Why the distinction between free software and GPL software is important

Mark Wallace newburghmark at aol.com
Thu Apr 26 10:35:28 UTC 2007

The reason why the distinction between free and GPL software is 
important is someone could get into a lot of trouble is they took 
Reader and  used it as a basis to reverse engineer a product that 
would compete with the Acrobat full suite.  He would be free to do 
that with XPDF, and could turn around and make what he did 
proprietary, as long as he made the original xpdf available for free.

A software writer would want to GPL it so that the larger community 
would help him develop it.  That's how we got Open Office.  Sun 
Microsystems could see that it didn't have the resources to make Star 
Office competitive with Microsoft Word, so they went GPL.  They 
actually bought the product from a small company in Germany long ago

The same is true for Netscape.  Ten years ago, they were selling it 
in a box at Target.  They could see that they were losing ground with 
Explorer, a product that came pre-installed with Windows for free, so 
they went open source so that the geeks in the world would make 
improvements in it.  The last version of Netscape still wasn't GPL, 
it was free.   But the GPL product was virtually identical.

The same is true for Star Office today.  You can pay $35 for it in a 
store.  Why, I don't know, but some people aren't really price 
conscious.  I had a car salesman tell me that he has people who get 
through the whole process of buying a new car without price ever 
coming up.   They are totally focused on the features.

Robert Mark Wallace
Tita P Walllace
Regina E P Wallace
R M Ceferino P Wallace
60 Delaware Road
Newburgh, NY 12550-3802
Telephone: (845) 566-0586 

More information about the kubuntu-users mailing list