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Getting Through the FOSS License Minefield 96

Posted by timothy
from the well-it's-more-like-a-small-blackberry-thicket dept.
dotancohen writes "Here's an exercise: Write a GPLed server for solving Freecell that the graphical game would communicate with using TCP/IP or a different IPC mechanism. Easy, right? Except for that pesky licensing bit. Our own Shlomi Fish gives an overview of the various options in picking up a licence for one's FOSS project, and tries to give some guidelines choosing one."
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Getting Through the FOSS License Minefield

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  • You should really talk to a lawyer. Preferably one that has done GPL cases before.

    Yes it will cost money, but it will save you and your user's a headache if legal issues ever arise from the use of your software down the road.

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @10:30AM (#29186417)

      Can a lawyer ever give a definitive answer?
      A appeals court yesterday overturned [tgdaily.com] the assignment of UNIX to NOVELL giving SCO clearance to sue IBM for billions. I'd imagine the android handset makers and most linux-based router makers have reasons to be nervous as well. SCO also has a new deep pocket backing it's legal team. it's on again!.
      I doubt even lawyer could really give you a definitive answer on licensing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by minsk (805035)

        Maybe not definitive, but they stand the vague chance of actually being right :P

        Like, for example, the summary judgment in SCO v Novell which just got tossed out, so a jury will probably need to consider to issue. Leaving the rest of your paragraph a work of creative fiction...

      • A appeals court yesterday overturned the assignment of UNIX to NOVELL giving SCO clearance to sue IBM for billions.

        What was done was "nullify" the summary judgments of certain issues including who owns the copyrights. The issue of who owns the copyright was sent for a jury trial.

        SCO can't go after IBM until and unless they win on at least 2 issues 1/ copyright ownership and 2/ Novells right to waive the IBM lawsuit. Both still need a jury trial.

        There are a few questions 1/ Can SCO afford the Novell

      • Your view of SCO's position is slightly inaccurate.

        SCO does NOT have a lot of new funding, in fact they are knee deep in bankruptcy proceedings and Darl McBride isn't even in charge anymore.

        The appeals court only partially overturned the lower courts decision, saying that the transfer of UNIX copyrights from Novell to SCO is at least worthy of a trial but did not give ANY opinion as to whether SCO or Novell owns them. Darl called a press conference scheduled for tomorrow, which is funny considering he isn't

      • by belmolis (702863)

        No, all that happened is that the appellate court decided that whether or not SCO acquired the Unix copyrights was not sufficiently clear to be decided on summary judgment. Even if SCO did own the Unix copyrights, there would be no real threat to Linux because SCO has failed to show that Linux violates those copyrights.

        In any case, all that this decision means is that the contract between SCO and Novell is unclear. That has nothing to do with the validity or interpretation of open source licenses.

      • The summary judgement was that SCO did not own the copyright - What this says is that it needs to go to trial to determine this (i.e. it's a "not sure")

        IBM does not care, they have already proved they did not infringe no matter who owns it ...

        It does not affect Linux because again SCO have failed to show that any code was copied ..oh and SCO has no money (it's in Chapter 11) and has no assets except potentially any profit from this case ... and part of the judgement was that Novell does not owe SCO any mone

  • by TofuMatt (1105351) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @10:15AM (#29186209) Homepage

    You write a piece of software, and you license it. Making something GPL might be a pain for other users who aren't interested in that license, but them's the ropes, right? It's not like GPLing your software will lead to its demise (see: Linux, WordPress, etc.).

    • WTF ?? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tuxgeek (872962) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @10:37AM (#29186527)
      Agreed
      You write an app. To protect your work from being stolen/copied into some proprietary app later, GPL3.
      Done. What's so hard about that?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by N3Roaster (888781)

        It's even easier in this case. The spec says GPL so you don't even need to think about the issues that might compel you to choose one license or another. Client wants GPL, client gets GPL. Copy, paste, done.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027)

      You write a piece of software, and you license it. Making something GPL might be a pain for other users who aren't interested in that license, but them's the ropes, right? It's not like GPLing your software will lead to its demise (see: Linux, WordPress, etc.).

      If it's video game software, GPLing it could limit its market. Some genres aren't traditionally suitable for PCs, and the software development licensing arrangements on game consoles are GPL-incompatible.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        ...an interesting idea.

