Lorn Potter

It’s all about free software

Published Monday January 29th, 2007
12 Comments on It’s all about free software
Posted in Uncategorized

A few of you may have seen my prior posts about
GPL vs. LGPL

ya just gotta love it when people go on about how the LGPL is “more free” than GPL, and then almost in the same sentence, ballyhoo proprietary software and how it’s bad that some distributions offer it in their repositories.

If you look at the big picture, the real problem with the LGPL is the consequences of it. It naturally leads to more non-free proprietary software. The LGPL is not about free software. It’s about non free software, otherwise they’d use GPL.

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Posted in Uncategorized

12 comments

David Johnson says:

While I agree with you that there is a lot of Free Software hypocrisy out there, I must strenously disagree with your implications that the world is divided into non-free and GPL.

I prefer the LGPL over the GPL because I prefer Free Software. I do not want to impose restrictions upon my friends, and so use unrestricted licenses like MIT and BSD. I cannot use GPL libraries without passing on its restrictions to my users. Freedom and fairness are both wonderful things, but they are not synonymous. The GPL promotes fairness at the expense of freedom. I am the opposite and would have to pick freedom over fairness if I could not have both.

While we may not agree on this issue, you should at least understand that people who prefer a license other than the GPL are *not* antagonistic towards Free Software. We are not the corporate stooges you imply.

p.s. The only reason I am using Qt for my Free Software projects, is that it is dual licensed with the QPL. It keeps the library Free while letting the application developer use the Free Software license of their choice.

jstaniek says:

“”I do not want to impose restrictions upon my friends, and so use unrestricted licenses like MIT and BSD. “”

But note – then your software can be also used by your enemies. To embrace. To extend. To extinguish your work using tactics and power not available to you.

Bob says:

Really? I thought Qt4 was GPL-only.

rh says:

Only a moron considers GPL “free”. If i can’t do whatever the hell i want with it, that’s a cost, even when the cost is not monetary. On the other hand, GPL, MIT, BSD, etc. are TRULY free. That’s the one huge downside to using Qt. While it’s technically superior to the likes of GTK+, the fact that i cannot write free (i.e GPL’d) code with it, there’s no way i could possibly consider using it.

Jonas says:

QT really does seem technically superior to gtk+ I think. The reason that I choose gtk+ over QT is purely licensing reasons. Consider this – I’m working on a small utility in my spare time, that I would like to sell. And maybe if there is enough buyers I’ll quit my day job and start a company to further escalate the business. The problem is that I’ll have to pay $1100 just to get started. I know you could call this a startup fee, but that is a lot of money for a hobby project (maybe to become a commercial one).

Another situation where QT licensing does not work is: I’ve created GPL licensed project using QT and the project has grown to become a very stable and usefull one. Now I want to go fork the project and re-license to e.g. LGPL (since I’m author I can relicense) and buy a commercial QT license. But the QT licensing scheme does not allow me to do this.

So in my opinion the QT license is not a very good choice if you at some point want to go commercial, but wants to keep the costs at zero in the initial (testing the market) stages.

Thomas says:

@rh; I don’t think we follow you. Your first sentence implies that GPL is not free. And your last sentence you make clear that the only type of free software is GPLed. The truth is that GPLed software is not Gratis, its Libre software. (gratis = free as in beer, libre = free as in speech)

@jonas You should talk to Qt licensing as you are wrong about the implications of the chosen license. First of all; you can develop your project under GPL using the free Qt version. If you later want to sell your software you can relicense your code to a closed one. At which point (and not earlier) you have to buy a Qt License. So you only have to actually pay when you start to profit from Qt. Seems fair to me.

Segedunum says:

The reason that I choose gtk+ over QT is purely licensing reasons. Consider this – I’m working on a small utility in my spare time, that I would like to sell. And maybe if there is enough buyers I’ll quit my day job and start a company to further escalate the business.

You haven’t got a chance with this, and it is certainly not going to be enough for you to quit your day job. Put it this way, take into account the day job salary that the sales of this tool would have to replace and then ask yourself how serious you would need to get to make this work. How much will you spend on related costs such as office space and other sundries, and you’re worried about how much you’ll have to spend on a tool that will actually allow you to create something to sell?! I don’t hear builders complaining that their tools, cement and other raw materials aren’t free.

I hear this time and again from a lot of people who promote GTK and henceforth the LGPL as something better, because it makes zero business sense whatever way you slice it.

I’ve created GPL licensed project using QT and the project has grown to become a very stable and usefull one. Now I want to go fork the project and re-license to e.g. LGPL (since I’m author I can relicense) and buy a commercial QT license.

Wrong. As the copyright holder you can relicense your software in any way you see fit.

David Johnson says:

qt-x11-free is dual licensed under GPL/QPL. If one of the platforms you develop on is X11, then you may use Qt under the terms of the QPL.

pinky says:

David Johnson wrote:
>I prefer the LGPL over the GPL because I prefer Free Software. I do not want to impose restrictions upon my friends

i have to disagree. If you respect the freedom of your friends, your friends will respect the freedom of their friends and you give them the freedoms defined by Free Software and they will give their friends the same freedoms. So they just do what the GPL ask them to do so there is no restriction to anyone.
But maybe your friends aren’t that friendly than you and they want to subjugate their users than of course the GPL will restrict them. But than we have the question if you want to give your friends the power to subjugate other? Yes, i say power because making decisions that mostly hurts others is not freedom but power.

Brian Mitchell says:

“But than we have the question if you want to give your friends the power to subjugate other? Yes, i say power because making decisions that mostly hurts others is not freedom but power.”

Liberty without intention is no kind of liberty. Additionally, one of the truisms that has always held for gpl software is use (as opposed to distribution or modification) of it has no restrictions. This is the gpl inconsistancy, because it does not apply to library. If you are using a library, suddenly the rules change, and use has restrictions.

With the LGPL, the status quo is returned; use of the library has no restrictions, but extension does. While the FSF does not currently see things this way, I think significant numbers of open source developers do, and choose the LGPL.

The GPL problem mentioned before regarding its use with non-GPL licenses is not only limited to non-strong-copylefted ones (MIT, X11, BSD, Apache), but also with those which are strong-copylefted but incompatible due to patent restrictions (CPL, EPL, etc.)

While those are purely Free Software licenses, even better than the GPLv2 due to patent clauses as only GPLv3 will address those concerns , they are incompatible with it, so is not possible to call GPL code from EPL code.

While I prefer the LGPL due to those problems, I respect the licensing decision other developers do in their code. Saying that one license is Truly Free(tm) while the others aren’t is only the start of the n+1 silly flame… 😉

Matt Smith says:

I notice that the KDE libraries, like KHTML, are supplied under the LGPL, which is why Apple was able to use KHTML for the closed-source Safari. How were the KDE people able to do this – did they do it under special dispensation from Trolltech, or does the GPL allow this? I don’t object in the least to the GPL and having to publish applications as free software (I don’t notice any great shareware culture on the GNOME/GTK scene of the type you see on the Mac, where trivial third-party apps have to be paid for), but if I was to publish a library it would be useful to have it available to commercial developers also.

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