Subject: Re: [Frank da Cruz : Re: Kermit and NetBSD]
To: Frank da Cruz <>
From: Perry E. Metzger <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 11/24/1999 19:51:51
Frank da Cruz <> writes:
> There's not much point arguing about this -- In principal I think it would
> be swell if Kermit could be "Open Source Compliant" in the capitalized and
> trademarked Open Source sense, but that would pretty much shut down the
> Kermit Project, and I'm not devoted enough to purity to put myself and the
> other staff members out of work for its sake, or abandon the many people
> who depend on us.

I won't presume to make that sort of decision for you. I was just
trying to help out explaining what Open Source technically
means. (Personally, I think the success of Red Hat, Cygnus and others
shows that you *can* support yourselves even giving your work away,
but I won't make that decision for your group -- that's all up to
you. I respect your decision not to go Open Source.)

> Anyway, Kermit was here for a looooong time before the Open Source
> definition, or for that matter the GPL or just about any other
> similar concept you can think of,

Well, I don't know that the original Superbrain-to-Tops-20
implementation of Kermit predated the GPL by more than five or six
years, actually. Hell, I remember first reading Stallman's
announcement of Project Gnu on a Columbia '20 (in MM, I suppose,
though my memory isn't that detailed) in the early 80s. At latest, it
would have been 85. (Am I right about the first systems? I was only a
wee undergrad at Columbia at the time and my memories are vague, but I
distinctly remember the first use as being to link the stupid
Superbrain CPM machines to the '20s.)

> so the Open Minded among us might be
> willing to "grandfather" it :-)  I mean really, if somebody makes up some
> new thing next week will we have to comply with that too?  Let's lighten
> up on all this licensing purity!  What's it to you if some third person
> can't take my work and sell(*) it without permission (unless you're that
> person)?

Ah, but that's what the whole NetBSD project is about! We're very big
on the fact that lots and lots of vendors use NetBSD in their products
without having to talk to anyone -- everyone from Network Computer to
mmEye uses NetBSD. (Yes, you can buy several brands of NCs that come
with NetBSD under the covers). One of the points of NetBSD is that we
*like* the fact that people can take the whole ball of wax and sell
it. We regularly purge a remaining GPL'ed program or two from the tree
to try to get the last pieces that can't be sold unrestricted out.

You might think we're weird people for wanting others to be able to
sell our hard work without having to ask us and with barely any
acknowledgement, but that's the way we are.

I don't see any of this as being that big a deal, though, vis a vis
Kermit. Kermit can't go on the official project CDs, but we'll leave
it in pkgsrc forever, along with all of the other useful but not Open
Source programs like it (such as ssh and company.) Those who need it
can automatically download and build it within minutes, so its all
probably a fine compromise.

Perry Metzger
"Ask not what your country can force other people to do for you..."