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Moglen stated, "but Mr. Jobs is investing heavily in LLVM solely so he can stop using GCC, lest the patents somehow leak across the GPLv3 barrier, and we become able to use his claims. Nobody has ever tried before, to build a multi-platform C compiler solely in order to undermine freedom."

According to wikipedia, the LLVM is licensed using the University of Illinois/NCSA Open Source License. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Illinois/NCSA_Ope...

As stated in that entry, "Source code under the NCSA license can be incorporated into proprietary products without the reciprocity requirements that copyleft free software licenses raise. The license is compatible with all versions of the GNU General Public License."

Can someone smarter than me explain how this license undermines freedom? Or how the LLVM undermines freedom despite this license? I'm having a hard time connecting the dots.

Well, it's quite simple really - the license is not GPL and there is no reciprocity requirement - that alone in the minds of some GNU fanatics, amongst which obviously Moglen is, is a crime against freedom and all that's holy.

Maybe I'm getting old, senile and cranky, but thing's didn't use to be this kooky in the open source movement, did they? I mean, there was always the political component to it, the strife for influence, the "stick it to the man" thing, but things didn't use to get this out of hand - smearing another open source project, simply because it's kicking your ass while having a more liberal license.

The FSF has always been this political. Open software has gotten less political over the last 15 years.

Moglen doesn't think non-copyleft software is a crime. The evidence suggests that he thinks non-copyleft software is bad for free software in the long run, because it has the effect of enhancing non-free software along with free software.

Anybody can observe that over the long run, if most of the best work in open software is done without copyleft, copyleft-protected software will suffer; free software will have one major contributor (people writing free software), and nonfree software will have two (huge companies and people writing most of the best work in free software).

It's not complicated. It's a reasonable perspective. Disagree with it all you want (and I do), but it doesn't deserve to be mocked.

The reciprocity is in there to ensure free software stays that way and that any improvements made to it don't end up exclusively in proprietary versions. I think, as a user, that it is better at protecting my interests and that it's better to protect competition by commoditizing the software.

If LLVM had no technical advantages over GCC, the only reason to contribute to it would be to deny end users the rights the GPL would guarantee them if you were redistributing GCC instead.

But I don't think that applies. I've seen some purely technical complaints about the design of GCC. If LLVM were GPL, there would still be reasons for it to exist.

BSD-licensed software like LLVM gives programmers the freedom to make proprietary derivative works. GPL-licensed software like GCC gives users the freedom to use any derivative works since they must be GPLed. Or you could say the GPL gives users freedom from getting locked in to proprietary derivatives, since there aren't any.

> BSD-licensed software like LLVM gives programmers the freedom to make proprietary derivative works.

The other way to see this is that BSD allows programmers to enjoy the freedoms they got from fellow upstream developers while they take away the freedoms of their users.

To give you support in this, Apple still seem to be trying to hamper the LLVM project by patenting the side effects of producing various frontends to LLVM with patents like this recent one:


Every JavaScript frontend for generating IR would violate this patent (they even mention LLVM IR explicitly in this patent). Essentially Apple just patented the UCSD p-System (nothing new here and obviously plenty of prior art so this patent is totally invalid due to prior art).

The patent has only recently been published and harms anyone considering using LLVM as an intermediate between JavaScript and back-end machine specific executables.

So much for Apple not abusing its contribution to LLVM (and in particular not abusing the freedom of downstream users).

BTW: I can see this patent being used to enforce a silo of control of using LLVM for any inbrowser HTML5+JavaScript engines (i.e. a means for optimisation).

To go farther on this point using one of the other topics in the talk (Oracle/MySQL), suppose Oracle switched MySQL to AGPL3 and didn't sell commercial licenses. This would be more "freedom" for users but a major event for developers.

That major event would be happening on a plane that the FSF doesn't think about at all. Once it's AGPL3, people who don't care about the relationship between dollars and lines of code are fully unencumbered and can do whatever they want.

The FSF explicitly doesn't care about whether you can make money selling lines of source code or bits in an installer. If Oracle's AGPL3 move bankrupted a startup selling a derivative of MySQL, in the FSF's worldview that BK would have been the startup's fault for building a business model that depended on restricting user rights.

I don't agree with this worldview, but I don't think it's hard to defend.

AGPL3 might have a larger affect then "startup selling a derivative of MySQL", it is designed to make code for web apps "free".

Yes, I see the drama you're talking about here: you're saying, "Oracle could put the screws to most web software companies by forcing them to open source their app code".

Because of the way MySQL works, that's almost certainly not true. But stipulate that it is for a second, and, what's your point? Stallman agrees with Oracle here. Web software companies are ripping other developers off by building apps derived in part from free software but keeping their own code closed.

I don't share Stallman's outlook, but I see where it's coming from.

A webapp storing data in a version of MySQL licensed under AGPL is not touched by its license and needs not to disclose its source code.

Developers and users could just switch to the last MySQL version released under the GPL and keep using it and maintaining them separate from Oracle. Drizzle is such a derivative, pure GPL, fully independent from Oracle.

Free software is software cannot be killed or highjacked.

Dear downmodder: can you please explain your reasoning behind this?

I don't know if you have noticed, but at some point about four-six months ago, HN became something like Reddit /r/prog; you get downvoted by haters for pretty much everything without getting provided any justification whatsoever.

I know... I was in denial... ;-)

Perhaps the threshold for downvoting should be a function of karma rank instead of an absolute number. Perhaps it could be reserved to the top 90%.

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