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Rool your own FCPL.( Fog Creek Public license ) Which allows viewing and changing the source code to fix bugs or add features. But dis-allows redistributing the source code for commercial use. There may be some similar licenses for current systems out there to base yours off of.

-- Anonymous, December 02, 2000


I did write my own application server; it's called "tintin" and it has been in use basically unmodified for the last 5 years or so at Viacom. You can see it all over MTV, Comedy Central, and the Viacom corporate site... whenever you see the extension ".tin" in a URL.

-- Anonymous, December 04, 2000

I'm completely agree with you.

I think you mada a good decision for you, for your program, for your company and for the rest of the people.

I think we all progress more with this kinds of ideas, because we can adapt your program, and, of course, if you develop a program (or a work) you should be paid for it.

Thank you for your articles


-- Anonymous, December 02, 2000

Joel wrote: By now I can hear the open-source and free software advocates practically screaming, "you silly goose! just make it open source and be done with it! open source doesn't have any of these problems!"
open-source and free software are not equivalent. FogBugz is open-source (sorta), but not free.

-- Anonymous, December 02, 2000

Tom McCann write : open-source and free software are not equivalent. FogBugz is open-source (sorta), but not free.

According to ESR, free software & open-source are only differ in the name. The term free software makes corporate uneasy to adapt and now few people ever call the whole array of GNU/Linux/BSD etc. free software anymore.

To me open-source software is also free. FogBUGZ is not open-source in that sense, I can't even access to the CVS tree to take a peek of the source code if I'm not their customers. Bugzilla, on the other hand, is open-source (though they don't call it free software).

My 2 cents.

-- Anonymous, December 02, 2000

Joel, here's my idea:

Your product isn't open source or Free Software, so there is less incentive to give back when a person finds a bug. But, you could do what Knuth does, and offer a small reward for bugfixes. For example, a check for pi dollars. People would be interested in this, especially if Fogcreek makes it bigtime. Checks from Knuth are some of the most prized artifacts in computer science.

-- Anonymous, December 02, 2000

Why all this license complication? To me the FogBUGZ is already opens sourced. Some software have different revenue generating method, selling it just happen to be the best model for FogBUGZ. Free software (as in free beer) is great if you can make a return indirectly. Else just get the best of both open source/propertary model.

-- Anonymous, December 02, 2000

I think having such a license would solve legal issues that may arise from having viewable commercial-code. That others may use for their benefit.

There are many hackers out there that love to point out programming errors. It is kind of like dog scratching the dirt to show his stuff. Which helps you learn your mistakes(if you are humble) and lets them show off their programming expertise. Giving them full credit for the fix as a comment in the code is usually all the payment they want. This is what I have found.

-- Anonymous, December 02, 2000

Bang on.

One 'virtue' of Java systems is that one can disassemble the source (mostly). Tools like JAD etc are helluva useful for this. For those situations like you describe Joel, but also when the -stupid- documentation is just not adequate. I find access to the source very very useful for these two reasons: for finding bugs, and also, more commonly, to find out just what the hell it actually does.

So I applaud your approach Joel, it's smart.

-- Anonymous, December 04, 2000

On a slightly different subject:

"That's when I decided not to trust anyone else's poxy application server, and decided to just write my own, in C++, using Netscape Server's low level API. Because I knew that at least, if anything went wrong, it was in my code and I could eventually fix it."

So how'd it go? You never actually finished the story. We're all still hanging out here, wondering if you managed to write your own poxy application server, and if the hyperactive green-haired MTV people were pleased...


-- Anonymous, December 04, 2000

One reason for not including source code is so that the customer can't change it. It's bad enough trying to remotely debug you own code, let alone code with arbitrary dumb user modifications...

Of course, if you have intelligent customers, then they will report bug fixes, instead of bugs. So which approach is best can depend upon the type of customer you have.

At one time a lot of OSs were "open source" - we used to try and get better support from DEC by name-dropping the names of the original authors of RSX-11M taken from the source listings...

-- Anonymous, December 04, 2000

Of course, this used to be common. You can still get big and medium iron OS source - the nice folk at Compaq will give you VMS if you ask nice, and I believe IBM are the same.

For that matter, you can get Oracle source if you are the right sort of customer.

In fact, Fog Creek are returning to the good old days for commercial software.

-- Anonymous, December 05, 2000

I can't believe that made this point already:

The point of "open source" software is not necessarily to be zero- cost; it is to be open-information.

"free as in speech, not [necessarily] free as in beer"

Furthermore, even the General Public License (considered by some to be the most restrictive, communist-like license) doesn't require you to give the source code away to everyone; just *people to whom you give/sell your binaries*.

So you *are already* open-source.

Free as in speech, not free as in beer.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

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