mfioretti: gpl*

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  1. On a related note, this is a made-in-america problem. The EU has ruled in the last 10 years that not only does Microsoft need to document their API's for use by competitors for interoperability, but provide them for use. It is very disappointing that this sensible direction was not adopted in the USA, but goes to show you that most lawyers in the technology field have little knowledge regarding coding or how technology works.

    COMMENT: On a related note, this is a made-in-america problem. The EU has ruled in the last 10 years that not only does Microsoft need to document their API's for use by competitors for interoperability, but provide them for use. It is very disappointing that this sensible direction was not adopted in the USA, but goes to show you that most lawyers in the technology field have little knowledge regarding coding or how technology works.
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  2. If Stallman and GNU grew more zealous and uncompromising by the late 1990s, that was perhaps because they feared that the free-software movement was being co-opted by people who were quite uninterested in the philosophical and political implications of keeping source code open. It probably did not help that, by 1999, observers were calling Stallman a "forgotten man" and comparing him to a "revolutionary erased from a photograph" who was "written out of history," to quote from a March 1999 article in Wired.

    Having watched others take credit for and control of the revolution he had started, Stallman perhaps was naturally inclined to radicalize his views, to distance himself from these people. It says a lot about just how deeply he thought the open source movement was undermining the Free Software Foundation's goals that he would not work with people who embraced the "open source" term, even though he had been willing to fight alongside the likes even of Microsoft in the 1980s.

    In summary, at least until the mid-1990s, Stallman, GNU and the Free Software Foundation were more open to pragmatic compromise than popular memory today imagines them to have been. The St. Ignucius drill may have signaled that Stallman had come down the mountain, to borrow an analogy associated with another famous revolutionary, Maximilien Robespierre. But his views had not always been as provocative and obstinate.
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  3. Summary:The GPL is still the world's most popular open-source license but it's declining in use, while permissive licenses are gaining more fans, and some developers are choosing to release code without any license at all.
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  4. Although burning natural gas as a transportation fuel produces 30 percent less planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions than burning diesel, the drilling and production of natural gas can lead to leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

    But the study does conclude that switching from coal-fired power plants — the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution — to natural gas-fired power plants will still lower planet-warming emissions over all. Natural gas emits just half the carbon pollution of coal, and even factoring in the increased pollution from methane leaks, natural gas-fired plants lead to less emissions than coal over 100 years, the study found.
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  5. Free software is built on a paradox. In order to give freedom to users, free software licences use something that takes away freedom – copyright, which is an intellectual monopoly based on limiting people's freedom to share, not enlarging it. That was a brilliant hack when Richard Stallman first came up with it in 1985, with the GNU Emacs General Public Licence, but maybe now it's time to move on.

    There are signs of that happening already. Eighteen months ago, people started noting the decline of copyleft licences in favour of more "permissive" ones like Apache and BSD. More recently, the rise of GitHub has attracted attention, and the fact that increasingly people have stopped specifying licences there (which is somewhat problematic).

    I don't think this declining use of copyleft licences is a sign of failure – on the contrary. As I wrote in my previous column, free software has essentially won, taking over most key computing sectors. Similarly, the move to "permissive" licences has only been possible because of the success of copyleft: the ideas behind collaborative creation and contributing back to a project are now so pervasive that we don't require "strong" copyleft licences to enforce them – it's part of coders' mental DNA.
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  6. SaaS, Chrome OS and “TiVoization” are issues that continue to roil the free software and open source movements and expose philosophical fault-lines. It is unsurprising that open source advocates see no problem with SaaS, Chrome OS, and TiVoization; they are not committed to the freedom of users or software. But each of these examples has been divisive even among people who believe that software should be free. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has taken explicit stands against each of the issues above. But it has been slow to recognize each threat and has struggled to successfully communicate these messages to its constituency. Today, it seems likely that Google and its service-oriented business model represents a greater threat to future computer users’ freedom than does Microsoft’s. But because Google scrupulously complies with free software license terms and contributes enormous amounts of code and money to free software projects, free software advocacy has been very slow to recognize, and respond to, the threat that it poses.

    Even the FSF continues to struggle with its own software-oriented mission. Stallman and the FSF have worked over the last several years to move non-free code that runs on what are essentially smaller sub-computers (e.g., a wireless interface or graphics device within a laptop) from the computer’s main hard drive into the sub-processors themselves. The point of these efforts is to eliminate non-free software by turning it into hardware. But are users of software more free if proprietary technology they cannot change exists in one form on their computer rather than another?

