Pick a Free OS

User login


Freedom vs. Freedom

Sometime later, Björn Grönvall went back to older code, which had been released under a less restrictive license and worked on that. The OpenBSD team noticed his efforts and further enhanced his work. The code was cleaned up, patented algorithms were moved out of the code and a completely free code base was achieved. Now, some years on, we see an Open Source product that is feature complete and can easily compete with its commercial counterpart. And it must have been competing because in February, Tatu Ylonen started a big fight with the OpenSSH team over trademark issues, which seemed motivated by the popularity and quality of OpenSSH.

The ssh vs. OpenSSH case highlights the very fears that the GPL seeks to prevent. But more importantly, it proves that Open Source is a far more relevant concept. What helped bring a happy ending to the above situation was the fact that there was an active bunch of Open Source developers and they had access to the code. Open Source and the community made OpenSSH the success that it currently is.

Open Source protects itself

The BSD and BSD-style licenses come under needless criticism from GPL supporters. People argue that these licenses don't help you keep software free (Again, think of Free Speech) for all time. There is always the danger that your work might become proprietary and part of a larger commercial package. People always forget that while the BSD style licenses don't prevent a code from becoming proprietary, they also don't discriminate or deny access to anyone.

As I write this article, news filters in that Microsoft has been using Open Source from the FreeBSD project and is still using FreeBSD to run crucial services at Hotmail. My first reaction: I am really pissed, especially considering Microsoft's anti-Open Source tirade. But I soon realized that my emotions had more to do with the fact that I hate Microsoft than the fact that a commercial entity had taken code from an Open Source project without giving something back.

At the other end of the like'ability scale is Apple. Apple's Darwin is another benefactor of Open Source movement in the form of Darwin, which is based on FreeBSD and Mach 3. Apple has released code to the Open Source community, albeit under a license that has come under criticism from RMS for not being free enough.