Re: Open source vs Microsoft vs public domain

Discussion in 'C Programming' started by Michael Foukarakis, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. On Tuesday, December 21, 2010 9:51:26 AM UTC+2, Malcolm McLean wrote:
    > Personally I've got mixed feeling about Open Source. It's nice to have
    > software for free.


    What's more nice is to have free software. (free != gratis, sorry that someone had to mention this..)

    > However whenever I release source code onto the web, I always do so as
    > public domain rather than GPL. The reason is that an important set of
    > users is programmers in for-profit environments. Often those companies
    > are small and the profits only just enough to keep them in business.
    > don't see any purpose in excluding them,


    The GPL doesn't magically exclude commercialization. Maybe you should read it more carefully.

    > other than to create what
    > Bill Gates called a "viral licence" (anything touched by Open Source
    > becomes open source), which has the potential to damage paid-for-
    > software, which is why Gates is so rattled.


    Why are you linking license and copyright with what the *software* has the potential to do? Gates would hate ANY piece of software that attempted to break his company's monopolies, FOSS included.
     
    Michael Foukarakis, Dec 22, 2010
    #1
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  2. On Dec 22, 11:10 am, Michael Foukarakis <>
    wrote:
    >
    > The GPL doesn't magically exclude commercialization. Maybe you should read it more carefully.
    >

    I've had plenty of experience in the private sector.

    Basically what happens is that you come across some problem which you
    are not clever enough to solve. However being resourceful rather than
    intelligent, you can usually find some source somewhere that does what
    you want, maybe with a bit of modification - e.g. changing language -
    to fit it into your program.

    Now if you have to pay for it, or even get formal permission to use
    it, it's often more hassle than it's worth. That's the reality of an
    averagely managed company. You either pirate it or find some other
    solution. I flatter myself that some of my stuff falls into the
    reusable category, and I don't want to put other people in the
    position of using it illegally or not at all.

    (But I do wonder if Microsoft nicked my compnumeric function which
    sorts strings with embedded numbers. Did they generate the idea
    independently? I'd really like to know.)
     
    Malcolm McLean, Dec 22, 2010
    #2
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  3. On Wed, 22 Dec 2010 01:10:49 -0800, Michael Foukarakis wrote:

    > The GPL doesn't magically exclude commercialization. Maybe you should
    > read it more carefully.


    McLean is a very confused fellow, upholding all sorts of
    incorrect ideas about the C language and creationism crap. Not worth
    engaging.
     
    Jens Stuckelberger, Dec 22, 2010
    #3
  4. Michael Foukarakis

    Seebs Guest

    On 2010-12-22, Malcolm McLean <> wrote:
    > Now if you have to pay for it, or even get formal permission to use
    > it, it's often more hassle than it's worth. That's the reality of an
    > averagely managed company. You either pirate it or find some other
    > solution.


    Which is why open source is more useful to you. I don't see how any of
    this has any bearing on your assertion that open source licenses prevent
    commercial use.

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Dec 22, 2010
    #4
  5. Michael Foukarakis

    tm Guest

    On 22 Dez. 2010, 15:53, Malcolm McLean
    <> wrote:
    > (But I do wonder if Microsoft nicked my compnumeric function which
    > sorts strings with embedded numbers. Did they generate the idea
    > independently? I'd really like to know.)


    It is not hard to write such a function. See

    http://seed7.sourceforge.net/algorith/string.htm#cmpNumeric

    for my version of it (licensed with GPL). :)


    Greetings Thomas Mertes

    --
    Seed7 Homepage: http://seed7.sourceforge.net
    Seed7 - The extensible programming language: User defined statements
    and operators, abstract data types, templates without special
    syntax, OO with interfaces and multiple dispatch, statically typed,
    interpreted or compiled, portable, runs under linux/unix/windows.
     
    tm, Jan 1, 2011
    #5
  6. On Jan 1, 5:23 pm, tm <> wrote:
    > On 22 Dez. 2010, 15:53, Malcolm McLean
    >
    > <> wrote:
    > > (But I do wonder if Microsoft nicked my compnumeric function which
    > > sorts strings with embedded numbers. Did they generate the idea
    > > independently? I'd really like to know.)

