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GNU is Not Unix Microsoft Patents

MS-Funded Study Attacks GPL3 Draft Process 206

Posted by kdawson
from the academic-astroturf dept.
QCMBR writes "A new Microsoft-funded study by a Harvard Business School professor concludes that developers don't want extensive patent licensing requirements in the GPL3. There are significant problems with the study, however, especially given the very small sample size. 'Although 332 emails were sent to various developers, only 34 agreed to participate in the survey — an 11 percent response rate. Of the 34 developers who responded, many of them are associated with projects like Apache and PostgreSQL that don't even use the GPL.' Ars points out that the GPL3 draft editing and review process is highly transparent and inclusive 'to an extent that makes MacCormack's claims of under-representation seem difficult to accept given the small sample size of the study and the number of respondents who contribute to non-GPL projects.'"
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MS-Funded Study Attacks GPL3 Draft Process

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  • Naturally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shaman (1148) <shaman@@@kos...net> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @02:55PM (#19226365) Homepage
    Does anyone really expect that Microsoft would fund a completely selfless and accurate poll no matter what the subject?
    • Re:Naturally (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tuoqui (1091447) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:10PM (#19226599) Journal
      Of course not, now where is the Linux funded study by a Harvard Business School Professor about Microsoft's standard EULA?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aussie_a (778472)
        Linux tends to have very little profit margin (compared with Microsoft) so its not surprising they chose not to waste it on this sort of pissing match.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I take it you didn't bother to read the actual study. If you had, you'd have to agree that what they're saying does make sense.

      A lot of it revolves around the decades-old debate between the BSD- or MIT-styled licenses, and the GPL-styled licenses. Essentially, what we find is that those who scream the loudest about giving freedom often are actually the biggest proponents of limiting it. That's what we have with the GPLv2, for instance. It puts some pretty serious restrictions on what can be done with modifi
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:02PM (#19227595)
        Right, the GPL restricts your freedom to restrict freedom.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Exactly. And thus the degree of freedom for the community as a whole has been decreased by the act of limiting the freedom to limit freedom.

          We run into the same problem with those who preach tolerance. Often, those people are extremely intolerant of those who preach intolerance. So on one hand we hear them say how great tolerance is, but we witness their inability to practice tolerance when they're facing those who are intolerant.

          • by It'sYerMam (762418) <thefishface@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:25PM (#19229047) Homepage
            Except the restriction of freedom and the intolerance of intolerance are necessary to achieve the actual goals of freedom and tolerance. If everyone has unfettered freedom, you're liable to get shoved, stabbed or shot. If everyone has unfettered tolerance, then you increase the sum total of intolerance in comparison to a point a little further back where intolerance isn't tolerated.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:33PM (#19229873)

            Exactly. And thus the degree of freedom for the community as a whole has been decreased by the act of limiting the freedom to limit freedom.

            Right, and by outlawing slavery we're restricting people freedom to own slaves.

          • by myowntrueself (607117) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @10:26PM (#19231759)
            Exactly. And thus the degree of freedom for the community as a whole has been decreased by the act of limiting the freedom to limit freedom.


            Right, well *obviously* we need a new licensing scheme which will limit the freedom to limit the limits on limiting freedom. Duh.

            Much like Ronald Reagans Starwars-programme engineering advisors who, when asked what the US would do if the Russians build anti-anti-missile missiles responded "Then we'll build anti-anti-anti-missile-missile missiles".

            Honestly, its a no-brainer for anyone who has read Lewis Carroll..
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dido (9125)

            So taking this same line of reasoning, the degree of freedom for society as a whole has been decreased by eliminating the freedom to own slaves.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Chris Burke (6130)
            Exactly. And thus the degree of freedom for the community as a whole has been decreased by the act of limiting the freedom to limit freedom.

            No freedom is maximized for the community by having the absolute minimum number of restirctions necessary to ensure freedom. To be free in a community means that nobody else can take away your freedom. To ensure freedom for everyone, nobody may be allowed to own slaves.

            That's what the GPL does, establish the minimum necessary restrictions on you to ensure freedom for
        • by einhverfr (238914)
          And if we are not free to choose something other than freedom, are we truly free?

          Personally I don't think so.

          The GPL is a decent license (though certainly not perfect) for commercial open source projects because it means you are not competing against well-funded companies taking your code. The BSD license has other advantages in other cases.

