Unix vs Linux - the movie.

Stephane Bortzmeyer bortzmeyer at pasteur.fr
Fri Jul 28 06:09:06 EST 2000

In article <8llpri$lh5$1 at slb6.atl.mindspring.net>,
 "Andrew Dalke" <dalke at acm.org> writes:

[Reordering a bit.]

> But with these programs there is still the possibility of doing a
> "true peer review" of the source code, even though they are closed.

Yes, the John S. J. Anderson/Richard P. Grant argument is good against
completely closed software but there is still the issue of programs
like Phylip or Clustalw, where you have source but not freedom (one
more reason not to use the "open source" term). 

In practice, I think that the peer review is less efficient when you
cannot make changes and distribute them: you cannot test your ideas so
widely. And people are less likely to work on a program if they cannot
distribute and use the changes.

> Out of curiosity, what are your feelings on software where you get
> the source but it isn't "open source."  

[I suggest to use "free software" instead of the fuzzy "open
source". Because it puts the emphasis on freedom. Yes, I know the word
is ambiguous in english but it is not my main language so it does not
bother me too much.]

> For examples, DSSP, MolScript
> and XPLOR are all packages (can you see my structure background :)
> where you get the source code, even for free for academics, but
> you are not allowed to redistribute the source or any changes.

Most of the bioinformatics programs (at least those who have an
explicit licence, a very small minority) are in that case.

I would say that freedom is not binary. There is space between free
and "completely unfree".

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