Category : Network Files
Archive   : PKTD11.ZIP
Filename : GPL.DOC

Output of file : GPL.DOC contained in archive : PKTD11.ZIP
From: [email protected] (Craig Burley)

In describing what I do for "ordinary" folks -- those who _use_ computers
rather than program them (if they use them at all) -- I've found their
interests prioritize as follows:

1. Can I get your software for free?

A: Yes, though there might be easier ways for you to get it if you're
willing to spend money. (Though, for some people, the _easiest_ way
of all is also the free way -- it requires only access to certain

2. Do I have to pay anything if I use the software a lot?

A: No. You can also use it on as many machines as you like, and make
copies of it for friends (as long as you copy the stuff altogether,
not bits and pieces, and don't pretend you wrote it).

3. So it's not like shareware then?

A: Right, except that, like shareware, you can evaluate the product
for free -- with FSF software, it _stays_ free if you keep on using
it. With shareware, you really should pay the author what he or
she asks if you keep using the software.

4. How is it different from public domain?

A: It always comes with source code.

5. Which means?

A: If you need to change it, you can, either yourself, or by hiring a
programmer -- any qualified programmer. Public-domain software
often comes with no source code, and thus cannot be changed, at least
not without mammoth effort.

6. How do you earn a living from this?

A: Primarily two ways: one, because the few people who want to make
changes to my software will probably want me to make the changes if
they can't do them themselves (since I am obviously an expert on my
own software); two, because others who have lots of money and see
that they can benefit from lots of free software donate money to
those of us who promise to write it.

7. There's got to be a downside -- what is it?

A: Primarily that if you make changes to it and then want to distribute
the changes outside your own organization or home, you have to obey
certain requirements.

8. Like what?

A: You have to give anyone to whom you distribute the changed product
the same rights you had to the original, which means they can freely
copy the product and have the source code to it, including your

Note that I've _never_ had anyone balk at the answers to #s 7 and 8, even
though I've pointed out that some people in the industry dislike those
restrictions, because I've also pointed out that it's those very restrictions
that help keep the software free (in, as I've said before, any reasonable
sense of the word) for everyone. In fact, only one or two people have ever
asked questions 7 and 8 out of the 50 or so with whom I've discussed the

What I have seen is that the _programmers_ with whom I've talked include a few
that somehow think that the answers to #s 7 and 8 make FSF software not only
"not free" but rather useless, not only to them but to everyone else.

But it has long been the case that programmers have thought that everyone
else had the exact same needs and wants as they. Fortunately, probably over
99% of the population of users who have access to computers such that they
not only use, but can install, software care not one whit whether they can
both change that software _and_ distribute their changed versions to the
outside world withno encumbrances. Of those who do care, only a few seem
to really hate the idea that they can't so distribute FSF software with
their changes.

And, fortunately for everyone, anyone who really feels that "truly free"
software, not requiring source-code distribution and/or equivalent-licensing
of distribution of derivations, can choose to set up competing organizations
and products, so everyone can see which ends up winning. Just as the FSF,
Cygnus, and the many supporters of FSF-style free software already are
competing with the vast, existing proprietary-software community and the
smaller, ad-hoc public-domain and shareware communities -- and holding their
own (if not winning outright in a few areas).

Personally, I'd love to see someone set up a "Public-Domain Software
Foundation" and write stuff released via the PD mechanism, get funding for
it, etc, so we can all see whether the software would compete effectively
against FSF stuff. (Nothing would prevent the FSF from snarfing it
and releasing it under the GPL, perhaps, but that's hardly an argument
that such a PDSF couldn't effectively compete due to the FSF, because the
FSF is hardly the only organization that would do such snarfing.) Or,
set up an FSF-like organization using a GPL-like license that has fewer
restrictions (like dropping the source-code and/or derived-work requirements).

Given all the hoopla about how bad the GPL and FSF are in "pretending" to
be free, undoubtedly anyone really willing to put their money where their
mouth is would have no trouble finding others sharing their beliefs and
willing to contribute funds and/or effort towards _their_ idea of a "free"
body of software. Either that or they're in such a minority as makes little
or no difference.

Fortunately, rather than simply froth at the mouth, rms actually _did_
something, creating the FSF, and here we are. Of course, he (and some others
of us) had previously done an equivalent of "truly free" software, and he
(and a few others) ended up feeling somewhat burned by it, but that doesn't
mean others shouldn't try.

I'll close with a quote that I think is most apropos in this situation:

"So much has been given to me; I have no time to ponder over that
which has been denied."

-- Hellen Keller

  3 Responses to “Category : Network Files
Archive   : PKTD11.ZIP
Filename : GPL.DOC

  1. Very nice! Thank you for this wonderful archive. I wonder why I found it only now. Long live the BBS file archives!

  2. This is so awesome! 😀 I’d be cool if you could download an entire archive of this at once, though.

  3. But one thing that puzzles me is the “mtswslnkmcjklsdlsbdmMICROSOFT” string. There is an article about it here. It is definitely worth a read: