[free-software-melb] Spinellis "Choosing and Using Open Source Components"

Ben Sturmfels ben at stumbles.id.au
Sat May 7 04:44:42 UTC 2011

On 02/05/11 15:34, rdbrown at pacific.net.au wrote:
> Diomidis D. Spinellis's latest IEEE Software column "Choosing and Using
> Open Source Components" is up at his blog
> http://www.spinellis.gr/blog/20110501
> and may interest.

Thanks for pointing this out Rodney. Hope we see you at the upcoming 
discussion group!

It's a well written article, but does seem to be a little 
freedom-agnostic. I also worry about Spinellis' slightly twisted 
interpretation of the GPL:

   Others (licenses), like the GNU licenses, play well with other
   software licensed as open source but make life difficult for
   proprietary offerings. This is especially true if you want to
   distribute your work to others as a shrink-wrapped package, such as
   Microsoft Office, or as an embedded software product, like a set-top
   box. In such cases the only GNU-licensed components you can easily
   use are unmodified dynamically linked libraries licensed under the
   so-called GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). You get
   considerable more leeway with GNU-licensed software if you don’t
   distribute a product but instead offer a service (like Google) or
   simply use your system privately within your organization.

The GNU GPL says that you can't incorporate GPL licensed code into 
proprietary programs. That's a benefit, not a problem, since the users 
of the program get the same freedoms that you do.

Spinellis also suggests that offering a proprietary software service 
based on free software is a good way to work around the GPL. Encouraging 
software developers to forgo their ethical obligations to people who use 
their software isn't in the spirit of free software.


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