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Re: My Favorite soapbox : XML linkage (was Re: [DotGNU]Jabber-thon)

From: Norbert Bollow
Subject: Re: My Favorite soapbox : XML linkage (was Re: [DotGNU]Jabber-thon)
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2002 05:50:41 +0200

> My question is :
> What if we want to create web services that can only
> be used by GPLed programs? 

One of the most fundamental freedoms in Free Software is that we
don't want to restrict how the software can be used.  The user
of the webservice software is whoever operates the webservice
server.  If they so choose, they can make an Acceptable Use
Policy which imposes conditions on what software may be used to
connects to their webservice server.

But we can't require them to make such an acceptable use
policy.  Otherwise we wouldn't be giving them Free Software.

> Please dont be offended, but 
> I have to say that it is a little strange that there
> are so many commercial jabber implementation and very
> few good GPLed. 

Why do we need more than one good and well-maintained GPL'd

You can always fork if you want one that is somewhat different.

This in contrast to proprietary, where you're often forced to
re-implement from scratch if you want to change something.

> The whole linkage and network usage issue comes into
> play. By using jabber interfaces, Soap and XML, there
> is no protection of the GPL. 

I disagree.

Let's say we have a GPL'd software package A and company X
chooses to create a proprietary add-on which makes use of
the functionality provided by package A.  I think it doesn't
really matter how the proprietary program communicates with
package A, whether it is through SysV IPC or SOAP or Jabber or

The main thing is that package A is still free software, and
whoever receives it has all the important freedom rights to use
it in any way, to modify it, to write their own add-ons etc.

The situation would be different if package A were only LGPL'd
-- then company X could link it together with their proprietary
add-on and distribute it in binary form only.  That'd be bad
because the users wouldn't get the freedom rights.

BTW the webservices paradigm brings a much more revolutionary 
change to users of the Microsoft Windows system where huge
monolithic applications are the norm which are difficult or
impossible to use in ways that were not foreseen by their
authors.  Users of Unix-like systems however have long been
accustomed to having the freedom of combining various programs
by means of pipes, shell scripts, etc.

There _is_ an important issue however with webservices:  When
you use a webservice program on a remote machine, you really
want to have a way to get source code and full freedom rights
for that _remote_ webservice program.  There is a fortunately a
solution to this problem, see the FAQ document on the DotGNU
website.  (There is an alternative approach based on modifying
the GPL, see
which is however IMO not good enough... I believe I explained
the shortcomings of that approach on this list some time back.)

> We still need to be rethink the entire licensing issue

These things have been thought through pretty carefully right at
the beginning of the DotGNU project.

> for the creation of the GPL "viral" effect on the
> greater level. 

Please don't call the GPL "viral".  Proprietary software is the
virus, the GPL is a form of vaccination for your code to protect
it from getting infected with that virus.

Greetings, Norbert.

A founder of the project and Steering Committee member
Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet   (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59         Fax +41 1 972 20 69
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