in a timely fashion, often being ten or more years later than corresponding proprietary software.
  7. I own many proprietary programs, I appreciate that the author(s) was(were) willing to invest his/her/their time to make them available to me on a timely basis, and I am perfectly willing to compensate them for their efforts. These programs don't involve proprietary formats, can be replaced as needed, and don't lock me in to much of anything. They work, and contrary to RMS's dogma, I don't need the source, and I am not enslaved by the fact that I don't have the source. On the other hand, though, I deeply resent that Microsoft does want to enslave me with an operating system that is required by my applications, and can be "turned off" by them at will as my computer hardware changes (via "activation"), and hence can be use to leverage large amounts money out of me lest all of my applications become useless. But my applications, and this Microsoft operating system, are two different things, and in discussing the political/whatever system which brings them to me, they cannot be painted with the same brush.

By failing to failing to recognize the real, positive, and appropriate role that proprietary software brings to the table, including the much more timely solution to problems than the OSS community and model can muster, RMS, PJ, and others here merely establish themselves as fanatics, making a "religious" war out of something that need not and should not be cast in that way.

Wally Bass

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPL still retains proprietary interest
Authored by: riolo on Thursday, April 15 2004 @ 08:29 PM EDT
In case you overlook, GPL still retains proprietary
interest in the code. That proprietary interest
belongs to the code writers. (I.e., code
writers can change their mind and withdraw their
code from GPL.) From the perspective of copyright,
there is no difference between the software that
is covered by GPL and software that is not
covered by GPL in respect to proprietary

Saying that GPL-covered software is better than
non-GPL-covered software just because the
former is not proprietary is misleading.

(Your statement saying that you will care if a
language is proprietary but there is no law
that allows one to claim ownership in a language.)

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions
in this comment in the public domain.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reminds me of business in China.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 16 2004 @ 01:18 AM EDT
In the late 1980s I was working for a large US corporation to establish business
in China. One of the things that was holding us back vs the Koreans, French,
etc. was that they were willing to accept barter instead of hard currency.

So we would lose a deal to a French company that accepted duck eggs instead of
cash. Or a Korean company that would take coal instead of cash. Our products
were always overpriced because we would have to find a middle man. After all,
what were we going to do with a train load of high sulfur coal?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: bwcbwc on Friday, April 16 2004 @ 10:23 AM EDT
I'm sorry but I don't see the huge conflict here, other than Gosling using the
offensive term "viral", which has such negative connotations.

It's obvious that Stallman is talking about free as in speech, while Gosling is
talking about free as in beer. Stallman writes at length about "truly
free" systems and so forth, while Gosling talks about the limitations on
programming freedom that Sun has put in the SDK Source license to preserve
compatibility for the API users (note that this restriction doesn't apply to the
Java binaries). This is the same rule that Sun used against Microsoft: If you
aren't compatible, you can't call it Java.

Yes, this is a level of proprietary control that doesn't exist in the GPL. So
what? Gosling is dead-on when he says that the FSF has a political agenda. The
FSF website goes on for pages about why freedom to use software in any way the
user wants should be a fundamental right. On the other hand, why shouldn't the
FSF have a political agenda? The software industry is still heavily tilted
toward COTS software, and the alternatives need to be promoted.

I support the GPL and other free software because it opens the otherwise tightly
controlled software market for computer users like me. I don't support it
because I think it's the only way or even the best way for a software company to
do business. In fact, if you look at the major corporate-sponsored open source
products like Apache and Eclipse, most of the don't use the GPL. The main
exception is mySQL, which makes its money by their dual licensing system.

I do agree that there is a lot of misunderstanding between the two points of
view expressed by Stallman and Gosling. A lot of that can be mitigated by
recognizing that neither model is capable of completely taking over the software

We're already moving away from the world of complete corporate control of
software licenses. I don't believe that a world where all software is GPL is
economically sustainable. It reduces the sources of income available to the
developer and it makes the barriers to entry for competing products too low, so
the income from those limited sources will also be extremely low.

In theory, I could take any Linux distro, tack on a few modules of my own, and
start selling per-CPU support contracts for a fraction of Red Hat's prices. If
enough developers do this, the market becomes so fragmented nobody can make
money (look at the airlines and telecom). There is a place for GPL software in
the information economy, the question is how much software can be GPL before its
influence on software prices becomes too deflationary. Since Asian outsourcing
is already exerting a deflationary effect on software development COSTS, GPL'ed
software has a lot of room for growth. It is easier to make money on GPL'ed
software if your development/support teams cost less to maintain in the first

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not only that, it's censored
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 16 2004 @ 04:08 PM EDT
it is indeed a haven for zealots, and if you defend your viewpoints your posts
will get cut. happened to me already, and it wasn't for profanity, libel, name
calling or anything else.

the powers that be simply didn't like critiques of the holy gospel, and axed

so despite honestly good intentions - you're branded a traitor and thrown out.

oh, and if you say "i like FOSS" as i do, that apparently is a sign
that you're a troll trying to be stealthy.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, April 16 2004 @ 09:54 PM EDT
What developers don't understand often about the GPL is rights for the user.

They think their own rights are such important that their users rights must
always be less important.
A lot of programmers have huge ego's like all artists and really think the world
would stop turning if they werent there with their great works...
In fact a lot of them think they are so great that they can charge full price
for a copy of something that is done 1 time while all others have to earn that
by doing stuff every day...
At one point all others are going to demand that this great artist only get's
paid each time he/she does the act and not per copy.

But... they forget that in the end they are also users, what freedom do they
have if they only have the right to run theit own program and nobody else's?
GPL is the most clear, elegant and obvious licence a USER can get, users have
ALL freedom to use the program as they see fit, only developers and people that
want to distribute further have some clear rules to comply to.

In short GPL means: Use this as you want, everybody that you give, sell or
otherwise provide this to must keep the same rights that you had when you
accepted this licence by using this.


[ Reply to This | # ]

whatever happened to the rights of the people that write the software over the community?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, April 17 2004 @ 01:20 PM EDT
i agree strongly that the GPL is viral, and beyond that the type of thing you
would see in a communist or socialist world. look man, people put alot of work
into something, dont expect them to give it to you. Its one thing when people do
decide to GPL stuff, but its their decision. Sun has valid reasons for the way
they license it, first and foremost, shareholders. Can you garuntee their bottom
line if they agree to GPL java in return? If i own Sun you can go blow, the
world is a ruff place, there are no certainities, I want to retain control of my
products and technology if i am a business. (Sun is a business not a charity, be
glad you have java). no amount of preaching openness and community and
togetherness is gonna make the board or the CFO sleep at night. If you make a
living from computers and technology you have no right to complain, they are
doing the same thing. Who cares whether or not Sun can actually work thru
problems their might be in java, who cares if they can fix it. its a moot point.
they have similar concerns that if 'we' 'fixed' it we wouldn't really be fixing
it. quit sucking the gpl off, broaden your horizons, their are other licenses.

you sound like whiny little kids. But but they didn't play fair!@# I gave them a
treat but they didn't give me a treat !@#

what right do you have to expect anything. no one muscled you to choose a
license other than the GPL, why try muscling them and be a bad sport call them
names, and otherwise talk trash in an effort to project your will on them.

authors retain the rights here, not users, lest we take away the motiviation for
these things. I'm sorry kids, coding for your approval means nothing to me.
Coding so that i'll be cool and a member of the community means nothing to me.
This isn't a hippie commune, this is Software Development, its an at will
participate at any level community, for profit !@#

It makes it so much more honorable to GPL or BSD your code if it wasn't done at
gun point !@#

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