Subject: Re: [Frank da Cruz : Re: Kermit and
To: None <>
From: Frank da Cruz <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 11/23/1999 10:31:26
Hubert Feyrer <> wrote:
> On Tue, 23 Nov 1999, Frank da Cruz wrote:
> > How do you define "open source"?  Obviously, the source code is open in
> > the sense that it can (and should) go on the CD.  The sticking point seems
> > to be "transitive freedom" -- that is, not only must the end user have the
> > right to use the software, but also to sell it.  Is that what you mean by
> > open source?  That's where we draw the line.
> The part I don't fully understand is: we could have have (unmodified)
> sources up for kermit so users could build kermit using our build system,
> and we could provide binaries for everyone to download, in case compiling
> is not wanted. is putting up these things for downloading by our users ok?
> (right now we avoid that because of the licensing issues)
> is it ok for someone to grab kermit as one of the >1000 other precompiled
> packages we have right now, put it on a CD and sell it, similar to our
> "official" cd? is providing (unmodified) source and maybe some patches
> with that CD allowed or required?
This is a minor point, but patches should not be necessary -- any needed
modifications should be sent to me and I'll incorporate them into the master
source.  That's my job :-)

> If each of the first two questions can be answered with "yes", that would
> be a first win for us (and all our users :-), and we could remove the "no
> redistribution" and "don't mirror sources" restriction, yes?
> For arguing further to include kermit into the base NetBSD distribution
> and really stick a "modify and sell if if you want" type copyright on it,
> I'll leave this to others. :-)
Thank you.  I try not to get involved in licensing debates.  I appreciate
a diversity of opinion, and respect everybody who gives earnest thought to
these issues and takes an honest position.  Our position is not based on 
any particular theory or ideology; it simply works best for us in our own
peculiar situation, namely that our project is allowed to exist as long as
it can generate enough revenue to pay for itself.  We have tried different
approaches over the years and the one we use now works best, and I think
to almost everybody's benefit:

The essence of our position is that the software is free for end use, but
must be licensed for resale (or other form of commercial distribution), so
that those who gain commercial advantage from it share it with us, which
most agree is a mutually beneficial arrangement (the "goose and golden egg"
story applies).

The sticking point has been whether this includes the many "free software"
CDROMs.  The difficult bit is: how to allow this to happen without opening
a loophole that will cut us off from the licenses that pay for all the
work we do year after year.  Let me be quite blunt: we are not interested
in selling individual CDs to end users and are happy to let the CDROM
companies do that, but we ARE interested in corporate licenses and
bundling arrangements.  How do we distinguish the two cases?

I think one solution might be that each "free Unix" "product", like
NetBSD, creates a C-Kermit install package in its own native format (RPM
or whatever), and this platform-specific install package is allowed to go
on the FTP sites and free software CDROMs, since it is, after all, the
same package that goes out with the base product (NetBSD in this case).

The key phrases here are "free Unix" (as opposed to Solaris, HP-UX, AIX,
etc) and "platform-specific package" (as opposed to the general-purpose

Do you think this is a reasonable approach?


- Frank