          License wars are fun but not altogether enlightening.
      • by bky1701 (979071)
        You seem to miss the point. The GPL is about freedom of the user, not everyone on earth. Developers and users, sadly, can have mutually exclusive ideas of freedom, at least with how things are today.
        • by jlarocco (851450)

          That's nonsensical. If I download code, with the intent of using that code for something, I am the user. GPL has some pretty harsh restrictions on what the users of the code can do. MIT and BSD licenses also have some restrictions, but they're no where near as restrictive as the GPL.

          As far as I can tell, neither BSD, MIT, or GPL licenses really care about the people who only intend to use the compiled software. The only real difference for the final end user is that they'll ignore "This product cont

          • by bky1701 (979071) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @11:09PM (#19232001) Homepage
            If I allow you to make a closed program using my code, and then restrict use of that new program, how am I helping give anyone freedom, other than you the right to restrict other's? Those are the users I am talking about. If I do that I am just providing you with free code so that you can turn around and go against the reason I made it (for it to be free for all to use). BSD works for header files and some libs, but I'd never put anything truly interesting under it. Look what happened with wine. We'd probably have a very capable windows emulator right now if people's attention had not been directed to the anything-but-free Cedega. Ever dollar they make is one that could have gone to making wine better.

            The reason legit rules exist is so that people cannot restrict other's rights or infringe on their property (physical, tangible property, that is. It's not property if I can receive it and you can keep it). The GPL does the first.

            The fact that Microsoft can't go into the Linux kernel, change some things and call it Windows 2.0 is not a bug, it's a feature. Without the restrictions GPL, open projects could NEVER become substantially better than their closed counterparts. Have a new interface that leaves Vista's in the dust? Microsoft can just copy it. BSD/MIT licenses are an unending and unbeatable game of catchup.

            All this, mind you, would be unneeded if there was no ability to control code in the first place. Everyone would be on equal footing, even with closed code (decompiling and reverse engineering are much easier than you may think). Is that ever going to happen? Maybe. Any time soon? No. So, the GPL is the realist's way to "software utopia", the BSD/MIT the idealist's.
          • by Znork (31774) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @03:23AM (#19233273)
            "GPL has some pretty harsh restrictions on what the users of the code can do."

            No. The GPL has no restrictions on what users of the code can do. The GPL isnt an EULA. The GPL is a copyright license, and as such only becomes relevant once you want to do something you would otherwise be forbidden to do by copyright law, ie, copy, modify and distribute.

            "care about the people who only intend to use the compiled software."

            Care about the people as in ensuring that they too have access to the code, should the software not perform the task they wish? Care about the people as in care about their right to share the software with friends if they enjoy it?

            Caring about people takes many forms; sometimes it means denying others the ability to gain power and control over them.
      • by karmatic (776420) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:53PM (#19228501)
        The GPL and the BSD license both aim to "maximize" freedon - however, the difference is not about communities, or developers vs users.

        The GPL is designed to maximize freedom for all recipients - the first user to get the source must offer the same abilities to anyone he chooses to distribute to.
        The BSD license is designed to maximize freedom of those who get the software from the original author - almost carte blanche. On the other hand, users of derivative works only have as much freedom as the developers along the chain decide to allow them to have.
      • by forrestt (267374) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:04PM (#19228755) Homepage Journal
        That isn't how I see it. I liken the software I write to my children. A BSD license is like me saying you can do anything you want to with my child including enslaving him and making him work for your own personal profit. Or perhaps more like using my child to help you create your own child that you will then enslave for your own profit. I do not want my children or their children or their children's children to be enslaved. I am saying that if you want to enslave a child, go create one from scratch, and leave my child alone. You are free to do that. However, if you feel that my child is the best at performing a certain task, and you want to have my child help you perform that task, then you have to promise not to enslave him, or use him to create slaves. To me, the GPL is more free than BSD as is forces freedom to exist from generation to generation. To me, the whole "BSD is more free because it allows anybody to do anything with your code" is akin to "Country Xyzpdq is more free because it allows anybody to do anything with anybody". That argument falls short pretty quickly when people start going around taking your stuff or killing your friends or family. And no, I'm not comparing BSD enthusiast to thieves or killers, only pointing out what I consider to be the silliness of the argument.

