Using Open Source Merely to Sell Proprietary Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, SUN at 10:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Redefining open source, forgetting Free software

What’s in a licence? To a developer — almost everything. See the citation at the bottom of this post (from a KDE developer).

“Microsoft ‘Open Source’ casts a shadow on the meaning of the term because such source typically depends on the availability of a proprietary software stack which may include SQL Server, SharePoint, .NET and Windows.”Sun's embrace of MySQL is an interesting one because we are told that we should like it, but affinity very much depends on whether we care about the Linux kernel or Free software in the broader sense. And then there’s open source. Microsoft ‘Open Source’ casts a shadow on the meaning of the term because such source typically depends on the availability of a proprietary software stack which may include SQL Server, SharePoint, .NET and Windows. It is open source only at one level of abstraction (think about the ‘Java trap’) and it mainly serves the producer of the stack, not just the developer and maintainer of the source code.

I happen to know this pretty well because my MATLAB contributions, for example, despite the fact that they are free and open source, are just helping MathWorks market itself. Without MATLAB, which is expensive, the code cannot run. That is open source as a development paradigm, but sometimes it entirely misses the point of Free software.

Linus Torvalds recently spoke about this issue. Dana Blankenhorn and Ed Burnette spoke about this too and here is an interesting discussion whose focus is Sun Microsystems.

In an interview at the Linux Foundation, Linus Torvalds warned of commercial control of open source. Using Java and OpenSolaris as an example he pointed out that “Sun ends up having rights that nobody else has – even if they then act perfectly and they really behave well, just the fact that they have special rights makes people legitimately feel like they are second class citizens.”

Fellow ZDNet blogger Dana Blankenhorn refers to this situation as “proprietary open source“.

Speaking of licenses and Freedom, Avionica has just made a press release available and it indicates that the GPLv3 was chosen.

Avionica will be releasing the Iridium(TM) Portal technology under the GNU GPLv3 license. Under these terms, any licensee who makes improvements to the source must re-submit those improvements to the community under like terms. For more information on the Avionica Iridium(TM) Portal, please contact Raul Segredo.

The next post will briefly look into the way Microsoft fits into this picture, especially in light of recent developments.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one


  1. Victor said,

    February 9, 2008 at 4:33 pm


    Linus has a strange sense of what business means… he should only talk about kernels… (just like his recent comments on Vista and Leopard shows his ignorance on why a user interfaces exist..)

    MySQL has always had the same model (the rights to the code belongs to them)… why is it an issue now?…

    Not being able to take ZFS and DTrace surely is a torn on his side, it seems

    “even if they then act perfectly and they really behave well, just the fact that they have special rights makes people legitimately feel like they are second class citizens.”

    why would anyone feel they are second class?… the only difference now is that the LAMP stack may not need the L so much… is that a problem?… surely we don’t want to change the Windows monopoly with a Linux monopoly, do we?

  2. Brendan said,

    February 9, 2008 at 5:08 pm


    “why would anyone feel they are second class?… the only difference now is that the LAMP stack may not need the L so much… is that a problem?… surely we don’t want to change the Windows monopoly with a Linux monopoly, do we?”

    It’s not that we are against Windows’s monopoly, It M$ is about money, vender lock in and not innovation. Where as Linux on the other hand, doesn’t have the money “cloud”, that software cooperations have. And as such are not driven to sell their project and can spend more time on developing innovation in their project. Also Microsoft is about

    Also your remarks about the LAMP stack proves my point. As the open source community is not controlled by money, Apache, MySql and PHP(not to mention firefox, and others) are all cross platform and therefore have more ‘market share’ than ASP will ever have. Every part of the LAMP stack can be changed, but still makes the structure open source.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 9, 2008 at 8:10 pm



    While I’m not against Sun (definitely not against BSDs), I’m also aware that they want to control the *AMP stack for profit. They want to sell you additional services, including some software which may be proprietary (on top). In fact, MySQL started something like this about 2 months ago. I trust Linux and the Linux Foundation more than I trust Sun. Heck, Sun still uses the CDDL, increasingly within a dual role.

