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Chemical modelling software


my name is Drew Parsons, I'm in the queue to become a Debian maintainer and am
waiting to be processed.  My training has been in theoretical chemistry and
therefore I'm interested in having the best available chemical modelling
programs in Debian.  Currently Debian has rasmol, maintained by Randolph
Chung, which is a fine program, but does not support the particular file
format I have occasion to use (BIOSYM's .car/.arc format, if you're

There are a couple of other alternatives available, and I'd like to check
with you at debian-legal to see if one of them fits with Debian's
free-software guidelines.

The programs I'm aware of are:
 - xmol (http://www.msc.edu/msc/docs/xmol/ftp.html)
 - viewmol (ftp://ccl.osc.edu/pub/chemistry/software/SOURCES/C/viewmol/)
 - molden (http://www.caos.kun.nl/~schaft/molden/molden.html)

xmol provides the binaries freely to only a limited number of OS's
(commerical unices), does not provide source, and explicitly states a
disinterest in supporting other systems.  So screw 'em.  But they did
provide a link to viewmol as a free alternative, which looks like a better

viewmol supplies source which compiles (and also an rpm, which segfaulted
under potato). The copyright statement inside their documentation indicates
that "Permission to use, copy, and distribute VIEWMOL in its entirety, for
non-commercial and non-military purposes, is hereby granted without fee,
provided that this license information and copyright notice appear in all
copies."   They go on to state "Licenses for commercial use can be obtained
from the author." without specifying what that license might entail (gratis
or what?)   They also state that "Modification of the source code is
permitted. ", and invite any modifications to be sent to them for inclusion
in the official code.   

molden is more explicitly restrictive with regards to commerical use,
although they do provide source code and support Linux.  Their
copyright statement (http://www.caos.kun.nl/~schaft/molden/CopyRight.html)
says "Permission to copy and use the MOLDEN software and its documentation
for private usage, is hereby granted to non profit organisations. No part
of the software code may be reused without specific permission of the CMBI."
However, "Commercial users (non-acedemic,for-profit organisations) are
required to receive authorization to download and use MOLDEN by printing,
completing, signing and fax-ing the COMMERCIAL_LICENSE-AGREEMENT", the
latter (http://www.cmbi.kun.nl/~schaft/molden/COMMERCIAL_LICENSE.html),
being a legally binding contract which stipulates that "The license fee is
US$ 1000." 

I understand that the strict attitude of the molden owners with respect to
commercial use completely bars molden from consideration.  A pity, since
it's not a bad program.

I'm not so certain about viewmol, however.  It's terms of copyright seem
close in spirit to the free software guidelines, although I expect we would
have check with the author about the meaning of the commercial use clause.  

So, I am turning to you at debian-legal for scrutiny of the two copyrights,
to confirm whether molden must necessarily be spurned and to ascertain if
there really is hope for viewmol.

I'll supply the full text of the copyright statements separately if requested.

Awaiting your collective wisdoms and further instructions,

Drew Parsons

PGP public key available at http://dparsons.webjump.com/drewskey.txt
Fingerprint: A110 EAE1 D7D2 8076 5FE0  EC0A B6CE 7041 6412 4E4A

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