Re: [unrev-II] MySQL License

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Wed Apr 26 2000 - 14:25:13 PDT

  • Next message: Eric Armstrong: "Re: [unrev-II] Groupware and Corporate Repositories"

    Much as I agree with your opinion in spirit, Eric Raymond's
    post (forward by Jon Winters) points out that the distinction
    is so hard to draw in practice, that the terms become so vague
    as to be impossibly limiting. Raymond's example was a person
    who puts the software on a CD, and sells the CD. Is that "using
    the software for profit?"

    Our choices are to either do the philosophical reasoning and
    legal necessary to clearly distinguish cases in such a way that
    no wet blankets are thrown on development, or else capitulate
    on the issue, go full open source, and turn our attention instead
    to the question: How does an open source initiative get funded?

    Jon pointed us to one group that was able to do so, to the tune
    of $11m. They are working on a windowing interface for Linux.
    There are only two business models I see that could possibly
    account for the funding:
      a) They are working on a suite of applications to build
         on the platform, counting on their experience developing
         the platform to get into the fray ahead of any competition
      b) They are planning to sell the platform after it has been
         fully developed.

    Model "b" is obviously counter to the spirit of open source
    efforts. One hopes that is not the model, but for $11m, it's
    hard to be sure. (What prevents *any* open source system from
    forking into a closed model, at some point?)

    Model "a" makes a lot of sense, as long as they are planning to
    tap into the billion-dollar Office-software model. Here again,
    we see funding for a *platform* on which revenue-generating
    applications will be built. The only way that works is if the
    applications are *not* open source.

    Or maybe there is some other business model. It sure would be
    nice to know...

    Jeff Miller wrote:
    > On Mon, Apr 24, 2000 at 04:32:44PM -0700, Lee Iverson wrote:
    > > The MySQL license is definitely interesting but it is on the edge of
    > > the Open Source definition. Drawing a direct distinction between
    > > commercial/non-commercial uses is a problem.
    > commercial should cover;
    > * charging for a product or service of which your building block forms
    > a
    > key component (how do you define this?)
    > or
    > * you actively provide support services on a fees charged basis. By
    > active
    > I mean you advertise and seek business supporting this software.
    > should be free for;
    > * internal use.
    > * personal use
    > ie, it's only when one entity forms a relationship with another entity
    > for
    > the purposes of creating profit by using your product that I'd be
    > interested in charging. Interal use is too difficult to police and
    > relies
    > on the honesty of the organisation. It also slows the spread of the
    > software and the ideaologies assouciated with it, so don't try.
    > compare
    > MySQL and Oracle, oracle is supearior in may repects but I can think
    > of
    > several organisation that use mysql as it's cheaper to buy, ie free,
    > (actually it life cycle cost is lower but no-one thinks of that).
    > > The fundamental issue is whether we are trying to build an
    > application
    > > or to build the foundation for an industry. In my opinion, there is
    > > no question: an industry. In order to do that we need to worry
    > about
    > > some very basic things:
    > > o Simple standards
    > > & Broad interoperability
    > > & Very low-effort buy in
    > > => Open source infrastructure
    > Industry. definately. the standard should be open, the product is
    > another
    > matter. that way if the product fails at least the standard lives on
    > and
    > other people can release products that are interoperable. this
    > "competing"
    > software then re-enforces your standard in a bootstrapping manner.
    > remember metcalfe's (sp?) law, O(n^2).
    > Jeff.
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