Why so few Python jobs? (and licenses)

Paul Rubin phr-n2001d at nightsong.com
Wed Oct 10 05:16:23 CEST 2001

Glyph Lefkowitz <glyph at twistedmatrix.com> writes:
> I'm an author of [l]GPL software that (unfortunately, I'll admit)
> requires copyright consignment, and I think that in any case it's an
> statement of goodwill.  I don't think any developer I work with would
> willingly consign copyright if they didn't trust my vision for the
> project and common sense. 

I'm not sure what you mean about assigning copyright or
unfortunateness.  If you mean you feel sadly compelled to not accept
contributions unless the contributor assigns the copyright to you, ok,
that's just common sense--it's the only way you can be sure you can
use the changes.  The FSF has required assignments from contributors
since the very beginning (I've signed a number of them).  However, the
FSF assignment contract promises the contributor that the program
incorporating the contribution will always be distributed for free.  I
could imagine insisting on a clause like that before signing an
assignment to someone else's GPL'd project.

> I also don't think you'd submit patches to the GIMP authors if you
> thought that the GIMP was dead; consider how much you would've
> benefitted from receiving a complete royalty-free paint program that
> you *can* write patches for, relative to how much value you would
> have been "giving away" to the GIMP developers by resubmitting your
> patch.

In reality I've used with GIMP a little but never tried to patch it.
I've also used the no-extra-cost copy of Photoshop LE that came with
my scanner.  At least for the simple ways I use such programs (I'm not
a graphics whiz), GIMP has no user-visible advantages over Photoshop.
I use it because I simply prefer using free programs to using
proprietary ones.  (Ok, there's also the little matter that GIMP runs
under Linux, which is my normal OS, and Photoshop doesn't, but that's
fairly minor).  Anyway, if I implement a feature for GIMP that's
already in Photoshop, I don't get any additional benefits aside from
feelgood points, compared to just using Photoshop in the first place.
And if I'm working for feelgood points, the issue of how commercial
versions make me feel becomes important to the calculation.

> I know I wouldn't even *use* Python if I didn't fundamentally trust
> Guido's stewardship of it, license or no license.

Yes.  I started looking at Python after the news releases that it had
become GPL-compatible.  I'd have never paid attention to it at all if
it had stayed incompatible.  Python is in the community spirit in that
Guido hasn't apparently reserved any rights for himself that are held
back from the users.  That's a lot better IMO than "GPL for everyone,
exceptions available for a fee".  I'd have used 100% GPL, but Guido's
goals are different from mine, and that's his right.

> So, price the labor for that two-line fix that you've made against all
> the free fixes that you've gotten for free from other apache-using
> folks AND against the fact development of Apache in the first place.
> To compare, factor in the cost of maintaining a proprietary web-server
> and how much the service people at proprietary-server-company X would
> charge you for a two-line fix that you could dist out to your employer
> within a single night.  I think it still comes out to the fact that
> you owe the Apache module group a couple grand :-).

I'm aware of that (in fact we trashed our several kilobuck Netscape
server to switch to Apache) and aware that a lot of the fixes in
Apache came from users.  That's why I'd have a bigger problem spending
time fixing Apache as a volunteer, if the main beneficiaries of the
fixes were companies selling proprietary versions (i.e. I get that
couple of grand worth of benefit from using the program while some
company gets megabucks of revenue from peddling closed versions of
it).  In the example I described, I was getting paid (by my employer)
to make the fix, so the specific volunteer issue doesn't apply.

> Of course, in order to avoid this discussion entirely, you could use a
> web platform written in Python (and therefore practically immune to
> "malloc errors"), such as Zope, WebWare, or <PROMOTION TARGET="self"
> STYLE="ruthless">twisted.web, available at
> http://twistedmatrix.com</PROMOTION>! ;-)

These programs are all way too slow for a high-traffic site on the
hardware we used back then.  Even with today's hardware, it would be
marginal.  Twisted looks cool though.  Maybe I'll play with it.  Have
you really written SSL in pure Python?  I was thinking of doing that.

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