Public Domain Python

Grant Griffin g2 at
Thu Sep 21 09:37:02 CEST 2000

Huaiyu Zhu wrote:
> On Mon, 18 Sep 2000 22:10:56 +0100, Grant Griffin <g2 at> wrote:
> >
> >For example, imagine how much better the world would be if Linux were
> >"truly free" instead of perpetually encumbered by that whole nutty
> >copyleft ball-and-chain thing.  Now wouldn't the world be a better
> >place?
> >
> >(BTW, that last paragraph clearly was a "troll".  Please don't encourage
> >my fundamental flaws by responding to them. <wink>)
> I have not joined this discussion before, but I'll take this troll.
> You don't need to imagine it, because there are already many examples. There
> are many BSDs that are "truly free" in your sense.  They may even be better
> than Linux from engineering point of view.  They are just not as popular,
> which feeds back on itself and manifest in the relative lack in the variety
> of application software.
> Is there a correlation between GPL and greater user participation?  I think
> there is.  Let me explain.

<reasonable explaination snipped>

I guess we'll never know the exact mix of the relative usage of Linux
versus BSD, but I can think of at least three factors:

1. Linus Torvalds is an extremely good marketer.  In fact, he's the
marketer that Richard Stallman never will be.  (Tim Peters is an
excellent marketeer as well.  It's a really good thing Guido's found
him. <wink>)  Assuming all things are equal on a technical basis between
two things that overlap (like Linux and BSD), obviously marketing makes
the difference between which one is accepted and which one isnt.  In the
case of BSD, I don't know of anybody marketing it whatsoever (except its
loyal users.)  In other words, BSD has no "Linus Torvalds".
2. BSD doesn't come with the GPL.  I look at the GPL primarily as a
"marketing gimmick" (see 1.)  Although it excludes a certain segment, it
has a strong marketing appeal to another segment: hackers.  These are
the people, of course, who are most likely to donate
economically-valuable source code, so appealing to them is very
important.  In terms of your explanation, my interpretation here is that
the GPL _is_ a very significant factor in the success of Linux, not for
"legal" reasons, _per se_, but for "marketing" reasons.  (The GPL is by
far the best piece of marketing that Richard Stallman ever did. <wink>) 
The interpretation of the GPL as a marketing thing adequately explains
why other open-source projects do just fine without it.  And Perl's
license is best of all: Use the GPL if you want to (for its marketing
appeal), or use Perl's truly free "Artistic License" if you want.  (Who
says you can't have your cake and eat it too? <wink>)
3. Linux comes with the "GNU" part of the "GNU/Linux" system.  I don't
know if BSD does or not.  But the "key to the GNU kingdom" obviously is
the gcc compiler; if BSD doesn't come with that (or an own equally good
compiler that produces highly optimized code on almost every hardware
platform known to man) it is at a severe disadvantage.

marketing,-benjamin,--marketing-ly y'rs,


Grant R. Griffin                                       g2 at
Publisher of dspGuru                 
Iowegian International Corporation

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