Category Archives: free software

The difference between Apache and qmail

… is that qmail’s license places restrictions on redistributing versions of the program other than officially-sanctioned releases.

Please let’s not forget that. Nor that it’s precisely why Apache satisfies all the usual criteria for FOSS, while qmail does not.

GPL update

GPLv3 is old news now. I haven’t blogged about it before, and so far as I can recollect, the nearest to it I’ve come is in raising an eyebrow at the shenanigans around ASL compatibility.

I am a fan of GPLv2, and commonly apply it to my work when there is a free choice. I’m not sure about v3: I need to find time to read what it’s finally become first. But I have a gut feeling, which goes something like:

GPLv2 – a work of genius.

GPLv3 – a work of committee.

Now I see Anthony Towns blogs about what looks like a very nasty gotcha: LGPLv3 incompatible with GPLv2. If he’s right, that’s likely to cause serious grief not only in the pedantic camp (Debian et al), but also in the centre ground (Redhat, etc). Who foresaw/intended that?

But such an incompatibility also feels like a suicide note for GPL as a mass-participation movement. As of now, the GPL has a very long tail: independent developers (such as Yours Truly) licensing works under the GPL. Most “long tail” works may have little or no value individually, but the tail as a whole comprises a very substantial body of work. Not everyone in that tail is going to pay attention to the nuances of a license change. I expect we’ll have chaos, and a lot of unnoticed technical violations.

That looks like fertile ground for lawyers when someone big and serious – for example Microsoft – wants to fight the GPL.

I hate voting

Speaking as a chronically indecisive person, I hate voting!

Mostly I hate it when there are a lot of candidates I respect, and who I respect for widely differing reasons.  It’s easier when they’re a bunch of corrupt politican scumbags, and you have a clear least bad candidate or “none of the above”.  But when you want to move every candidate higher up the ballot, it’s painful.

Voting has just closed in the ASF‘s annual election of a board of directors, and new member elections.  The most difficult part was the ballot for the nine places on the board: with more impressive candidates than the nine available places, how do I pick criteria for ranking them?

  • The overall good of the ASF?  Well, who defines that?  Boils down to a mixture of their views, commitment, competence, etc.
  • Ideas and visions.  It’s not the board’s role to take on new projects; rather they support the members!  But they are overseeing rapid growth, in a pioneering environment.  That will call for both leadership and managerial competence.
  • Alignment with my own views.  Do they represent me?  Two or three candidates have expressed views I firmly disagree with, but I still respect them.  A lot.
  • Affiliation.  I’d prefer not to see the board too much dominated by employees of any one company.  That’s a matter of perception: there’s no suggestion they’d let it become a conflict of interest affecting their actions as Apache directors.  This year that is an issue.  But the company in question employs lots of people I don’t want to vote against!
  • Appearances.  Apart from the affiliation issue, does it gain or lose us anything to have our biggest names and/or more controversial people on the board?
  • What do I feel like on the day?  To an indecisive person, this is a shamefully important criterion.

One thing seems certain: whoever the nine elected board members are, they’re nine good people who will deserve and get my support.

Free Sotware

Apropos of nothing very much …

I just saw the typo “free sotware“. So I thought, what would that be? Free but nasty Booze?

Yep, I like this. A good name for software that’s free-of-charge but not open source.