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Re: GPL and inhouse use?

From: Merijn de Weerd
Subject: Re: GPL and inhouse use?
Date: Tue, 16 May 2006 08:09:20 +0200
User-agent: slrn/ (FreeBSD)

On 2006-05-16, Eric <> wrote:
> Merijn de Weerd wrote:
>> Suppose you add a lot of code to implement a really robust and
>> unique embedded software stack that makes a great product. You'd
>> want to keep that proprietary to prevent your competition from
>> gaining the same advantage that you just worked months or years to
>> create. Yet, you have to share if you build upon GPL software.
>> The same should apply to the in-house environment you describe.
> so its basically "if i modify any gpl'd code I must give away my changes
> whether or not i keep it 'in-house' "?

Right now the GPL makes a distinction for in-house code. Only
if you distribute binaries do you have to share the source. I
was just saying that that should change: also in-house code
should be shared, once it's out of testing.

> Wow, if i have that right, then thats about the very best way i know of to
> prevent any company from using a kernel as a base for their own proprietary
> needs. Its like saying: Here's a hammer and some nails, do what you want
> with it, but if you build a house you have to build one for your neighbor
> too.

Go and use a BSD kernel if you don't like the GPL's conditions.
Many companies are building products on top of the Linux kernel,
often with modifications and extensions which they release
under GPL as they should. This includes the largest CE companies
in the world, all working together to make the Linux kernel
more suited to their purpose ( 
So I think your fears are misguided.

>  In your example, you left out that your competitor who makes the same
> embedded product, just took your 2 years of development efforts and got
> them for free while you spent all the up front costs in programmers,
> computers, etc to develop it no thanks to him and now you have to just give
> it to him? No Way! how is that a good idea? 

The next time _he_ makes modifications, you get to use those
modifications for free. In the end that balances out.
Besides, why are you spending two years on stuff that really
does not make your product unique? 

It's not a surprise that people use the GPL'ed Linux kernel
so often. It's good quality but it is not something that
makes your product unique. In such a case you should not
spend time and effort on it. A common platform then is a
really good idea. Everyone shares some of his code, and then
no one has to create _all_ of the code. 

> If thats really the way it is,
> then a company would be far smarter to pay a license fee up front and own
> the base code.

Go right ahead. You know where to find the Linux kernel team.
Let us know when you ask, the responses should be fun to read.


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