    If Sun chose the GPLv3 (no duality), that would be a game-changer. In fact, Morton said that had Sun done that, Linux would probably follow suit. Linux could get a ‘kick in the pants’ and feel some heat not just from Microsoft. I’m very convinced that POSIX will defeat Microsoft on the desktop (this includes Apple), so we need to ensure it’s beneficial to customers and developers, not just the Master of the Domain and Keeper of the Gates [sic].

  4. Victor said,

    February 10, 2008 at 2:33 am


    Roy, of course linux will follow to GPL3 if solaris does… there’s so much technology to gain… just as apple did on mac os x

    I see no wrong in trying to get some profit from the AMP stack… after all, sun paid $1 billion for mysql… it is still under the GPL, nothing has changed… only the hands under the “additional services” fall upon (which most users wont ever use, as it always has been…).. and that’s the common open source business model

    CDDL is an open source license, approved by the FSF.. there’s no duality in it, as it follows the 4 liberties… only that the GPL is incompatible with it

    I don’t see so much future on linux as you do… remember that most of it’s decisions fall, not under the FSF or the linux foundation, but under Linus Torvalds and his “only developers-no common users” philosophy for an OS… his elitist point of view is the main reason why linux as not taken over yet… and is why he criticizes apple for the most… because they did with a unix-like system what he hasn’t been capable of… being a thread to MS

    Brendan, I don’t see how your post is an answer to mi first post, but anyways… do you consider that sun buying mysql is a vendor lock in?… mysql still supports linux, windows, symbian and all the others OSs….

    that it will get improvements on solaris using ZFS, Lustre and Dtrace, that’s true…. but it is still under GPL, cross-platform and with no plans on changing any of that, money or no money…. Schwartz has stated so on his blog, if you care to search for it… and improvements is always a good thing

    remember that open source != linux… there are many options to follow, other than a simple kernel choice… solaris is as much open source as linux is… and so are the BSDs

  5. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 10, 2008 at 2:48 am


    Good insights, Victor, with which I largely agree. To say more on that last point you make, while I use GNU/Linux on all my computers, I do always remember that the kernel makes up about 3% of the whole (judging by the Debian example).

    Tying this to the context of this Web site, Novell did not betray Linux. Novell betrayed Free software as whole. This happens to include OpenOffice.org, for which Novell received ‘protections’ before Microsoft came blasting 7 months later, claiming that OOo infringes on its software patents.

    Novell has helped Microsoft fight not only Free software (BSD, Linux, OpenSolaris, etc.), but it also assisted Microsoft’s battle against open standards, among other things. This is very disruptive and Novell might be remembered in a negative flight for doing this.

    The amount of Free software out there is vast. For companies to produce a good kernel and sell some software is no sin, I agree. If they improve an already well-engineered kernel and license it properly, that’s grand. Tomorrow I’ll post a video about the Linus/GPLv2 – FSF/GPLv3 debate.

What Else is New

  1. Links 28/11/2020: RenderDoc 1.11, GNOME 40 Scrolling Horizontally

    Links for the day

  2. Nine Documents About the Financial Siege Against EPO Staff (Past, Present, and Future)

    Today we release dozens of pages of letters and documents (internal to Europe's second-largest institution); they all focus on the betrayal and skulduggery, crushing staff in spite of what was originally promised (and what workers actually signed up for)

  3. EPO Senior Management (Cabal) “Essentially Deaf to the Proposals From Staff Representatives.”

    Representatives of EPO staff feel like the management of the EPO is "deaf" and uncaring; there's hardly any meaningful progress (or none whatsoever) when it comes to truly honest dialogue with real participation

  4. EPO Management, Led by António Campinos, Attempted to Stifle or Prevent Staff From Being Surveyed

    Battistelli's cabal, which covers up a lot of fraud and corruption, is attempting to prevent the staff from expressing an opinion (for insiders and perhaps outsiders to assess) because things are really bad and autocratic measures are seen as necessary to keep the lid on issues/abuses

  5. The European Patent Office's Central Staff Committee: Office Cannot Recruit Fit-for-Purpose Patent Examiners Anymore

    One third of EPO recruits are 'locals' (Germans), 0.2% are Swiss, 1% Scandinavian; the EPO as an employer became unattractive and it's unable to attract the staff it needs (as was projected and planned when the EPC was agreed upon)

  6. IRC Proceedings: Friday, November 27, 2020

    IRC logs for Friday, November 27, 2020

  7. Links 27/11/2020: Jolla is 7, Diffoscope 162, MNT Reform Production

    Links for the day

  8. The Time Coronavirus Helped EPO Management Prevent Staff From Protesting and Going on Strike (March 26th)

    "In view of the spreading of the New Corona Virus, the planned General Assemblies have to be cancelled," the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) wrote in the wake of the crisis across Europe back in March (weeks ahead of a planned strike)

  9. Guarding Your Privacy With E2EE: Primer

    "As with all security, there is assumed risk no matter how careful you are. There are no security guarantees but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try."