        I'm also not getting what you mean by "[The GPL] actually takes away a lot of freedom..." How so? If I license my code under the GPL, you and anybody else are free to do whatever the GPL states you are allowed to do with the limitations of what the GPL states you are not allowed to do. Without the GPL, you aren't allowed to do anything with my code at all. In other words, just because I choose to license my code to you under terms other than the GPL doesn't make that license automatically BSD. And if I don't license it to you at all, then you can even look at it.

        As far as technical excellence goes, what license one uses has nothing to do with ones proficiency at programming. And if you are truly interested in finding the most technically excellent (man this is starting to remind me of Bill and Ted) way to write your piece of software, I would think you would want to know how it is improved in the future by Company X, something the GPL forces them to let you know if they plan to redistribute it. Therefore, it could be argued that those who use licenses like the GPL are really the ones that are truly interested in technical excellence as they want to see a better way to do what they set out to do if anybody ever figures one out.
        • A BSD license is like allowing you children to be enslaved??? Say what?!?! Allow me to continue your analogy for you. Developers of BSD licensed software are like sperm donors (take this and turn it into anything you want) and GPL licensers are like people that arrange their childrens marriages (you can have it but only if I'm going to get something out of it). And as far as you not getting how the GPL takes away freedom, what do you think the whole purpose of a license is??? The only reason to license sof
      • by BluSteel (910709) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:43PM (#19229269)
        The GPL allows people to use excellent software, without cost, with the freedom to use, modify, and redistribute that software. However, there are some strings attached. Is there and element of greed to that? Yes, there is. I agree that the GPL is as much a constitution as a software silence, and that's how I like it. Even those under the banner of freedom need laws and regulations. The existence of laws may seem contrary to the concept of freedom, but that is not true. Just as a kite cannot truly fly without a string, FOSS cannot flourish unless there is a code of conduct. I am not donating to free software projects so they can become one-way code farms for proprietary software companies.
      • MIT/BSD and GPL licenses have different traps and different benefits.

        I would argue that those involved in BSD licensed projects are either interested in technical experimentation (i.e. the Postgres founders), or are interested in reference implementations, while those who advocate the GPL are interested in avoiding proprietary competition with their projects.

        It is just about proprietary competition and the role that plays in a project. In short it should be an economic rather than a religious argument.

        Howe
    • by dkf (304284)
      What they probably did was find someone whose own prejudices were inclined to give the results they wanted and gave him a bit of money to carry out a survey of a developer community likely to be hostile. A careful bit of encouragement, a little investment (not as much as would be needed for outright lies) and you've got yourself one meaningless study. FUD value: high. General value: zero.

      The only thing worth discussing is which developer community was hostile. Who are those that aren't being reached out to
    • by mrbluze (1034940)

      Does anyone really expect that Microsoft would fund a completely selfless and accurate poll no matter what the subject?

      Good point - it's about as reliable as trusting the information on Vioxx as released by the manufacturers. Big oops!

      It's just another episode of M$ spitting out whatever propaganda rubbish they can come up with to stave off the rapid loss of interest in their company.

  • Typo! (Score:2, Funny)

    by nillawafer (1018564)
    Oh, no! Not an "atack"!
    • by Virak (897071)
      Only one tack? I'd have thought Microsoft would be able to afford far more than that. Tacks aren't even effective weapons anyway; sure, with its resources, Microsoft could probably get some really big ones, but then it'd be cheaper and easier to just trade in your obscenely oversized tacks for knives or something. And who the hell verbs 'tack'? Really, none of this makes any sort of sense.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      What's the big deal about Microsoft tacking the GPLv3 on their bulleting board at the office? Was it covering up the employee who was offering guitar lessons memo?
  • I mean seriously, whatever.
  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:00PM (#19226455)
    A FSF-funded survey concludes that MS sucks!

    Anyone can create a biased survey that self-serves their own interests.
    • by fsmunoz (267297)
      Anyone can create a biased survey that self-serves their own interests.

      I doubt that, the studies point the other direction [imageshack.us]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jbeaupre (752124)
      You are mistaken. A study by the Jbeaupre Group shows you can't create a biased study.
    • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:47PM (#19227311) Homepage
      And anyone can attack a survey based on the institute that produced it.