        Yet GNU software was used in video game console development long before any of this anti-GPL FUD was pushed.

        Obviously some bit of crucial information is missing.

        • by tepples (727027)

          Yet GNU software was used in video game console development long before any of this anti-GPL FUD was pushed.

          GNU software is used as part of the development tool, not as part of the end result. The compiler is GPL; the libraries and the compiled code are most decidedly not.

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            Ok so you have the same situation as Oracle.

            Strictly speaking, nothing included in an oracle binary is "GPL". It's LGPL or owned by Oracle Corp.

            The same goes for an EA game built with the GNU toolchain for Linux.

            • by tepples (727027)

              Strictly speaking, nothing included in an oracle binary is "GPL". It's LGPL or owned by Oracle Corp.

              The same goes for an EA game built with the GNU toolchain for Linux.

              Though I have seen libraries under various permissive licenses (e.g. Vorbis and FreeType) run on a Wii, even the LGPL is incompatible with console development licenses. I've never seen even one console game developer make an offer to distribute the object files that the LGPL requires.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tixxit (1107127)
          In this case, I believe he is referring Slashdot story [slashdot.org] posted earlier this year where a company used GPL'd software (ScummVM) in a kids game [h-online.com]. Basically, the shit hit the fan once the lawyers at Atari found out that the Wii SDK licensing agreement explicitly prohibits open source software licenses, like the GPL.
    • by kinnell (607819) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @11:55AM (#29187693)
      The trouble comes when you're mixing and matching software with different licenses. GPL might seem like the shangri-la of open source licensing, but it's actually very restrictive. This is not to say that it's bad - it's very good for encouraging people to share their code, and preventing abuse of said code by comercial interests, but then you try and embed some other non-gpl code in your project and find yourself in a legal minefield. That's why the LGPL was written - if only the GPL existed, GNU/* would be missing a lot of really good software.
  • Ok, now write the same software reusing proprietary code. Which is more of a minefield?

    • by The Moof (859402)
      You missed the point. TFA's not trying to persuade you into using proprietary code (one of the headings is even "Bad Idea No. 1: Choose a non-Open-Source Licence"), just using the correct FOSS license for your intentions. FOSS is great and all, but if you blindly pick a license, you can really shoot yourself in the foot later. TFA even says it prefers the MIT X11 license.
      • by jedidiah (1196)

        The idea that it is a "minefield" is just inflammatory nonsense.

        The intent of these licenses aren't exactly some big secret.

        • Re:Proprietary (Score:5, Insightful)

          by burnin1965 (535071) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @12:48PM (#29188679) Homepage

          The idea that it is a "minefield" is just inflammatory nonsense.

          I suppose that depends on how you look at it.

          If your considering using open source code to add value to your product rather than invest in the development of your own software and have no desire to contribute back to the open source project that made the code available in the first place because you realize this will only make it easier for a competitor to create a competing product in the market place, then the the open source licensing options are a minefield. That pesky GPL keeps getting in the way.

          Of course that is not how this article was worded, it seems to be making an argument that for an open source developer who does not choose a license that makes it possible to create derivatives of their project as closed source is somehow stepping on a mine. So yes, it appears you are right, just a GPL troll article.

          I wonder sometimes what the motives are behind these articles that profess the importance of avoiding the GPL for your own personal open source projects. I find this one ludicrous as it boils down to "if you license your source code using the GPL then you can't use my source code".

          Well, that works both ways, and with the vast source of GPLed code out there it seems to me that this argument supports the use of the GPL in your open source projects to ensure you have access to that pool.

          And for those who don't want to use the GPL for whatever reason they don't have to, but they really should stop drooling over other peoples GPLed code and it does them no good to continue the endless whining about the GPL. They should spend their time writing their own software and releasing it under whatever license they want instead of writing inane articles about the GPL.

          • And for those who don't want to use the GPL for whatever reason they don't have to, but they really should stop drooling over other peoples GPLed code and it does them no good to continue the endless whining about the GPL. They should spend their time writing their own software and releasing it under whatever license they want instead of writing inane articles about the GPL.

            I don't see very much whining from BSD-style license advocates wanting to use GPL code, although it is sometimes the other way around (i.e. Linux users wanting ZFS, etc). Most of the whining from the BSD side is actually about Linux people taking BSD code, and that usually originates from OpenBSD. Such types are noteably more uptight than the vast majority on the BSD side who are much more chill and probably enjoy life more.

