Have you read this?
People who do what the GPL tries to prevent (e.g., closed source forks of open source projects) wind up injuring only themselves
Eric, I don't think you understand what the GNU GPL represents. It protects us from corporations absorbing the project into itself. If MySQL the software was licensed under the BSD license, MySQL the company would have no reason to contribute back to the original source.
After a while, MySQL the company would hire all of the developers who contribute code to MySQL the software. Since MySQL the company has been responsible for the source since its inception, employs many of the contributors, and has strong relationships with the rest, this would be trivial.
At this point, if MySQL the software were licensed under the BSD license (or similar licenses that don't provide the Freedom that the GPL provides), MySQL the company could stop distributing the source to entities outside of itself.
This is the important difference that I think you are missing. The GPL ensures Freedom, not freeware.
If every time you build a product based on Linux you must release the source code, it's clear that everyone will know that it's based on Linux.
Ah. This is a common misconception. Software that runs on top of the Linux kernel need not be released under the GPL. Read that carefully.
Frederico is taking the metaphor of the GPL and Viruses too far. I strongly suggest reading the entirety of the GPL. Go ahead. I'll wait.
The user chooses only for copies of the software still under GPL 2. The author is free to change his license to 3.0.
The condition you call "undefined" means users cannot have rights they might have been counting on summarily yanked out from under them. Which is a good thing: the GPL was supposed to be about guaranteeing the users' rights, after all.
Eric, you should also note that the GPL was written for the case where the developer *is* the user. Any users who do not contribute to the software they use do not, IMHO, meet the litmus test of being a "user." Keep in mind that "contribute to" doesn't necessarily mean "write code for".
if we really believe that open source is a superior system of production, and therefore that it will drive out closed source in a free market, then why do we think we need infectious licensing?
Ick. What a terrible visual.
How 'bout we call it what it is. We're keeping our software our software. If someone distributes work on a project, they expect to be able to use the feature they implemented or improved throughout the life of the project. The GPL protects that. Self-protection is what we as free software developers have in common with viruses. Don't claim that software resembles viruses in any other way. Infection is not one of those similarities.
You can not "catch" the GPL if you're not careful. We're not contagious. Well, I take it back. We are contagious. But you have to do a lot more than shake our hands. You have to be committed to Freedom and be willing to document your commitment. Licensing your code under the GPL has to be a conscious and explicit decision documented in many places. If you *do* license your code under the GPL, though, there's no going back.
So the answer to your question is yes... Red Hat is a demonstration that you can have a profitable business based on entirely GPL code. You may have to play some interesting tricks with trademark law to do it, though. As I understand it now, what Red Hat has done is legally blocked republication of its entire RHEL distribution even though any component part is still GPLed and therefore freely redistributable.
Damn, that's clever and sneaky. I like it. It serves everybody: Red Hat gets a fence around its product, but all the community objectives of open source licensing are still met.
All the community objectives of open source licensing? Does this include freedom to use the software which the developer contributed to? Is it possible to get a RHEL distribution sans trademarked material?
This is one of the reasons I've never used redhat... Sorry, Bob, your product just isn't Free enough. Not to say it's not a great product. It's just not something I can afford to use. Fedora would be good if it were stable. Maybe I should just set my teeth and get used to the distribution. It looks like a lot of corporations do use it.
And then I got bored and went back to work.