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Re: #688251: Built-Using description too aggressive

Dear all,

there has been discussions about the Built-Using field and the way
it is currently documented in the Policy.  I think that there are
a short and a long term issue.

  - In the short term, we can correct the wording to match the FTP
    team's current practice, and reduce the confusion introduced by
    the Policy.

  - In the long term, somebody should step up and investigate whether
    Debian (and other distributions) does benefit or not from the license
    exceptions in the libc, GCC and similar packages, which would imply
    either a lot of extra work for us, or a correction of the license
    terms upstream (which may want to help us focusing on good work).

Here three quotations from earlier discussions.

Le Sat, Sep 29, 2012 at 10:04:16AM -0700, Jonathan Nieder a écrit :
> For reference, the current wording is:
> 	Some binary packages incorporate parts of other packages when
> 	built but do not have to depend on those packages. Examples
> 	include linking with static libraries or incorporating source
> 	code from another package during the build. In this case, the
> 	source packages of those other packages are a required part of
> 	the complete source (the binary package is not reproducible
> 	without them).
> 	A Built-Using field must list the corresponding source package
> 	for any such binary package incorporated during the build
> I suspect some mention of license requirements or a threshold of
> substantial amounts of code copied would help.


Le Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 11:41:40PM +0100, Matthias Klose a écrit :
>  - footnote 58 in policy 7.8 says "The archive software might reject
>    packages that refer to non-existent sources". However they are also
>    manually rejected. And it looks like others aren't aware of this too.
>  - The scope of what belongs into Built-Using is not clear. Policy is
>    vague ("Examples include ...") and ftp-master seems to have a much
>    more narrow interpretation.
>    If "linking with static libraries" (and "object files" is missing here)
>    is what you want, then nearly every package having an executable
>    should have a Built-Using: eglibc. Every binary or shared library
>    linking with -lgcc (libgcc.a) should have a Built-Using: gcc-4.x.
>    Same for clang and probably most other compilers.
>    Is this wanted?
>    What is the value having this?


Le Thu, May 23, 2013 at 01:34:08PM -0700, Russ Allbery a écrit :
> In a discussion of mksh-static (see http://bugs.debian.org/709382), the
> question of GPL compliance for the source code of the components of libgcc
> and libc that are incorporated into binaries came up.  mksh-static of
> course links statically and therefore pulls in substantial portions of
> library source, but there are parts of libgcc and possibly libc that are
> always incorporated into binaries, even ones that are dynamically linked.
> I had previously assumed that this did not impose any restrictions on
> source code availability for the libgcc and libc source because they both
> have run-time exceptions that basically allow one to incorporate that code
> into binaries under any other license without following the terms of the
> GPL or LGPL.  However, Thorsten has raised the interesting point that the
> license of the source code for the binary may be GPL with no exceptions,
> and therefore under the GPL the resulting compiled executable is covered
> by the GPL and we have to provide its complete source code.  That would
> seem to include the source for the incorporated static libgcc and libc
> components, since Debian cannot make use of the operating system component
> exception in the GPL.
> Obviously, I don't think anyone does this, and we've never done it
> historically.  But "no one does this" isn't the most compelling argument
> when it comes to license compliance.


I would like to make the short-term clarification for the next revision of the
Policy.  In its simplest form, it could be the addition of something like "when
the combination of licenses requires to keep all the sources", plus a footnote
informing that the case of the libc and libgcc are being investigated, and that
the current practice is to consider that we can benefit form their exception to
the GPL.

Please let us know your thoughts and suggestions by replying to

Have a nice day,

Charles Plessy
Tsurumi, Kanagawa, Japan

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