            The point, though, is that the supposed "drooling" over GPL code by BSD people

            • by Bent Mind (853241)
              I admit, I'm a bit confused by your statements.

              I don't see very much whining from BSD-style license advocates wanting to use GPL code, although it is sometimes the other way around (i.e. Linux users wanting ZFS, etc).

              My understanding was that Linus didn't want to accept ZFS into the kernel because it partly duplicates functionality already present in the kernel. If ZFS were to be broken up and the duplication removed, it might be accepted. A note here, I haven't followed the conversion closely. I could be wrong. If a Linux user wanted to use ZFS, nothing is stopping them from using it via FUSE.

              And for those who don't want to use the GPL for whatever reason they don't have to, but they really should stop drooling over other peoples GPLed code and it does them no good to continue the endless whining about the GPL. They should spend their time writing their own software and releasing it under whatever license they want instead of writing inane articles about the GPL.

              The point, though, is that the supposed "drooling" over GPL code by BSD people is mostly your own fabrication.

              I fail to see the reference to BSD that you claim is a fabrication.

            • August 25Developers: Getting Through the FOSS License Minefield [slashdot.org]
              GPL is a mine in a minefield of open source licenses, followed with the usually complaints about the GPL

              August 16Linux: GPL Case Against Danish Satellite Provider [slashdot.org]
              GPL is violated by multiple corporations, ensuing conversation was actually tame.

              August 11News: Leaving the GPL Behind [slashdot.org]
              Companies are running in fear from the GPL, some nasty discussions ensue about the crazy GPL zealots.

              August 3Politics: Microsoft Redefines "Open Standards" [slashdot.org]
              Microsoft stir

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Magic5Ball (188725)

          The idea that a "minefield" is effective because of secrecy is just inflammatory nonsense.

          The intent and effect of these loud explosion-causing devices to deter opponents from using a mined area isn't exactly subtle.

          The article, the concept of a legal minefield, and the actual area denial strategy of laying mines, is that careful planning is required to how to navigate the known unknowns if the potential reward of doing so is sufficient. The article points out some issues with various non-proprietary licens

  • Uh? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't FOSS supposed to help with all that legal mumbo-jumbo?

    Believe it or not, too many options are a bad thing.

  • by stillnotelf (1476907) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @10:21AM (#29186301)
    If we're rewriting freecell, shouldn't that be a license minesweeper, not a license minefield?
    • by tepples (727027)

      If we're rewriting freecell, shouldn't that be a license minesweeper, not a license minefield?

      That or a license luminesweeper [pineight.com]. (I wrote it and GPLed it because I wanted to prove that the PSP's flagship launch title didn't really need the features of a PSP.)

  • by IBitOBear (410965) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @10:23AM (#29186317) Homepage Journal

    GPL if you want to make people play nice.

    BSD if you don't care if people play nice.

    if GPL then GPL3 if you think corporate interests may be sniffing around later.

    Something else if you are building upon something that is licensed some other way.

    And gee, I didn't hear an explosion anywhere.

    • by paxcoder (1222556)

      if GPL then GPL v3 *and higher* (don't forget).

      But basically, what you said sums it all up, no need for the questionable article above.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Fourier (60719)

        if GPL then GPL v3 *and higher* (don't forget).

        Or not. The "...or higher" language implies a great deal of trust in the FSF. There is risk in making that decision: the FSF could one day release a GPL which offers terms that the developer disagrees with.

        It is entirely reasonable for a risk-averse developer to distribute software under a single well-defined license rather than an unlimited number of undefined licenses.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Go on.

          Tell us.

          If the FSF go all world-domination then release a GPL that says you shall sacrifice your first born to Molech, you just get the code under the version BEFORE the Molech-clause. You then FORK any further development to a new GPL compatible license that *doesn't have* the Molech clause in.

          Job done. People will leave the molech-clause-GPL alone and it will die.

          Now people who trusted BSD will find their code is unusable because the code is patented and the BSD doesn't cover it. So leaving out the

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Fourier (60719)

            Not sure how serious you are, but you've got it backwards. A future FSF could create a GPL with more liberal terms of distribution. Suppose the license permitted binary-only distribution in exchange for a generous donation to the FSF--probably most developers would have a problem with that.

