Friday, September 25, 2009

Internal Contradictions of the Linux DE Licensing

Contradictions of licensing regarding the libraries verses the DE components; regarding the goals of wider support (by hardware and software vendors, the latter of which is necessary to drive the former), and licensing of default applications...

The Desktop Environments used on Linux are said to be licensed under the LGPL, or their libraries are; what is not, however, are their usable components, at least for GNOME and XFCE: even the panels a regular user sees are GPL--in both Gnome and XFCE. :(

The above is not a frivolous smiley, nor one from mere opinion: but reason. If the Linux Desktop is ever to be supported by commercial vendors of software, (i.e. Photoshop, etc.), which we want (minus the freaking extremists), that software needs not only to be able to integrate nicely into the environment, but even leverage its components: take a look at, for instance, when Macheads forked it and leveraged OSX features and programs, making NeoOffice.

Avoiding just momentarily that the GPL is not phrased so as to make dynamic linking a violation (in fact, precedent in both law and industry favor the contrary, though as many caution, it may vary depending on situational circumstances), specifically because it relies on copyright law, which applied to software tends not to view linking as derivation (at all), if the GPL were to prohibit even this as they say, any Linux environment IS USELESS--not because of the Environment, but the programs it comes with. It is hopelessly so: it's one thing to say someone cannot use your code, another to claim they can't leverage the components included on a platform: even Microsoft isn't so stingy as to say this: build programs atop excel (yes, there is an entire 'Excel Programming' industry: I know guys who do only this), their database (Access), Windows media player, or IE components...they allow it: because they're both realistic and intelligent...doing this is strategic, as it drives adoption, it permits better quality software to exist on their system, which means more sales and love from users.

The GPL, (it is claimed), prohibits this: it is why the Linux Desktop will not become a supported consumer desktop, when all feel under threat of the notorious 'infection' (even when it's an empty threat when actually reviewing the license in light of copyright law): when the FSF itself backs all efforts to 'attract' use of GPL components to ensure software that leverages it will become GPL. Nobody likes these kinds of zealots: even among many in the Linux community. I don't get how it is they claim to be better than pragmatist Microsoft, with all its abuses, when, as stated, one can use practically any component on a Microsoft install to the hearts content: program away. Sure it's not access to code, but to the libraries, and to the actual stuff people acually use and's usually okay.

That's not true of any current Linux DE (of which I know).

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