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Re: YaST licence


On Tue, Dec 04, 2001 at 07:46:25PM +0100, Lionel Elie Mamane wrote:
> > OTOH, they are doing a good job of spreading GNU/Linux to more
> > people
> Yes, but the manner they are doing it is corrupting the very soul of
> the GNU. They send the message "after all, key components of the OS
> are still non-free, and this is OK".

As I happen to work (part time) for SuSE, my time has come to give a comment.

I sometimes wonder why people are so focused on GPL, when it comes to 
the definition of "free". There are some essential things people want to be
able to do with software:
* Use it for whatever you want
* Get the source code
* Change it for your own purpose
* Distribute the original or changed code for free
* Distribute the code charging money

The main difference between SuSE's YaST license and the GPL is that the 
GPL allows the latter, while SuSE's YaST license disallows selling products
based on YaST. All the other points are fulfilled by both licenses. Meaning
that you can still copy SuSE CDs and give them for free to your friends
legally. Or make your own version of the installer and offer those as gifts.

There are certainly good reasons to also allow charging money. 
But for my personal feeling, it's much less important than the other 4

There have been a lot of discussion inside SuSE whether or not YaST should
be GPL'd. A lot of developers are in favour of it.

The reason why it's not happening is simple:
SuSE does still own a significant amount of money by selling the
distribution. From this money, the developers (and support and ...) are 
paid, and a lot of them help to improve Linux and Free Software.

Now, if some company could just duplicate the SuSE CDs and could sell them
for 50% of the money (as they neither have development cost nor contribute
to free software) SuSE would lose revenue, and in turn would need to lay off
developers. I'm not sure that this would be the ideal solution, but opinions
on that can differ, of course.

I'd like to add that YaST adds a commodity to install and administrate Linux.
So much that a lot of newcomers like it.
But fortunately, you're not locked into it. 
You can perfectly well remove it from your hard disk and do updates via RPM
and edit /etc/rc.config and use SuSEconfig to produce the depending config
files or even edit all the config files with a text editor. SuSE Linux 7.2
scored the most points when being released in the LSB compliance tests
compared to other released distros, so this is not just theory. 

Anyway, I hope some day people find business models which allow to pay
developers to contribute to free software and to make a nice installer 
with a completely free license.

PS: If you're interested in YaST license details, I can provide you with
plenty of information ...


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