  10. Links 27/11/2020: Systemd 247 and Cockpit 233

    Links for the day

  11. A Free Speech Deficit Harms Software Freedom

    Free software and Software Freedom cannot possibly succeed if we keep accepting or even just tolerating systematic censorship of opinionated people in our community; failing to speak out on this matter (for fear of supposedly offending someone, risking expulsion) is part of the problem — complicity by passivity

  12. Perception of Difficulty

    New poem by figosdev

  13. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, November 26, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, November 26, 2020

  14. Cartoon: After Gambling With Workers' Savings the EPO Can Do Real Estate

    New EPO cartoon from EPO insiders (the one on the right certainly looks a lot like António Campinos and the one on the left can be his EUIPO ‘import’ or Benoît Battistelli‘s INPI ‘import’)

  15. Free as in Freedom Should Not be Associated With Cost

    It's important to remind people that so-called 'free' services (Clown Computing, centralised spaces that 'farm' their so-called 'users') aren't really free; we need to advocate freedom or free-as-in-freedom alternatives

  16. [Meme] UPC's Pyrrhic Victory

    Contrary to what Team UPC says, what happened earlier today is hardly a breakthrough

  17. Many Thanks to Free Software, the Demise of Software Patents (in Europe and the US), and So Much More

    On a positive note we're heading into the end of November, one month before Boxing Day; we take stock of patent affairs that impact software developers

  18. Links 26/11/2020: PHP 8.0, Proxmox VE 6.3, UNIGINE 2.13

    Links for the day

  19. 29,000 Blog Posts and Recent Site Improvements

    Over 29,000 blog posts have been posted here, but more importantly we've made the site a lot more robust and resilient, accessible in more formats and protocols (while improving transparency, too)

  20. [Meme] Trump is Out. Now It's Time to Pressure the Biden Administration/Transition Team on Software Freedom Issues.

    The Biden transition is in motion and tentative appointments are underway, based on news reports (see our Daily Links); now is the time to put pressure, e.g. in the form of public backlash, to ensure it's not just another corporate presidency

  21. Boycott ZDNet Unless You Fancy Being Lied to

    ZDNet's Catalin Cimpanu continues to lead the way with misinformation and lies, basically doing whatever he was doing to land that job at ZDNet (after he had done the same elsewhere)

  22. The UPC and Unitary Patent Song

    On goes the UPC symphony, as the Unified Patent Court (UPC) is almost here, always coming "real soon!"

  23. Open Letter to the German Greens on UPC and Software Patents: Don’t Betray Your Voters and Your Promises, or You Will Regret it

    Dear Members of the German Greens in the Bundestag. By Benjamin HENRION.

  24. [Meme] One Step Away From Replacing Patent Examiners With 'Hey Hi' (AI)

    If it's not legal for 'Hey Hi' (AI) to get a patent, why should it be legal for patents to be granted by those who are invisible (and sometimes in de facto house arrest)?

  25. European Patent Office (EPO) Reduced to 'Justice Over the Telephone' and Decree by E-mail

    The EPO is trashing the EPC and everything that the Office was supposed to stand for, as it wrongly assumes demand for monopolies (typically from foreign corporations) comes before the rule of law and Europe's public interest

  26. Making Free Software Work for Users

    The latest reply to a non-developer concerned about software freedom; guest post by figosdev

  27. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, November 25, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, November 25, 2020

  28. Links 26/11/2020: AV Linux 2020.11.23 and Blender 2.91 Release

    Links for the day

  29. Links 25/11/2020: GamerOS and Biden Transition in Motion

    Links for the day

  30. An Orwellian December

    With December around the corner and states tightening the screws on the population (or employers on employees) at least we can look forward to spring

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts