Grits (was GPL) 
Author Message
 Grits (was GPL)

Quote:

> What we don't want is what happend several times to PD-Forths
> in the past. Some people took the Forth, added their own
> contribution and sold the result under a restrictive license.
> These people weren't the original authors. Just as any
> commercial Forth author would be pissed off if he sees his
> sources in a PD Forth, a free Forth author is pissed of if he
> sees his code in a commercial Forth.

    I think you are probably referring to FIG-Forth.  But it
happened in this case by design.  The developers of FIG-Forth
were interested in popularizing the language -- and they made
available a model implementation as consistent as possible over
the CPUs of the time. They offered it for use by any who wanted
to implement Forth. FIG-Forth was incredibly instrumental in the
spread of the Forth language -- and the fact that many Forth
implementations (both commercial and not) used the FIG model made
Forth one of the most portable languages at the time.

    I can understand, however, that creating a "New FIG-Forth"
may not be your goal -- and I certainly don't hold that against
you.

    This thread started with an inquiry about using a GPL Forth
as a delivery vehicle for applications -- and I think it ended
with a clear statement of how the authors of GForth interpret the
GPL.

    There still remains a need to clarify the need for some
licensing agreement that allows the use of a Forth system as a
delivery vehicle for applications -- and I've been trying to come
up with a way to explain the matter.  Over the weekend, it
suddenly occured to me:  "grits".

                             -----------

      I grew up in the North Eastern United States.  The
culture and the cuisine is quite different from that in the
South.  On my first venture to the South, as a boy, I was exposed
to "grits".  When I ordered breakfast for the first time, I found
on my plate a white puddle of something that looked like baby
food. I hadn't remembered ordering anything like that -- so I
asked the waitress who said "Them's grits, honey!". Grits are a
kind of mush made with corn, I believe -- and Southerners believe
them to be an essential part of any meal (well, breakfast at
least).  My reaction to grits then is the same as it is now: my
first step in eating breakfast in the South is to take my knife
and carefully scrape the grits as far as I can from the rest of
the food.  Personally, I don't even like the looks of them -- but
I am sure that you can find Southerners who believe that the rest
of breakfast is really just an accompaniment to the grits. Some,
in fact, have an almost religious fanaticism about grits.

      In the 19th century a Civil War was fought in the United
States.  History books will give various reasons for this war. It
was fought, in fact, about grits.  Some Southerners wanted to try
to force people in the North to eat grits -- and there were even
some laws passed that all restaurants had to serve them.  The
Northerners fought back -- and eventually won the war.  As a
result, restaurant owners in the North are not forced to serve
grits -- and there are large parts of the US where grits are not
served and are not even available on the menu.  The Southerners
still love their grits -- and still think they are an essential
part of a meal.

      Years later an enterprising Southerner got an idea.  He
manufactures dinner plates and tries to sell them throughout the
US.  But he imposes a condition:  any meal served on his dinner
plates must be served with grits on the side.  His argument is
that a meal is a derived work of the dinner plate -- so
restaurant owners must comply with his wishes if they are to use
his dinner plates.

     You know, if you think about it (and hire a smart lawyer)
there may be some really contorted way to deduce that a meal
served on a dinner plate is a derived work of the dinner plate.
But, surely, wouldn't it be in the long range best interest of
both the restaurant owner and the plate manufacturer not to make
such an interpretation?

     I can understand that if someone were to take the dinner
plates, paint some decorations on them, and try to resell them AS
DINNER PLATES that the manufacturer might be "pissed".

     But a meal is not a decoration on a dinner plate -- and a
restaurant owner is not setting up a competing business selling
dinner plates. The plate is just a way that is necessary for
delivering some kinds of food. In my opinion, making a dinner
plate gives the manufacturer no say at all about what food is
served.  (If the restaurant owner decides to serve grits on his
own, that's fine -- if he thinks it would turn off his customers,
that's fine too -- it is his decision.)

     If the two persist in spending their time arguing, all the
customers will go out for pizza.

                           ---------

     For most Forth applications, the underlying Forth system is
really just a dinner plate. It is something that the author of
the application needs to deliver his work to others.

     When you cook a meal and serve it on a dinner plate, what do
you get?  You may tell me you get an enhanced version of a dinner
plate -- but I think you get a meal being served on a plate.

