cygwin vs. MKS Toolkit

J. J. Farrell
Fri Aug 20 14:12:00 GMT 1999

> From: "Suhaib Siddiqi" <>
> Even $75 is too much, whose code was not written initially by MKS.  They are
> bunch
> of utils from GNU binutils.  Available from many places as freeware.
> ...
> MKS Toolkit is collection of bunch of GNU utilities, which are already
> part of Cygwin.  I am not sure why would you like to pay 200 buck for
> something GNU utils which are available free from several places on
> Internet, including source code from GNU itself.  I am also not sure how MKS
> charge for those utilities which were written by GNU, like sh, sed and ls
> etc etc.

I think you might be sailing a bit close to a lawsuit. As far as
I'm aware, there is no connection between the GNU utilities and
the MKS toolkit for NT (apart from the obvious that both aim to
implement the POSIX tools as a subset of their functionality).

As to why - many enterprises (particularly commercial companies)
are extremely conservative. They don't understand the free
software model or choose to have anything to do with it - at a
simplistic level, they want to have someone to sue (or at least
kick) if the code doesn't work. This is being addressed with the
likes of Cygnus offering formal commercial support, but it takes
a long time for many companies to adjust to a new model. They
would rather pay more for an inferior product through the
traditional software development company route than come to grips
with the alien concept that someone might give the product away
for free.

Cygnus and similar companies now package free software up with
support in a way which looks much more like a traditional
software company. I suspect they're still up against worries
and misunderstandings about GNU licensing even then, but there
is much more chance of many companies using the GNU tools through
Cygnus than by downloading and hacking them themselves. MKS have
been offering the UNIX tools on NT as a commercial product for
many years - if I remember correctly, since well before the GNU
tools were even available on NT let alone commercially supported.
They have a head-start in the commercial market, their product
has worked adequately for many people, so many companies will go
to them. With a bit of luck, Cygnus and others will make increasing
inroads into this market as time goes on.

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