source code documentation

Christopher R. Hertel crh at
Fri Dec 17 22:47:03 GMT 1999

> This whole attitude bothers me.

The conversation has gone back and forth a bit, so I'm not sure to which
attitude you are referring.

> The whole idea of  GPL is to put a good implementation out in the
> public.  If someone steals ideas, the GPL version should still be
> better and more commonly used.

First off, someone who (like you) learns from the code, uses that
knowledge to do a job, but who also returns the favor by sharing any 
additional insites.  That's a good thing.

Also, I'd love to see all aspects of SMB/NetBIOS/CIFS documented.  The
more people know about this the better.  I'm sure that there will be
charitable organizations set up to help them over the shock.  ;)

Regarding the topic of corporate 'use' of GPL software in general, there
are two levels here: 

1) Richard's message talked about companies contacting us with the 
   expectation that we would spend our time and effort helping them, with
   no compensation.  I seconded Richard's observation that there are a lot
   of folks out there who are expecting (sometimes demanding) us to happily 
   give them our time, effort, and knowledge with nothing offered (to us 
   or the commuity) in return.  This is not acceptable.

   When we give that same time, effort, and knowledge to the community we
   are adding to the general pool.  Since we also derive benefit from the 
   pool, it's a worth-while exchange.  The key thing, though, is that 
   *everybody wins*.

2) The other level has to do with people making lots of money by 
   leveraging Open Source software indirectly.  I'm talking talking about
   everyone from VA & Red Hat to companies that learn from OSS code and
   then use that knowledge for their own gain.  This all gets a bit more 

   The argument has been made, for example, that VA and Red Hat are 
   earning all that money on the value-add they provide, and not on the 
   sweat of the OSS developer's brow.  Also, both companies are supporting
   (financially and otherwise) further OSS development.  At the same 
   time, there is a feeling that the developers themselves (except for 
   the high profile ones) are not getting invited to the multi-million
   dollar party. 

   Those who use Open Source code as a learning tool don't bother me as
   much, though it is annoying when they make money off of someone else's
   work and don't even acknowledge it.  The BSD license requires that
   attribution be made, and the GPL goes further by requiring that
   changes and fixes be made publicly available.  Both of these, however,
   apply only to the code and not to the ideas & knowledge that went into
   writing that code. 

Chris -)-----

             -- I have a shoehorn, the kind with teeth. --
Christopher R. Hertel -)-----                   University of Minnesota
crh at              Networking and Telecommunications Services

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