Subject: Re: Optimal license for Java projects ...
From: Gunther Schadow <>
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2003 23:34:22 -0500

David Johnson wrote:
> I was merely trying to get the poster to think beyond the anti-BSD 
> stereotypes that are so common. His claim was merely a restatement of 
> the tired "BSD is a license to steal" argument.

David, I'm a loyal BSD disciple for over 10 years and I would never
put anything BSD down. It's just the very history of BSD that its
code was used and close in by most commercial UNIX systems, HPUX,
SunOS, Ultrix, etc. But this move ended up not helping BSD and
customers of these proprietory BSD derivatives could never get
themselves upgraded to any of the improvements of subsequent BSDs.
Initially they had at least the kernel sources, but soon these
guys figured out to distribute only binary libraries and leave just
autoconf.c and a few others as source code. That was the end of
the story.

What's worse, the UNIX brands who were boosted by BSD initially
then turned around and even betrayed BSD alltogether by trying to
become more System V compliant. All the bitching about UNIX to be
such a world full of incompatibilities is partly due to the fact
that everyone went off in their corner and customers had little ways
to smoothen this out (of course the bitching is pointless because
there is just not one other cross-vendor operating system platform
like UNIX, there never was and there never will be.) I ended up
just installing all GNU tools on whatever machine I was on just to
have some sanity. It's amazing how bad the shells still are on
Solaris or HPUX systems even today compared to my FreeBSD sh. This
whole mess has in the end contributed to BSD coming out second in
the open source world behind Linux, and I am still suffering under
that (the world is just unfair ;-)

Back to licenses: I think you cannot deny the possibility, and
history shows the reality, of BSD license being too libertine and
allowing people to take the code and close it down without ever
giving anything back. That's a drain on the open source asset, it
may have been just right in the 80s when BSD was conquering the
world, but today I think there are better options.


Gunther Schadow, M.D., Ph.D.          
Medical Information Scientist      Regenstrief Institute for Health Care
Adjunct Assistant Professor        Indiana University School of Medicine

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