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From: Norbert Bollow
Subject: Re: [DotGNU]DotGNU FAQ
Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2001 03:10:31 +0100

Tali Streit <address@hidden> wrote:

> > as a suggestion, adding a question such as "Can i
> > make money using dotGNU?" would be quite important.

That's a good one.  Here's my answer:

  Yes, of course.  In fact the main thrust of the DotGNU project
  is to provide a suitable platform for serious business
  applications of the webservices concept.    DotGNU webservices
  are useful for every e-commerce website.

  For example, you can use webservices to make your website
  react to the specific needs of every potential customer with a
  business proposal that meets these needs exactly.

  Also, if you provide a valuable webservice, it may be
  possible to charge for providing this service.  For example,
  one of the members of the DotGNU Steering Committee runs a
  mailing list hosting business which is implemented as a
  webservice.  The owners of the mailing lists pay the hosting
  company for this service.

  The DotGNU webservices platform allows you to provide
  webservices in a way that gives your potential customers the
  assurance that you're not going to "lock them in" by making
  it difficult or impossible to move away from your service.  
  This feature of the DotGNU webservices platform will allow
  you to close more sales that you otherwise could.

> > perhaps an entire section devoted to answering
> > questions along those
> > lines. "Can i charge for a dotGNU webservice?",

Answered in the section above.

> > "Am i obligated to give away my webservice source code?"

You are not automatically obligated to distribute your source
code, and you are certainly not obligated to just give it away.
However, if you sell webservice services, then your customers
will expect that you make them the "owner of the data" which the
webservice uses, and depending on the exact circumstances that
may indirectly give these customers a right to get the source
code upon request.  Here are the details:

If you provide a webservice using a GPL'd webservice program
(which you may have modified), then the "owner of the data"
will be able to obtain the webservices programs under the terms
of the GNU GPL, and this implies in particular that they will
have a right to get the source code of the exact version of the
program which you're using.  The terms of the GNU GPL also
require you to make a written promise to this "owner of the
data" that you will be willing to provide the source code upon
request.  This ensures that the "owner of the data" will know
about this right to the source code.

The "owner of the data" is typically a paying customer, and the
fact that the customer has a right to get the source code
increases the value of the service you provide.  Therefore you
will be able to charge a higher price and/or close more sales.

You can use the DotGNU development tools to program your own
webservices (instead of just modifying the webservice programs
which are distributed with DotGNU, or which others have made
available under the GNU GPL) and then your are not required to
make source code for these webservices available to the customer
who is the "owner of the data".  However, even in these
situations where you are not required to make the source code
available to your customers, we strongly encourage you to
provide the source code to your customers under the terms of the
GNU GPL anyway.  We believe that this is ethically the right
thing to do, and that it will be good for your business.  

> > Do i have to pay to use DotGNU?

No.  Source code for all the software is available free of
charge.  If you're capable of compiling the packages yourself
and combining them into a system that meets your needs, then
you don't have to pay anything for getting and using DotGNU.
Also there are plans for providing a CD-ROM with all the
client-side parts of the DotGNU platform (essentially SEE and a
lot of plugins for SEE) as source code and executables for all
major desktop operating systems.  This CD-ROM will be made
available free of charge.

Of course the business side of all this cannot work out unless
the DotGNU project has a good way to generate revenue.  For this
reason a commercial "DotGNU server" distribution will be sold,
together with commercial support and additional consulting
services.  The "DotGNU server" distribution will come with the
full freedom rights of GNU GPL licensing.  This will help to
make "DotGNU server" a very attractive product.

> > What do i need to get to use DotGNU?

If you just want to be able to use DotGNU webservices that are
already offered somewhere on the internet, all you need will be
on the DotGNU CD-ROM which will be made available free of

If you want to create or host webservices, then you should buy
the most recent "DotGNU server" distribution.

> > Can i sell plugins for SEE?

Yes.  In fact, if your plugins are good, and you are willing to
make them GPL'd Free Software, you will have the options of
selling them to DotGNU, or marketing them through DotGNU

Alternatively, you are free to market your plugins directly to
people who want to use them.  You need to be aware however that
the see-plugin library (which implements the standard interface
between the plugin and SEE) is licensed under the terms of GNU
GPL.  Therefore, if you want to use this library (which is
highly recommended) your plugins need to be Free Software with a
GPL-compatible license.  This may make it difficult to sell a
large number of copies of your plugin.  It may be your best
option to sell just one copy of each version of your plugin to
DotGNU (licensed under GNU GPL), thereby enhancing the value of
the whole DotGNU system.

> > and my favorite question: "how can i see DotGNU in
> > action?" :)

Think of a good webservice.  Then implement those parts of
DotGNU which are still missing and which are needed by this
webservice.  Then implement the webservice, announce it, and see
how people are using it.

Actually, I think it will be enough for you to start working on
implementing one of those key components that are still
missing.  Others will follow your example, and then we can have
a complete system very soon.

Bill Lance <address@hidden> replied:

> These are good questions to add.  I would also suggest
> that we add questions (and answers presumably) about
> how dotgnu is of value in reducing the customer's
> cost.

Can you do the necessary research for this?

Greetings, Norbert.

A member of FreeDevelopers and the DotGNU Steering Committee:
Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet   (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59       Fax +41 1 972 20 69
Your own domain with all your Mailman lists: $15/month

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