    >
    > It is not hard to write such a function. See
    >

    The skill is in thinking of the idea. Any competent programmer ought
    to be able to implement it.

    When you see directory (sorry, folder) listing in old versions of
    Windows you can't help noticing it's irritating that when you use a
    numbering system like fred1, fred2, ... fred10, fred11 the freds come
    out in ascii order rather than in your numerical order. Had I patented
    compnumeric I'd get a slice of Windows royalties - maybe 1p for every
    copy - which would add up to a nice amount. The problem is you have to
    do a patent search, then register the patent, then persuade Microsoft
    to use it, all of which takes time and money, which I haven't got.
     
    Malcolm McLean, Jan 2, 2011
    #6
  7. Michael Foukarakis

    BGB Guest

    On 1/2/2011 12:24 AM, Malcolm McLean wrote:
    > On Jan 1, 5:23 pm, tm<> wrote:
    >> On 22 Dez. 2010, 15:53, Malcolm McLean
    >>
    >> <> wrote:
    >>> (But I do wonder if Microsoft nicked my compnumeric function which
    >>> sorts strings with embedded numbers. Did they generate the idea
    >>> independently? I'd really like to know.)

    >>
    >> It is not hard to write such a function. See
    >>

    > The skill is in thinking of the idea. Any competent programmer ought
    > to be able to implement it.
    >
    > When you see directory (sorry, folder) listing in old versions of
    > Windows you can't help noticing it's irritating that when you use a
    > numbering system like fred1, fred2, ... fred10, fred11 the freds come
    > out in ascii order rather than in your numerical order. Had I patented
    > compnumeric I'd get a slice of Windows royalties - maybe 1p for every
    > copy - which would add up to a nice amount. The problem is you have to
    > do a patent search, then register the patent, then persuade Microsoft
    > to use it, all of which takes time and money, which I haven't got.


    me: goes and looks...

    oddly I hadn't really noticed...

    granted, in cases where I cared I usually used fixed-position numbering,
    and encoded dates in filenames in the ISO date format, ...

    not, of course, some of my stuff is out of order as I had often used a
    version-numbering like system, where 41 or 42 or similar logically comes
    before 5, and 57 comes before 6, but now this is a little fouled up.

    admittedly, I am probably also in the minority who tends to see the
    world in a case-sensitive light as well, as upper and lower case letters
    look like different letters and words. well, along with a natural
    dislike of seeing the same word existing in multiple cases.

    but, whatever, doesn't matter that much.


    or such...
     
    BGB, Jan 2, 2011
    #7
  8. On Dec 22 2010, 9:10 am, Michael Foukarakis <>
    wrote:
    > On Tuesday, December 21, 2010 9:51:26 AM UTC+2, Malcolm McLean wrote:


    > > Personally I've got mixed feeling about Open Source. It's nice to have
    > > software for free.

    >
    > What's more nice is to have free software. (free != gratis, sorry
    > that someone had to mention this..)


    <yawn>

    could we keep the propaganda to a dull roar? If you want to give your
    software away, fine. But don't pretend it's some some of religious
    mission. Only you can save us from Microsoft.

    > > However whenever I release source code onto the web, I always do so as
    > > public domain rather than GPL. The reason is that an important set of
    > > users is programmers in for-profit environments. Often those companies
    > > are small and the profits only just enough to keep them in business.


    and many of them are large and very profitable. I suspect more
    programmers work for large companies than small ones.

    > > don't see any purpose in excluding them,

    >
    > The GPL doesn't magically exclude commercialization.
    > Maybe you should read it more carefully.


    it precludes use in an otherwise closed source project. This prevents
    it being used in some commercial products. This is its *intent* maybe
    you should read it more carefully.