     I think there is something wrong with the interpretation of
the GPL being made in this case.  I think that if the FSF would
like the GPL to be used in cases like Forth then it will have to
make appropriate stipulations for languages that require runtime
support (as it does for compiled languages).

                          ----------

For the record:  

        The application I am currently testing for eventual
        distribution is non-commercial.  I am not using GForth.  
        I am, however, interested in the issues that this thread
        implicitly raises: finding ways to supply applications
        together with a Forth system that is beneficial to
        application authors, Forth vendors, and the Forth
        Community.

            In mathematics IDEAS are regarded as the major part
        of creative effort. There are protocols about what
        constitutes "fair use" of ideas. I'm a bit appalled at
        the ethic I have heard from computer programmers in this
        discussion: that it is OK to steal ideas -- but that code
        is valuable. I think what is eventually needed is a way
        to both protect and allow fair use of ideas and code.  

                                        John J Wavrik

                                        Univ of Calif - San Diego
                                        La Jolla, CA  92093-0112



Fri, 23 Mar 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 Grits (was GPL)

Quote:

>     For most Forth applications, the underlying Forth system is
>really just a dinner plate. It is something that the author of
>the application needs to deliver his work to others.

>     When you cook a meal and serve it on a dinner plate, what do
>you get?  You may tell me you get an enhanced version of a dinner
>plate -- but I think you get a meal being served on a plate.

>     I think there is something wrong with the interpretation of
>the GPL being made in this case.  I think that if the FSF would
>like the GPL to be used in cases like Forth then it will have to
>make appropriate stipulations for languages that require runtime
>support (as it does for compiled languages).

Let me share my own experence with this issue.

In late '84 I wanted to start a Macintosh game company (Aegis, which became
better known as an Amiga company).  Since I was familiar with Forth, and I
didn't want to spend $$$ on a LISA computer (required by Apple to use their
development system at the time) I choose to write this game in MacForth
(Creative Solutions).

MacForth was excellent.  I managed to get the game (a 3D real time
adventure) "The Pyramid of Peril" up and running in a few weeks (really).
At the time Creative Solutions (the publisher of MacForth) had a license fee
of something around $2000 for a "targeted" application .... i.e. the runtime
and license to ship a "real" Mac Application.

However, Creative was transitioning to a "no-fee" system and in Dec. '84
didn't want to supply and licenses during that transition.  I think they
thought we were a bunch of flakes, maybe we were.  With a week before the
first MacWorld show I managed to get a pre-release version of Laboratory
Microsystems MasterForth for the Mac, and get the game ported, tested, and
shrink wrapped (the evening before the show) in time.

I understood the issues at Creative at the time, but it still caused great
upset.  Probably a factor in my moving to 'C' in '85.  I did one more game
in MasterForth and switched to 'C' when the Amiga appeared later that
summer.

My feeling is that the Forth development system is like a typewriter used to
create a novel.  Would a typewriter company charge royalties to authors of
novels?  I think not.

Just my 2 cents.

Bill Volk



Fri, 23 Mar 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 Grits (was GPL)

Quote:
>My feeling is that the Forth development system is like a typewriter used
to
>create a novel.  Would a typewriter company charge royalties to authors of
>novels?  I think not.

        You don't generally ship the typewriter to every reader with the
novel.

-GJC



Fri, 23 Mar 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 Grits (was GPL)

Quote:

>>My feeling is that the Forth development system is like a typewriter used
>to
>>create a novel.  Would a typewriter company charge royalties to authors of
>>novels?  I think not.

>        You don't generally ship the typewriter to every reader with the
>novel.

You don't generally ship the compiler, editor, or development tools with a
"sealed" targeted application either.  Of course, if you need to provide
access to the Forth interpeter in your application ... that's a different
thing.

Bill



Fri, 23 Mar 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 Grits (was GPL)
John Wavrik wrote about Forth, grits, dinner plates, and licenses:
I snipped it all! Don't read on if you're busy.

First things first: I was born and grew up in New York. My parents were
born in Russia. I like grits! (Yellow grits are often known as polenta.)
Oatmeal is made with 1 part oats, two parts water. Grits (white or
yellow) are made with one part grits, five parts water. More profit!

