Subject: Re: [Frank da Cruz : Re: Kermit and NetBSD]
To: Frank da Cruz <>
From: None <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 11/25/1999 12:39:32
In message <>, Frank da Cruz wri
>So this begs the question of what, exactly, we are trying to do with free

If "we" refers to the NetBSD project, the answer appears to be "produce
software that absolutely anyone can use for any purpose whatsoever".  The
purpose is to maximize the freedom of the resulting product, and to provide a
product which is available with a minimal collection of strings attached.

>Become famous as the author of some well-known package that
>everybody uses because we let them have it for nothing?  So then we can get
>a high-paying job in which we can no longer write free software, AND the
>package we so lovingly created is orphaned?

It is my belief that at least some of the NetBSD folks have earned money from
it.  I know I have; not enough to make a living at it, but then, I'm not
*trying* right now.

>Why is the welfare of companies that DO NOT WANT to recompense people for
>their honest labor the greatest concern in this debate?  I can think of
>dozens of causes that seem more worthy.

Because the goal of this project is for the community, as a whole, to win.
We want the world where *everyone* has access to at least one viable Unix
system.  We want the world where the cost you pay for a box doesn't have
to subsidize tons of redundant development of TCP/IP stacks.

The problem here is, right now, NetBSD is a system such that you can just
download the NetBSD CVS tree, compile it, and sell it.  Adding kermit would
change this.  And yes, some people use it.

Would some of them be willing to pay for kermit?  Probably.  But it's a big
change to go from "free for whatever you want to do" to "if it's commercial,
you have to pay for some parts".

It's a bookkeeping nightmare.

Also, consider this.  I occasionally build computers which run NetBSD.  Am
I engaging in "commercial use"?  How much would I have to pay you if I were
to sell a single computer with "NetBSD+kermit" loaded on it?  How am I to
be informed of this?  What are the chances that I'll say "well, I don't really
need kermit, I'll just use something that doesn't ship with it"...

I guess, as long as you want to make a product commercial, you can't sensibly
bundle it with a free (not just "free beer", but "free speech" free) system.

That said, you might consider doing what the Ghostscript people do, and making
some variant of Kermit available with few enough strings (e.g., an advertising
clause, perhaps) that it could be included in free systems.  I remember having
kermit, and finding it occasionally useful.