[thelist] GNU / GPL

Shawn K. Quinn skquinn at speakeasy.net
Thu Oct 25 14:09:12 CDT 2007

On Wed, 2007-10-24 at 18:09 -0500, Stephen Rider wrote:
> The requirement that you release the source code makes commercial  
> software effectively free, as anyone with a bit of know-how can take  
> your source and compile it as the full program.  Am I mistaken in  
> this?  Please do correct me if I'm wrong -- this topic _does_  
> interest me.

Your choice of words here is slightly confusing. Yes, the GPL is
intended to make software free as in freedom. The theory here is that
those who still need the support, which comprises most of the cost of
proprietary software (granted, the fancy shrinkwrapped box and shiny
disc count for some as well), will buy the support anyway, whether or
not it comes with a copy of the program.

Case study: there are at least two binary releases of X-Chat for
Windows. One of them is released as shareware to compensate that team's
effort in making the binary, which is no trivial task on Windows for
reasons that should be obvious for anyone up to date on Microsoft's

The development of software still costs money; programmers have to eat
just like the rest of the world. The GPL does not change that; it merely
changes how that money is collected and gives the freedom back in the
hands of those that should have it.

Shawn K. Quinn <skquinn at speakeasy.net>

More information about the thelist mailing list