Wine license change

Steve Langasek vorlon at
Thu Feb 7 10:32:49 CST 2002

On Thu, Feb 07, 2002 at 09:41:53AM -0600, Sean Farley wrote:

> Does it matter if they have written code for Wine or not?  

Yes.  If they have not contributed, nor will contribute, code to Wine
under the current license, then their opinions on the license have no
impact on whether they will contribute to Wine in the future, and they 
should be ignored when examining the question of whether the LGPL is an ok 
license to use.

> I test out and attempt to debug bugs in Wine when they show up on 
> FreeBSD.  Let's just say that I have not been all that successful.  :)

Then you're not among the aforementioned Slashdot armchair quarterbacks.  
But then, I wouldn't expect anyone participating in the discussion /here/ 
instead of on Slashdot to be so. :)

> If not, let me say that I see no reason to change the current license.
> The LGPL may push proprietary code from the Wine core, but it will just
> push it into DLL's.

The DLL model is already set by the Microsoft APIs.  A company can't get 
around the LGPL this way and still have a useful product, even if the LGPL 
allowed it (which it doesn't).  If the existing Wine DLLs are released 
under the LGPL, then modifications to those DLLs must be released under 
the LGPL as well.

> Remember that not everyone will contribute back.  Why should you expect
> them to assuming you are not a Moonie?  Maybe they have nothing to
> contribute back.  Maybe they don't want to contribute back.  Forcing
> them into sharing is not sharing.

Under the LGPL, everyone /will/ contribute back, because that's what the 
LGPL requires.  Under the LGPL, it's not for them (or for you) to decide 
whether they have anything to contribute back; if they make modifications, 
they must be shared openly.  And you're right that some people don't want 
to contribute back.  That's precisely WHY we would consider relicensing 
under the LGPL.  If everyone shared of their own free will, why would we 
need a license that said they had to share?  The question at hand is 
whether or not we want to allow others to benefit from Wine without 
sharing their changes.

I make no bones about the fact that I'm a staunch believer in copyleft.
If Free Software has value, then there's also value in keeping it Free. 
I'm not here to do free programming on behalf of companies that don't 
believe in Free Software and in the Community.  It is the right of the 
copyright holder to choose the license, and although I usually disagree 
with the choice of a BSD license, I have no problem with people who choose 
such a license.  I just think copyleft is better. :)

> As for commercial interest, I see that Apache+modssl has done quite well
> against any closed-source versions.

I would argue that this is a different ballgame.  In the web serving 
field, There's More Than One Way To Do It, and trying to avoid forks leads 
to infrastructure issues as you need more and more management to make 
decisions and guide the project.  In Wine, most of the decisions have 
already been made by Microsoft for us, it's simply a question of 
implementation; and most of that implementation is parallelizable to a 
high degree.  Having a license that allows commercial offshoots of a 
webserver lets companies come up with innovative new designs that 
wouldn't have been incorporated into the main tree.  Having a license that 
allows commercial offshoots of Wine potentially leads to a bunch of 
different Windows emulators, each of which is 98% complete and none of 
which works with half the software people want it to.

I'm sure that under a BSD-style license, Wine could continue to outcompete 
any commercial offshoots.  The question is, which license model gives us 
the best chance of competing with *Microsoft*, who already has the lead?

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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