Elegance of Reason

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why the Anti GNU Movement ?

Following a link from a news site, I found the Anti GNU Movement and read the two posts there. The author, apparently, wants to convince fellow programmers that they should not release code under the GPL. Since the code I post is usually under such license, I feel compelled to state my reasons.

For context, please note that I fail to be incensed, one way or the other, at "communism". I live in what is considered a traditionally "communist" region of Italy, yet I used to vote against communism because of the chance it might somehow help the Soviet Union; when that risk went away, I lost interest. I thought the same should happen to most people, except maybe a few extremists, but over the following years I kept noticing that communism had became a recurrent scare word.

At first guess, I believe this is because a number of people who enjoy some degree of power over others (a communist might use "employer" and "workers" as examples, but this is so 20th century) would lose such power should those who are subjected to such power make good of their numbers and together oppose its exercise. The notion that such concerted effort has often a leader, which becomes the one wielding power, is of no comfort to those who risk losing whatever power they have; and losing something you have is an undisputed source of fear.

Having something to lose would explain why some software companies actively oppose the GPL. Microsoft, for example, is probably afraid of losing the control it enjoys over its desktop users, and possibly acrimonious because its attempt to gain control of the server failed; there's no indication that Microsoft is losing money under any shape or form, so it's not about money, it's about control.

However, although Microsoft got the ball rolling, they're not alone in saying that the GPL is communism; a number of voices over the Internet sing to the same tune, and the above blog is but one.

Unless this is another case of astroturfing, one would be tempted to think that some opponents of the GPL, especially among small companies and professional freelancers, actually resent the fact that the GPL makes building something they can sell on top of the work of others, without giving neither money nor code back, riskier than they would like.

Yet, opponents of the GPL include, for example, Alexander Terekhov, whose postings on subjects such as POSIX thread programming make it hard to believe he would need to sink that low. I cannot dismiss the possibility, therefore, that opposition to the GPL may be borne of purely ideological reasons; after all, it is a document where ideology plays a substantial role.

As you might have noticed, this author has not stated yet his reasons for using the GPL; for one, unlike the above, I am not at risk of losing something from doing so - I fail to see how I would incur any inconvenience should Microsoft lose control of the desktop, for example. Furthermore, I cannot help but regard those who would like to exploit somebody else's GPL code without giving back as parasites, so any step taken to hinder such activities looks to me as the moral equivalent of basic hygiene. Last, the activities of others releasing their code under the GPL provided me with a computing environment which I find more desiderable than other alternatives, so I have reason to believe that in doing the same I might be able to contribute back, thus furthering my own interests. It's as simple as that.

3 Comments:

  • I personally agree with the antignu blog. I am not so sure about his connections to communism, but I completly agree with what he says about the gpl being a viral license. I personally think that OSS i great in most of the forms it takes, it the the GNU philosophy to which i disagree with most. They believe ALL software should fall under the GPL, and all software which uses the GPL will infect attached software with its license. They talk about software which brings in a profit as being a "walled garden" and discuss the issue as if they are at war with microsoft and other companies which actually turn a profit from software. It doesn't have to be a war. I am personally very happy to use windows and appreciate its widespread support and use, and then also use 7zip and Firefox for their simplicity and total lack of cost. But GNU insists on turning this into a war. And if gnu wants to turn this into a war of words between closed source and open source, i personally think my choice is clear. Developers deserve to turn a profit on the software they write.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/2/07 08:33  

  • Software released under the GPL will not infect anything which does not make use of it. In my experience, "viral" complaints equate to whining because somebody would like to grab GPL code, add something and resell the result without making it available under the GPL. This is the reason behind my negative perspective on the matter; if there is some other concern involved, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

    As far as war being waged, however, it is my impression that it is proprietary software companies which are waging this war, by attempting to hinder standards and portability.

    By Blogger Davide Bolcioni, at 13/2/07 01:00  

  • The GNU GPL scam is exposed at "GNG is Not GNU website", showing that The Free Software Foundation had over 1 million dollars in the bank account in 2001, and yet stallman has been quoted as saying "you see we have been so successful at developing software because we have done it without any money".. Eben Moglen has had a salary of 6 figure income ($281,000).... and stallman lies saying it is all done without money.

    http://gng.z505.com exposes stallman with all kinds of evidence, direct quotes, screenshots (of salaries), bank account details..

    A modern religious cult practicing DoubleSpeak similar to George Orwell 1984 movie.

    The free software movement started really developing software in 1984.. Coincidence...

    GNU GPL is not about free speech it is about free cost. The legal contract in the license says

    "Must be licensed free of charge"

    in section 11.

    Not free in speech, free as in cost.

    All these details are available at the "GNG is Not GNU" website

    Stallman claims it is about freedom of speech, but if you carefully analyze the license and what he actually says, it is all tied directly to free cost software, forcing people to give it away free (while hypocritically pretending that charging for the free software is allowed... i.e. 1984 doublespeak in George Orwell movie).

    By Anonymous GNG is Not GNU, at 5/9/15 03:09  

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