Re: Solaris 2.6 and Linux

Jeffrey B. Siegal (
Sat, 27 Sep 1997 13:18:52 -0700

Raul Miller wrote:

> So you're saying that if I sell automated whatzits, with some fsf software
> in rom, for something like $99, it'll break my back to offer the source
> for the software on floppy for another $99?

I never said it would "break your back." I said it is sufficiently inconvenient (in
a commercial setting, inconvenience is synonymous with cost), in many cases, as to
make Free Software effectively more expensive than commercial software which doesn't
come with these strings attached. (And not all commercial software is expensive;
some, while still commercial, is quite inexpensive.) There is a cost associated
with _offering_ the source code, and continuing to offer it, that may not be
recoverable from the cost of source distributions because: 1) GPL limits the price
charged for the media to a "nominal charge for the cost of distribution," and 2)
there is no guarantee that a sufficient number of source code distributions will be
sold at any price.

That' s not ordinarily an issue with Free Software, because the social good
associated with the availability of source code is seen as outweighing the cost
associated with the restrictions. However, when the object code is not being
distributed as software to computer users but is incorporated into a product, the
value of this good is significantly reduced (in part because the user is unable to
make changes to the software, recompile it, and use the modified version), while the
cost of the restrictions is significantly increased (because you are not already
distributing software, it is relatively more expensive to distribute software solely
to meet the requirements of GPL).

This is pretty far from the linux kernel. If we want to continue the discussion, I
suggest we take it to gnu.misc.discuss or pivate email.