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From "Bill Jones" <>
Subject Re: Copyright & donating code
Date Sun, 24 Jan 1999 13:16:07 GMT
[ I appreciate your reply, but as I received two, I will
  respond to the open forum - less key strokes on my part :]

PS - If you really want to pursue this 'academic discussion',
no need to copy the group and waste everyone's time.  :)
I suppose I 'care just enough' about Apache to voice
some concerns.  Call me crazy  :]

>From: Greg Stein <>
>To: Bill Jones <>
>Subject: Re: Copyright & donating code
>Date: Sun, Jan 24, 1999, 7:22 AM

> [ I am NOT speaking for the Apache Group, but as just another member of
>   the open source community. I'm responding because I feel these same
>   silly "issues" could be raised for any free package. ]

Silly now, but for how long?  As you said - you nor I can speak
for the Apache Group - but if you nor I speak, how will
they know what 'we' feel and think?

Good or bad, right or wrong?  Childish or silly?

> On Sun, 24 Jan 1999, Bill Jones wrote:
>> :]  That's cool.
>> (But will things get fixed in any more of a timely fashion;
>>  and will I have to start paying continuing licensing fees
>>  or annual maintenance fees to use varying levels of the
>>  Apache server code?  Or anyone else's module code?)
> I doubt that the Apache Group will *ever* charge any fee. That is just not
> where they're going. I also doubt that the rate of changes and fixes will
> increase; however, I'll state that Apache bugs are fixed WAY faster than
> proprietary equivalents. Please tell me the dates of the last two patches
> for Microsoft's IIS. Try: NT4 SP3 and SP4. SP4 was something like October
> last year, but SP3 was in 1997. The Apache Group has been releasing new
> versions every two or three months. Patches are readily available for any
> bugs that have been found, until they are rolled out in a new release.
> Caveat: Microsoft *will* issue security patches, or "hotfixes" for large
> customers. Otherwise, tough.

Maybe my concerns are unfounded and without real merit -
I get that a lot in the software industry.  People say "Oh,
it will never get as bad as Microsoft, or product X..."
After twenty years, I've seen it get bad.  No one can honestly
say that it won't happen to Apache code - Hell, with regard to
some modules, it has already begun.

>> I am sure you can see where I am leading.  Many projects
>> started out as completely free, but without concrete
>> support (sure, thru Usenet, et al.)
> Actually, I don't see where you're leading.
> Projects that start free usually end up staying that way.  People who
> contribute the code did so under the premise that it would be freely
> available. It would be "wrong" to suddenly change that premise.  There are
> caveats here, but generally speaking: free stays free.
>> ... story about using Apache ...
>> Everything worked out great :]  Then the questions started.
>> I spoke with various people on Usenet and at the 'Apache
>> Group' - they were all very helpful, but not so much as to
>> actually resolve problems, etc.  After much cussing and
> Yes, they are volunteers. Instead, it is better to say "thanx for your
> hard work; Apache is great code and has helped me tremendously." Asking
> people on this list or on Usenet groups for help is fine; setting an
> expectation of help, or even demanding it, is wrong.

Conceded in essence.  I take it, you basically agree that if
I publish code you find useful, and I say that "Too bad, but I
haven't the time to support it - But you can't do anything with
it either as I will maintain copyright on-going."  But you gut
it and try to fix it yourself (with or without the help of others)
- this only recourse is expected?  To take and fix the code yourself?

>> discussing - the client decided to hire yet another consultant
>> who proceeded to custom write what really amounted to
>> FTP software to send the documents everywhere they
>> needed to be, etc.
> Tough luck for them. Rather short-sighted :-)

Yes, but it happens everyday.  Unless you are lucky
enough to have a "Ooooh, do whatever you like..." client :]

>> Fast forward to this year - I am now working (again) as
>> an employee and not a contractor, and I am designing
>> distributed solutions in an Intranet/Internet
>> environment.  But, after all this time, one things still
>> sticks out in my mind - not real concrete support.
> It exists. You can easily purchase Apache and support for it from
> companies such as C2Net, Covalent, or Red Hat.

