Vanishing Features of the 2.6 Kernel
Subject:   NDA's did not build LInux.
Date:   2002-12-17 15:35:01
From:   anonymous2
To "Bait and switch," to "Push the vendor, kill the independent developer," to "Arrogance in action," and to anyone else this may concern:

Bait and switch would be much more likely to be the case if the license had been changed after the fact (like what MS does). I understand that you may have gotten a particular impression because licenses are words after all, subject to differing interpretations, one for each day of the week. Regardless, you have BSD to which you can port, while helping companies such as Apple and all the UNIX vendors and MIcrosoft and anyone else if that is what you wish. The real bait and switch would be if all the people that gave their time to Linux kernel coding, testing, auditing, documenting, supporting, etc. now found out that the kernel was released non-GPL (which would be illegal without major overhaul/crippling of the system).

A kernel hacker can go out and find time to give AND time to make money. I see no reason why module makers can't do the same. Just don't put all your eggs into one basket. Code AND support!

[ex. the maintainer of any module has some really "sweet" branding and advertising advantages. Most people/orgs don't want to figure things out -- they just want to pay someone some money to do it for them. Though you may want thousands for any serious time commitments, an amount most individuals won't pay, a 3rd party "Support" company can collect small $$ from many at a time and then invest this money, in part, by funding experts, offering awards for solutions, etc.]

GPL is about, anti-monopoly, anti-lock-in.

Today you may be a struggling, poor, small developer just trying to make some money, but tommorow you will EASILY sell out to the titans, and your innocent binary-only modules now form a significant part of someone's monopoly lever. Someone that cares next to nothing about all the people that made Linux what it is, and which can now fork off a proprietary Linux, with an added enticement to hardware vendors that they can now have Linux and closed source....

Before it gets to that stage, and 90% of everyone that built a business on Linux (not including the "lucky" few who will go off and work for the monopolist, etc.) are left out in the cold, things should be steered in the right direction. As someone else said, preventive better than reactive.

...At least the GPL is honest about its intentions (unlike most licenses that leave many get-out-of-jail clauses). If you don't want to participate in this endeavor you are more than Free to go port your binary only modules elsewhere.

And why all this protecting of the (large) companies. If Linux is GPL, that should put pressure, not on the little guy (well, yes, some pressure will be felt, obviously), but the real pressure should be on the large companies that will risk losing out to more open companies if they continue to insist on having their code supporters/developers sign NDA's.... or those that like NDA's can just go to BSD and help the other real titans. Not everyone cares about licenses (many even pirate), Some do care, however, and these will reward the companies that provide (GPL compatible) Linux drivers [I did].

The GPL, if about little else, is about enabling the little guy to compete. I would be very glad to know that the system was built right, from the get go, even if this took longer to happen. I don't like spending thousands of hours studying items that can be rendered nearly obsolete at the whim of anyone else. Maybe when you get really tired of being pushed around and smothered by the big guys, you'll decide to change your view on the GPL and realize that you CAN make money on GPL software, just not obscene amounts of it (unless you are overly clever or lucky).