Re: Ocaml status?
On Thu, Apr 06, 2000 at 09:26:16PM +0200, Henning Makholm wrote:
> I accidentally CCed the following posting to debian-legal
> to the old ocaml maintainer instead of you. You might have
> comments nevertheless. :^)
> Scripsit Henning Makholm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > Scripsit Lynn Winebarger <email@example.com>
> > > What's the status of Ocaml?
> > Somewhat unclear.
ocaml is covered by the lgpl for the runtime parts, and by the qpl for the
compiler and other non runtime stuff.
Apparently the lgpl and qpl are compatible.
> > > I noticed parts of it were under GPL and other parts not.
> > Executive summary for debian-legal:
> > The ocaml compiler is written in its own language. It compiles
> > ocaml to bytecode, which is then executed by a bytecode interpreter
> > written in C.
> > The bytecode interpreter and the run-time libraries needed to
> > be linked with it are all GPL.
> > The ocaml source for the compiler itself is QPL.
> > Now, the QPL and the GPL are both DFSG-free licences, but they
> > are not compatible. That means that a *single* work cannot include
> > code which is GPL as well as QPL. Thus, the question is whether
> > the compiler *itself* is impossible to distribute because it is
> > not GPL'ed yet can only run when the GPL'ed runtime system is
> > used. This puts us directly into debian-legal's standing flamewar
> > about when something is a deriviative of something else, and what
> > the "mere aggregation" clause in GPL means.
> > The choice of QPL for the compiler is somewhat peculiar, given
> > that it is not related to Qt at all. It is concievable that the
> > author of Ocaml simply likes the QPL better than the GPL.
> > It is even more mysterious why the run-time system is GPL. It is
> > inherited from the Caml Light bytecode interpreter, but Caml Light
> > itself is not GPL'ed but distributed under a non-free licence
> > (distribution for profit is not allowed).
Well the authors finally did saw the light and released ocaml under a free
license. I was in intensive contact about them with it, so ocaml could go into
main. as well as lots of other free stuff writen in ocaml.
Beside, it is lgpl, not gpl.
Also, notice that the QPL stuff is only the compiler and other like, which
never gets linked into resulting programs, so it causes no problem.
You could argue that the compiler itself links LGPLed source with QPled
source, but since the authors are releasing it, that is ok, and no outside
changes have been yet introduced into the runtime, this cause no problem at
Also i heard that LGPL and QPL are compatible, so this argument is moot
If this statement is not true, please tell the authors about it, so they know
the problem, or tell me and i will contact the authors. They are willing to
resolve any problem of this kind if they appear, at least they told me so
(they told me that if i knew of a problem, that i tell them so they could
> > > Can I write software in Ocaml without requiring users
> > > get non-free software to compile it?
> > The software is not non-free, but it seems to be an open question
> > whether it is distributable at all.
The software is free, is it part of debian main, and will ship as such in
> > It is also questionable whether the GPL-ness of the bytecode
> > interpreter contaminates the program it interprets. I cannot
> > imagine that anybody has meant it to be, but it would have been
> > nice to have a clear statement saying that the bytecode interpreter
> > can be distributed (under standard GPL permissions) together with
> > bytecode that is not itself GPL'ed.
Again, remember that it is LPGLed, and then tell me again your arguments.
> > Cc to the ocaml maintainer: Do you know the upstream author's
> > position about these issues?
Yes, i know the upstream maintainers position about this, and know at least
some of them personnaly (well i meet them at JFLA, which is more or less the
They are willing to solve any problem that occurs abotu freeness, but it seems
to me there are not such problems.
also notice there is also a debian-ocaml-maint mailing list for discussing
such topics, i cc this mail there.