- by Tina Gasperson -
Rumors of MandrakeSoft "stepping back" from Free Software are not true, says Gael Duval, v.p. of the Paris, France Linux distribution company.Yes, they have released their latest product, the Mandrake Multiple Network Firewall, with a dual licensing scheme that would have commercial users signing up under a more restrictive license. But, says Duval, "It's just about providing an additional choice for a given product - we aren't moving at all toward a proprietary model."
"After all, people who want GPL can use the GPL, and others can use the Commercial License," says Duval. "It's really close to what TrollTech does with Qt - which is supported by RMS himself as far as I know - or MySQL AB with MySQL."
Duval says that the only code in the MNF that is eligible for licensing under the"MNF Commercial License Agreement" is that which Mandrake created itself.
"We don't try to transform any pre-existing Free Software code into proprietary code, at any time," he says. MandrakeSoft is still releasing its home-grown code under the GPL as well.
The different between the two licensing agreements is simple, according to MandrakeSoft: with the GPL version, you can commercially redistribute the software as long as you also make the source code available to the licensee and any third parties; with the commercial version, you can commercially redistribute the software without releasing the source code, kind of like the BSD license. Oh, and you get support offers and warranties for each licensed server.
Support offers doesn't mean unlimited free support, though. Just like other software companies, after you pay $1,990 USD - admittedly dirt cheap compared to competitive products - you get 30 days of installation phone support and six months of free security updates. After that, there's a $5 per month subscription fee in order to receive updating.
The commercial version and the Free version are identical, admits Mandrake. They've added a caveat, however: if you want to grab the free download edition and redistribute it, they want you to remove all their logos and trademarks from the product, a la Red Hat. Fair enough.
A copy of the license was not available for inspection. Duval says that the license is included only with the boxed software. You'd think they'd have it written down somewhere, but maybe they do things different in Paris. A very general, top of the mountain overview of the license terms is online at http://www.mandrakesoft.com/products/mnf/license.
Mandrake has posted some recommendations in case you're not sure which license to go with:
"For all commercial organizations we recommend the commercial product or the commercial license. Not only does this free you from several requirements of the GPL license which might be incompatible with your project, it also provides product warranties and access to important services such as support & easy updating.
For all Free Software enthusiasts or those who just want to try the product, we recommend MNF under the Free Software license. We believe it's important that MandrakeSoft continues to provide the use of its products under a true Free Software license, even if it doesn't provide any guarantees or extra service.
For anyone in doubt, we recommend the commercial license. Due to the way that we release our software, MandrakeSoft is able to sell commercially licensed products, such as Multi Network Firewall, at very affordable prices. Purchasing a commercial license is also the best way to ensure the continued development of our products, including the full-featured MNF."