    > > other than to create what
    > > Bill Gates called a "viral licence" (anything touched by Open Source
    > > becomes open source), which has the potential to damage paid-for-
    > > software, which is why Gates is so rattled.

    >
    > Why are you linking license and copyright with what the *software*
    > has the potential to do?


    because the terms of the license affect how (or if) it can be used. If
    the software cannot be used it doesn't really matter what it can do.

    You don't have to drink the Stallman KoolAid if you don't want to.

    > Gates would hate ANY piece of software that attempted to break his
    > company's monopolies, FOSS included.


    the monopoly is largely imaginary. Even billionaires are entitled to
    an opinion.
     
    Nick Keighley, Jan 2, 2011
    #8
  9. On Dec 22 2010, 6:06 pm, Seebs <> wrote:
    > On 2010-12-22, Malcolm McLean <> wrote:
    >
    > > Now if you have to pay for it, or even get formal permission to use
    > > it, it's often more hassle than it's worth. That's the reality of an
    > > averagely managed company. You either pirate it or find some other
    > > solution.

    >
    > Which is why open source is more useful to you.  I don't see how any of
    > this has any bearing on your assertion that open source licenses prevent
    > commercial use.


    now I'm confused. If a package is GPL'ed how can I include it in a
    closed source distribution without breaching the terms of the
    licence?
     
    Nick Keighley, Jan 2, 2011
    #9
  10. Malcolm McLean <> writes:

    > On Jan 1, 5:23 pm, tm <> wrote:
    >> On 22 Dez. 2010, 15:53, Malcolm McLean
    >>
    >> <> wrote:
    >> > (But I do wonder if Microsoft nicked my compnumeric function which
    >> > sorts strings with embedded numbers. Did they generate the idea
    >> > independently? I'd really like to know.)

    >>
    >> It is not hard to write such a function. See
    >>

    > The skill is in thinking of the idea. Any competent programmer ought
    > to be able to implement it.


    Surely you'd agree there is not much skill involved with this idea?
    Librarians have been doing this for centuries. In fact, functions to do
    this are often called "natural sort" functions because it is the natural
    thing to do.

    <snip>
    > ... Had I patented
    > compnumeric I'd get a slice of Windows royalties


    IANAL, but surely something as natural as this would fail some sort of
    "obviousness" test?

    <snip>
    --
    Ben.
     
    Ben Bacarisse, Jan 2, 2011
    #10
  11. On Jan 2, 5:40 pm, Ben Bacarisse <> wrote:
    >
    > Surely you'd agree there is not much skill involved with this idea?
    > Librarians have been doing this for centuries.  In fact, functions to do
    > this are often called "natural sort" functions because it is the natural
    > thing to do.
    >

    Sure. But the Microsoft millions on usability labs and the like didn't
    produce the idea, until now. As I say, I don't know if they got it
    from me or thought of it independently.
    >
    > > ... Had I patented
    > > compnumeric I'd get a slice of Windows royalties

    >
    > IANAL, but surely something as natural as this would fail some sort of
    > "obviousness" test?
    >

    A friend at Rolls Royce told me how they'd patented a hole. A rival
    aero-engine company had invented a super new alloy and casting process
    that threatened to put them ahead. However impurities tend to float to
    the top. When the alloy was poured, you got impurities in the cast. So
    they patented a hole in the bottom of the melting vessel. This
    invention was apparently enough to give them equal rights in the
    process and keep them in business.

    Cleverness and rewards don't always match. Money is like that.
    Programming is also like that, but in a different way. The seemingly
    trivial is often important.
     
