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Greymatter and the DIY

I had (somewhat) forgotten about Greymatter, from what I remember about it, it was abandoned by it’s author, but not exactly given up on, or set free. foshdawg.net claims to be THE place for Greymatter. I dug around a bit and managed to find this bit which is as close as I can find for a license:

You may freely modify and redistribute this program, so long as every copyright notice (including in this manual and in the Greymatter code) remains fully intact. Finally, you may not sell or in any way make a financial profit from this program, either in original or modified form.

The you may not sell part makes sense, it sounds like the GPL, but the whole ‘make a profit’ thing makes me back away from it. It’s sort of open-source, but sort of not really… The whole line in any way make a financial profit is the deal breaker. What if Apache had that in it’s license? Argh…

Funny that the next section mentioned how Greymatter is a completely free program. Free as in beer I guess… I have no problem with people using open-source software and somehow making a profit off of it. The company I work for uses open-source software, and we certainly make a profit. So did the last company I worked for. So do a zillion companies. And not just Red Hat and Apple, but ordinary everyday comanies as well. So as an individual can you use Greymatter? Not if you have a donate button on your site. Though an Amazon Wish List might be ok, since that’s not technically a ‘financial profit’ then. And again, is there a certain measurable ‘financial profit’ that might be allowed? I don’t know…

Update: I must have missed this section:

“…you are hereby free to do whatever you wish with Greymatter and its code for any personal or commercial purposes…”

So maybe I’m wrong about the whole thing… Still, I’d like to see an ‘official’ license of some sort. Or maybe this is it…

Anyway, this is my plan. I’m going to write some sort of ‘weblog type’ software, using perl, that uses a templating system, and writes out static files. It might suck, it might not have any good features, but it will be open-source, most likely licensed under the GPL, though BSD is an option as well. I need this for myself and people I do work for. Yes, I do work for other people and they pay me, so this tool will be valuable to me. And if others can use it and make a profit, yay for them. I do not wish to restrict other people’s rights…

By the way, this won’t be the first time I’ve written something like this. The first ‘news page’ web app I wrote was probably written in 1998, back before the whole ‘weblog/blog’ craze took off. This time I’ll rewrite it and (try to) do it right.

See nf0’s life and inluminent/weblog for some comments on yesterday’s Movable Type piece…

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GPL & Movable Type

This piece on GPL Blog Engines struck a real chord with me. First I should say that I think Movable Type is an incredibly well built application, I really can’t find a single thing wrong with the code or design decisions that went into building it. And as for support and community involvement, the Trotts seem to do an excellent job. So what chord has been struck? I’ve never been comfortable with the licensing. Sure there’s the commercial license, which I believe is $150, and for a business that seems dirt cheap, but for the individual, who hosts a personal site, they won’t get the commercial license in most cases. Should they? Perhaps…

There is personal or non-profit use and there is business or a for-profit site. Now, if you’re a typical weblogging type person, and you start your personal site and later add something like a Donate via PayPay button do you violate the license? What about if you write a book, and mention it on your site? Or write articles and sell them from your site? Or just link to sites that paid you to write articles for their site? If you get a freelance gig from your weblog, do you need to get a commercial license immediately? I didn’t make these examples up. They’re out there. Though I don’t know if people have commercial licenses or are knowingly breaking their licensing agreements. I suppose it’s up to the Trott’s to determine how they would wish to pursue people in violation of the license. IT’s nted in the license that they [the Trott’s] can terminate it at any time, and demand that you delete your installation of Movable Type. Yes, your data is still available, though possibly a little harder to get at.

I honestly am not writing this to stir up trouble, I’m writing it to get my thoughts out there. I don’t expect the Trott’s to start playing hardball tomorrow and going after violators. I don’t expect that because they seem to be good people. Some might say it would be bad for business to start going after the violators, and while that’s probably true, I think in the Trott’s case it really is because they are good people.
As for me, I’ve not implemented Movable Type on this site, partly because of the reasons listed above. I’m 1/2 tempted to write my own system, but honestly I don’t have the time. I’m not even concerned about making it 1/10 as good as Movable Type, I’d be happy with a system that was written in perl, rendered out static files, and had a good templating system – and that I had control over, be it GPL’d or whatever… I’ve written systems like that, though not weblog-centric, and it’s a lot of work to do it right. As for the other systems out there, none really seem to come close enough to what I’d like, with the terms/licensing that I’m comfortable with.

Whew, take a breath…

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OSAF and software development

Don Park has some interesting thoughts on the OSAF, free/open-source software, and the surrounding issues. One thing I didn’t see mentioned (need to dig up a link) is that, if I remember this correctly, most software developers do not develop software for the commercial software industry. Most software developers work on projects that are in-house and specific to their employer, which in most cases is not a software company. You could consider me a ‘software developer’ or ‘programmer’ but none of my apps are going to be sold alongside Photoshop or Word. I’d guess that over 50% of the stuff I write is for one-off use. The other 50% might be to fullfill some task that is specific to the company I work for. In fact, I think this is part of the reason open-source/free software flourishes. When you spend all day doing something you like (programming) but not really having anything neato-cool to show for it, it can drive you towards writing apps that you want, in the way you want to write them. Do I want to write an app that loads customer data into a SQL databases? Not really… Do I want to write an RSS aggregator that outputs pages that I can load onto my Palm III? You bet! I think the coverage commercial and open-source software get on the web, in weblogs, or anywhere really, shadows much of the software development that goes on in the world. I’ll write about Apache, or Mozilla, or even about holes in Internet Explorer, but I never really mention Email Lookup, which is an extremely useful app I wrote for the company. And in the case of Email Lookup there’s not much to say. I wrote it in about 20 minutes, it has no known bugs, there are no pending feature requests, it’s not for sale. It’s not outstanding in any way, except that it works properly, which oddly enough, might be the most outstanding feature, especially when compared to much of the software available today.

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Tabbed Terminals Exist!

I’ve been informed by a few people that there are tabbed terminals out there. I thnk KDE‘s Konsole is one, and Multi Gnome Terminal is another. Now, where’s the Mac OS X tabbed Terminal? hmmm?

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rasterweb.net

We are now the proud owner of rasterweb.net, though we’ve yet to put it to good use, besides redirecting you to RasterWeb! of course…