    The key to answering this question, and others, lies in focusing on the observation that distinguishes “free” from “open.” Free software advocates must return to their ultimate goal of freeing people, not software. Stallman and the free software movement’s fundamental innovation was to connect questions of personal autonomy and freedom to areas where most did not see its relevance. As the nature of technology changes, so will the way in which users remain free. And as others adapt free software principles to new areas, they will be faced with similar problems of translation. To the extent that our communities are able to distinguish between “openness” of artifacts and to emphasize questions of control, politics, and power, free software philosophy will remain relevant in these broader conversations about new and different commons – in software and beyond.
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  7. To put it somewhat bluntly, the only way for a GNU project to be a leader in its field is to _ignore_ whatever recommendations come from the FSF.

    The GNU coding standards have not seen any update in years and are entirely obsolete. This is not limited to the topic of programming languages.

    GNU is doing too little for the FSF, and the FSF is doing too little for GNU. Due to the huge success that free software had since the appearance of the GNU manifesto, distributing free software is absolutely not the exclusive of GNU anymore, and that's a good thing. On the other hand, the FSF is not doing anything to value the GNU "brand". Projects such as gnash are bound to have constant funding problems despite being (and having been for years) in the FSF's list of high priority projects. Other projects in the list do not exist at all, because they would require man-years of development but people who want to do the work must, again, do it on their own money. This is not enough to be relevant in a world where free software is dominating in so many fields. It is absolutely not enough if you want to remain relevant in a world where free software is called "open source" and most people actually do not care about the user's freedoms.

    Attaching the GNU label to one's program has absolutely no attractiveness anymore. People expect GNU to be as slow as an elephant, rather than as slick as a gazelle, and perhaps they are right. Projects such as LLVM achieve a great momentum by building on the slowness of GNU's decision processes, and companies such as Apple get praise even if they are only embracing these projects to avoid problems with GPLv3. Being part of GNU is not an emblem of technical leadership anymore, either. "If it is done poorly in Unix, feel free to replace it completely with something totally different and better". Is this still true of today's GNU? Barring any large change in policy and momentum from GNU, these three reasons are bound to be the first step towards the irrelevance of GNU.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2012-12-24)
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  8. La licenza open source dell’Unione Europea (EUPL – European Union Public License)—lanciata nel 2007 e arrivata alla versione attuale EUPL v1.1 nel 2009—aveva come obiettivi primari creare una licenza per il software sviluppato nei progetti della Commissione Europea e stimolare altre pubbliche amministrazioni a rilasciare il loro software come open source.
    Tra i princìpi fondamentali essa permette il riuso del software e il miglioramento e la condivisione del codice. La licenza inoltre tiene in considerazione le leggi europee e degli stati membri ed è disponibile in 22 lingue con lo stesso valore legale.
    Il principale problema della attuale versione 1.1 del 2009 è che l’appendice che contiene la lista delle “licenze compatibili” si basa su uno studio del 2006 e, malauguratamente, non include licenze fondamentali nel mondo open source come GNU GPLv3 e AGPLv3.
    Finalmente, la Commissione Europea ha comunicato che la EUPL verrà rivista, con l’esplicito obiettivo di renderla compatibile con GPLv3, AGPLv3 e altre licenze.
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2012-12-20)
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  9. For Monty, the year 2014 is the point after which Oracle will break more of those promises to the EU: that's the end point of Oracle's commitment to extend the contracts that MySQL OEM licensees previously had with Sun.
    Tags: , , , , by M. Fioretti (2012-12-02)
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  10. Poul-Henning Kamp, a noted FreeBSD developer and creator of the Varnish web-server cache, wrote this year that the open-source world's bazaar development model has created an "embarrassing mess" of software.

    "A pile of old festering hacks, endlessly copied and pasted by a clueless generation of IT 'professionals' who wouldn't recognise sound IT architecture if you hit them over the head with it," was Kamp's summary of the bazaar model after laying into baffling tool autoconf.

    "Under this embarrassing mess lies the ruins of the beautiful cathedral of Unix, deservedly famous for its simplicity of design, its economy of features, and its elegance of execution," he wrote in a piece titled A generation lost in the Bazaar.
    Tags: , , , , , by M. Fioretti (2012-11-10)
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