            It's difficult to imagine such a scenario today, but I'm sufficiently paranoid to expect that the FSF may not always be trustworthy. All it takes is a gradual shift in the voting membership.

            If the FSF continues to rele

        • by paxcoder (1222556)

          Well, there's three (reasonable) things you can do:

            1. Have a license with no copyleft [to each his own, and this not to me]
            2. Have a license with copyleft incompatible with future GPL licenses, and in case your project gets attention like GPL2-only Linux did, make it impossible to upgrade to a superior license.
            3. Trust FSF, and have a normal, copyleft GPL "or later" license with no above problems.

          It's your choice, but again, I'd choose (and do) nr. 3.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      BSD/PD: sample reference implementation. maximize use

      LGPL: programs intended to be used as libraries. maximize use ensuring that goodies in the lib get back to your project.

      GPL: complete standalone applications. ensure one can't fork closed source version with improvements.

      GPL2/GPL3: same thing.

      GPL "or any later version": stupid. Nobody signs any latter version contracts.

      of course, some companies fight GPL by hiring people to write BSD versions of existing (L)GPL stuff but the thing is that if it wasn't for

    • Or Apache if you expect to contribute it to Apache, or Eclipse if to Eclipse, or Python if to Python, etc.

    • by Bent Mind (853241)
      The word "Minefield" does not appear in the article. The author of the article appears to be trying to figure out some of the more popular licenses by writing the article. By the end, he recommends the MIT X11 license based on it being short, easy to understand, and close to public domain.

      He is against the GPL because it is long and he doesn't understand it. This is stated several times in the article.

      I read the GPLv2 originally once and couldn't understand it. The LGPLv2 or the GPLv3 would likely prove to be more problematic. I find it harder to trust lengthy documents that I am unable to understand.

      He also seems worried that no one will use his code if he places restrictions on it and that he doesn't

  • What's the Problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @10:28AM (#29186377) Homepage Journal

    I only skimmed the article, but I don't understand the problem proposed by using a GPL licensed freecell solver that communicates over IP. Is he complaining that it's not "viral" enough in this case? Because this case carries no restrictions. In fact, the user, end user or server administrator, doesn't even have to agree to the terms of the GPL in this case!

    This is what he calls a minefield?!

    -Peter

    • by The Moof (859402) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @10:38AM (#29186543)
      The GPL problem spelled out in TFA is compatibility with other licenses (IE, none). An example he even uses is OpenBSD's past quarrels with the GPL community. Instead of simply using GPL code, the BSD folks have to rebuild the same things and license them under the BSD license. They could use, the GPL'd code if they were willing to re-license the entire project under BSD (which I'm not sure is allowed under the BSD license). Here's the jist of the article:
      1. Don't use closed source
      2. Don't attempt to write your own
      3. Don't use one that isn't clear in international law
      4. Make sure GPL projects can use your licensed code
      5. Make sure non-GPL projects can use your licensed code
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by minsk (805035)

        Make sure non-GPL projects can use your licensed code

        Except, you know, when you don't want non-GPL projects to use it. :)

        • by IBBoard (1128019) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @11:43AM (#29187519) Homepage

          Exactly. I recently changed some of my code from LGPL to Affero GPL because they could be used as a back-end to a web service as well as being the back-end for an app. I'd started with LGPL because I didn't want to force a license on people, but then I changed my mind because the on-going freedom of the code was more important than what license people used. What would be ideal would have been to have had a "LGPL/GPL but allowed to link with anything else as long as it is open source", but since that isn't possible then not letting non-GPLed apps link to my library is the only option. C'est la vie.

          I think the article is summed up in one of his later headings: "Why I Prefer the MIT X11 Licence". Basically the whole thing is a "why you should use X11 and anything else is bad" article.

          • Sleepycat (Score:3, Informative)

            by tepples (727027)

            What would be ideal would have been to have had a "LGPL/GPL but allowed to link with anything else as long as it is open source"

            Then use the GPL, with the Sleepycat license [wikipedia.org] as a GPL linking exception [wikipedia.org].

