Update: I got a response from the FSF which is quite satisfactory and makes sense.
Yes — but from a technology standpoint, we don’t know how to provide
that yet. Even if a search engine provided you with all of the source
you needed to run your own implementation, and modify it, it’s unlikely
that you have the resources to do so. Keeping track of all this data
for the entire web requires a lot of storage. Keeping your index
up-to-date requires plenty of bandwidth.
The FSF recently hosted a summit to discuss this issue and consider
options for moving forward; see
<http://www.fsf.org/news/FreedomForWebServices>. The group that was
convened will continue this work, and we expect to be publishing more
details about it shortly. Keep your eye on our web site for updates.
Licensing Compliance Engineer, Free Software Foundation
Today, I read this article titled, Google’s open source problem is Affero on Zdnet. Frequent readers will know my previous article titled, “GPLv3: Is Stallman taking sides?” which got me the standard mails teaching me “philosophy” and “greater purpose of life” (read: made absolutely no sense whatsoever).
The reason I brought this up again is because I still don’t have an answer to this question I have – and for all the openness and ask-me-anything nature that everyone attempts to project, people have been remarkably un-open and ask-me-anything-but-I-won’t-answer on this issue. If any readers would like to offer me answers, I welcome them.
What bothered me most was this quote on the FSF’s FAQ on GPLv3: However, some companies that develop and rely upon free software consider this requirement to be too burdensome.
Since when did a company’s “burden” bother the FSF? Since when did “making sure a company keeps making money” become the reason for compromising on the FSF’s definition of Freedom (I say “FSF’s definition”, because I allow every human being the freedom to choose their definition of freedom).
I take the comment below back (I haven’t figured out a way to “strike out” text yet). As Joe has pointed out in the comments, ASP refers to “Application Service Providers”. This is the kind of constructive answer that helps. Thanks man!
An interesting fact pointed out by Stallman is the popularity of ASP though. He calls this the “ASP loophole”. It appears that any webservice whose code you don’t have access to, runs on Microsoft-developed ASP technology. Now that’s cool…. I don’t really have access to Google’s code you know. Isn’t that something to think about – so much for all you guys who claim PHP/Perl/whatever are also popular. “Also” just doesn’t cut it – unless a site has it’s code out in the open, it’s running Microsoft ASP – Stallman has spoken! He didn’t call it the “PHP loophole”, or “server-side scripting loophole”. It appears ASP is so damn popular above all those pathetic alternatives, that “server-side scriptiong” is analogous to “ASP”. Wow!
In the meantime, here’s a thought experiment for you.
- We can all agree, that the HTML page you get are really rendering instructions at worse, and some kind of scripting at best. In essence, it is data which tells the browser what you see. For all we care, it could be any format. HTML is just the format that we incidentally came up with or began to use.
- And you get prophet-certified by GPLv3′ing all code. Hence it only makes sense that you only use GPLv3′d code on your desktops. I can live with that.
- Now, if a company developed a GPLv3′d OS with remote desktop capability that ran on their data centers, it too becomes prophet-certified saving-the-world pure. Then they distribute the client-code to you which allows you to remote onto a desktop on the cloud – and you have all the freedom – all 100% baptiz…uhh… I meant certified! (Lest you flame me, the company should also publish specs of the remoting protocol.)
And there you go – you have a completely free software story. Personally, when someone claims it’s supposed to allow me to “learn, modify, experiment, etc.”, I can’t do that without the source code, GPLv3′d or not. But I guess there are a bunch of hyper-intelligent people out there who, merely by the application of a licence to the code (also indicative of the awesome heavenly power of the licence in question), can study, learn or modify the code – without having access to it!
Amazing, simply amazing!