Not sure about C2Net, they appear a little behind the times
with regard to code base.  And, to date, I have yet to
hear a peep from RedHat.  So ....  My silly concerns
do not appear silly as this discussion progresses...
(NOTE:  Am I just being a little sarcastic, not retaliatory. :)

>> I am not bitching, mind you; and I for one truly
>> appreciate the new abilities that Apache can do now.
>> But, honestly, long term, will 'it' be any better off?
>> Will the source die off for lack of interest as the red
>> tape thickens?
> Yes. No.
> Apache is here to stay and will continue to improve. MILLIONS, and I mean
> that with the plural, use Apache to run their web site. I cannot imagine
> any possible scenario where Apache will die off. That is simply a
> non-issue to consider.
> In fact, the Apache installations can only continue to increase. Web
> servers are rapidly becoming commodity items. There is no reason to pay
> lots of money for them. People will turn more and more to solutions like
> Apache. If they need professional support, then they will turn to
> companies like Red Hat or C2Net.
>> I read earlier here that no modules would be accepted
>> unless there was someone willing to maintain that new
>> code portion, etc.  What about maintenance of the code
>> that is there?  I know that many of the contributors are
>> very busy - However, as more and more 'mission-critical'
>> applications are moved to Apache server - IS and
>> upper management will want to have more say in the
>> support structure offered - and some say in the terms and
>> conditions, etc.
> The Apache Group works on their own terms. If you don't like them, well...
> tough :-)

Yes.  A big fat Microsoft 'Tuff luck'  :]
(Being devil's advocate :)

> There are plenty of people willing to maintain the existing code -- they
> use it themselves, they take pride in their work, and they want to see it
> continue. However, they can't simply allow others to submit a bunch of
> work and expect the group to maintain for the submitters. Why should they?
> Placing Apache into a mission-critical situation without the appropriate
> means of support is simply stupid. And by "support", I am also implying
> that you cannot receive mission-critical support from the Apache Group, so
> you had better find somebody else.
> Note that Red Hat is working with other companies to provide
> mission-critical support. It isn't rolling yet, but I use it as an
> example that people are quite aware of the issue. I'm sure there *are*
> people out there that are doing it already.

I *seriously* doubt RedHat will ever be a support factor,
I have looked into what they call support and it is little better
than "We train one of your people to help support you better."
Not a real commitment in my eyes.  I deal with clients whom
wish to deal directly with the supporting authority.

>> I also realized a few years ago that 'free' doesn't mean
>> free of worry, questions, work required to get it to work, or
>> other maintenance hassles.  At some point in time I found
>> myself where many of my clients are -
>> "I just want it to work. Why it that so hard to achieve?
>> What is it going to take to get this to perform in this
>> manner? Should I just stick with more main stream
>> business who provide the services I need?"
>> I am sure you can reword the client concerns in the above
>> paragraph to match any senario you care to contemplate.
> Sure. And those clients are supposed to turn to people like YOU for their
> support. The model used by Apache and so many other projects is to create
> excellent software and let the service industry provide support for it.

And we come full circle to "Who supports those who support..."

> People who write software do it for many reasons, but it doesn't mean they
> are obligated to support the thing. Usually, they do, but for a whole host
> of other reasons, and they usually do it during their spare time
> (e.g. not as mission-critical support, or even under any time-based
> expectations).
>> As I said, not a bitch, just something to think
>> about as this cool software movement once called 'Free'
>> evolves more and more.
> Actually, I do kind of read it as a bitch against the style of
> development.

OK, you found me out.  Maybe a small bitch :]
I am wondering out loud about where this open software
movement will lead as more people make initially good
code but have no time to support it.

I see each in-house effort again splitting off their own
proprietary code base to keep fixing each new release to
work as they need it to (not even wanting to debate that concept :)
- as C2Net does with Apache now.

> Most people in this "movement" as you call it are certainly
> aware of the issue and also well aware of how it is solved. They write the
> software and provide it for free. You can say thanx and use it, knowing
> you must look elsewhere for support, or you can go elsewhere for packaged
> software and support. Your choice. And, typically, they don't care which
> you choose. However, I don't believe the choice of "use the free software
> and bitch about no support" is available.

But I am creating that choice even now :]
There is a thing call free speech.

PS - Can we actually 'just say Thanx' and use it?
Modify it, and redistribute it?  Truly?  I somehow doubt
that will be the case as time progresses...

> Cheers,
> -g

Cheers to you as well; I for one enjoyed this healthy ranting :]

(After reading this reply, I think I should wake up a little more :)
Bill Jones  | FCCJ Webmaster |

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