            • by IBBoard (1128019)

              Sounds good, if a little unconventional and hardly known. I wonder how well it works with the AGPL in networked situations? I did know GPL linking exceptions were possible but trying to write one for a personal/community project is a bit difficult without paying a lawyer, so picking an "off the shelf" license is the easy option.

          • I agree with your summation. We can judge this article based on what is says about the Affero GPL:

            Another curious licence is the Affero GPL - - which aims to close the "Application Service Provider Loophole". What it means is that if I install an AGPLed program on a public web-server and modify it then I must make my modifications public. However, the Free Software Definition , says that one must have "The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to his needs.". As a result, I personally don't consider the AGPL as free (because I may wish to run it on my publicly accessible web-server and modify it), but the FSF thinks otherwise. We have enough problems with the suitability of the GPL for embedded systems, that we don't need to kill the prospering web-apps market too.

            Apparently the author thinks that if he has to share modifications, then his "freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to his needs" has been compromised, and the license is "curious". Why not just argue that the GPL itself is not a Free Software license?

      • by tixxit (1107127)

        1. Don't use closed source
        2. Don't attempt to write your own
        3. Don't use one that isn't clear in international law
        4. Make sure GPL projects can use your licensed code
        5. Make sure non-GPL projects can use your licensed code

        I still can't quite see how BSD, GPL, LGPL, or AGPL or a dual licensed BSD & *GPL mix doesn't solve any subset of these problems.

        • by The Moof (859402)
          Kernel development is an example where problems can occur. There was a dispute not too long about about a GPL wifi driver in the OpenBSD kernel that was originally derived from BSD code. Here's [linux-watch.com] a summary of the events. The irony being because of the BSD/GPL dispute, the driver code is now licensed under neither one.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @10:45AM (#29186651) Journal
      Not a minefield, but it's a case that's commonly overlooked by GPL advocates. It's trivial to take a GPL'd program and make it communicate with a proprietary program using a well-defined IPC mechanism, which subverts the intent of the GPL. If you are a big proprietary-software company you can easily use GPL'd code with a (relatively) small investment in building the abstraction layer. If, on the other hand, you're a Free Software developer wanting to use GPL'd code with some other GPL-incompatible Free Software license (e.g. porting ZFS to Linux) then you have problems.
      • by Nursie (632944)

        You'd have to be VERY careful doing that and not falling within some definition of derivative work. Especially if it went to court and the people who wrote the GPL'd code could sho just how much effort you've put into circumventing the license with the same end effect as if you'd ignored it completely.

        • by tepples (727027)

          You'd have to be VERY careful [serverizing a piece of GPL code] and not falling within some definition of derivative work. Especially if it went to court and the people who wrote the GPL'd code could sho just how much effort you've put into circumventing the license with the same end effect as if you'd ignored it completely.

          If that's true, then why haven't Yahoo!, AOL, and Microsoft declared Pidgin a "derivative work" of their products that contravenes the client software exclusivity clause in their respective IM networks' terms of service?

          • by Nursie (632944)

            AFAICT, pidgin doesn't use MS (or yahoo or whatever) code or libraries, just the protocol.

            Turning a GPL library into an RPC server for local use seems a little more risky and a deliberate attempt at circumvention, not interoperativity. But as the other poster pointed out, I'm not sure there's much case law in this area.

            • by tepples (727027)

              AFAICT, pidgin doesn't use MS (or yahoo or whatever) code or libraries, just the protocol.

              And a rewritten MySQL client library uses just the protocol. Yet Sun seems to think all MySQL client libraries are derivative works of MySQL.

              Turning a GPL library into an RPC server for local use seems a little more risky and a deliberate attempt at circumvention, not interoperativity.

              If intent is at issue, a developer can sway perception of intent by properly marketing the changes. For example, an RPC protocol might prove attractive enough that even one of the GPL library's committers likes it and includes it in the library's test/example suite.

        • by maxume (22995)

          Maybe. Probably even. But I don't think there is much actual case law surrounding the GPL, or is there?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by HiThere (15173)

            Not specifically. The GPL largely relies on copyright law. There's LOTS of copyright law. Basically, the GPL says "Either you agree to my terms, OR you are allowed to use normal copyright terms." As such, it doesn't need (or have room for) much GPL specific case law.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by minsk (805035)

            There would be more, but the companies taken to court over GPL violations keep deciding to comply and settle.