The grits I eat are not a derived work of the bowl I eat them from. A
book in electronic form is not a derived work of the program it was
written with. But if I distribute the book on disk along with copies of,
say, WordPerfect so that people can read it, I should expect trouble.

Acrobat is a model of what is needed here. Presumably, one pays plenty
for the ability to make PDF documents, but the reader is free to all.
One problem with code is that, even when an application is "sealed",
clever people like us can disect it and use pieces that other people
struggled to get right and want to keep control of. But that's true for
any code, not especially here. Forth programs do have a special problem.
When I distribute a Forth application, it necessarily is either in
source form, or rides a Forth kernel that may have strings attached.

So the matter seems to turn on this: If I'm using the Forth system to
run my code, and I distribute my program in such a way that the kernel
can't be used directly, am I distributing the kernel? Who would reverse
engineer i.e., steal, what is freely available?

Still, there is the other side, the right of owners to make rules for
how their property is used. I have a box of bicicle parts, dating from
1947. Here is the rule: I will help you repair or customize your bike,
or you can come and use my tools. You may take any part from the box if
you use it. Any parts that come off your bike must go into the box.

Jerry
--
If my address has "x" or "z" in it, remove them to reply.

You know that the outhouse is in the right place if
it seems too close in Summer and too far in Winter.
---------------------------------------------------------



Fri, 23 Mar 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 Grits (was GPL)

Quote:


> >     For most Forth applications, the underlying Forth system is
> >really just a dinner plate. It is something that the author of
> >the application needs to deliver his work to others.

> >     When you cook a meal and serve it on a dinner plate, what do
> >you get?  You may tell me you get an enhanced version of a dinner
> >plate -- but I think you get a meal being served on a plate....

This is a pretty nice analogy!

If you come to my house for dinner, I do not expect you to take home the
dishes.  I offered you hospitality and dinner, not free china.
Similarly, our software products are intended to help you make and
distribute applications, not Forth development systems.

I suppose you might consider the simple on-board Forths on boards such
as New Micros supplies examples of "take-out" food where the container
is included!

Quote:
> Let me share my own experence with this issue.

> In late '84 I wanted to start a Macintosh game company (Aegis, which became
> better known as an Amiga company).  Since I was familiar with Forth, and I
> didn't want to spend $$$ on a LISA computer (required by Apple to use their
> development system at the time) I choose to write this game in MacForth
> (Creative Solutions).

> MacForth was excellent.  I managed to get the game (a 3D real time
> adventure) "The Pyramid of Peril" up and running in a few weeks (really).
> At the time Creative Solutions (the publisher of MacForth) had a license fee
> of something around $2000 for a "targeted" application .... i.e. the runtime
> and license to ship a "real" Mac Application.
>...[snip]
> I understood the issues at Creative at the time, but it still caused great
> upset.  Probably a factor in my moving to 'C' in '85.  I did one more game
> in MasterForth and switched to 'C' when the Amiga appeared later that
> summer.

> My feeling is that the Forth development system is like a typewriter used to
> create a novel.  Would a typewriter company charge royalties to authors of
> novels?  I think not.

Not as long as you weren't shipping typewriters along with your books!

Our policy is that we are licensing development systems, which are
intended to be used to create distributable programs.  With our
cross-compilers, it's easy, most folks don't want a compiler in the
target anyhow.  With the PC systems, there are a variety of ways of
rendering the development system inaccessible, even though it may be
physically present.  Providing that is done, we don't charge royalties
on targets.

Now, how can we tempt you to come back again???

Cheers,
Elizabeth

--
===============================================
Elizabeth D. Rather  (US & Canada) 800-55-FORTH
FORTH Inc.                      +1 310-372-8493
111 N. Sepulveda Blvd.     Fax: +1 310-318-7130
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
http://www.forth.com

"Forth-based products and Services for real-time
applications since 1973."
===============================================



Fri, 23 Mar 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 Grits (was GPL)

Quote:
> So the matter seems to turn on this: If I'm using the Forth system to
> run my code, and I distribute my program in such a way that the kernel
> can't be used directly, am I distributing the kernel? Who would reverse
> engineer i.e., steal, what is freely available?

