It seems that Mr. Shuttleworth has taken my bait. 🙂
His response? As follows:
Greg, thanks for your comment. Applications, as you know, don’t run on source RPM’s. Hardware vendors don’t certify source RPM’s. Users don’t install source RPM’s. Really – how many vendors (hardware or software) certify CentOS? As far as I’m aware, none of any consequence. You know that’s true. So let’s talk about the real meat – the binaries that make up RHEL. As you are well aware, these are a closely controlled and licensed under terms very similar to those of any traditional proprietary software. That’s why Oracle’s having to jump through hoops to produce Unbreakable Linux (bless ‘em). That’s why users are required to pay for the privilege of using RHEL. Sounds proprietary to me.
Yes, “let’s talk about the real meat” — the way that Mr. Shuttleworth chooses to define “proprietary”. It appears that he defines it thusly: “using a business model that is not compatible with my own.”
I think that most folks would agree that Richard Stallman is the defining ethicist of the copyleft generation. Does he say in the GPL, “one must give away one’s binary packages for free”?
He does not.
Rather, he says:
“When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things.”
Further, he says:
“For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.”
Those are the essential terms of software freedom, Mark. They are the terms around which we built the most successful free software company in the world — and they pertain to source code. Not binaries — source code.
Perhaps you should read those terms again, since you seem to be having a hard time digesting them lately.
I repeat: you can call our software proprietary all you like. That doesn’t make it true.
“And that’s all I have to say about that.” –forrest gump