      The real question is, can one attack the survey based on it's merits? Are there flaws in the research methodology or it's conclusions? I'm betting the answer is "yes". But to write off studies based purely on the messenger is nothing but an ad hominem attack, and isn't terribly useful or enlightening.
      • Amen. I wish I had mod points.

        There are two reasons for this to be done, usually, and Slashdot is often guilty of the former-
        A) because they can't see past who commissioned the research, and
        b) because there IS nothing to attack in the research.

        This applies to ALL research which is attacked this way, but Slashdot is enormously guilty of it. Another good example of the former is the whole "climate change" tempest, pardon the pun.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jmv (93421)
        But to write off studies based purely on the messenger is nothing but an ad hominem attack

        No, it means there is an incentive for the people who did the study to be biased. Even without reading the details, if I found a study by Greenpeace saying "there's no global warming" or a study by Exxon saying "we need to cut down on CO2", they'd be a lot more credible (you know they'd at least be honest) than the other way around. The problem with studies (or papers) is that there's only so much fact checking you can
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mvdwege (243851)

        Yes, the survey is flawed. One word: selection bias.

        Now, the second question: cui bono?.

        Add those up, and you get a completely worthless survey.

        Mart
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      I'm sure a dozen Microsoft-funded surveys have concluded that Microsoft sucks.

      They just don't publish those ones.
  • Interesting.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by N3wsByt3 (758224) <Newsbyte&freenethelp,org> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:03PM (#19226499) Homepage Journal
    A MS-funded study says the GPL3 is a badly done job? Then Stallman must be going in the right direction after all!
  • by apathy maybe (922212) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:04PM (#19226509) Homepage Journal
    The piece also leaves a bit to be desired. While it states "Of the 34 developers who responded, many of them are associated with projects like Apache and PostgreSQL that don't even use the GPL.", it neglects to mention how many. Of course, I can't be fucked actually reading the study (it is in PDF after all...). But other then that, it looks OK.

    On to the study it self, I agree with the authors point that far more then 34 people have participated in the drafting of the GPL v3. Not only GNU folks, but major corporations.

    If nothing else, the GPL drafting process doesn't even need to open. The Free Software Foundation could easily have hidden with some lawyers for a couple of months and then simply presented the new GPL. Obviously all the FSF stuff would go over, as would quite a lot of other stuff that has the V2 or later clause. Most developers aren't lawyers, and I'm sure that they would accept the new GPL, even if they didn't have a say in drafting it (compare version two), so long as it looks alright.

    Conclusion, the study is stupid and a waste of time. While I don't use the GPL for my own projects (preferring something simpler), they are quite simple projects. For anything major, the GPL does the job, and will no doubt continue to do the job well into the future.
    • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:19PM (#19226733)
      Well said.

      My only problem with GPL v3 as a developer (a hat I've long since given up, and never enjoyed wearing) is that it gives FSF license elitists more reason to feel their license is freer, opener, and in all ways better than any MPL, BSD, or Apache license. I'd rather talk to MS sales division about licensing issues than a bloody GPL zealot.

      I have no problem with GPL software, or with the FSF philosophy. I just don't need it shoved down my throat every time I ask a question on a forum or a mailing list. Yes, guys, I get it. Now, how about you help me fix this bug?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by steve_l (109732)
      The authors mailed 300+ people and only 34 replied. From the responses of the people they decided whether they were FSF believers, pragmatists (e.g. BSD people) and inferred the opinions of GPLv3 from that.

      I think their conclusion that BSD/apache people won't suddenly embrace GPLv3 is probably valid, but you don't need to do a survey for that. And a survey can't determine which is better, GPL versus BSD, because its such a religious issue.
  • by codepunk (167897) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:08PM (#19226565)
    Must be good, send it to print!
  • really? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:11PM (#19226607) Journal
    you would think that if microsoft really did think the GPL hindered opensource they'd do well to keep quiet about it to hinder the competition it would have brought- instead they make empty threats and use a flawed study to support their assertion
    • So by making developers believe that Microsoft is "against" GPLv3, it is in fact promoting it...
      so if they dont say anything the GPL keeps its momentum and if they say something we ignore them and go to GPL anyway? microsoft is getting worried and they think FUD will postpone the inevitable collapse of anything windows.
  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:12PM (#19226631)

    ...many of them are associated with projects like Apache and PostgreSQL that don't even use the GPL... ...given the small sample size of the study and the number of respondents who contribute to non-GPL projects.

