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Re: Significance of the GP licence.

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Significance of the GP licence.
Date: Tue, 04 May 2010 16:07:50 -0000
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.1.92 (gnu/linux)

Alan Mackenzie <> writes:

> In gnu.misc.discuss David Kastrup <> wrote:
>> Alan Mackenzie <> writes:
>>> Quite simply, that it is the GPL itself which is the main reason for
>>> the popularity of Linux amongst the people who write it.
>> Well, that's half of the story.  Linux has been written to support a
>> preexisting GNU userland.  And that userland has a tradition of being
>> popular and freely available quite before Linux.
> What is the reason for that popularity (amongst developers), if it's not
> the GPL.

Quality.  It was "traditional" for UNIX utilities to dump core when fed
random garbage.  And availability.  GNU utilities ran on more than just
UNIX systems.

> GPL vs. BSD license was one of the few big differences between the
> projects way back then.

Uh, not even at Linux birthtime (1991) there was a complete freely
available BSD system.  But there already was a GNU userland under
DOS/Windows and some other systems.  Life saver.

>> And BSD became freely available only some time after GNU/Linux.
> Yet how does that explain why Linux is so much more popular amongst
> developers than a BSD kernel?  BSD became freely available at a very
> early stage of the development of GNU/Linux, early enough to catch up
> on its merits.

Still not with a GNU userland.

>> The GNU userland is unpopular among BSD developers because, well,
>> they are BSD developers.  And because their kernel of choice already
>> comes in one package with a userland.
> The BSDs include some GNU stuff,

Not the normal userland.  It already has one.

> just as GNU/Linux includes some BSD licensed stuff.

But there is no preexisting GNU alternative for that which it includes
BSD licensed.

>> So quite a lot of popularity of GNU/Linux comes from GNU, and not
>> necessarily just because GNU is GPLed.
> Would you argue that GNU would have become just as popular (amongst
> its developers), had it been licensed under something like the BSD
> licence?  I would doubt that very much.

Speculative history.  We won't find out.

> Well there's little prospect of that experiment taking place,
> thankfully.


David Kastrup

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