These questions are of my own design, in response to reading some of the
text which makes its way to the various e-news sites.
- What's the low down on the licence crap ?
- After feedback from companies who pay real money to real lawyers suggested
that the previous licence did not mean what people thought it meant, I
made a change that reflected this advice but not my intentions. As one
/. reader guessed, it was FUD directed my way that was the reason behind
the change. A few people questioned me about this and my replies went to
the list conveyed the same opinion, much as my own replies disturbed me as
much as others. Following that, DeRaadt entered the fray and decided that I
should do as he says or he'll take it to the press. Why he even thought
that'd make any difference, I don't know. Of course the rest is history,
as they say, and what should have been left to those who had an interest
in seeing the right thing happen left to discuss it was not. To those who say
that DeRaadt should have used more diplomacy, you're damn straight he should.
At least then discussion might have been possible. I'm not sure saying that
you are beligerant with vendors (and more or less not having to deal with
bad publicity on that) is a good argument for being beligerant with a private
individual (me!). Giving someone, who has nothing to lose, an ultimatum is
not the way to win them over to doing what you want, especially when you've
already flamed them elsewhere in the same email.
- In essence, it all happened too fast and has been blown way out of proportion.
One person wanted things to happen when they wanted to, not when I was ready.
They didn't allow enough time for proper consideration to be drawn into
matters and I wasn't about to let someone else call my shots either. In the
process they managed to galvanize my thoughts to excluding them from the world
I actively care about. By the time it'd reached even the OpenBSD journal I
was seriously unimpressed and was quite inflamed towards a couple of people
who seemed intent on forcing me to realise my world would fall apart if I
didn't lick their boots. My life/real-world doesn't rely on IPFilter for
anything - on the other hand, IPFilter does cost me time & money and that's
the way I prefer it, right now.
- So why don't you change it to GPL ?
- IMHO, the GPL is a virus. People approach me to use IPFilter in commercial
products specifically because IPFilter is NOT GPL'd. Think about that for
a second. To me that tells me that there is a gap (niche?) that GPL based
products are failing to fill, be it because of FUD or otherwise. Who can
say whether that gap will grow or shrink, over time ?
- So why don't you change it to a/the BSD licence ?
- Because IMHO it covers what it needs to. If you want to debate the merits
of explicit vs implicit things, do it somewhere that I won't ever hear
about, please. Then there's the issue of changing it (see elsewhere).
- Don't you know the original licence is like, bad ?
- Nope. So far I've not been able to get a _lawyer_ to provide me with a
legal interpretation of it, or the change or what the change meant. If
real lawyers everywhere are as expensive as they are here then I doubt
one will be quickly forthcoming. As I've said elsewhere, so far all
I've received has been personal opinions, and everyone has their own one of
of those they'll give away freely. Maybe someone should fund a group
good lawyers to provide free advice to the open source community. Luckily
there aren't that many ways to interpret it! If you're wondering why I
went for a rather "minimalistic" licence, the key to it is:
* I hate legalese, don't you ?
- What's this "secret dealing" with FreeBSD and NetBSD ?
- As explained, the licence can be ambiguous, depending on what you think
of the word "use" meaning. For me to change the licence would imply that
there was something wrong with it previously and how it was being used.
Given that the licence is already implanted in numerous files, already
modified and distributed by both FreeBSD and NetBSD, it made no sense to
make the old wording "bad" as it would require more work than anyone in
their right mind would have to do: remove all the old, modified versions
from existence. The "secret dealing" is simply discussions between myself
and both of those groups on what is the best way to go forward, given what
is and at the same time, make plans to ensure that future events don't
impact their ability to ship and use IPFilter, should they so desire. In
doing this, the core groups from FreeBSD and NetBSD continue to be a lot
more mature about this than other people have been and continue to provide
good guidence on how to achieve the required result: IPFilter in both of
those platforms and happy users. In the end, the result of that will be
public. Meanwhile, it works better if just a few people talk and rattle
out any problems.
- Why don't you make IPFilter open-source ?
- Firstly, I've never cared for the term "open source" - to me it's a product
of marketting in order to build a bucket to throw freely distributed source
code into. 10 years ago people were distributing source code freely and
without anyone calling it "open source". To those of you that have the
words "open source" tatoo'd on your soul (or elsewhere), good luck to you,
just don't bother me with your religion. Hmm, has anyone yet likened "open
source" zealots with door knocking bible bashers? O:)
- Back to the question.
- If the open source community had ever given me back something that made me
think giving it to the open source community would be valuable, I might
- In the time IPFilter has existed there has been but a trickle of anything
from the Internet community and that was *before* this licence bullshit.
Maybe it suffers from the same fate as the FWTK - easily used by people with
half a clue to make $$ and who care nothing for the original author. This
problem is recognised by some people (namely Linus) and they see GPL as an
answer to that.
- From where I sit, the open source community has failed and continues to fail
in convincing me that there is any benefit to be had by making IPFilter open
source. All the flaming that goes on (and will continue after this) proves
that my time is better spent ignoring it. Through all the time it has been
in the *BSD kernels, more work has been spent supporting their changes than
me receiving enhancements from them. Same for the early Linux support that
existed years ago.
- So, can I like use IPFilter and fix any problems if I find them or
add new features ?
- Of course. Next person who asks will get brick'd. It'd be nice if
those changes found their way back to me, too, but I can't force people
to do that, fascist licence or not.
- I want to use IPFilter in a commercial product. What does this mean?
- It means you should get a lawyer to advise you on the contents of the
licence. If you're already shipping a product and did so without going
through the licence stuff with a lawyer, you're just asking for trouble.
You should always be consulting with lawyers on the topic of licences
when building products out of someone else's software to make sure your
understanding of a licence is the correct one. As much as it might be
unpleasant to have to involve them in trivial cases like this, they're
the experts on this, not you and me. At worst, a lawyer might say you
have to ask me for permission to do that, but I've never said no and I
think it's a nice gesture to ask. As I've said elsewhere, I don't make
money out of this. At least having asked and jumped through whatever
hoops your arse will be covered. Would you still have to consult one
if I had a BSD licence or something else? I'd still recommend it as
there may still be a deficency and I'll be buggered if I'm writing a
document as exhaustive as the GPL.
- Are you concerned about rumours of OpenIPF ?
- Nope. I am interested to see what comes of it, if anything. Competition
is good for the industry (hint: that means taking over the world with Linux
rather than Windows would be equally as evil). Who knows, if that eventuates
and becomes successful enough to be of a concern for me and IPFilter, maybe
I'll change my stance. Would that be too late? Who knows. As with all
things, time will tell...unless someone has a reliable crystal ball they
can lend me?
- On the topic of code forks, I am seriously NOT interested in code forks.
I would prefer to see a whole new project start from scratch than have that
happen with IPFilter. I think there is more to be gained from starting over
as at least you're not burdened with someone else's mistakes.
- Will you kill Theo if you ever meet him ?
- I didn't the last time so I doubt I will next time. I used to put little
belief in the stories of Theo, threats and NetBSD and once believed there
was the possibility of reconciliation. Sigh.