From Tue Nov 27 17:11:10 2001
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2001 17:11:10 -0800
From: Rick Moen
To: "J. Paul Reed"
Subject: Re: DJB rant
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begin J. Paul Reed quotation:

> I have long pointed people in the general direction of your DJB rant
> up at, so I thought you might
> enjoy some of the points I made in an answer to a question as to why
> not to use qmail I sent to my LUG...

Many thanks.

Your point (c) ("lack of a license") inadvertently perpetuates a couple of (what are arguably) misconceptions unfavourable to DJB, and I may have (through somehow failing to be sufficiently clear -- though I can't see how!) contributed to those. I regret that: I try to clarify issues in my "rants", not obscure them.

1. Qmail does have a licence: It's at So does djbdns/tinydns (formerly dnscache), and so do one specific tarball each of daemontools and ucspi-tcp: So, your phrase "lack of a license" is misleading in that context. It is also absolutely untrue that "DJB could, theoretically, retract his software, shut down his Web pages, and proceed to sue everyone distributing his software." I will explain:

2. DJB's (aforementioned) licence terms are generous but not open-source (as defined by the OSD, The software covered is thus proprietary, but it is licensed, and may be freely distributed by anyone willing to abide by his conditions.

3. Those terms are not included in DJB's source tarballs, only on his Web pages.

4. You may not redistribute DJB's source tarballs modified to include the licence terms he omits from them (or modified in any other way). You may distribute them entirely unmodified. To anyone. In perpetuity.

5. You may mirror his licence-terms Web pages, but only provided you update your mirror to match any changes he makes to his upstream version, and provided you cease mirroring any page that he takes down:

Therefore (as to qmail and djbdns/tinydns):

a) Collectively, those facts make it very awkward to independently and lastingly document his licence terms and your compliance with them in any of the usual manners. Not impossible, just very, very awkward.

b) If/when Dan Bernstein dies or otherwise ceases to publish new versions, further versions will be illegal to distribute -- except by separately distributing source patches to apply against the existing codebase. (This does not preclude the possibility of a subsequent copyright holder, such as an heir, issuing a copy with different licence terms. Nor, for that matter, DJB himself doing so.)

I would appreciate your posting this message back to NCLUG, if you don't mind.

Cheers,                        My pid is Inigo Montoya.  You kill -9    
Rick Moen                      my parent process.  Prepare to vi.