    This prevents them from having a valid opinion of the GPLv3? Maybe they have good reasons for not using the GPL that should be taken into account?

    I mean honestly, if you survey 2000 GPL fan boys, what do you suppose they will say about the GPLv3?

    • 1. it would tell which version is liked more, V2 or V3. 2. Yes, it prevents them of having a valid opinion about V3, but it isn't surprising from a M$ funded fud fad. 3. Yes, some non GPL projects got good reasons for not using GPL. But this wasn't the scope of the study. The study was about what people who would use GPL want in it (at least this was the alleged goal). 4. What is a benefit of such a study for M$? They could lie to themselves, but others won't necessarily buy this crap.
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:13PM (#19226641)
    would this not indicate a high degree of apathy which tends to bear out the main point?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fitten (521191)
      Good point. It's almost like either they don't care about GPLv3 in general, don't care enough to read and understand GPLv3, or don't understand the differences between GPLv3 and GPLv2. All of which, given that code will be committed to that license policy, potentially blindly, are pretty scary. Does the OSS community trust these people that much that they'll blindly accept whatever license they decree?

      (Disclaimer: I tend to release my personally written stuff under BSD unless what I'm working on has othe
  • Ya but... (Score:4, Funny)

    by msimm (580077) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:16PM (#19226687) Homepage
    The best part is that Microsoft has now become the single best reason *to* embrace the GPL3. And to think I ever had doubted.
    • by mochan_s (536939)

      The best part is that Microsoft has now become the single best reason *to* embrace the GPL3. And to think I ever had doubted.

      Maybe it's a double bluff.

      Maybe they want you to embrace it by emotionally being attached to it rather than logically evaluating it on it's merits. Maybe GPL3 is bad for open source and Microsoft would like nothing more than illogical and fanatical support for it from the community since Microsoft is against it.

  • ...exactly what does this have to do with My Rights Online? I'd put it under "Politics" and be done with it.
  • Bugger Me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by segedunum (883035) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:18PM (#19226717)
    In the past Microsoft sniffed and derided the GPL and anything vaguely open source as communist or just plain non-capitalist and generally plain ignored it. Now they're actually funding studies to tell us how about it is, and not only that, they have an agenda of what parts they don't like about it - namely patent reform.

    Considering the rather silly deal Microsoft struck with Novell, and the silly deals they'd like to strike with other Linux vendors to get the message across to the corporate sector that if you use open source software you pay Microsoft for IP, this looks a touch suspicious. Maybe the FSF have touched a bit of a nerve somewhere.

    It's incredibly funny and rather unbelievably naive that Microsoft would think that anything like this would sway anyone's opinions, certainly in the same manner as one of their 'Get the Facts' studies or one of those 'Windows Server beats everyone' studies. They really haven't learned a whole lot over the years. For them to claim the open source developers, the people who they've derided and don't have much time for Microsoft either, are under represented just seems like quite an above average desperate move.
  • I haven't made up my mind concerning GPL3, but Microsoft's war against it is nearly enough to sway me towards GPL3. Microsoft is using cross licensing agreements, and attempting to herd Free Software into a commercial vendor only arena (Novell). Once there, they can compete with and or kill it using the usual dirty tricks. So if the question is "Where do you want to go today"? The answer is somewhere free of Microsoft.
    MC
    • by dmeranda (120061)
      As a developer who also did not receive one of these surveys, I know that I am in fact holding off on releasing free code I've already written particularly because I am waiting for GPL3. I do not want to release under GPL2 specifically because I WANT the extra anti-patent and anti-DRM stuff that GPL3 will add.

      If anything, my gripe is that the GPL3 process is taking so long; I've been sitting on some code for over a year. But getting the license right is to me more important than any particular piece of co
  • by teh_chrizzle (963897) <kill-9NO@SPAMhobbiton.org> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:21PM (#19226783) Homepage

    in this day and age, and on slashdot in particular, isn't "MS funded" synonymous with "/ignore"?

    • by wellingj (1030460)
      >/dev/null you mean?
      • nah, redirecting to /dev/null allows the malicious statement to remain intact and accessible to stdout before being discarded :-) i'm talking about instantly ignoring whatever follows the term "ms funded".

        in unix terms, "ms funded" is an alias for /* or # meaning that the following is a comment that should be ignored by the interpreter/compiler.

