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Re: AGPL and Debian

"Bernhard R. Link" <brlink@debian.org> writes:

> * Joerg Jaspert <joerg@debian.org> [081129 11:26]:
>> > All of those services are usually only for code that is to be hosted for
>> > the public. I consider the claim that there will be enough hosting
>> > services for people needing to put their personal modifications not
>> > suiteable for a general public consumption and not interested in any
>> > further work to be put in that project quite short sighted and hard to
>> > believe once there will be some more of those projects and some more
>> > people using them.
>> if you are doing changes to the service that are not suitable for
>> general public then you surely not let the public access them at all in
>> the first place?! Otherwise they would be suitable for them and yes,
>> then you have to offer a possibility to get to the source.
> I strongly oppose the notion that the the right to run modified software
> should be limited to nicely modified software. Often you need some
> little modifications of the software you run urgently, then just
> commenting some line heres and adding some hard-coded exceptions
> elsewhere is the easiest way to go. I do not think that forbidding such
> modifications or requesting extra costs to be allowed to do them still
> qualifies as free software.

The GPL has similar features.  If you make an "ugly" patch to a GPL'ed
program and distribute it, you need to supply your ugly code.

In the AGPL spirit, if you make an "ugly" patch and deploy the code for
some users to use, you need to supply your ugly code to your users.

> Current hosting services usually only have one project for a specific
> piece of software with a limited set of people allowed to change it.
> I don't see how "I do not want to maintain this software, I just need
> this patch with a minor hard-coded modification hosted somewhere
> so that I can run the software" gives you access to any hosting
> services.

I won't point to specific projects to avoid embarrassment, but I have
published some projects on Google Code which is a fork of an existing
free software project plus some "ugly patches".  I had to rename the
project, but that's easy.

> As an example consider some router[1]. When you use AGPL software in it,
> having to add the full code to it's flash will be quite some cost
> involved (while a CD or even DVD with the manual and the sources
> is quite cheaply to add to the shipping).

I believe the AGPL allows the router manufacturer to point to some other
place for the source code, such as their own web site.  The source
doesn't have to fit on the firmware.

Basically, I don't understand the cost argument.  Free software doesn't
need to have an total-cost-of-ownership of 0 USD to be free software.
Free software often costs much in reality.  For GPL software, the costs
to use it can amount to huge sums, especially if you accidentally link
some GPL software to proprietary stuff, and distribute the software.


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