[svlug] Business models (was Re: RANT: Ubuntu is Evil)

Alan DuBoff aland at softorchestra.com
Fri Jan 22 12:56:00 PST 2010

On Fri, 22 Jan 2010, Ivan Sergio Borgonovo wrote:

> So... people continue to develop proprietary drivers but they like
> Linux where taking care of HW support outside the tree is hard...
> and they prefer Linux over BSD (???).

I don't know I would characterize them as proprietary drivers, I 
think un-released drivers might be a better label. I believe 
this is what keeps people on old kernels with their embedded 

I think there are a few reasons it happens, in some cases people 
just don't have the expertise to do the putback, or other cases 
developers are lazy and don't want to go through their own 
corporate legal. I'm not sure we can stereotype them, just to 
say that the sources don't end up in the kernel tree.

> I'm an optimist ;)
> I'd say that GPL is a better community builder and that Linux kernel
> run faster no matter if companies understand it is in their own
> interest to release code.

My experience is that often the BSD kernel will run faster, at 
other expenses.

I have gone back and forth on the GPL over the years, but have 
come to feel comfortable with it, if nothing else, but that it 
seems to keep the development to continue and the changes that 
have been made are trying to close some of the holes that 
Corporations have found to exploit it.

One such example which also relates to the previous point 
above...some companies have found that they can hold their 
customers hostage by charging services which in turn provide 
them with the latest drivers and/or kernel changes for a given 
chipset, with changes that are held back from being putback. The 
GPL wasn't designed to allow for that, yet it has existed and 
certain corporations have used that as a revenue stream.

Another loop hole in the past was people providing old sources, 
yet offering newer binaries/tools for customers who have paid 
for their service contracts.

Yet, another loop hole was when Red Hat provided the sources but 
not config/make files to build the sources (older versions of 
RHES did that).

The GPL doesn't alleviate all of these problems entirely, but it 
does help encourage people to play by the rules, and that is 
actually good, IMO. I also believe some of this is what has 
caused the GPL to evolve.


Alan DuBoff - Software Orchestration

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