  • MS cannot fund any study ever without F, U, 'n' D

  • 11% (Score:3, Insightful)

    by asninn (1071320) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:26PM (#19226865)
    34 out of 332? That's an *abysmal* response rate and pretty much means that the study is entirely worthless, no matter what the conclusions are or who actually answered.
  • what a shcoker... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:26PM (#19226867) Journal
    The new GPL - which will undermine all of M$'s FUD claims over patents because of Novell's vouchers not having dates on them - is thought to be bad by some who was paid by... M$! I'm shocked.

    I'm also more shocked, genuinely that Harvard allows people who conduct "studies" like this to be professors... It's just shocking incompetence. I'd be amazed if you could pass an MBA doing shit like this
    • by init100 (915886) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @04:33PM (#19228113)

      I'm also more shocked, genuinely that Harvard allows people who conduct "studies" like this to be professors... It's just shocking incompetence. I'd be amazed if you could pass an MBA doing shit like this

      Come on, this is a business school, they don't know any real math. They think statistics is the art of making up numbers to prove their points.

  • by Andy Tai (1884) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:29PM (#19226927) Homepage
    The funniest thing is that the paper is titled ""A Developers Bill of Rights: What Open Source Developers Want in a Software License."

    Yes, Microsoft is proposing a Bill of Rights, for open source developers! Can you believe that?
    • by grcumb (781340) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:44PM (#19227247) Homepage Journal

      The funniest thing is that the paper is titled ""A Developers Bill of Rights: What Open Source Developers Want in a Software License."

      Yes, Microsoft is proposing a Bill of Rights, for open source developers! Can you believe that?

      Okay, I will never - ever - again accuse them of lacking a sense of humour.

      See, that's what's missing in the arena of world domination: a bit of drollery. I mean, if an power-hungry megalomaniac can't let his hair down from time to time, where's the point in it?

    • by einhverfr (238914)
      The Bill of Rights is of course what you get when Bill is standing to the Right-hand-side of Steve?
  • Where's the S.O.P.? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:31PM (#19226953) Homepage
    OK, I know that fake studies are a part of Microsoft's standard operating procedure for affecting the standards and codes proposed by governing bodies, but where's the rest? Shouldn't Microsoft be giving zero-interest "loans" to RMS, sending Eben Moglen to play golf in Scotland (a fact-finding tour), and buying a powerboat for Linus?

    Seriously, though, who gives a crap what a Harvard professor, funded or unfunded, with or without a good sample size, claims the average developer wants? The GPL is not supposed to be populist, it's supposed to achieve a purpose. A purpose that most of the world - heck, even much if not most of Slashdot's readership - has never fully grasped. A purpose that is diametrically opposed to software patents.
  • Of the 34 developers who responded, many of them are associated with projects like Apache and PostgreSQL that don't even use the GPL.


    At least they had a choice. Any guesses on how many developers who didn't like the parade of Microsoft licenses (for the OS, tools, etc) got to choose a different licensing instead of what Microsoft rammed down their throats?

  • by geoff lane (93738) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:36PM (#19227079)
    Judging by his faculty biography, Alan D. MacCormack is much like the virgin who writes about sex. He writes a lot about software development, but there is no evidence that he has actually done any.
  • Many will want it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lobais (743851)
    I think it is quite clear that most people who release there source under GPL does so to ensure that they can always have access to it, even after other people have made changes to it.
    If a company then can go and make changes to your code, and add patented technology which you are not allowed to used, then you are pretty fucked, right?
    Why should anybody not want to be protected against this?
  • Here's a summary of the developer data used in the study, see pp 21-22.

    Demographic Group
    Pragmatists 19
    Intellectuals 8
    Philosophers 7

    GPLv2 / LGPL / GPLv2+Commercial: 20
    included: Linux, MySQL, XenSource, Snort, Amanda, JBoss, GCC Toolchain

    Non-GPL: 14
    Includes:Apache, PHP, Apache Geronimo, Perl, PostgreSQL, Eclipse

    Raw Data:
    Amanda 2
    Apache 4
    Apache Geronimo 3
    Eclipse 1
    GCC Toolchain 4
    Jboss 3
    Linux Kernel 7
    MySQL 1
    Perl 2
    PHP 2
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  • by stinerman (812158) <nathan...stine@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @03:45PM (#19227271) Homepage
    If developers don't like the licensing changes in the GPLv3, they are always free to use GPLv2, BSD, or any other OSI-approved license. Its not like RMS is going to go around and force people to use a particular license.

