ANNOUNCE: Ice 2.0 released

Marc Laukien marc at zeroc.com
Tue Nov 30 21:44:35 CET 2004


> Consider the *hypothetical* situation where an individual or a group
> of people re-write large portions of Ice.  This could enhance the
> value of Ice (obviously to some, if not all), or this could conflict
> with the ideologies of Ice (again, not in everyone's point of view). 
> How will ZeroC react to this?

Everybody can enhance or modify Ice, we don't have any problems with 
this whatsoever. The GPL explicitly allows you to do so. However, this 
does not mean that we have to take over these changes or additions into 
our Ice distribution. In many cases, this would also not be necessary, 
as the most likely contribution would be in form of plug-ins or services.

As an aside, you are completely free to use any license, if you write 
your own implementation of the Ice protocol or specification language. 
Neither the protocol nor the specification language are patented. So 
while our own implementation is available under GPL or a commercial 
license only, you could write a new implementation under a license of 
your choosing. We don't have any problems with this either. In fact, we 
encourage it, otherwise we wouldn't have documented our protocol so 
carefully.

> 
> I believe whichever road you take, ZeroC is going to find itself in
> problems.  If ZeroC merges the changes made by this/these person(s),
> how can ZeroC now sell it under a commercial license, as closed source
> (violation of GPL)?  If you refuse to merge the changes, you have just
> given them a strong impetus to fork.  History shows XEmacs and EGCS as
> two such examples.

I don't see any problems. If we merge a contribution into our Ice 
distribution, then we need to reach an agreement with the contributor as 
to how we can handle non-GPL licenses. If no agreement is reached, then 
we cannot merge this contribution into our Ice distribution.

> 
> Guess what I am primarily interested in finding out is rooted in what
> I said earlier:
> 
> 
>>>Interesting to see this blend of GPL and an alternative for
>>>closed-source software.
> 
> 
> What were the ideas behind going the GPL way?  How did ZeroC plan on
> benefiting from it?  Were there any qualms within ZeroC in going GPL?

The idea is simple: Ice should be free for open-source applications, but 
if somebody wants to use Ice for a closed-source application, then we 
want a fair share of the revenue. So far this works quite well :)

No, there were no qualms within ZeroC with using the GPL, we all pretty 
much agreed from the start that this is a reasonable licensing model.

Note that we are not the only one who use such a dual-licensing scheme. 
For example, if you want to use Berkeley DB (an excellent embedded 
database) for a closed-source project, then you also have to buy a 
commercial license. (They don't use GPL as their open-source license, 
but something that is similar to the GPL.)

> 
> Note that I am not saying GPL and commercial software don't go
> together (I do believe though that LGPL and commercial software don't
> go together).  I am well aware of Free software being "Free speech,
> not free beer".
> 
> What if you did not provide Ice as a free download, but a price based
> on your current licensing policy(*).  However, the download would give
> one the complete source, and the freedom to modify and redistribute it
> (at whatever price so long as the complete source code with the GPL
> notice is released).
> (*):  All of this is hypothetical.  Am not making a business
> proposition here.

I'm not sure I understand what you are suggesting. You want us to charge 
for a GPL download? I don't think this makes sense, a GPL download 
should be free.

> 
> You do not, because that would discourage Ice from becoming
> ubiquitous, from paving way for becoming a potential de-facto
> standard.
> 
> Then, why not simply advertise Ice as being commercial (with unlimited
> free trial plus source code)?  Doing so, would get you the extensive
> peer review that you are currently benefitting from.  What do you gain
> by going GPL?  The freedom to modify and/or redistribute is
> (apparently) pretty restricted anyway.

We are quite happy with our licensing model, and many of our users use 
Ice under GPL. I neither see the need to restrict nor to loosen our 
licensing terms in any way.

> 
> 
>>>PS:  Please feel free to set FU-Ts as appropriate.
>>
>>What are FU-Ts?
>>
> 
> 
> "Follow-up To:".  Most news clients will allow sending a post to
> multiple groups, restricting any possible responses to certain groups
> alone.  A poster who is replying can over-ride it, of course.

Thanks for the explanation. I learn something new every day :)

-- Marc



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