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Re: cygwin.dll license (was Re: FreeQt ?)



> For some more perspective on the "interface" argument, go back and see
> some of the flaming a year or two ago about the GNU "libmp" (multiple
> precision integer math library.)

Actually, I had a very similar polite argument with RMS via private e-mail
(about linking Java libs with mixed GPL/LGPL/proprietary licenses).  He
was pretty solid on the fact that run-time linking is the same as
"compiled-in" linking.

What I think it comes down to is this -- if the GPL'd code comes from a
company that is willing to hire lawyers -- you'd better pay attention to
the fine print, otherwise, don't worry about it that much.

I'm sure that there are plenty of libraries out there that have been put 
under the GPL, because the author couldn't be bothered to worry about the
implications.  I've seen a few Java ones that fit this bill.  You could
probably use these in a commercial app, and nobody would care.

The Linux kernel is GPL'd, but proprietary stuff gets dynamically linked
to it indirectly via OS calls and such.  This hasn't been an issue, since
Linus Torvalds isn't going to sue you.  The FreeBSD guys would have you
believing otherwise.

Cygnus is trying to sell commercial licenses, so that implies that they 
would be willing to sue.  This is going to be an issue for us, the Debian
project, when I finish porting dpkg to cygwin32.

The GPL was a quick hack designed to cover stand-alone apps.  It was never
intended to be used for libraries and other dynamically-linked code where the
legal implications are much more far-reaching.  That's why the LGPL came
into existence - the GPL was just too restrictive.

The GPL is a very restrictive license.  In many ways, it is just as 
restrictive as the Qt license.  Particularily in the case of libraries,
using it as Cygnus is doing (to make money) goes against the spirit
of Free Software.

At least with Qt, Troll Tech is very up-front about the fact that it is
commercial software, which they are licensing for free.  Cygnus, on the
other hand, called their work the "GNU-Win32 project", promoted it
as genuine true-blue GPL'd "Free Software", solicited patches from
the user community, and then, after 17 betas or so (maybe not all public),
they issued a marketing announcement that "commercial" licenses could be 
arranged.  Many people on the mailing list were not impressed -- they 
felt that they had been cheated.  Don't get me wrong, I like the work 
Geoffrey Noer and others have done -- I'm still going to use it.  But   
I don't consider it to be "Free Software" in spirit, even if it is
under the GPL.

I'd like to see Debian maintain some lofty goals as to what constitutes
"Free Software", so I think that discussion on these topics is healthy.

Just calling 'em like I see 'em.

Cheers,

 - Jim 



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