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Re: CLIM on CMU CL
Date: Mon, 20 Jan 1992 20:56 EST
You could put such a legal restriction on the system, but I can't think of
any practical way to enforce this restriction against individual users.
Granted - at that level it would be strictly honor system.
might be possible to keep other vendors from porting and distributing the
public-domain code. You might include a copyright notice that gives
blanket permission to use the code in CMU Common Lisp, but not in any
commercial Lisp (even if it is based on CMU CL).
That might keep the
vendors from doing anything too blatant and obvious. I would advise
against any scheme that requires an individual license for each user or
site, even if the license is free -- it's a real hassle for everyone, as
the Kyoto Common Lisp people found out.
Alternatively, all the #+'s could be taken
out so that it would be very troublesome to port to Franz or Lucid or
Harlequin. In the best of all possible worlds (drawing on the PCL and
CLOS precedent) your developer(s) would do a "native reimplementation"
from the portable reference implementation that we provide, so the
sources wouldn't be of much use on any other Lisp.
That might work. We have no idea how hard it would be for one of these
companies to do their own port, based on the CMU CL version. If you think
it would be a serious deterrent, then maybe that's the way to go, rather
than getting the legal system into the act. Or use both methods.
Frankly, our licensing formula for vendors is so cheap these days that
it would not be cost-effective for someone to re-engineer a supposedly
proprietary CLIM implementation from this public one we're discussing.
I think the right approach is your final one of using both a special
copyright and having the version bundled in with CMU CL tailored for
that Lisp and only that Lisp.
It's one thing to have CLIM on CMU CL be competitive, the way your PCL
and (soon) CLOS are (will be). It's another to give away for free
sources that can just be recompiled into the EQ binaries that Lucid et
al are charging money for. The problem really is that we (ILA and the
vendors who have helped underwrite CLIM) need to recoup the investment
that's gone into the development, or come up with a good case for simply
writing it off. The same way many of the vendors were charging extra
for object systems (Flavors or PCL) for a while, we think the market
will bear an additional cost for the value that CLIM provides, which,
after all, we believe to be substantial.
Well, if all these companies feel they must charge extra for CLIM, instead
of bundling it, then this whole public-domain idea is pretty risky. Even
if their customers are unable to switch to the public domain version, this
whole thing would make the vendors look terrible. It's bad enough to have
a free Common Lisp around, but if the free version contains packages the
big guys charge extra for, a lot of customers are going to get surly.
I'm not sure I agree with this. I don't think CLIM will make things any
worse than they already are. I presume that Lucid et al aren't worried
about CMU CL because they think their product is still on balance a
better value - smaller, better documentation, better support, whatever.
It's quite likely that the same will apply to their CLIM - after all, I
imagine that the best we'll be able to do here with you folks is to
produce, about six months from now, a single back-end (probably CLX)
port of the reference implementation on your (then brand new) native
CLOS. In that same timeframe, Lucid and Franz will probably have Open
Windows and Motif adapting look-and-feel back-ends in highly optimized
implementations. (And keep in mind that one vendor - Symbolics -
already bundles CLIM with their Lisps, Genera and CLOE.)
We've bounced the idea of simply putting the proto-version or even alpha
of CLIM 2.0 fully into the public domain with most of our vendor
licensees, and none of them has yet objected very strongly. This move
with you folks seems to be all around a better approach, though, in that
we avoid commercial free riders (Ibuki, Gold Hill, Delphi, NEC, Sony,
...) - which is what the existing CLIM vendors really care about - and
we can be fairly confident that CLIM will still look fairly good (= run
well) on your Lisp, which can't be said for all the others out there.
On the other hand, if CLIM is bundled by the big vendors, then the version
in CMU CL is just another part of the big funnel sucking people into the
Lisp world. The current confusing state, with so many competing
unser-interface systems, is hurting Lisp relative to C, and in an area that
could be one of Lisp's greatest strengths.
Anyway, we'll pick up the TeX files, learn more about CLIM, and then get
back to you to discuss where we want to go with this and what sort of
timetable makes sense. We'll have to learn more about your CLOS needs in
order to understand how much work this would be.
I'd like to let the other key people in my project know that we're
discussing this. In addition to Rob and me, there are two other
full-timers (William Lott and Paul Gleichauf), plus two undergrads (Mike
Garland and Lawrence Chan). It will be hard to evaluate the various
options without getting these guys involved. Any problem with my telling
them about this if I swear them all to secrecy and make clear that this is
just in the preliminary discussion stage?
I'm skeptical that any undergraduate can keep a secret, but I'll trust
your judgment. I suppose the worst that can happen is that a rumor
starts floating around the big Lisp world that "CLIM will soon be put in
the public domain" with nothing more said than that, leaving the market
all confused, and the commercial vendors upset with us (ILA). I'd like
to get a plan in place with you folks, then go around and sell it to the
vendors, then explain it to the users, in that order.
Please put the fear of God into your team on this one.