GPL worldview WAS Re: Rchard Stallman vs Darl McBride

Levi Pearson levipearson at
Wed Jul 21 11:21:18 MDT 2010

On Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 8:38 AM, Richard Esplin
<richard-lists at> wrote:
> IBM did invest in Unix, but under a proprietary license, and called it AIX.
> Lost of companies have invested in BSD Unix, but compared to Linux, few have contributed back.

All sorts of companies invested in and contributed back to BSD Unix.
The early Unix culture was all about sharing and contributing things
between people who had the source code, even when it technically
violated license agreements.  This was before personal computers,
though, or at least before you could run Unix on them, so most users
worked for companies or universities.  USENIX, which was the original
Unix Users Group, was where a lot of this happened.

Anyway, it's true that Linux has taken over the role of the primary
collaborative Unix OS, and that the GPL plays a role in that.  It's
not the *only* factor involved in that, though.  Linux was patterned
after SVR4, which was what most of the commercial Unix vendors were
based on, and made porting to it easier.  Linux developers had a very
different philosophy on how to work and what could/should be added to
the OS.  BSD guys were a lot more conservative about change, while
Linux core developers embraced changes eagerly.  Linux was born on the
PC and naturally attracted PC developers, which was a much larger
group than the server/workstation users that were involved in BSD


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