I appreciate reading this thread. As one of the partners in MindFab,
it's relevant to put my 2c into the discussion so you know where we
stand. I hope you'll read this to the end.
First, there is reference to GeekLog on our site, right in the links
section of the site. As one person pointed out as well, it's in the title
of our site. We're certainly not trying to hide it.
We are however trying to get it more into the mainstream of
corporate, academic and personal sites. Coming from an e-learning
and knowledge management background, we believe there are
great KM possibilties as well.
We believe there are many in the mainstream who have no clue
about this world of OSS and easy content management, have no
ability to install this stuff and configure it themselves, and without
distributors like us and many others, would have no access to this
That said, this type of GeekLog client could not care less whether
it's open source, what technologies are used to pump it, and so on.
In fact, most of our clients would never search us out if we led with
"We're GeekLog hosts" - they have no idea what that means and
move right by.
So, if we don't have that up front and center, it's not because we're
trying to hide it, it's because it has no meaning to a neophyte site
owner we're trying to reach. If we were to plunge them directly
into geeklog.net, we'd be doing them a disservice and they'd be
completely and utterly lost as to what the next step would be.
The main thrust of the geeklog.net site and others focusing on
GeekLog is to develop the community of GeekLog developers,
primarily, and to some extent users. At a minimum to read this site
takes a fair bit of technical background and most of our clients don't
come with that and never will have it.
That said, there is no good user documentation for GeekLog that we
can point our users to here. We're planning to write that for our
own purposes, to share with this community of course, but the fact
is, we support our clients directly and need documentation to do so.
This brings up another point that's worth mentioning. We support
an entire package of services, not just GeekLog. We spend hours,
and sometimes days with a particular customer just to get them to
understand this thing. We sell cheap sites so spending any more
than a couple hours trying to sell someone a site is a total loss, and
we've got at least a 2-dozen customers that fall into that camp. So,
it's not an easy sell, it's a complex piece of software with a lot of
functionality they want to understand, and it's complex at first
blush. The bottom line is, we've spent many more hours at this
than we'll ever see returned. I've been living off my home equity
to start this business so it has never paid and is not offsetting the
cost of hosting and time we've put into it. So, we contract, we
instruct, we scrap like everyone else to make a living. That said,
the bottom line is we like this stuff, so we keep doing it.
GL is not the only thing we're hosting. We wrap other services
around it including email, mail list management, and supply
helpdesk support to them.
The point is, we could if we wanted to, say "Ok, now you have a
GeekLog site, you must get all your support over at geeklog.net."
The last thing this community would want is our clients over here
asking questions about their Ensim email because they don't
understand where they fit in the whole food chain of open source
So, you can simply look at us like we're distributors of Open
Source, not just GL, but RedHat, MySQL, PHP, Apache, and a host of
other open source technologies that go into making these things.
I want to point out another thing I see happening in OSS software
1) of the 26 million or so web sites on the internet running Apache,
many if not most do not display the Apache feather. If you check
out geeklog.net from netcraft.com, you see:
site geeklog.net is running Apache/1.3.27 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux)
mod_ssl/2.8.12 OpenSSL/0.9.6b DAV/1.0.3 PHP/4.3.0 mod_perl/
1.26 on Linux.
Of the over 12 million sites running PHP, most do not badge it with
powered by PHP. I don't know how many sites are running with
MySQL, but the same goes there as well. And of course, a large
part of most Linux distros came from GNU, not Linus, but GNU
rarely receives mention.
So, rather than putting too fine a point on it, I'll just insure that
people understand that most sites on the net, including geeklog.net,
use many, many open source technologies for which no mention or
credit is given. Part of it may be practicality in even knowing
everything you should acknowledge in OSS, some of it may be
marketing in reducing confusion and trying to present a complete
OSS package. But the fact remains, not everything OSS gets credit
even when it's the backbone of the web like Apache.
MindFab is packaging many OSS technologies so it's easy to get into
a web site. This same approach is also implied in the bottom
statement of the geeklog.net site when you read "Powered by
GeekLog" - in fact it's not powered by GeekLog alone, but a host of
So, the big things to keep in mind here are: 1) it's nearly impossible
to acknowlege all OSS contributions to any OSS package 2) to
mainstream OSS, sometimes it's necessary to package things so it's
easy to get into and to do that you have to narrow down the scope
of what the person thinks they're getting into. They don't care if it's
MySQL or PosgressSQL behind the scenes and even bringing it up
gets a raised eyebrow (they don't know, they don't care, they just
want a dynamic site.)
Back to the "Made with ****" - we badged our sites with "Made with
MindFab" in the spirit of "made in conjunction with" which is way too
long. It's obviously ambiguous and people have taken it the wrong
way. Because of that, we've changed it to simply "Hosted by
MindFab". One person wrote us saying they thought "Made by
MindFab" would be better. Personally, I think that's just as
ambiguous. But the main thing is that we're hosting many services,
not just GL, so putting powered by GeekLog on our sites is not even
accurate and doesn't tell the whole story, so we'll just leave it at
"Hosted by MindFab."
I have personally contributed a few things to this site in my GL
travels - see: http://www.geeklog.net/
article.php?story=2002080419482031 as an example of a nasty I
found and provided a solution for.
This week my partner and I are planning to start on a GeekLog user
manual because we simply spend too much time supporting user
questions from our clients about basic use. When we get that done,
we're glad to donate it - the fact is, we simply need it and it's worth
it to us to write it for our own purposes.
I want to inject a few other items, as if there weren't enough things
to discuss, into this conversation. One of the things I cover in my
PHP/MySQL training classes is the history of open source and how it
is different from Free Software and what the genesis of things like
Linux were. If you study that you basically wind your way back to
Richard Stallman who codifed his free software principles in the
The essence of Stallman's definition of free software comes down to
4 freedoms (essays available on fsf.org):
Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program, for any purpose
Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and
adapt it to your needs (Access to source is a precondition)
Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your
Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your
improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits.
(Acces to source is a precondition.)
So, the GPL is used specifically to codify legally the above
principles. He goes on to say:
"Thus, you may have paid money to get copies of free software, or
you may have obtained copies at no charge. But regardless of
how you got your copies, you always have the freedom to copy and
change the software, even to sell copies."
"Free software" does not mean "non-commerical". A free program
must be available for commercial use, commercial development,
and commercial distribution. Commercial development of free
software is no longer unusual; such free commercial software is
He also goes on to write "Selling Free Software - Many people
believe that the spirit of the GNU project is that you should not
charge money for distributing copies of software, or that you should
charge as little as possible - just enough to cover the cost. Actually
we encourage people who redistribute free software to charge as
much as they wish or can."
All these essays are available on the fsf.org web site and form the
philisophical basis for GPL.
So, ultimately the question for anyone who is using OSS for any
purpose, modifying, redistributing, or even selling it, "Have you
violated these 4 tenants of the GPL?" Many people on this site fall
into the camp of using it, many fall into the camp of modifying it, a
few us fall into the camp of redistributing it. I know of no one
selling it, but there is nothing in the GPL that restricts someone for
charging for the software if you read the Stallman essays on GPL.
Anyway, part of me is wanting to defend our efforts to distribute
OSS, part of me is thinking there's no reason to defend, so rather
than taking a defensive approach, I wanted to take an explanatory
I hope you appreciate what we're trying to do and now understand
some of our thinking behind the company.