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Re: About including Motif and Qt in GPL-ed programs

On Wed, 22 Oct 1997, Bruce Perens wrote:

> Richard's interpretation is that you can distribute a binary built
> with non-free libraries as long as they are a standard part (read
> that as no extra charge) of the operating system for which you are
> distributing

If that clause really is meant to be read as "at no extra charge" then
linux or unix binaries linked against Qt would be fine because Qt IS
available at no extra charge.  

Qt is certainly available "at no extra charge" for debian unless you
count the cost of downloading it from non-free/ to supplement the
main/ and contrib/ stuff which came on cdrom...in which case you'd also
have to do the same for the ssleay library which has to be downloaded
from non-US/ even though it is DFSG free, which would have effects on at
least the ssltelnet and sslapache packages

The Qt issue is also complicated by the fact that it is only free for
unix, not for other operating systems.  But that shouldn't be terribly
relevant since, e.g., it is perfectly OK to link GPL programs against
Motif on a Solaris box even though Sun's Motif isn't "available at no
extra charge" for other systems.

GPL-ed binaries linked against a Motif library would not be ok for
distribution on linux systems (unless they used only the subset of Motif
provided by lesstif)

FWIW i agree with Ian's aim of discouraging use of non-free libraries,
but i'm not sure if he has a valid point WRT GPL & copyright.  I'm also
concerned about using the GPL to reduce the freedom of people who want
to do 'free software things' (like making another variant of a free
program, even if it does depend on a non-free library).

imo, there are "good ways" and "bad ways" to deal with this issue. good
ways involve *encouraging* use of free alternatives and *discouraging*
use of non-free libraries. bad ways involve the courts and/or placing
additional restrictions on free software.

(extra restrictions would also seem to conflict with the
non-discrimination clauses of the debian free software guidelines)

The Debian Social Contract is an excellent example of a "good way" of
dealing with this issue - it encourages use of free software and
provides clearly stated guidelines and definitions of what free software
is.  It discourages use of non-free software by demonstrating a clearly
superior alternative.


craig sanders
networking consultant                  Available for casual or contract
temporary autonomous zone              system administration tasks.

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