Is Microsoft Going to Start a Linux War?
November 9, 2006 Leave a comment
On the topic of misunderstanding the GPL, we have this doozy. From the article:
Microsoft has been leery of doing too much with Linux because of all the weirdness with the licenses and the possibility that one false move would make a Microsoft product public domain at worst, or subject to the GPL at best. As far as old-school software companies are concerned, the GPL—the GNU General Public License—is a ridiculous pain to deal with, especially if you have a unique invention that you want to bring to the party—and want to make money doing so.
Sharp operators have been playing with various ways to avoid bumping into the GPL while using Linux in proprietary applications.
Huh? How are we still running into things like this? For better or worse, a ton of proprietary code runs on Linux in a 100% legal and legitimate manner. Just ask Oracle or BEA or Veritas. I'm not sure where this misconception comes from, but we need to get rid of it. Porting your app to Linux in no way puts your application at risk of becoming GPL'd. As to where the “public domain” assertion came from, I won't even venture a guess. As for the “unique invention that you want to bring to the party”, plenty of companies have innovated, used an Open Source license and made money. Sleepycat and Innobase are two examples of innovative companies (neither really have any competition in their space even today) that used Open Source licenses exclusively, became very profitable businesses and then were seen as so good that a proprietary company acquired them and then kept them Open. There are many other examples of companies that are staying independent and making good money doing so. I've said it at least once before, but I'd really like it if the GPL had a Creative Commons style “human-readable summary”. It could go a long way toward clearing up some of these consistent misunderstandings.
Linux, Open Source, GPL, Microsoft, Dvorak, Creative Commons