            Which should tell you something :)

      • I think this is what I meant by "not 'viral' enough". But I think that this is usually a strength, not a shortcoming, of the GPL.

        This gets pretty philosophical, and there are many valid viewpoints. But I think that any use of GPLed code that doesn't involve directly using the source code, linking, or modifying the GPLed code should be allowable without restriction.

        Also, none of this conjecture really makes sense in light of the conclusion of the article, which seems to be "use the MIT license", which is o

        • Also, none of this conjecture really makes sense in light of the conclusion of the article, which seems to be "use the MIT license", which is offers no defense even to linking.

          Sure, it does. One subtle point of the article is that the GPL is a confusing license that doesn't provide the protections people think it does, because it's "not viral enough." If that is case, why bother with it? Use a license that's simple and works the way people think it does. He even recommends the Sleepcat license for those wan

  • Why would this possibly be a minefield or even difficult? The licensing choice is right there in the requirements: "Write a GPLed ...". Use the GPL, done. OK, one choice: GPLv2 vs. GPLv3. Although in common usage GPL refers to GPLv2, anytime someone means GPLv3 it's been rather carefully specified that it is GPLv3 that is being used.
  • Boiling it Down (Score:4, Informative)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @10:34AM (#29186483)

    The final paragraph is a pretty good summary of the author's viewpoint:

    Finally I'd rather have a proprietary derived work than no derived program at all, or that instead someone will duplicate my effort in creating a BSD-style or a proprietary replacement for my work.

    The author doesn't trust regional variations in the treatment of the public domain. The author doesn't really care about Free Software, much less Open Source software. And as such, his opinion is to use a license that enforces the general understanding of the public domain.

  • Useless article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by russotto (537200) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @11:03AM (#29186915) Journal

    Here I was expecting something about how license problems impeded the development of the server mentioned in the summary, and instead I just get the latest round in the BSD v. GPL controversy. Yawn.

    • It's the old

      Public domain - do anything

      BSD do almost anything, including stealing my code, but that's ok

      GPL do almost anything, but don't steal the code

      Which you choose depends on which you want to do ...

  • And the point was? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kisa2000 (766934) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @11:11AM (#29187029) Homepage

    The author mentions on one occasion that he read the GPL v2 once and didn't understand it. And then he goes on to write an entire article about choosing the right licence for your FOSS code.

    Thats a little like me telling people that they shouldn't program in Pascal and that C is the best... even though I tried to program in Pascal once but just didn't get it.

    Is it just me?

  • by vrmlguy (120854)

    I personally don't consider the AGPL as free (because I may wish to run it on my publicly accessible web-server and modify it)

    Excuse me, but you don't run a license on a web server, you run code. The entire article is riddled with errors like this, making me distrust the author's ability to reason about things.

    Plus, the web page is badly formatted. On my 1280x1024 monitor, over half the width of the screen is filled by a fat blue bar on each side. I feel like I'm reading a narrow newspaper column or something. A main article should occupy well over half the width of the display. I had to spend so much time scrolling, I coul

    • On my 1280x1024 monitor, over half the width of the screen is filled by a fat blue bar on each side. I feel like I'm reading a narrow newspaper column or something. A main article should occupy well over half the width of the display.

      Newspapers are printed with five or six columns of text across the page for a reason: if a column is no wider than 35em (about 70 characters), it's easier for the eye to find the start of the next line of text. Otherwise, readers run the risk of rereading or skipping a line. If it bothers you, unmaximize your web browser's window.

    • by skeeto (1138903)

      Plus, the web page is badly formatted. On my 1280x1024 monitor, over half the width of the screen is filled by a fat blue bar on each side.

      Yeah, that just bad design and it's all too common. Web pages are supposed to be liquids [nullprogram.com].

  • simple (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Simply ask that man with the beard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by maxwell demon (590494)

      Simply ask that man with the beard.

      If it is a minefield, it may indeed be a good idea to ask Osama bin Laden. After all, he should have experience in explosives.

  • by falsedan (512906)

    This is the same Shlomi Fish who wrote some FUD about how he didn't understand the goals of perl 6 [freshmeat.net]? And who 'read the GPLv2 originally once and couldn't understand it'?

    I'd rather read articles written by people who have an excellent comprehension of the subject they are writing on, thanks.

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