Wednesday, July 23, 2008


An untold perspective on software licensing and GPL...

I used to be a big believer in GPL, but my perspective is slowly shifting...

My significant other is working on a project which she hopes will allow her to work 100% from home while making more than I. A conversation between us emerged where we each debated our own philosophies on open source. She believes that BSD and its variants are the best for fairness and will serve to increase market competition which is important to her since she needs to get her software in a Gartner magic quadrant which right now doesn't exist. We concluded that GPL is useful for undermining competition and not encouraging it.

More importantly her solution is avoiding all forms of GPL as she believes it is scary for business. She points to the GPL Violations site as evidence. 100 cases completed at 100% success rate! Is this a good story for open source? History will tell the true story. What is factual though is that regardless of who wins, everybody loses when it comes to litigation costs and the wasted marketing dollars that goes behind this activity.

The one opinion that grows even stronger in my own mind is the evilness of dual licensing. On the surface, it appears to be the easiest arrangement to explain to consumers. However, the real problem of maintaining this strategy will be seen in software developer. The constraints of developing, testing, and packaging two separate but related software packages, each time a released version of the software, you have to go through the steps twice.

Dual licensing also creates a usability obstacle for users simply because it requires users to run several interfaces at the same time. Isn't it better to have one license and one way to do things rather than complicate things for end users...

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