Skip to main content.
home | support | download

Back to List Archive

Re: SWISH-E License

From: Alejandro Acosta <Alejandro.Acosta(at)>
Date: Sat May 31 2003 - 23:28:38 GMT
   Thanks for the clarification..., since I am starting to work with open
source code and hacking it, I still have some doubts, is GNU licence = GPL
licence?, is there any difference?.
   Am I free to use GNU licences to develop software (ej Quanta) for my
Intranet?, Am I free to use GNU software for my company?.

Thanks and sorry for the rookie question.


-----Original Message-----
From: Greg Fenton
To: Multiple recipients of list
Sent: 5/31/03 3:35 PM
Subject: [SWISH-E] Re: SWISH-E License

--- Roy Tennant <> wrote:
> Really? I find I have an urge for single malt scotch, myself...


> What I'm finding too restrictive is the religious nature of the 
> license. That is, it isn't enough that this specific application be 
> open source, it must force every other application with which it
> comes 
> into contact be open source as well.

Okay, hold on.  This is the "Steve Ballmer" interpretation of the GPL
and is not based on reality.

The GPL is, in my opinion, the *least* restrictive license out there. 
There is *nothing* that states that "any software that touches it must
also release its source code".  That is FUD.

What the GPL says, in a nutshell, is that if you modify source code
that is GPLed *and you distribute* that modified software, then you
also must make the modified software available (to the recipient of the
modified software).

Note: if I simply use a GPL'ed *software* (not source code) in my
proprietary system, this is okay!

What I cannot do is to take GPL'ed *source code* and use it in my own,
non-GPLed product.  (More accurately, I cannot use in in my own
non-GPL-compatible product).

In the case of SWISH-E, if I wanted to use a search engine inside of my
own product then I would have to GPL my product *if* I used the source
code of SWISH-E in my product code.

If, however, I simply called the swish-e executable from my proprietary
system the it would be "okay" (though RMS might argue that its

The LGPL basically says that the SWISH-E engine is distributed as a
library (or module), then proprietary source code could call into that

> Frankly, I'd prefer that we create 
> software that enables a lot of great things to happen, of all
> different stripes. But then, I've never been very religious
> so maybe it's just me.

So, what's has more different stripes:
  - (GNU/)Linux or MS-Windows?
  - Emacs-en or Notepad?
  - Mozilla or IE?

The more open the license, the more different stripes you will have.

> The difference is that GPL forces any software that uses a GPL 
> application to be open source as well.

More accurately: any software that *includes GPL'ed source code*.

> The LGPL, as well as other licenses, does not force such a thing.

No, but it would mean that SWISH-E needs to be architected to be
available as a library (or some other include-able module).

> If, however, your application is unique,
> you should use the GPL which will force applications
> that use it into open source.

Well, that's a pessimistic way to look at it.  The optimistic way is to
say that if a product is GPL'ed, then no one can "take their marbles
and go home".  The source code is available to all forever.

If you choose a more restrictive license, then someone could take
SWISH-E, make SWISH-E++ and release it under a proprietary license. 
People find out about SWISH-E++ and start using it 'cause it does cool
things (like make marguaritas while you wait for your search result). 
Once everyone is using SWISH-E++ and SWISH-E is a forgotten product,
the person/company decides to start charging for SWISH-E++ and sicks
the BSA (or others) on you if you are using SWISH-E++ (its their
license, then can do whatever they want to change it or
charge for it).

Charge enough, then the product is unattainable.  Or better yet, they
decide they don't like how you are using SWISH-E++ or that they don't
like your business or the country you are from or your religion or the
cleft in your chin, and they say you can't use SWISH-E++ any more.

The basic gist of all of this is that GPL'ed software has been
developed by people who want to offer functionality to *end-users*. 
This work is typically done for free and the functionality is given
away, typically, for free (NOTE: The GPL does not limit *in any way*
people charging money for GPL'ed software).  If someone else wants to
take that functionality, build upon it, and offer it to others then the
cost of using the original work is to release the new work.  If,
however, you simply include GPL'ed functionality in addition to your
own, you can do so (though you are encouraged to distribute your source
code too).

Various GNU/Linux systems include proprietary software with their
distributions.  Some RedHat distros, for example, include Oracle and/or
IBM DB2.  This doesn not mean that Oracle source code is available;
however the GPL'ed software in the distro does come with source code
(or at least, it can be accessed).

I am not a fanatic (IMHO).  I work for a software company that makes
proprietary software (though we have some GPL-compatibled stuffs too).

But I have spent a fair amount of time studying the GPL and other
licenses and I do not concur with the majority of the misrepresentation
of the GPL that is out there.  The majority of that misrepresentation
comes from people who have alterior motives or by people influenced by
said people.

I'm happy to discuss further...

Greg Fenton

Do you Yahoo!?
The New Yahoo! Search - Faster. Easier. Bingo.
Received on Sat May 31 23:28:49 2003