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GNU is Not Unix Operating Systems Software BSD

GPL Hindering Two-Way Code Sharing? 456

An anonymous reader writes "KernelTrap has some fascinating coverage of the recent rift between the OpenBSD developers and the Linux kernel developers. Proponents of the GPL defend their license for enforcing that their code can always be shared. However in the current debate the GPL is being added to BSD-licensed code, thereby preventing it from being shared back with the original authors of the code. Thus, a share-and-share-alike license is effectively preventing two-way sharing." We discussed an instance of this one-way effect a few days back.
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GPL Hindering Two-Way Code Sharing?

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  • The Apple Tree (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Brandybuck ( 704397 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:02AM (#20438581) Homepage Journal
    A parable for software:

    There once was a fabulous apple tree. No matter how many apples one would take from it, there were just as many as before! When this was heard by the villagers they all rushed to the apple tree and took apples. But no matter how many they took, there were just as many apples as before. But some of them came and took apples and locked them within a chest, so that none could steal them. And they laughed at the other villagers, saying, "Look, they do not protect their apples. Surely a thief will come and steal them."
  • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EvanED ( 569694 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [denave]> on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:46AM (#20438767)
    Or did someone issue an edict that Linux kernel code can't be dual-licensed, at some point when I wasn't paying attention?

    I think the point of the story is the following:
    1. Developer A writes some code for OpenBSD (or whatever)
    2. Developer B says "that's cool, I wish Linux had that"
    3. Developer B ports developer A's code to Linux
    4. Developer B then starts improving on A's code

    However, developer B doesn't want to release his changes under the BSD license, so the improved version goes out GPL-only. Developer A says "hey, wait, that sucks", because now he can't incorporate those changes back into OpenBSD, which does (I assume) have a policy that all code must be BSD-licensed.

    One one hand, it's unfortunate, because OpenBSD loses out. On the other hand, the original author wrote the code knowing that someone could take it and not release changes (for instance, incorporate it into Windows or Mac OS X or SunOS or something like that), and this really isn't all that much different.
  • by drolli ( 522659 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @04:02AM (#20438833) Journal
    I summrize my view -developer develops code and is kind enough to say that people may use this code in GPL way or in BSD way. -Linux developer derives work fron this code, take away BSD licensing terms, and by that the rights of the people who wanted to use the code and derived works under BSD license. If I, as a developer, for whatever reason, license code under my copyright to somebody, I demand that he agrees with the terms of the licence which I put, because after all I am still the copyright holder. Since GPL and BSD mainly collide in the handling of derivative works in respect to dristributing final products, it would seem to me that only the distributor in the end may chose not to distribute the source code of the device. And since the linux developer cut this right when he removed the license from the file, he is definetly violating the spirit of the dual licensed approach. The dual licensed apporach in nothing else but a "keeping both doors open" policy. While I wont comment on the legal terms i find this behaviour rude. When developing cond in our lab i several times encountered a similar spirit. People who do not honour the idea under which I gave them code which they modified (sometime actually causing work for me). If i give code to anybody it is not an invitation to missionate me into any license
  • Re:Yes, but! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @05:00AM (#20439089) Homepage
    Here's an analogy for you: Say that I have a magic jellybean, and that magic jellybean can make as many red jellybeans as you like, but only five black ones each day. So I take my magic jellybean to the market, where I see Theo DeRaadt, and try to exchange my magic jellybean for a cow. It has a bit of a limp, but it makes chocolate milk on Thursdays. That's pretty nifty, so I offer him fifty black jellybeans. Then he says he'd also like a date with my sister, and I say, "I have two, and you'd better not mean the married one," and he fires back with, "Hey, you promised this analogy would be relevant to this discussion."

    No, Theo, I promised no such thing. Just like nobody promises to share their changes with the BSD team when they take advantage of BSDL'ed code. The BSD'ers say people ought to be able to do what they like with their code. Well, what the GPL'ers would like to do is protect their modifications from being appropriated by people who won't share the code. If they automatically hand their changes back to the BSD folks to distribute as BSD code, then they lose the protections they wanted from the GPL in the first place.

    Theo is basically saying, "The Linux people are hypocrites because they say they believe in software freedom but they don't believe in my definition of software freedom." Which is pretty lame.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2007 @05:15AM (#20439163)
    You know, I was considering using a BSD license for a project until yesterday when I read Theo's latest rant and the reaction from BSD-zealots like you. Now I'm using GPL 3.0.
    Just thought you should know that all the trash-talking, threatening and lying is not making you guys more popular.
  • by DaleGlass ( 1068434 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @07:44AM (#20439731) Homepage

    Does the BSD license allow people to make extensions and GPL the base code plus those extensions? Absolutely. Do BSD-style developers, then, have a right to be miffed if this is what happens? It's a hard question.

    I would say that on the basis of what I've seen lately, the answer should be "no".

    The GPL claim is: We don't want people to be able to close our code
    The BSD answer to that was: But source can't be closed, our version of it will always remain open

    Now that was all fine and good, if you don't mind your code being used for whatever you want, then you don't, and there's nothing to argue about that.

    But now we've got this curious development: If the BSD code is then integrated into a GPL product, and patches are released under the GPL, then suddenly that's taking away from BSD. This directly conflicts with the previous statement. By all logic, those people shouldn't care, yet they do.

    So why the inconsistency?
  • BSD Alternative (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WPIDalamar ( 122110 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @07:45AM (#20439737) Homepage
    Is there an alternative to an MIT or BSD license that does the same thing, but doesn't allow GPL people to use it? I release just about everything I do under the MIT license, but I'd consider a license that prohibits GPL people from using it after see some of the BSD hate in these comments and over at kernel trap.
  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @10:04AM (#20440779)
    The GPL has hindered code sharing. Do you remember the Broadcom wireless driver debacle wherein Theo recieved a nasty gram for porting the code to BSD? No, well here goes. Theo recieved a warning from the Linux project maintainers of a Broadcom wireless driver. This was really in poor code-sharing taste and ultimately caused the cancellation of the porting efforts. In the end, both Linux and BSD users lost out. Was OpenBSD really going to profit from it or commercialize it, no! It is simply in the spirit of hardware support. Now, let us look at OpenSSH, a fine product from OpenBSD. Linux and GPL people use it all of the time. I am hard pressed to find a more significant contribution to Linux. After all, OpenSSH is the foundation of secure remote administration, logins, tunnelling, and more. Now, someone tell me what Linux has contributed to BSD of similar significance as I cannot think of any.
  • by Bluesman ( 104513 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @12:27PM (#20442403) Homepage
    The way I see it, it takes nearly no effort at all to contribute the changes back to the BSD camp that provided you with the base for the code. All else being equal, that seems to be the ethical thing to do.

    It takes more effort to change the licensing in such a way that the BSD camp can't use the code. So it's kind of a slap in the face. I think that's where the animosity comes from, especially since the GPL camp proclaims to be all about freedom and sharing.
  • Ball of confusion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by synthespian ( 563437 ) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @01:08PM (#20442879)
    There's no hypocrisy in that. Anyone can use the changes that where GPL'd, but you just have to adhere to the GPL license for those changes. The hyprocisy is the BSD camp saying "be free to use our code any way you want" and when people take them up on the offer, they complain.

    You guys are confused. BSD code does make it into proprietary products, but you do not get to omit the fact that there's BSD code in it. We see it all the time: "Copyright The Regents of the University of California (etc.)..."
    So, you do not get to strip the license, although you can use and produce binaries with it.
    That's the issue: you can't strip the license. By removing the BSD license, the linux people are obliterating the license. As Theo says, licenses are granted to you.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain