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LWN.net Weekly Edition for June 20, 2013
Pencil, Pencil, and Pencil
Dividing the Linux desktop
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A report from pgCon 2013
But I can't imagine someone developing just the front-end and trying to market it. As a part of a bigger ecosystem, perhaps, but only the front-end... How would that pay off?
GPL -> LGPL is almost always a bad move
Posted Feb 19, 2012 16:58 UTC (Sun) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946)
Posted Feb 21, 2012 15:47 UTC (Tue) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
I fail to see a major problem here.
Posted Feb 21, 2012 16:54 UTC (Tue) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946)
GPL -> LGPL is a logical move here, regardless of what rabid Stallmanites say
Posted Feb 20, 2012 1:12 UTC (Mon) by jensend (guest, #1385)
It's a futile and useless waste of time trying to reason with him.
You're totally right that there's no real market for a commercial proprietary VLC frontend. But even if proprietary VLC frontends are made, they won't be in lieu of open-source ones. It's not like there are scores of people out there longing to make a VLC frontend who were going to say "shucks, I guess we'll have to open source all our code" but will now say "hurrah, we can keep it all closed."
The VLC folks decided back in 2007 when the GPL3 was released that they disliked it and wouldn't use it, and the switch from GPL2+ to LGPL 2.1+ is the logical way for them to follow through on their opinion. Wider use of libVLC will be a boon for both VLC and the wider open source multimedia world. It's a welcome move.
Posted Feb 20, 2012 10:24 UTC (Mon) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
Alongside the "I'm right, you're stupid" tone in recent discussions by the usual practitioners, it's precisely this kind of mud-slinging that is making this site less interesting to participate in. If you want to discuss the merits of any licensing change without coming across as "rabid" yourself, go right ahead, but please leave the childish labelling out of it.
It will be a sad day indeed when LWN joins various other sites in the gutter of name-calling and insult-littered argument. Please don't hasten its journey there.
Posted Feb 20, 2012 19:39 UTC (Mon) by coriordan (guest, #7544)
For example, proprietary packages that contain a video library can now stop working on their own library and rely on handouts from the VLC project.
Development of proprietary software gets more efficient, and VLC gets no code contributions. Why is that good for readers of LWN?
(But please only reply if you're going to stick to the standard of comment quality that makes LWN a good forum.)
Posted Feb 20, 2012 19:55 UTC (Mon) by endecotp (guest, #36428)
In some sense, the worst situation to be in is where the "good guys" would like to use your code but can't because of your license, and the "bad guys" just use your code illegally. Think about it this way: are you likely to get more contributions back [e.g. bug-fixes] from someone who uses your GPL code illegally, or from someone who uses your LGPL code legally?
Posted Feb 20, 2012 21:24 UTC (Mon) by coriordan (guest, #7544)
In general, a change from GPL to LGPL is a loss, not something to celebrate.
The license is strictly the author's business
Posted Feb 20, 2012 20:14 UTC (Mon) by felixfix (subscriber, #242)
Any comments which pretend otherwise are arrogance and elitism personified. NO ONE knows better than the author what the author wants, and NO ONE else gets a say in it.
Posted Feb 20, 2012 21:28 UTC (Mon) by coriordan (guest, #7544)
I said this is probably bad for free software users.
You're right that the author can do what he likes with his code, but some choices are unfortunate for free software users. I care about free software users, thus my comment.
Posted Feb 20, 2012 23:13 UTC (Mon) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
Overall, this will reduce the amount of wheel reinvention and fragmentation, so I can't help but think of it as a positive step.
It was already compatible with GPLv3 and BSD licences
Posted Feb 21, 2012 11:32 UTC (Tue) by coriordan (guest, #7544)
Posted Feb 21, 2012 15:52 UTC (Tue) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
Posted Feb 21, 2012 16:42 UTC (Tue) by coriordan (guest, #7544)
The GPL parts say GPL, and the BSD parts stay BSD. Distributors have to comply with both sets of requirements.
10 more paragraphs could be added about the details, but the licences are 100% compatible.
(This will probably be my last post in this thread. I should get back to working on http://en.swpat.org )
Posted Feb 21, 2012 20:26 UTC (Tue) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
Posted Feb 22, 2012 12:44 UTC (Wed) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
Technically, anyone who wants to build on top of the combination can use whichever GPL-compatible licence they like and wait for someone else to replace the GPL-licensed part under a licence they prefer. Usage of the GPL merely invites people to undertake a common activity within a framework that seeks to uphold specific properties of the resulting work.
There are all sorts of reasons why a project might switch to using more or less permissive licences - they may indicate a change in the way the interests of different groups of people are prioritised by the developers - but given the potential effects of such changes on end-users, I don't see anything wrong in voicing end-user concerns about it.
good heavens, not this drivel again please
Posted Feb 21, 2012 1:10 UTC (Tue) by jensend (guest, #1385)
Everybody here has heard the merits of the Stallman kool-aid preached plenty of times, and either they drank it or they deliberately decided not to. By rehashing all the same old "GPL is the Only True License, LGPL is only a stepping stone in the Seven-Year Plan and anyone who advocates its use outside of that role is an enemy of the Party" propaganda you aren't going to convince anyone around here.
There are zero frontend projects that would have been open-source if libVLC had kept its old license but will now be closed. That argument is a total red herring. Further, since there are plenty of other video libraries out there, no other apps would have been enticed to use a GPL-compatible license just to be able to use libVLC either.
Contrary to your claim, anybody who uses libVLC will still have to release any modifications, and libVLC will have more users, so code contributions are a reason in the LGPL's favor. (Even MIT/BSD licensed libraries see most users contribute back their changes though in such a case it's not required.)
The only thing you said that has any semblance of truth about it is that being able to choose libVLC over other already-available video libraries might conceivably make life easier for some proprietary software developer out there. The horrors!
Choosing an unsuitable license and shooting yourself in the foot just to spite some hypothetical proprietary developer is not going to do anything to advance users' or developers' freedom.
Posted Feb 21, 2012 3:15 UTC (Tue) by felixfix (subscriber, #242)
I personally like GPLv2 and release what little software I do using it. But like every human endeavor, browbeating is more likely to put people off than get the desired results. Were I to make my licensing decisions today, I do not know if I would choose any version of the GPL, simply because of the increasingly shrill "I know what's good for you" attitude of the Stallman true believers. I tried, once, talking with Stallman about something very general, and was astonished at how rigid his thinking was and how rapidly the diatribes began -- GPL or be damned.
I believe most patches and fixes are submitted to projects because the patch author wants to help the main project and not maintain a private fork of the sources. The license has little to do with it. Even if someone does start by maintaining their own set of patches, at some point it gets to be too much hassle, and they merge at least most of their patches back in to the mainline. I myself have some patches for projects I use but the author doesn't want or because I simply can't contact them, and it's no picnic.
I believe that Google would be just as likely to submit fixes to Linux without the GPL as they do now, because they don't want to maintain a sea of patches for the rest of Android's life. Ideology and "do no evil" be damned -- it's easier and in their own best interests.
Harping upon what license authors choose for their software is beyond elite and arrogant. It is counter productive. Stallman is a genius in many ways, but his acolytes do no good for either him or the FSF by turning every discussion into an argy bargy on how holy the GPL is. Sneers at these choices or other licenses in general turns people off and leaves enough bad taste behind to deter ever using the one true license.
Posted Feb 21, 2012 5:11 UTC (Tue) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198)
I can't argue with the rest of your statement but I'm not really sure this is true, maybe they would try but the Android team seems somewhat GPL averse. I think they picked the kernel for its technical superiority and are forced to comply with the license to get it.
That's different than IBM which is willing to put resources into projects because of the GPL. It protects them from competition with proprietary forks of their own labor. They can compete, successfully, on other areas than exclusive access to critical source code
I don't know the android developers though so I may be way off base.
Posted Feb 21, 2012 7:08 UTC (Tue) by felixfix (subscriber, #242)
My own experience maintaining just a few small patches for a few small packages encourages me to believe it doesn't get any easier with thousands of patches.
Google are just people. Thinking of them as evil personified with greed on top, the kind of people who laugh in the developers' faces about all the extra work they create for them ... well, it's just silly. If nothing else, think about it from the greedy point of view that it's better to get patches back into mainline and lower dev costs and increase product stability.
Posted Feb 21, 2012 11:46 UTC (Tue) by coriordan (guest, #7544)
I'm commenting on the future of the software *I* use and recommend.
When I see an event that will probably have a negative impact on the future quality or quantity of the software I use and recommend (free software), I say "Oh, pity".
Some posts here seem to treat copyright holders as holy, and comments on their decisions as blasphemy.
Posted Feb 21, 2012 12:21 UTC (Tue) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
Whether it's the government deciding saccharin is bad for everybody or Bill Gates or Steve Jobs deciding what software I can use on my computer or coriordan deciding what license is best for someone else's software, the common thread is to unilaterally decide for other people, based on "I am ideologically pure".
I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to name the rhetorical trick being used here. Last time I checked, Windows was still being bundled on most computers sold at retail, people were still having to take vendors to court to get Windows "unbundled", and Apple were still insisting that you can only use their "App Store" to get software and that they were the ones who decided what should and shouldn't be available. Meanwhile, Ciarán O'Riordan still doesn't seem to have the power to decide which licence people get to use.
And I see that the challenge to raise the standard of discussion was met with pop-culture religion and communism references. It's clearly not so much a matter of putting words into other people's mouths as stuffing a whole dictionary in there.
Posted Feb 21, 2012 15:50 UTC (Tue) by felixfix (subscriber, #242)
Sometimes leaders need to look behind them to make sure someone is still following.
Posted Feb 21, 2012 16:03 UTC (Tue) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
And my point that people project undue influence onto the FSF (or other organisations, along with anyone who happens to agree with them in any way) is illustrated very well by your response. I sometimes wonder, in an era when anyone and everyone has an opinion and where filtering out those opinions is a part of everyday life, what motivation anyone would have to complain about the influence of an organisation by comparing it to a selection of large corporations who have far more influence over policy, commerce and the lifestyle of individuals than the FSF with its comparatively modest campaigning.
Posted Feb 21, 2012 20:31 UTC (Tue) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
Not sure I agree with that.
Posted Feb 22, 2012 12:57 UTC (Wed) by pboddie (subscriber, #50784)
Of course you will always get people who will claim "brainwashing" and that people are somehow tricked into supporting such organisations. Again, this is a laughable assertion when hundreds of millions of people probably have to listen to the Windows jingle every day using products (and being shown advertisements) made by an industry that has systematically reduced choice over the last two decades, with most of these people living in societies where brand loyalty is regarded more highly than objective consideration of any particular set of issues.
Posted Feb 20, 2012 21:32 UTC (Mon) by Kluge (guest, #2881)
Posted Feb 20, 2012 22:00 UTC (Mon) by elanthis (guest, #6227)
Posted Feb 20, 2012 23:09 UTC (Mon) by Kluge (guest, #2881)
Posted Feb 20, 2012 23:19 UTC (Mon) by cmccabe (guest, #60281)
Nota bene: Assuming that I'm reading the GPL compatibility matrix correctly, "LGPLv2.1 only" is actually compatible with GPLv3.
Posted Feb 21, 2012 22:28 UTC (Tue) by Kluge (guest, #2881)
Posted Feb 21, 2012 0:19 UTC (Tue) by jensend (guest, #1385)
They want their software to be _more_ widely usable than the GPL3 allows, not less. So being deliberately GPL3-incompatible would be self-defeating.
It's GPL2+ -> LGPL2.1+
Posted Feb 21, 2012 3:10 UTC (Tue) by idupree (subscriber, #71169)
Their LGPL press release says "This change of license[...] is a move from the current license (GPLv2 or later) to the LGPLv2.1 or later license." Thus, it was already GPLv3-compatible under GPL2+ licensing.
Also "The license of the VLC media player will continue to be GPLv2 or later."
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