        Let me be clear where I am coming from here. I'm not concerned
about requirements to document, provide reference to, or ship a GPL'd
Forth kernel along with an application I have written. And I don't know
for a fact that a commercial distributer would object to all distributions
including the source code for the application as well. However, my doubts
on that score are strong enough that I can't honestly say that I am
working on something with the potential to qualify for research quantum as
a commerical application. That pushes polishing code up to that state into
a spare time activity, and I'd much rather play with my kids and play
around with BMW.0.0.8 than to devote my copious spare time to that
project.
        As far as I'm concerned, if the GPL or LGPL "forces" me to insist
that the source of the Forth kernal has to go along for the ride, why in
the hell would I mind? In an age of CD-ROM distribution, what's it going
to cost to let the GForth kernal and source code - or any other GPL'd
forth system - come along for the ride?
        So as far as I care, that aspect of the license is not a worry.
That's why, for me, if a forth with the library *running* the damn
application sneaks in under the legal wire of permitting the application
to be shipped without source, that gets over my own personal threshold of
plausibility as a legitimate research goal.
        OTOH, I'm still skeptical about that interpretation of the LGPL,
so I'll probably do a wait and see on that. A binary module clearly avoids
the question, but the preference among gforth developers seems to be for a
platform-independent format. That's fine by me as well. On the one hand,
it might have acceptable performance in its own right. And if it doesn't,
then under the GPL I'm perfectly free to implement and make use of a
platform dependent binary module format - if I distribute the source to
the modification under the GPL - so with the platform independent version
to use as a reference implementation, a binary kernal image with open
sources and a closed sub-image seems like it would be doable.

Quote:
> Still, there is the other side, the right of owners to make rules for
> how their property is used. I have a box of bicicle parts, dating from
> 1947. Here is the rule: I will help you repair or customize your bike,
> or you can come and use my tools. You may take any part from the box if
> you use it. Any parts that come off your bike must go into the box.

        But the "ownership" here is not material, but information. That's
part of the rationale for the free software movement in the first place.
The problem with information like a computer program is that it wants to
be expensive, because it requires effort to *produce* and it is so damn
useful, and it wants to be inexpensive, because it takes little effort to
*reproduce*, and I can use it without denying you the use of the same
information at the same time.
        Our economy is not really constructed to handle that as well as it
handles the production and distribution of widgets and gadgets. The GPL
when used on a C-compiler shipping with LGPL'd libraries strikes a
compromise, where the creater of a work can distribute their own work
under whatever license they wish, but if they redistribute the freely
available GPL'd code, they must make that freely available, including
extensions.
        If the first half of that outcome is part of the goals of the
licensing scheme, then the GPL applied to a forth system falls short of
that goal. If the first half of that outcome is an unhappy side-effect of
existing privacy and property laws, then the GPL applies to the forth
system comes closer to the ideal state. Since that ideal state is
antagonistic to the existing policy of the public funding for the
institution at which I am employed, in the latter case I pretty much wait
until at least two of my kids are away to college before I can pursue any
intensive development under cover of that license.


Sat, 24 Mar 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 Grits (was GPL)
Bruce,

We don't disagree. It seems to me that the Gnu license is out of date
anyhow. It should be enough to say where and how the Gnu source can be
freely obtained, rather than insisting on actual inclusion.

People ride bikes, and some may ride gnus. The gpl says in effect, that
you can take anything you want from the gnu box, and that any new
thingies of the same sort (tools, mostly) that you make with them, or by
"improving" them, must have a copy put back in the box. Fine. But when
they want the source code for your _application_, that's like my saying
that if you avail yourself of my bike box, then I can ride your bike
whenever I choose and you aren't. My privilege perhaps, but not fine.

Jerry
--
You know that the outhouse is in the right place if
it seems too close in Summer and too far in Winter.
---------------------------------------------------------



Sat, 24 Mar 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 Grits (was GPL)
There are quite a few Free Lunches out there.

Some even taste pretty good.

Others (with effort) can be seasoned to suit.

There are also gourmet vendors.

Simon

Design Your Own MicroProcessor(tm) http://www/tefbbs.com/spacetime/index.htm



Sat, 24 Mar 2001 03:00:00 GMT  
 
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