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Re: Lack of Cygwin contributors? Was: How is textmode/binmode determined ...

On Sun, Apr 30, 2000 at 01:06:40PM -0800, Kendall Bennett wrote:
>I am sorry, but do you really expect developers to contribute to a 
>project with such draconian licensing? I am not going to spend my 
>free time making Cygwin better so that Cygus/Red Hat can sell 
>commercial licenses of it and make money from *my* fixes and/or 

Yes, as a former net developer, I can expect this.  Before I worked at
Cygnus, I wanted to contribute to a cool free software project.  I
didn't really care if my efforts were sold by Cygnus to some big
company.  So, I started working on Cygwin.  I assume that the
contributors that we do have currently feel the same way.

Red Hat, and just about every other free software company, gets paid for
their efforts.  If Cygwin makes an inroad into a company where free
software is not acceptable, I actually view that as a triumph for the
UNIX over Windows paradigm.  I think this will benefit free software
(specifically linux) in the long run.  Maybe I am naive.

>If you *really* want more contributions to Cygwin, then open it up. 
>Fully. Go ahead and *level* the playing field. Put the Cygwin 
>components under the LGPL license so that it can be used with any 
>project, and does not try to force the GPL license on another project 
>(or force that the project be Open Source). Sure by opening thing up 
>in this way you would open up the project to competition. Some other 
>company and/or individual could take the sources, build a 'Cygwin' 
>compatible distribution and distribute/sell/support it. But if they 
>did, you would also benefit as everything they did with it would have 
>to be Open Source also.

You realize that RMS doesn't really like the LGPL, right?  The last
I heard he was actively advocating that people think very long and
hard before using it.

I am not sure how this jives with your goals anyway.  If we "opened up"
Cygwin so that it could be linked into proprietary programs then
presumably a lot of other projects would be selling non-open-source
products based on it and making money from it.  Why would you contribute
to something where a lot of companies were benefitting from your efforts
in this manner?

Or, would you be satisfied because you, too, could distribute a
proprietary product if you chose?  How does that make you a free
software proponent?

>The whole point of the Open Source development model is supposed to 
>be that the entire source code is open and available for use by 
>everyone, and that no particular company and/or invididual has any 
>special rights over anyone else. If you want to make money from the 
>Open Source project, you sell support, branding and distribution 

Cygnus does provide all of these for Cygwin, actually.  It is only
in rare cases that a company actually requires a proprietary license.

>Red Hat gets this and that is how the entire Red Hat Linux 
>distribution works. Red Hat has made a lot of money this way also. 
>Red Hat has also been re-branded and distributed by other companies 
>like Mandrake, but this hasn't been a problem for Red Hat. Now that 
>Cygnus is a part of Red Hat, perhaps it is time for Cygnus to get it 
>also. I don't believe for a minute that DJGPP or EMX would have ever 
>become as popular as they have if it was not possible to build 
>*anything* with them.

Actually, I think Cygwin is pretty popular, too.  The last I checked
there were well over a million downloads.

>If you want to be Open Source, don't sit on the damn fence. Go fully 
>Open Source. If you want to sell proprietry products, then close it 
>up. But most of all don't try to disguise a proprietry product and 
>hope that Open Source developers will be duped into helping with it.

I guess could cop out here and say that I don't make the licensing
decisions.  Hmm.  I probably should have just said that as the first
sentence and avoided any reaction.  Anyway, Red Hat does, I believe,
have a couple of other proprietary offerings and, I believe, that they
are more restrictive than Cygwin.  However, I could be 100% wrong about
this.  I'm still learning about Red Hat.

However, it's hard to imagine something which forces you to pay a large
fee if you refuse to make your project open source as "sitting on the
fence".  It's certainly an unusual stance but it does send a pretty
clear signal.

If I was building a software project that required Cygwin and it came
to a decision of spending money to license it or just releasing the
software under some sort of open source license (it doesn't necessary
have to be GPLed), I know which way I would go.

Btw, you do realize that custom versions of gcc, gdb, and other free
software products are often sold to customers for large amounts of $$$,
right?  Although the source code is provided, it is very rarely
distributed on the Internet.  So, what that means is that if you are
contributing to, say, gcc, some company could conceivably make a lot of
money from your efforts.  That's how free software works, too.

I guess what you're objecting to is that you'd like the ability to be
able to do the same thing.  You want to be able to build a proprietary
product without paying Cygnus a licensing fee.  That's understandable
but I don't understand how that advances the goals of free software.

If you were advocating that Cygwin be made 100% GPL and that Cygnus
*never* charge for a proprietary license, I think I could understand
this argument.  That's not what you want, though.

>Sorry if this sounds harsh, but this is exactly how I feel. And BTW I 
>also won't touch Qt for exactly the same reasons.

I understand the sentiment.  It is raised every time I issue a rant on
lack of contributions.

Since you're reading the Cygwin mailing list, I assume that you are
using the product.  That means that you're benefitting from the work
that Cygnus/Red Hat has put into the product.  That's fine.

I have to wonder why, however, if you object so strongly to the
possibility that Cygnus can make money from this, you are using it at
all?  Where do you draw the line with your principles?  It's ok to use
this thing that you've been given for free but you'll be damned if
you'll contribute because Cygnus (and Cygnus alone) could make money
from your efforts?

I don't know.  Maybe you just monitor this list in the hopes that you'll
see an announcement that Cygwin has become LGPLed and don't actually use
Cygwin for anything.  If that is not the case then I don't understand
what moral ground you're standing on which allows you to freely use
something while steadfastly refusing to consider offering something
back in return.

Do you use Qt for all of your personal X-Windows development, too?


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