    Malcolm McLean, Jan 2, 2011
    #11
  12. On Jan 2, 3:06 pm, Nick Keighley <>
    wrote:
    > On Dec 22 2010, 6:06 pm, Seebs <> wrote:
    >
    > > On 2010-12-22, Malcolm McLean <> wrote:

    >
    > > > Now if you have to pay for it, or even get formal permission to use
    > > > it, it's often more hassle than it's worth. That's the reality of an
    > > > averagely managed company. You either pirate it or find some other
    > > > solution.

    >
    > > Which is why open source is more useful to you.  I don't see how any of
    > > this has any bearing on your assertion that open source licenses prevent
    > > commercial use.

    >
    > now I'm confused. If a package is GPL'ed how can I include it in a
    > closed source distribution without breaching the terms of the
    > licence?
    >

    Closed source isn't equivalent to commercial use. However many
    commericial uses require closed source.
     
    Malcolm McLean, Jan 2, 2011
    #12
  13. Malcolm McLean <> writes:

    > On Jan 2, 5:40 pm, Ben Bacarisse <> wrote:
    >>
    >> Surely you'd agree there is not much skill involved with this idea?
    >> Librarians have been doing this for centuries.  In fact, functions to do
    >> this are often called "natural sort" functions because it is the natural
    >> thing to do.
    >>

    > Sure. But the Microsoft millions on usability labs and the like didn't
    > produce the idea, until now. As I say, I don't know if they got it
    > from me or thought of it independently.


    You may have missed my point. What I am saying is that you did not get
    it from you. Did not know how libraries sorted titles with numbers in
    them? When I though of this (as I am pretty sure almost every
    programmer has at some time) I did not think it was "my" idea but simply
    how things like this should be sorted.

    Maybe some librarian in Alexandria, putting the 13 books of Euclid into
    order may be credited with the idea but it seems, now, to be too obvious
    to be an "invention".

    >> > ... Had I patented
    >> > compnumeric I'd get a slice of Windows royalties

    >>
    >> IANAL, but surely something as natural as this would fail some sort of
    >> "obviousness" test?


    > A friend at Rolls Royce told me how they'd patented a hole. A rival
    > aero-engine company had invented a super new alloy and casting process
    > that threatened to put them ahead. However impurities tend to float to
    > the top. When the alloy was poured, you got impurities in the cast. So
    > they patented a hole in the bottom of the melting vessel. This
    > invention was apparently enough to give them equal rights in the
    > process and keep them in business.


    Interesting anecdote, but it's not relevant as this use of a hole is far
    from obvious (at least I assume it isn't).

    > Cleverness and rewards don't always match. Money is like that.
    > Programming is also like that, but in a different way. The seemingly
    > trivial is often important.


    I said "obvious" not "seemingly trivial". The problem is with patents
    on things that are obvious. There are fewer problems with patents on
    clever uses of seemingly trivial ideas.

    --
    Ben.
     
    Ben Bacarisse, Jan 2, 2011
    #13
  14. Michael Foukarakis

    Seebs Guest

    On 2011-01-02, Malcolm McLean <> wrote:
    > The skill is in thinking of the idea. Any competent programmer ought
    > to be able to implement it.


    This sounds suspiciously like the common claim that having "the idea"
    for a movie is worth a lot, but actually writing a screenplay is trivial.
    In fact, it is nearly always the other way around; ideas for movies,
    plays, books, etcetera abound, what's hard to find is people who can write
    them well enough to make them appealing.

    Similarly, it's easy to think of ideas for a utility function, it's hard
    to write one well enough that it's of use to anyone else.

    I'd have to see a clearer description of the "idea". Obviously, numerical
    sorts of various types are widespread. One common variant is sorting that's
    aware of major/minor/sub version numbers, so it knows that 3.10.5 is a later
    version than 3.6.23. I've seen those done repeatedly, since it's so
    obviously useful. That gets coupled with sorting by name, too.

