Dr. Seuss, licensing, and WINE (and now biology, too)

Anthony Taylor tony at searhc.org
Sat Feb 9 12:07:21 CST 2002

Brett Glass wrote:


>Do these analogies make things clearer?

Disclaimer: I have not contributed to the wine project for several 
years, and the contributions I did make were in the form of bug reports, 
back before it could run Solitaire ('94, or thereabouts).  So I have 
very little say in much of anything Wine-related.

However, I can't sit by reading this drivel any longer without speaking 
my mind.

Brett Glass has been a commercial coder, and a journalist, for quite a 
few years.  He is very opinionated on every subject he discusses.  For 
that, I respect him.

And because he refuses to use either facts or logic simultaneously, he 
loses that respect.  But beyond that, I see a core difference of 
philosophy here.

First and foremost, this argument seems to divide people into two camps: 
those that think money is the most important aspect of life, and those 
that think that people are the most important.  The former see no 
problem with forcing developers to make their code accessible to 
corporate exploitation.  The latter sees no problem in forcing 
corporations to play fairly by placing restrictions on the use of their 

This "zero cent" argument of his does not hold water.  If a group builds 
a cathedral, and a second group charges for tours of that cathedral 
while never contributing back to the builders, how is the money made 
*not* based *entirely* on the cathedral?  You can say that people can 
tour the cathedral on their own, without a guide, so what people are 
paying for is the guide; but without the cathedral, *there would be no 
guide.*  The second group is making money off the hard work of the 
first, with no requirement to provide any support.

In biology, we call this "parasitism."

Sometimes parasites turn out to be symbiotes.  This is what Mr. Glass is 
arguing-- it's good to put up with parasites, because they can make 
money . . . and perhaps they will turn out to be symbiotes.  But the 
main goal is that the parasites make money, because projects are 
worthless unless they can make money.

Mr. Glass, esteemed Wine developers: I submit that the GPL and LGPL are 
merely resistance against parasites.  Yes, it means the projects they 
protect may also miss out on some symbiotes; but it isn't necessary. 
 Look at Red Hat, which is finally starting to look profitable.  There 
is no denying they have formed a successful symbiotic relationship with 
a truly GPLd product; and before them, Cygnus (which did offer 
proprietary *add-ons* to the GNU development suite) also had a 
successful business model based on GPLd software.

These arguments will not sway Mr. Glass; he is immune to logic and 
evidence that does not support his side.  (I too am immune, and so he 
and I are not much different.  Keep that in mind when reading *both* of us.)

Every developer that writes Free (libre) software does so for a 
different reason.  Some wish protection against parasites, while others 
do not care.  Me, I'm of the former class.  (Not that any of my code 
could possibly be considered worthwhile.)  But I respect the decisions 
of the developers.

And if going to the LGPL means losing Brett Glass as a potential 
contributer: Bonus!

                                - Tony

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