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Re: dpkg support for solaris-i386 architecture

Andrew Donnellan <ajdlinux@gmail.com> writes:

> The language in the GPL seems quite ambiguous;

The language in the GPL is not ambiguous and the meaning of this section
has been well-understood and widely discussed for years.

| The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for
| making modifications to it.  For an executable work, complete source
| code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any
| associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control
| compilation and installation of the executable.  However, as a special
| exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is
| normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major
| components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on
| which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the
| executable.

The intention of this clause is to prohibit *exactly* what you are trying
to do.  This is not in any way an unintended consequence.  It is an
intentional part of the GPL and many people who place their code under the
GPL fully intended beforehand for this to be the implication.  You're only
allowed to take advantage of the OS clause if you are not distributing the
software along with the OS.  That clause is there to allow people to run
free software on non-free systems, not to provide a general loophole for
derivative binary works containing both GPL'd and GPL-incompatible code.

We already had this thread and several of those people stepped forward and
were quite explicit about their understanding of the license under which
their code was released.  If this is not what people want, they shouldn't
use the GPL.  Most software authors using the GPL are not stupid and are
quite capable of understanding and choosing all of the implications of
using the GPL.

> it could be argued that this is really a violation of DFSG#9 (license
> must not contaminate) (I wouldn't say it is), but it is ambiguous.

If you don't believe this is true, why are you bringing it up?  It's
obviously not true; DFSG #9 doesn't consider applying the license to
derivative works to be contamination, nor could it possibly do so and make
any sense.  The restriction is on the distribution of binaries, not on
anything else accompanying the binaries.  It is not even a restriction;
rather, the GPL contains a specific, targetted grant of extra privileges
that this use does not qualify for.  It is a special exception, akin to
the special exceptions that cover use of Autoconf-generated scripts, that
under extremely limited circumstances grants an exemption to one of the
core requirements of the GPL:

|   3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
| under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
| Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:
|     a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
|     source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
|     1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
|     b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
|     years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
|     cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
|     machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
|     distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
|     customarily used for software interchange; or,
|     c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
|     to distribute corresponding source code.  (This alternative is
|     allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
|     received the program in object code or executable form with such
|     an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

This use doesn't qualify for the exemption, and distributing binaries
linked against the Solaris libc libraries with their GPL-incompatible
license is otherwise in violation of the above requirements.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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