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Future of the GPL

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Stephen Shankland has written an interesting read of the current re-vamping of the General Public License governing Linux distributions and much of the associated software. Highlights include how to intermingle open source and proprietary software and some of the big players positions.

One quote includes, "But the legal scrutiny, while burgeoning, isn't alien to the GPL. When Stallman launched his Gnu's Not Unix, or GNU, effort to clone Unix in the 1980s, he crafted the first GPL not just to govern the software but also to try to create a legal framework that would guarantee that GNU would never be fettered by proprietary shackles."

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More than a decade ago, software engineer Ryan Melton spent his evenings, after workdays at Ball Aerospace, trying to learn to use a 3-D modeling program. After a few weeks, for all his effort, he could make … rectangles that moved. Still, it was a good start. Melton showed his spinning digital shapes to Ball, a company that makes spacecraft and spacecraft parts, and got the go-ahead he’d been looking for: He could try to use the software to model a gimbal—the piece on a satellite that lets the satellite point. Melton wanted to build the program to save himself time, learn something new. “It was something I needed for me,” he says. But his work morphed into a software project called Cosmos—a “command and control” system that sends instructions to satellites and displays data from their parts and pieces. Ball used it for some 50 flight projects and on-the-ground test systems. And in 2014, Melton decided Cosmos should share its light with the world. Today, it’s been used with everything from college projects to the planet-seeking Kepler telescope. Read more