More on Singular's license
Hi. Quoting some context below. I have finally received a response
from the Singular team, and I have further questions.
My original query to email@example.com follows:
On 15/09/06, Jordi Gutierrez Hermoso <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I'm trying to learn the process on how to become a Debian maintainer
or developer (I don't even know if I'm using the right terms) because
I really want to get Singular into the Debian distribution:
Someone else has already expressed interest in packaging it, perhaps
we could package it together:
However, I think we've hit a snag with the DFSG.
[snip, specifics about problems with omalloc and MP library]
A member of Singular has responded, quoting the email I sent the team
and the relevant copyright holder of the offending library:
On 18/09/06, email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Jordi Gutierrez Hermoso <email@example.com>
> Date: 06-Sep-2006 15:57
> Subject: License for omalloc/ Debianising Singular
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Hello again.
> I tried sending this to Olaf Bachmann, but the email address bounced,
> and I cannot find another address for him. If you have contact
> information for him, can you please make sure that he gets this?
> Thank you,
> - Jordi G. H.
> I'm thinking about packaging Singular for the Debian distribution.
> Unfortunately, the license for the omalloc library prevent
> modification, and Singular seems to depend essentially on this
> library. This means that as far as Debian is concerned (and quite
> possibly, the popular Ubuntu distribution), Singular is non-free,
> despite it having a GPL license, since its license says that
> individual licenses like the one for omalloc override clauses in the
> Do you have serious objections against having anyone modify your code?
> If not, please consider giving a more permissive license, so that
> Singular can enjoy a wider audience. Seeing as how you seemingly are
> no longer involved with the Singular project, I am hoping that you are
> willing to change your license terms.
> - Jordi G. H.
I cannot speak for Olaf Bachmann, but I remember the discussion about the
license of omalloc and can give you some information about it.
(We will also ask Olaf Bachmann, but that will take some time).
Singular and omalloc:
- we have a replacement of omalloc used for tests, which could be made
available (it is some work: it is currently only a quick hack for
It will be much slower - so we would not recommend this solution.
- Olaf Bachmann has, as I think, no objections against having anyone modify
- he has no objections against any use of omalloc within Singular
- he does not want anybody to use omalloc in a comercial software
without contacting/asking him before
Woohoo! It looks like there's hope (as soon as we manage to contact
Olaf Bachmann anyways). It would be much more convenient to use the
software that is already available instead of attempting to use the
patchwork replacement that the rest of the Singular team has been
Now, it seems that Herr Bachmann is afraid of having The Evil
Corporations take his code away from him and sell it (I'm presuming
that Hans Schoenemann really meant proprietary, not commercial
software). If I'm understanding Bachmann's intentions correctly, as
related by Schoenemann, shouldn't we be recommending precisely the GPL
to Olaf Bachmann? However, it seems that Bachmann himself does not
endorse the GPL. This is the text of the license terms he has given to
SINGULAR version 3-0-2
Package name: omalloc
University of Kaiserslautern
Department of Mathematics and Centre for Computer Algebra
Author of this package: O. Bachmann
Copyright (C) 1999-2006
For this package the GPL does not apply. Permission of use within the
software SINGULAR is granted by the author. In addition to this
permission to modify the sources is granted to the copyright holders
If you wish to use this package outside of SINGULAR or to modify it in
any way, please contact the author
"Olaf Bachmann" <email@example.com>.
Here Bachmann specifically denies using the GPL, although in good
faith, seems willing to allow modifications of his package as long as
he is contacted first. (By the way, as noted above in my email to the
Singular team, the contact information given here for Olaf Bachmann is
no longer valid).
If I may so presume to know the inner workings of Bachmann's mind, I
think he feels adversely towards the GPL due to a
misunderstanding. One of the (admittedly controversial) strengths of
the GPL is that it protects software from the concerns that
Schoenemann seems to imply Bachmann has.
What do you think? This is all still highly speculative, but I need
some advice on what to say to Olaf Bachmann, once we manage to contact
If I should move all of this discussion to
firstname.lastname@example.org instead, let me know, and I'll do it.
By the way, is there a smart way of dealing with being subscribed with
several high-volume Debian mailing lists? Right now I'm using Gmail
and its filter system, but even that is a bit unwieldy. Other
- Jordi G. H.