As Red Hat's modifications to the Linux kernel to improve real-time scheduling near completion, their director of emerging technologies, Tim Burke, has been pushing for its use in the business world. At a recent Wall Street conference, Burke made his case for real-time Linux's abilities to fulfill investors' needs for instantaneous trades. This is a prime example of the beauty of open source and the GPL, and the growing fallacy of closed-source.

The GPL, a license most closely linked to the open source movement, governs much of the code found in any Linux distribution. It is built around the premise of four freedoms for users: to run the program as one wishes, to study and change the source code as he deems necessary, to help one's neighbor by distributing copies as he wishes, and finally to distribute modified code as he wishes. Though nothing is said of any obligation to release modified code, its redistribution is the core of Linux's ability to evolve and grow.

The participation of companies such as Red Hat in the open source movement are, while not necessarily crucial to its survival, major boons to Linux's ability to quickly respond to changing needs. Though kernel modifications such as the option of real-time scheduling are certainly not unattainable without the help of corporations, they would not come as easily or on a timely basis otherwise. According to Burke, the addition of real-time scheduling involved modifying some 1.2 million lines of code—quite an undertaking for any developer.

Even though Red Hat has invested many hours and lots of money into this project, they continue to follow their mission statement: to keep all of their source code open and available for all to view and modify. Because of this, everyone will be able to use and improve Red Hat's new real-time scheduler, even as they sell their new technology to groups such as those governing Wall Street.

It is instances such as these where the ideals of open source really shine. If companies can simultaneously profit from open source (as Red Hat has) and make major contributions to the Linux community, it seems that closed source software will have some major challenges ahead. The oft-asked question is, companies such as Red Hat could be making far more money by keeping their code proprietary. Why do they release it?

Proprietary code, of course, is not an option for a company such as Red Hat, which built its software around GPL-governed code. As a result, their source must remain open. But what is motivating companies such as Microsoft, ATI, and others from releasing the source to software they developed in-house? The ability to have security holes filled quickly and efficiently? The warm fuzzy feeling from upholding the GPL's ideals? To a corporation, ideals do not matter (as they do not result in nearly as much profit), so the answer is: there is no motivation. However, as open source continues to grow, the promise of low-cost software will motivate consumers to close down closed source.

to help one's neighbor by distributing copies as he wishes, and finally to distribute modified code as he wishes.

Do you ever do any research on the subject of your blog posts? The GPL license applies specific *restrictions* to how one may distribute the software.

and Redhat has a large closed source codebase in their commercial offering (including all those performance and stability enhancements).
We pay tens of thousands of Euros (maybe hundreds of thousands, I'm not sure about the exact amount) per year for Redhat license fees, and are constantly juggling to find unused machines we can transfer licenses from to newer machines at the end of the year when the software budget for new licenses has run out.

jbennet 1,618

One word. CentOS

pty 867

Redhat have contributed more code than any other company to the Linux Kernel. They have made massive contributions to Gnome, GCC, GLIBC, SELinux, ext3.

They may have some closed source stuff (I'm not too sure about what or how much) but in comparison to other 'OS friendly' companies they have contributed a hell of a lot.

Real time, stock Market...

Will someone tell me where to find this [Real Time] and stock market software code or Distro, Please!!
I would sure love to plug it in and see what real time speeds it actually gets.


Erk. The GPL is a scary beast. In my opinion; its very existance scares software developers out of working on Linux products over Windows products. On Windows; it's pretty safe to assume that it's going to be alright to release a product that relies on the existance of a wealth of useful components that are bundled with the operating system as a 'closed source' product for whatever reason.

On Linux; you have to check each linked library to make sure it's LGPL'ed rather than GPL'ed. Apparently; the act of dynamically linking to a library constitutes as a 'derivative work'. So GPLed libraries cannot be dynamically linked against unless a linking project is made open source itself. ( hence a L(esser)GPL for certain libraries, that explicitly discounts linking as derivition ).

Whatever Microsoft's 'ills' may be; they certainly make a better provision for developers; in terms of development products / libraries and legal permissions to use libraries and components. I can be open or closed source on a Windows project, at my own chosing; and get alot out of Windows as a platform, almost to the point that it's made easy for me; by Microsoft and fellow developers alike. On a Linux project, I have to be a bit carefull; lest I be 'forced open' by a few lines that assume a user has; or rewrite libcoolutility's functionality myself.

As a developer, if I see the words 'open source'; I see code or a library made available to the general public for whatever use the public pleases without any usage restrictions. GPL'ed code isn't open source in my eyes; because it comes with a restrictive copyright, sorry, "copyleft" agreement. I guess the GNU would term my ideal 'free source', but I've never noticed them rant about the drawbacks of that.

I wouldn't feel any warm fuzzy feeling from upholding the GNU/GPL's ideals. I just see it as a way of legally protecting source code, and letting me see what others do with that code, thus NOT letting them use that code freely. If you want a warm fuzzy feeling; try the 'AGPL' on your next open-source project; that is, the one-clause 'Anti-Gnu Public License'.

'This source code, and any constituent part of this code, may be released in any form, modified or otherwise, under any licence except any version of the GNU General Public Licence; and providing that this clause is a clause of such a qualifying licence'.

Open source doesn't mean lower priced either, all it implies is that source code for a given product is available to customers in some way; of course, if a customer distributes source code, it's their perogative, but unless we're talking about true consumers, it's not good to help out the competition, in any way.

Big, comercial open-source products generally aren't cheap. They rely to an extent on one-or-more of; expensive support, being so specialized that uncontrolled redistribution isn't a major issue, or having usage licences ( It doesn't matter if a product is open source, if the target consumer can't use it without a licence, and isn't likely to go looking for a way to disable licensing and release their own version ).

There is, at least one good market for open source code, GPL'ed or otherwise. That is, enourmas internal business/management/technical applications; where the target 'buyer' has a development team wanting a base application to modify for the company's specific needs. In that case, there's no real cause for a 'revise and release' situation; but if a development team wants a base application for a commercial product for general release; they aren't going to want a GPL'ed base application, unless it's something REALLY special.

So. I guess; I don't see the GPL as of being any use to anyone. Yes; it protects the Linux source code; potentially meaning some big private investors in development are turned off to the idea of working (at cost) on Linux or even Linux software. Yes; it means I can release the life-consuming applicationX proud in the knowledge that someone can add one extra feature, price it for less, spend more on advertising, and release it without even mentioning the code's original author; and Yes; it's an amusing twist to copyright law; that isn't anymore or less restrictive than 'you may not reproduce this source code commercially'.

Anything intentionally GPL'ed could just as easily have been released with a passive licence; and it would be just as 'open'. Overall though, I'd rather have good closed source dynamic libraries and products, than half-baked open source ones that I'm expected to fix with 'help from the community'.

As a personal consumer; just EXPECTING quality, original, cutting-edge software to be cheap is a problem. Production is a costly process. I'm not gonna use Windows as an example here; lets think about, 3D animation software, audio development software, high-quality graphics and simulation software : if it's not expensive, there's going to be something wrong with it.