Fonality and the GPL



Well, that was a bit of a surprise. I was just pointed at this. It’s an interview with Chris Lyman, who’s the CEO of Fonality, announcing that they’ve aquired trixbox. It seems, at first glance, pretty cool all round. But read on for my take on this.

Chris, the CEO of Fonality, does seem like he’s got a bit overenthusiastic in a couple of things. Specifically about the Digium Disclaimer – what he refers to as a ‘double waiver’ in a couple of places. There are actually two seperate discliamers – The long one, and the short one. You can sign either of them, and they both end up meaning that Digium can release the code that you give to them in a closed source product. This is basicially what all Open Source projects that release commercial closed-source binaries do – MySQL is a prime example of this. So that’s not all that traumatic, as he seems to think it is.

However, that still doesn’t mean I have to like it, and in fact I don’t. This doesn’t really upset anyone, and all it means is that I report bugs, and give crash dumps, but I don’t submit patches to Asterisk. There are people who quite happily disclaim their work but I am a rabid GPL supporter, so I don’t.

I should also clarify that the person Chris refers to indirectly in relation to this (‘is because the smart guy that made it (fax code) didn’t want to sign that waiver over to Digium.’) is actually the incredibly smart guy Steve Underwood, who wrote SpanDSP. This is licened purely under the GPL, and he won’t assign any non-GPL rights to Digium. This means that OpenPBX can happily use it because they’re pure GPL (and they do, with their T38 endpoint service), but Digium can’t use it in their closed-source stuff.

The other thing that I find a bit amusing in the article is that that they are offering a 100% support, but they haven’t contacted me about this at all. I mean, sure, I’m happy to offer them my services, I’ll support anyone – there’s a nice little link on AussieVoIP where you can paypal me and I’ll jump in and fix your problems. (Plug Plug! 8)

The best bit is this last bit:

we're contributing broad financial support to the trixbox platform to continue to improve that application

Woohoo! I’m hoping that freePBX is considered part enough to get a few sheckles thrown my way as part of the ‘broad financial support’. You know, there’s this pinball machine that I’ve always loved, maybe fonality can cough up for one of them! OK. I admit that it won’t help with freePBX, and in fact, it’ll probably decrease my output significantly. Mmm. Thinking about it, maybe that’s not such a good idea after all. I’m sure my wife would have something to say about that anyway 8)

So, I guess the thing to do is to say Congrats to Andrew, who gets a fun job doing what he wants, and hopefully I’ll see some patches and possibly even new features coming out of Fonality for FreePBX. You never know, I may even end up with a pinball machine! 8)

Anyway, That’s about it. Currently, we’re in the middle of writing a new event logging system for 2.2, and hopefully tie that into a method to automatically parse asterisk’s logfile to find common errors and highlight them. If I get really good, it might even give the users a way to fix them. No promises yet tho.

It’s 2:20am. Time for me to go to bed.


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