[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Axiom-developer] Re: [Maxima] Re: GCL used commercially?

From: C Y
Subject: [Axiom-developer] Re: [Maxima] Re: GCL used commercially?
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2003 11:41:36 -0700 (PDT)

--- Richard Fateman <address@hidden> wrote:

> This could have been Bill Schelter, who also asked DOE to release
> their 1982 source of Macsyma under GPL.  (Rather than, say, a
> BSD-like license). In fact the DOE license is not GPL, if you look 
> at it, since one cannot send copies to Cuba or such countries.

Um, that's not part of the license - it's a condition imposed by U.S.
export restrictions.  We went through all that on the list, and it was
finally settled by David Turner of the FSF.  Maxima is GPL.  That does
not relate to the GCL case however, since GCL apparently has a
different history than Maxima.

> I  don't think Bill was much interested in legal issues,
> but he was generous with his code, intending it to be given
> to anyone interested in using it. 

Yes.  I for one am very grateful for his generosity, but his casual
approach to licensing sure has raised a point or two.

> He made not have understood that
> a GPL would inhibit some people from using it, RMS notwithstanding.
> It is not possible to ask Bill Schelter, but the authors are, so far
> as I know, still alive.

Would they have the authority to make a license change?

> RMS' question seems directed to find out
> if these various people (macsyma inc, ...) might be
> in violation of some version of GPL.  

Well, David K. Schmidt seems to be the contact point for commercial
Macsyma now (address@hidden) but I'd be surprised if they
have any (L)GPL issues, particularly given the history Dr. Fateman has

> If I understand the objections of some people of the
> maxima group to GPL, rather than LGLP, it is that it
> would inhibit some future company that might pick up and
> enhance maxima at its expense, and for its own profit, and
> that it would start with the initial work of this group.

As far as Maxima goes, I think the consensus was that this was
probably a good thing.  A few people thought the idea of allowing
closed work wasn't a bad idea, but most agreed that losing one
commercial Macsyma was enough, and that a permanently free 
platform would be a much better, if slower, way to develop things.

> For a small enough
> specialized and highly technical market, such a
> company MIGHT make sense.  This is a different situation
> from a very common, widely distributed, technically
> "shallower" piece of software where 100,000 people
> might plausibly contribute useful additions and corrections.

The problem is, in Maxima's space anyway, that Mathematica and Maple
have pretty much gained full control of the market, and have huge
inertia.  If a company were to challenge that using a closed fork of
Maxima as a base and fail (as Macsyma Inc did) then all the work would
be lost again, and researchers using it would be stuck depending on
unsupportable extensions to Maxima.  Maxima's entry into the equation
is basically like that of GNU/Linux - be good enough and free, and get
better with time.  The free aspect is the killer feature.

> One solution for such a company would be to not use GCL;
> using a commercial lisp might seem to increase its costs,
> but note that keeping a full-time GCL expert alive and
> well in a company might cost $100,000 or more
>   per year (salary, support,benefits, overhead). Using
> a "non-free" lisp might be cheaper than a free one. So
> I am not personally so worried about using GCL for
> maxima, so long as it also runs on other lisps.

Indeed, I have always thought ACL was the logical choice for people
wishing to do commercial lisp work.  It is an excellent, commercially
supported and well documented product, from what I can see.

I still don't understand why it would be desirable to prevent software
from using GCL, regardless of license, but perhaps I'm missing
something.  Why aren't the lisp environment and the lisp program
treated as two separate entities?  If a person creates and distributes
a lisp image using GCL to make a software package, why can't it be
handled such that the GCL source must be included, but the lisp program
itself is a separate thing?


Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free, easy-to-use web site design software

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]