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Jan 2, 2011
    #14
  15. Michael Foukarakis

    Seebs Guest

    On 2011-01-02, Nick Keighley <> wrote:
    > On Dec 22 2010, 6:06?pm, Seebs <> wrote:
    >> On 2010-12-22, Malcolm McLean <> wrote:
    >> > Now if you have to pay for it, or even get formal permission to use
    >> > it, it's often more hassle than it's worth. That's the reality of an
    >> > averagely managed company. You either pirate it or find some other
    >> > solution.


    >> Which is why open source is more useful to you. ?I don't see how any of
    >> this has any bearing on your assertion that open source licenses prevent
    >> commercial use.


    > now I'm confused. If a package is GPL'ed how can I include it in a
    > closed source distribution without breaching the terms of the
    > licence?


    Possibly you can't.

    1. Not all Open Source is GPL. Many Open Source products allow you to
    use them in closed source products if you wish.
    2. Not all commercial use is closed source.
    3. You can have closed source packages and open source packages in the same
    system, provide the source to the open source packages, and not provide source
    to the closed source packages.

    Consider that a large number of televisions these days run Linux. That
    is unambiguously commercial use. They don't mind the source code
    requirements; releasing the source code doesn't hurt them. They're selling
    televisions, not software.

    The claim made was that open source software couldn't be used commercially,
    and it's just not so. There is no requirement that you "get formal
    permission", all you have to do is understand the license and comply with it,
    and this is often trivial for open source.

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Jan 2, 2011
    #15
  16. Michael Foukarakis

    Ben Pfaff Guest

    Malcolm McLean <> writes:

    > (But I do wonder if Microsoft nicked my compnumeric function which
    > sorts strings with embedded numbers. Did they generate the idea
    > independently? I'd really like to know.)


    Unless you think that GNU also "nicked" it from you, there's the
    strverscmp function as a third independent invention:

    -- Function: int strverscmp (const char *S1, const char *S2)
    The `strverscmp' function compares the string S1 against S2,
    considering them as holding indices/version numbers. Return value
    follows the same conventions as found in the `strverscmp'
    function. In fact, if S1 and S2 contain no digits, `strverscmp'
    behaves like `strcmp'.

    Basically, we compare strings normally (character by character),
    until we find a digit in each string - then we enter a special
    comparison mode, where each sequence of digits is taken as a
    whole. If we reach the end of these two parts without noticing a
    difference, we return to the standard comparison mode. There are
    two types of numeric parts: "integral" and "fractional" (those
    begin with a '0'). The types of the numeric parts affect the way
    we sort them:

    * integral/integral: we compare values as you would expect.

    * fractional/integral: the fractional part is less than the
    integral one. Again, no surprise.

    * fractional/fractional: the things become a bit more complex.
    If the common prefix contains only leading zeroes, the
    longest part is less than the other one; else the comparison
    behaves normally.

    strverscmp ("no digit", "no digit")
    => 0 /* same behavior as strcmp. */
    strverscmp ("item#99", "item#100")
    => <0 /* same prefix, but 99 < 100. */
    strverscmp ("alpha1", "alpha001")
    => >0 /* fractional part inferior to integral one. */
    strverscmp ("part1_f012", "part1_f01")
    => >0 /* two fractional parts. */
    strverscmp ("foo.009", "foo.0")
    => <0 /* idem, but with leading zeroes only. */

    This function is especially useful when dealing with filename
    sorting, because filenames frequently hold indices/version numbers.

    `strverscmp' is a GNU extension.

    --
    char a[]="\n .CJacehknorstu";int putchar(int);int main(void){unsigned long b[]
    ={0x67dffdff,0x9aa9aa6a,0xa77ffda9,0x7da6aa6a,0xa67f6aaa,0xaa9aa9f6,0x11f6},*p
    =b,i=24;for(;p+=!*p;*p/=4)switch(0[p]&3)case 0:{return 0;for(p--;i--;i--)case+
    2:{i++;if(i)break;else default:continue;if(0)case 1:putchar(a[i&15]);break;}}}
     
    Ben Pfaff, Jan 2, 2011
    #16
  17. On Jan 2, 8:47 pm, (Ben Pfaff) wrote:
    > Malcolm McLean <> writes:
    > > (But I do wonder if Microsoft nicked my compnumeric function which
    > > sorts strings with embedded numbers. Did they generate the idea
    > > independently? I'd really like to know.)

