[R] S-PLUS 8 beta program [repost]

Spencer Graves spencer.graves at pdf.com
Sat Apr 1 19:51:53 CEST 2006

	  This thread may already contain too many contributions, but I feel 
compelled to add something:


	  Insightful was accused of "stealing" GNU software.  On that issue, I 
will as the accusor(s) and other to please read the GNU license (e.g., 
at http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html), making special not of the 
following portion of paragraph 2 of "TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR COPYING, 

	  "If identifiable sections of that work [software that uses GNU code] 
are not derived from the Program [GNU code or derivative], and can be 
reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then 
this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you 
distribute them as separate work."

	  I work for a company that develops and licenses specialized software 
for a narrow market niche.  We do not currently connect our software to 
R, but we plan to do so in the future, using a completely separate 
add-on module that we can distribute free with the source code, 
consistent with the GNU license.

	  If Insightful is guilty of stealing when making GNU code available to 
their customers, then I'm guilty of stealing each time I apply something 
I've learned from a published research report or book.

	  I have not yet contributed any packages to CRAN, though I have 
contributed suggestions that have improved some of R's capabilities. 
Moreover, I expect to contribute packages in the future.  I would be 
happy to have Insightful make my code more widely available (especially 
if I don't have to do any more work to make it available to the wider 


	  Some years ago, I worked for a not-for-profit research firm.  I was 
paid to work there, and my boss carefully explained to me, "We're not 
for profit, but we're not for loss, either."

	  I now work for a company that develops and distributes data analysis 
software for a narrow, specialized market.  Some of our former 
competitors went out of business, because they did not charge as much as 
we do and could not afford to develop and maintain their code enough to 
compete with us.  Our customers pay our license fees, because they 
believe the use of our software (1) saves them substantially more money 
than we charge and (2) allows them to provide their customers with 
better products at lower cost.

	  I also like the R model, with (a) many of the R core team being 
university professors who support R as part of the research obligations 
of their job and (b) substantive contributions by many others around the 
world who contribute small portions of their spare time to support this 
r-help listserve and contribute code to CRAN.

	  I don't agree with the ideologues of either the Right or the Left: 
"For profit", "not for profit" and volunteer efforts all make positive 
contributions to building a better world.

	  Best Wishes,
	  spencer graves

eugene dalt wrote:

> Point well taken. You should, however, expect R users
> to bring up concerns. This isn't a win-win situation
> as
> you sound...and you want to keep s-news in the dark
> too.
> Frankly, you didn't address the real issue. How would 
>  Insightful reacts for example if they find R users
> repackaging your products named "Infact" or
> "Insightful Miner"? or as you said R users (instead of
> Splus users) "need access to the cutting-edge, quality
> statistical software available>> in Splus (instead of
> other way round).
> Insightful wants to take any "cutting-edge, quality
> statistical software" from R, but they patent any
> "cutting-edge, quality statistical software" they
> create. Hence my call to people to use any loopholes
> to make these available or rewrite them. That would be
> win-win.
> ps. This is my last email on this issue.
> --- David Smith <dsmith at insightful.com> wrote:
>>eugene dalt [eugenedalt at yahoo.com] writes:
>>>It seems to me that Insightful is very good at
>>>protecting whatever they "create" and the same
>>>feels very comfortable taking R stuff to keep they
>>>clients happy. In essence they are selling free
>>I must defend Insightful on this point. As an
>>employee of Insightful, that's
>>to be expected, but I've also been an author of free
>>software since the
>>earliest days when the term "free software" was in
>>use ... but more on that,
>>In no sense are we "taking R stuff" with these
>>improvements in S-PLUS 8.
>>Packages written for R will remain free, as they
>>must.  This isn't just
>>because the license says so, but because we believe
>>that an open-source
>>community around packages that will run with both
>>S-PLUS and R is a good
>>thing.  It's good for S-PLUS users, certainly: we've
>>heard loud and clear
>>from our users that they need a better way to
>>package user-contributed
>>libraries for S-PLUS, and they need access to the
>>cutting-edge, quality
>>statistical software available in the open-source
>>world.  But it's also good
>>for the statistical computing community generally. 
>>In the open source spirit
>>of "many eyes", the more people using and improving
>>open source software,
>>from both the S-PLUS and R communities (or,
>>generally, the S community), the
>>You say, "In essence they are selling free stuff." 
>>I say, au contraire.
>>First of all, the distinction between
>>"free-as-in-speech" and
>>"free-as-in-beer" is important here, and it's the
>>former context that is
>>generally meant in reference to "free software". 
>>(For further background on
>>this, see
>>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_as_in_beer and
>>As it happens, the free-as-in-speech packages we're
>>porting to S-PLUS will
>>also be available free-as-in-beer from an
>>Insightful-hosted site.  In fact,
>>as part of the S-PLUS 8 project we've put
>>significant investment into making
>>free software available to a wider community.  We
>>put packages though the
>>same test that CRAN does, and as we find and fix
>>bugs in the porting process,
>>we're contributing those back to the community as
>>open-source.  We're also
>>planning to provide an new package for both S-PLUS
>>and R, as a further
>>contribution to the community. 
>>Personally, I'm very excited about this new role for
>>Insightful as a member
>>of the open-source community.  Ultimately, it's only
>>through our actions that
>>our sincerity will be judged.  All I ask is that
>>those actions are be
>>characterized faithfully.
>># David
>>David M Smith <dsmith at insightful.com>
>>Senior Product Manager, Insightful Corp, Seattle WA
>>Tel: +1 (206) 802 2360
>>Fax: +1 (206) 283 6310
>>Insightful Corporation (www.insightful.com) provides
>>analytical solutions for
>>text and data using S-PLUS, Insightful Miner, InFact
>>and consulting services.
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