Subject: Re: [Frank da Cruz : Re: Kermit and
To: None <>
From: Frank da Cruz <>
List: netbsd-advocacy
Date: 11/26/1999 13:09:59 says:
> In message <>,
> Frank da Cruz writes:
> ...
> >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.
An admirable goal!  But maybe there is a difference between a base operating
system and all its applications, in terms of what rules apply to them.  Kind
of like, the base OS is "infrastructure", and therefore (in this view) a
basic right or entitlement, whereas some apps are "gravy".

I have always liked the idea of a free Unix complete with networking (as an
antidote to what's happening in the mass market), and thanks to the selfless
labor of so many, we have NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Linux, and the rest.
But does the fact that these free Unixes exist mean that the public has a
right to them?  I don't think anybody has the right to expect other people
to work for them for free.  They are a gift freely given; if everybody
involved in these projects disappeared tomorrow, nobody would have a right
to complain.  And for this reason I believe that companies that base their
commercial for-profit products on free software are short-sighted; it is
in their best interest to care for and feed those who do this work for them,
lest they disappear.

> 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.
Some other Unix distributions handle this situation in some way.  It's a
question of priorities.  Is it more important to provide end users with the
fullest and most useful collection of applications than it is to protect
entrepreneurs from the inconvenience of checking licenses?  Remember that as
far as C-Kermit is concerned, end-users, commercial or otherwise, are
automatically licensed for their own (or their company's) internal use.

> 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"...
This is a rather fine point, but since you ask, I think I'd consider this
just another form of NetBSD distribution; in this case you are not selling
C-Kermit, but a NetBSD CD that happens to be preloaded on a computer.

I'm not trying to discuss this to death -- I want to home in on a mutually
acceptible approach, perhaps even a modification to the license to the
effect of "...may not be redistributed without permission, blah blah, EXCEPT
when included as part of a free operating system package" (obviously not
nearly precise enough, but that would be the idea).  All further suggestions
gratefully accepted.


- Frank