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To read comments to this article, go here
Defending the GPL
Sunday, August 07 2005 @ 07:26 AM EDT

I heartily recommend that you read Eric Laffoon's article in Open for Business. If it were allowed, I'd put every word of it here on Groklaw. Laffoon is the project lead for KDE's Kdewebdev module. It's the best answer I've seen to anyone who claims we need to ditch the GPL to ensure business uptake or that we don't need the GPL any more.

"Is commercial software the salvation of Linux?" he asks. I'll answer that. Linux doesn't need business. It has an independent life and will take over no matter what. It's businesses that need Linux, not the other way around. Here are just two paragraphs from the article:

To me FOSS as Richard Stallman has set in motion with the GNU GPL is about the greater good of humanity as opposed to the selfish greed of a few people. The GPL has insured the freedom of users while showing that the closed development model has real flaws. Let's not lose site of what's important. Our community provides the moral center at probably the most pivitol point in history. 500 years ago the printing press ended the dark ages with an unprecedented sharing of ideas. The internet offers dramatically more potential. Thankfully Microsoft was late to the party and FOSS was there to prevent them getting dominant control of the new international currency, information access. The battle for the freedom of access for us and our children is not over. We need to cooperate to insure the enemies of freedom don't overcome us, not attack those who should be our allies. Wars have been lost over just such foolishness.

I have a problem with attempts to depreciate the value of the GPL or arguments that there is a problem with Qt because businesses cannot write closed source software with it for free. Is commercial closed source software essential for Linux success? Is that what we're about now? What are the concerns for businesses developing closed source software on Linux? Where do we come down on the GPL? Before we answer those questions, how has GNU/Linux achieved the success it has and what do we want from it's success? Making it possible to run proprietary software on Linux is different from making proprietary software the cornerstone of our future. Trying to take the GPL out of the heart of FOSS is like trying to hijack the internet, except it's those we thought were our friends, not our enemies who want to do this.

He also explains why we absolutely do not want to pick just one desktop. I hope you take the time to read what he took the time to write. It's worth it.


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