    >
    > Unless you think that GNU also "nicked" it from you, there's the
    > strverscmp function as a third independent invention:
    >

    I think GNU antedates me. And it's likely that Microsoft nicked it
    from them. (My version is at Programmer's Heaven, which is popular but
    not so likely a source).

    So that answers my question.
     
    Malcolm McLean, Jan 3, 2011
    #17
  18. On Jan 2, 7:59 pm, Seebs <> wrote:
    > On 2011-01-02, Malcolm McLean <> wrote:
    >
    > > The skill is in thinking of the idea. Any competent programmer ought
    > > to be able to implement it.

    >
    > This sounds suspiciously like the common claim that having "the idea"
    > for a movie is worth a lot, but actually writing a screenplay is trivial.
    >

    But I'm both generator of the idea (albeit only one of many
    independents) and provider of an implementation. If Speilberg said
    "producing ET was donkeywork, what was really hard was coming up with
    the premise" you'd be inclined to believe him, same as if he said vice
    versa.
     
    Malcolm McLean, Jan 3, 2011
    #18
  19. Michael Foukarakis

    Seebs Guest

    On 2011-01-03, Malcolm McLean <> wrote:
    > But I'm both generator of the idea (albeit only one of many
    > independents) and provider of an implementation. If Speilberg said
    > "producing ET was donkeywork, what was really hard was coming up with
    > the premise" you'd be inclined to believe him, same as if he said vice
    > versa.


    Not if I knew that many other people had come up with the idea in
    many contexts; at that point, I'd say the idea must in fact be obvious.

    -s
    --
    Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach /
    http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
    I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
     
    Seebs, Jan 3, 2011
    #19
  20. On Jan 2, 6:32 pm, Seebs <> wrote:
    > On 2011-01-02, Nick Keighley <> wrote:
    >
    > > On Dec 22 2010, 6:06?pm, Seebs <> wrote:
    > >> On 2010-12-22, Malcolm McLean <> wrote:
    > >> > Now if you have to pay for it, or even get formal permission to use
    > >> > it, it's often more hassle than it's worth. That's the reality of an
    > >> > averagely managed company. You either pirate it or find some other
    > >> > solution.
    > >> Which is why open source is more useful to you. ?I don't see how any of
    > >> this has any bearing on your assertion that open source licenses prevent
    > >> commercial use.

    > > now I'm confused. If a package is GPL'ed how can I include it in a
    > > closed source distribution without breaching the terms of the
    > > licence?

    >
    > Possibly you can't.
    >
    > 1.  Not all Open Source is GPL.  Many Open Source products allow you to
    > use them in closed source products if you wish.


    ah, sorry I was really speaking of GPL. I was aware there were things
    like BSD.


    > 2.  Not all commercial use is closed source.


    I was addressing the ones that were

    > 3.  You can have closed source packages and open source packages in the same
    > system, provide the source to the open source packages, and not provide source
    > to the closed source packages.


    I thought even that was difficult with some libraries.

    > Consider that a large number of televisions these days run Linux.  That
    > is unambiguously commercial use.  They don't mind the source code
    > requirements; releasing the source code doesn't hurt them.  They're selling
    > televisions, not software.


    I've worked on commercial (closed source) systems that used Linux.

    > The claim made was that open source software couldn't be used commercially,
    > and it's just not so.  There is no requirement that you "get formal
    > permission", all you have to do is understand the license and comply with it,
    > and this is often trivial for open source.
     
    Nick Keighley, Jan 3, 2011
    #20
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