neat story

Xavi Drudis Ferran xdrudis at
Wed Mar 20 00:13:57 UTC 2002

El Tue, Mar 19, 2002 at 11:22:06PM +0000, Rui Miguel Silva Seabra deia:
> Boss: Does GPL really allow someone to use commercially the output of a
> program?

I don't understand. Most licenses allow the output of a program to be used
commercially. I wonder whether you can forbid it. Even Microsoft  allows 
Word documents to be printed and sent to customers or providers...

> Me: Sure, it's even in the GNU GPL FA...
> Boss: Yes, I've just read it.
> Me: [surprised] so?
> Boss: I've been looking at Nessus[1], and it does some pretty good job,
> so good, that you can earn a lot of money with a default audit check
> from nessus. It is unfair that you can exploit so much money from it
> without having to pay anything. How do they live off? I don't think
> their rights are well protected by the GNU GPL.

So it is fair that I write a program once and get paid many times?
One for each copy?. Why should the income not be related to the work 
done and only to the number of copies licensed?. 
Is it fair that I have to rewrite a program already done because 
I'm not allowed to adapt it to my needs?. 
One thing is having doubts about whether they can get enough 
money to keep going, but doubts about whether it is fair to use 
a GPL program?. 

> I went on trying to explain that they have made nessus on their free
> time, and probably as a funny project, and/or as a way to reduce the
> ammount of repetitive work they may have to do at work (I know I'm going
> to use nessus reports to kick away some windows servers at work in
> favour of gnu/linux systems). They also can make money by using nessus
> on local companies, and they probably do.
What sport does your boss practice?. Come on it isn't fair to sweat 
and get tired for no money at all, even paying for it some times... :)

> However, my boss wasn't moved... not even when I told him some of the
> examples even recently cited on this mailing list... tactics to make
> people pay for a copy...  geez, I'm lucky I'm a sysadmin and not a
> developer here!

The thing may be to make him think not of how much did they earn from 
using GPL but how much did it cost them. Nothing (assuming they needed 
the program or had enough motivation to write it).  

> It is, however, hard to make someone understand free software when they
> can't understand that the ulterior motives may not be money.

Money is never a motive. Or at least it shouldn't be for any sane person.
It can't be because money is so abstract that 
it means nothing. And when your motives mean nothing to you, you're in 

I once tried with my CFO and he couldn't reply (or thought I wasn't worth 
a reply, who knows). I was trying to explain 
that money is not an end but a mean. A company objective is not to make
money. It is to sell pizzas, write software, grow potatoes or paint walls, 
but not making money. Making money is a prerequisite for the company 
existance, not a goal. You don't live to breathe, you breathe to keep alive.

What I told him then was (something similar to): 

-Why aren't we trafficking drugs (illegal drugs)?. It is more profitable 
than what we do... 
- But it's illegal. 
- So the goal is not to make money anymore. Now it is to make money legally?
- Well, yes, of course. 
- So why don't we open a restaurant. Don't they make money?.
- Sure, but we are not cooks here. 
- But if our goal is to make money, who cares what we are?. 
- Well, we make money our way. 
- So our way. Now the goal is to make money our way?. 
- Er... 
- So why don't we admit our goal is to be something or do something "our way", 
and making money is just a need, just like raw materials are needed in 
a factory but the goal of the factory is not to get raw materials?  

Xavi Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at

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