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Math Open Source Software Science

LastCalc Is Open Sourced 103

Posted by timothy
from the ultimate-mathematicator dept.
Sanity writes "LastCalc is a cross between Google Calculator, a spreadsheet, and a powerful functional programming language, all with a robust and flexible heuristic parser. It even lets you write functions that pull in data from elsewhere on the web. It's all wrapped up in a JQuery-based user interface that does as-you-type syntax highlighting. Today, LastCalc's creator, Ian Clarke (Freenet, Revver), has announced that LastCalc will be open sourced under the GNU Affero General Public License 'to accelerate development, spread the workload, and hopefully foster a vibrant volunteer community around the project.'"
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LastCalc Is Open Sourced

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10, 2012 @02:37PM (#39312929)

    This is compelling but the use of Affero for the license makes onerous demands of the user. The implicit threat of a code audit is there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10, 2012 @02:56PM (#39313051)

    The demands are only onerous to someone who is looking for code to run on a server as a service without having to make changes available. It's a good license that accomplishes what some authors want. Personally I prefer the BSD license for code I write, because I don't demand others share their changes unless they wish to. But not all authors wish to offer that choice, as they want changes to be shared. I really don't see the BSD vs. GPL vs. LGPL vs AGLP battles so many developers get involved in. Each offers freedoms and responsibilities, a different menu with each license. The author gets to choose. And the user of the code can choose to agree and use the code, meeting the obligations required, or choose not to use it. So simple, so easy.

    I won't be using LastCalc because I don't want to bother having to deal with the required responsibilities. If I wish to develop an application with that sort of functionality, I will likely write the code myself from scratch and share it BSD-style. Choices. I like having them. I'm grateful that others offer me open source choices. I'm glad that I have such a wide palette of choices to choose as a developer and as a code user.

  • Seriously? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10, 2012 @03:52PM (#39313403)

    When you have R [r-project.org], you hardly need any lousy calculators like this.

  • by steveha (103154) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @06:07PM (#39314283) Homepage

    In other words, any FLOSS license is objectionable to those who wish to violate that license and make unauthorized derivatives.

    Wow, way to set up a straw man there.

    Okay, any FLOSS license is objectionable to those who want to violate the license. Tautology, so I'm hardly going to argue with it. But "in other words" implies that this is a reasonable paraphrase of the GP post, which this is not.

    Some FLOSS licenses are a pain even for people who don't want to violate licenses. Suppose I want to include a library in a proprietary closed-source project. With some licenses, I can just do it. With BSD + "advertising clause", I now have an obligation to put text in my program, to put text in my manual, and possibly to put text on my web site and on a product package; I also have to keep track of whether I did the text or not, and make sure it isn't accidentally removed or altered. And I'll tell you right now: non-hypothetically, I avoid any license with an "advertising clause" for the above reason. With LGPL, I explicitly have to allow my customers to reverse-engineer my code, which would be a problem with a commercial product using licensed code (some licensed code requires one to take steps to prevent reverse-engineering).

    So, a higher post in this thread claimed that the requirements of Affero GPL include an "auditing" clause, which potentially places an annoying burden on anyone who hosts the Affero GPL code. I haven't reviewed the Affero GPL so I don't know if this is correct, but I assume it is because you engaged in a straw-man attack rather than just pointing out an error.

    So with a few examples I have shown that some licenses are more burdensome than others. In fact it is only people who do care about obeying licenses who are burdened; people who are just planning to violate the licenses can violate Affero GPL as easily as any other.

    As to not seeing a "battle", that language overstates the case but you do probably see the differences among the licenses and you have apparently made your choice. Your choice is no more or less political than someone who chooses a strongly copylefted free software license such as the AGPL. Freedom of choice doesn't really explain anything. Choices are present in proprietary licenses too, thus highlighting how freedom of choice is a scam: The user's software freedoms are not respected nor is the open source development methodology present.

    I have read this paragraph three times and I am not sure what you were trying to say here. If it is important, please restate.

    "Freedom of choice doesn't explain anything"? What?

    steveha

  • by Ly4 (2353328) on Saturday March 10, 2012 @09:52PM (#39315491)

    That's basically it, but note that 'source code' could be interpreted as every last line of code for your web site.

    It's part of the murkiness in trying to describe 'modification'. Does that mean code that you've added to the original? When does that stop?

    Limiting the definition of modification is the main point of the LGPL. But there isn't an LGPL-like variation of the Affero license. And without that, there are a number of situations where AGPL code is simply unusable, regardless of whether you make any changes.

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