Computer Science Canada

Free beer redistribution

Author:  btiffin [ Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Free beer redistribution

It hit me today.

The world of software, open and closed, needs a redistribute package manager feature.

If a library is freely usable but does not allow redistribution, there should be a way of having APT or YUM or RPM or Windows Update? (not sure what it's called) to include links to upstream URLs in package bundles and some intelligence about going to the root site and getting pieces of the puzzle.

With smarts on EULA acceptance screens etc...

For example; Borland posted a Windows API help file, but developers could not distribute it. But instructions on how and where to get the files were pretty common. I think this is good. Borland knew exactly how many copies were in use (or at least a much closer number of uses than exists for many open bundles that don't have single point of entry distribution). They should be allowed to know and get credit for the work. But it would be nice to have the "go to this site and download this file" external action automated.

Anyone here feel like starting up a team and discussing the feasibility of automating this type of 'free beer' redistribution? If so, I'd like to start out by picking the cli name. redistribute. Developers would be free to create installers that pay homage to all the free beer software tools while still providing (I don't think morally offensive) ease of use.


Author:  Insectoid [ Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:55 pm ]
Post subject:  RE:Free beer redistribution

But I want free BEER, not software. Okay, I want free software too. Sounds good, if I was more awesome I'd try to help.

Author:  DtY [ Fri Jan 29, 2010 8:28 pm ]
Post subject:  RE:Free beer redistribution

I'm confused about what you want; A package manager for windows?

[edit] Oh, I think I get it.
You start a program that needs some proprietary library. Normally, you'd get an error that such and such .(dll|so|dylib) is missing, and it crashes. Rather than that, it will install the library, whether it is free or not? (free here meaning speech).

Author:  SNIPERDUDE [ Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:47 pm ]
Post subject:  RE:Free beer redistribution

Man I would love that for Python. Damn hours spent trying to get the right libraries online and instal/package them. The concept is great though, if I had time/skill this would certainly be something I'd be interested in. I say keep looking - I don't want ideas like these to slip through the cracks and forgotten over time.

Author:  rdrake [ Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: RE:Free beer redistribution

SNIPERDUDE @ Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:47 pm wrote:
Man I would love that for Python. Damn hours spent trying to get the right libraries online and instal/package them.
Erm, easy_install maybe?

Author:  btiffin [ Sat Jan 30, 2010 10:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Free beer redistribution

DtY; Those might be features, but this is more of a lowering licensing level hassle idea.

Take fonts. Many times you have rights to use, but not redistribute. The redistribute easy_install packages would have smarts that go to the home site of the font during installation of your application (commercial or open) bundle.

But it wouldn't just copy the files. It would pay homage to the font foundry, monkey the actions that a user would need to perform to get their own copy of the fonts from the original site you found them on ... all as part of your installation scipts.

This would not be a small undertaking. And thinking about it, perhaps it's not feasible. Some developers may only want to track counts of usage, or google ad-clicks, but some companies may want to host an entire fanboy website and use the free software simply as enticement to visit and peruse. redistribute might infringe on a developers right to choose how humans get their products.... Hmm.


Author:  SNIPERDUDE [ Sat Jan 30, 2010 1:07 pm ]
Post subject:  RE:Free beer redistribution

It could (will) get messy very quickly, but I do think it's possible.

@rdrake: Thanks. Python is fairly new for me, this will be a great help.