    If developers are upset that GNU projects will go under a license they don't agree with, well, that's just tough. Either use the BSD equivalents, fork the GPLv2 versions, or write your own. The FSF doesn't exist to please you, it exists to protect the 4 freedoms for all users of free software.
    • by Evets (629327)
      Actually GPL v2 gives the licensee the option of using the current GPL license or any future version of the GPL license if I'm not mistaken. I've seen several instances where that line was stripped from the license text - but it's there by default.
      • by stinerman (812158)
        You are correct. So long as the option is there it may be exercised. Linux, for instance, does not have the "or later" statement in some (most?) of it's code, which is why it probably won't relicensed under GPLv3.
  • ...a study commissioned by Phillip Morris has revealed that people really do want to get lung cancer.
  • Well, then, perhaps somebody can mail the researcher this thread tomorrow and see if we can't generate more than 34 insightful responses for him. Hey, we want this guy to have good data and make appropriate conclusions from it.

    I posted this entry [bfccomputing.com] on my blog the other day - as a small developer unable to compete with massive patent portfolios, I believe that Patents + GPL3 is the only way for Open Source to weather the patent storm.
  • I can't wait to hear what someone would say about that...

    Oh ... let's not wait

    Finding One - Microsoft Values Open Source as a Development Model

    Let others develop the code while we steal it.

    Finding Two - Microsoft Values Building on Others' Work

    Let's face it, we couldn't have dunnit by ourselves.

    Finding Three - Microsoft wants Choice in Licensing

    Yep, the more open source licenses the better. Especially ones where I get to to use your code without any payback.

    Finding Four - Microsoft Likes I

  • Since it was my major at college, I think I may safely assure you that an 11% response pretty much only can have 2 meanings:

    Either people were afraid of repercussions for answering it, or people were absolutely and completely indifferent to it.

    In turn, those that do answer either answer because they know they agree with a certain commonly agreed stance, or they had to push an agenda (and thus didn't answer honestly, but in the way that furthers their own agenda).

    Either way, the statistics is best kept in cl
    • by steve_l (109732)
      Indifferent to it and all the other OSS surveys you get, normally by some student mining the big OSS SCM repositories and thinking they will be the first person to survey all the developers to find out how they work. Why, its almost as bad as the in-house cross-organisation architecture mailing lists that you end up on if you do closed-source.

    • by petrus4 (213815)
      Either people were afraid of repercussions for answering it, or people were absolutely and completely indifferent to it.

      A lot of people are genuinely afraid of voicing opposition to what the FSF wants. I've seen that myself on here many times. It's because whenever somebody does try it, they are excoriated, slandered, and sometimes threatened.
  • This is a nice confirmation that GPL 3 is definitely on the right track.

    Always nice to hear Eben is getting it right :-)
  • When the GPLv3 comes out, we'll see whether software developers want to use it for their projects because they are free to choose. Personally, I plan on choosing it for my projects.

    That's unlike Microsoft software, where many users use it because they don't have a choice. Personally, I have half a dozen Microsoft Windows licenses even though I don't actually use Windows and don't want those licenses.
  • That survey requests are very common. If I answered every survey that was sent to me, I would waste like 3 days a year doing that. 15 minutes here, 5 minutes adds up. It doesn't surprise me that such a low percent responded.
  • As a developer who tends toward BSD, I'm more likely to use GPLv3 specifically because of its patent protections (still not sure if I ultimately will, but...)

    Now that Microsoft has made its strategy of patent bullying clear, why on earth would you specifically oppose erecting defenses against it? Remember, the existing patent defenses in GPLv2 are the only thing that is keeping Microsoft from going after RedHat and other Linux distributors right now. Microsoft has said as much!
  • The GPL zealots will call this astroturf simply because it makes claims that they don't want to hear; namely that there genuinely are some people in the world who don't want Richard Stallman making decisions for them.

    You can say whatever you like; the reality is that version 3 of the GPL genuinely is enormously unpopular. I didn't need this survey to tell me that.

    Just because you yourselves might worship Stallman as God, it doesn't mean that he genuinely is. What that also means is that if he tries to do

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.

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