[R] The hidden costs of GPL software?
hb at maths.lth.se
Mon Nov 22 20:41:49 CET 2004
FYI, just noticed that the GPL is about (="a draft of which is due next
year") to be revised into GPL v3. Maybe they will solve part of the problems
you mention. Not much substance yet, but see
GPL 3 to Take on IP, Patents, eWeek, November 22, 2004
and the slashdot discussion
GPL Revision Coming Soon, slashdot, November 22, 2004
Question to Martin Maechler: Is it ok to change the subject title to, say,
"Problem with GPL (Was: RE: ...)" when replying to a message? This thread
has covered quite a wide range of topics this far.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch
> [mailto:r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch] On Behalf Of Spencer Graves
> Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 7:22 PM
> To: Berton Gunter
> Cc: r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch; 'Patrick Burns'; 'Philippe Grosjean'
> Subject: Re: [R] The hidden costs of GPL software?
> I agree with Bert. Thanks to all who contributed. I'd like to
> add one comment I didn't see in the thread so far:
> The corporate legal where I work is deathly afraid of the GNU
> General Public License (GPL), because if we touch GPL software
> inappropriately with our commercial software, our copyrights are
> replaced by the GPL. This in turn means we can't charge royalties,
> which means we can't repay the investors who covered our initial
> development costs, and we file for bankruptcy. The rabid capitalists
> meet the rabid socialists and walk away, shaking their heads.
> (Sec. 2.b
> of the GPL: "You must cause any work that you distribute or publish,
> that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the
> Program or any
> part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
> parties under the terms of this License." We can get around this by
> packaging accesses to GPL software as separately installed add-on(s),
> because then only the add-on(s) would be covered by the GPL.) Our
> corporate legal is more concerned about a possible law suit from a
> possible competitor than from the R Foundation, but the
> threat is still
> real and still being adjudicated in other cases.
> If the GPL were not so tight on this point, someone could
> commercialize a GUI for R without having to offer their source code
> under the GPL.
> However, even without this change, R seems to be the
> platform of
> choice for new statistical algorithm development by a growing
> portion of
> the international scientific community. Moreover, from my experience
> with this listserve, the technical support here is far superior to
> anything I've experienced with any other software in the 40+
> years since
> I wrote my first Fortran code.
> Best Wishes,
> spencer graves
> Berton Gunter wrote:
> >I have much enjoyed the discussion. Thanks to all who have
> >Two quick comments:
> >1. The problem of designing a GUI to make R's functionality more
> >accessible is, I believe just one component of the larger issue of
> >making statistical/data analysis functionality available to
> those who
> >need to use it but do not have sufficient understanding and
> >to do so properly. I certainly include myself in this
> category in many
> >circumstances. A willingness and commitment to learning ( =
> hard work!)
> >is the only rational solution here, and saying that one doesn't have
> >the time really doesn't cut it for me. Ditto for R language
> >2. However, R has many attractive features for data manipulation and
> >graphics that make it attractive for common tasks that are now done
> >most frequently with (ugh!) Excel (NOT Statistica, Systat, et. al.).
> >For this subset of R's functionality a GUI would be attractive.
> >However, writing a good GUI for graphing that even begins to take
> >advantage of R's flexibility and power in this arena is an
> enormous --
> >perhaps an impossible -- task. Witness the S-Plus graphics
> GUI, which I
> >think is truly awful (and appears to thwart more than it helps, at
> >least from many of the queries one sees on that news list).
> So I'm not
> >Again, thanks to all for a thoughful and enjoyable discussion.
> >-- Bert Gunter
> >Genentech Non-Clinical Statistics
> >South San Francisco, CA
> >"The business of the statistician is to catalyze the scientific
> >learning process." - George E. P. Box
> >>-----Original Message-----
> >>From: r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch
> >>[mailto:r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch] On Behalf Of Patrick Burns
> >>Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 6:28 AM
> >>To: Jan P. Smit
> >>Cc: r-help at stat.math.ethz.ch; Philippe Grosjean;
> >>r-sig-gui at stat.math.ethz.ch
> >>Subject: Re: [R] The hidden costs of GPL software?
> >>I'm a big advocate -- perhaps even fanatic -- of making R
> easier for
> >>novices in order to spread its use, but I'm not convinced
> that a GUI
> >>(at least in the traditional form) is the most valuable approach.
> >>Perhaps an overly harsh summary of some of Ted Harding's statements
> >>is: You can make a truck easier to get into by taking off the
> >>wheels, but
> >>that doesn't make it more useful.
> >>In terms of GUIs, I think what R should focus on is the
> >>ability for user's
> >>to make their own specialized GUI. So that a knowledgeable
> >>at an installation can create a system that is easy for
> >>users for the limited number of tasks that are to be done.
> >>The ultimate
> >>users may not even need to know that R exists.
> >>I think Ted Harding was on the mark when he said that it
> is the help
> >>system that needs enhancement. I can imagine a system that
> gets the
> >>user to the right function and then helps fill in the
> arguments; all
> >>of the time pointing them towards the command line rather than away
> >>from it.
> >>The author of the referenced article highlighted some hidden
> >>costs of R,
> >>but did not highlight the hidden benefits (because they were
> >>hidden from
> >>him). A big benefit of R is all of the bugs that aren't in
> >>it (which may or
> >>may not be due to its free status).
> >>Patrick Burns
> >>Burns Statistics
> >>patrick at burns-stat.com
> >>+44 (0)20 8525 0696
> >>(home of S Poetry and "A Guide for the Unwilling S User")
> >>Jan P. Smit wrote:
> >>>Dear Phillippe,
> >>>Very interesting. The URL of the article is
> >>>Best regards,
> >>>Jan Smit
> >>>Philippe Grosjean wrote:
> >>>>In the latest 'Scientific Computing World' magazine (issue 78, p.
> >>>>22), there
> >>>>is a review on free statistical software by Felix Grant ("doesn't
> >>>>have to
> >>>>pay good money to obtain good statistics software"). As far as I
> >>>>know, this
> >>>>is the first time that R is even mentioned in this
> magazine, given
> >>>>that it
> >>>>usually discuss commercial products.
> >>[ ...]
> >>R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
> >>PLEASE do read the posting guide!
> >R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
> >PLEASE do read the posting guide!
> Spencer Graves, PhD, Senior Development Engineer
> O: (408)938-4420; mobile: (408)655-4567
> R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
> PLEASE do read the posting guide!
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