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Re: XFree86 license difficulties

On Mon, Feb 02, 2004 at 06:54:06PM -0800, Don Armstrong wrote:
> On Mon, 02 Feb 2004, Ken Arromdee wrote:
> > Wouldn't linking a GPL program against XFree86 fall under the
> > operating system exemption anyway?
> No, because we don't distribute X in base (or as an essential
> package.)
> [In general, if you can have a working system without Y, Y doesn't
> meet the OS exemption.]

This really depends on how you define "normally distributed."  I think
an arguable position can be made that Debian includes XFree86 normally.
Besides your standard doesn't even hold for the examples the GPL gives.
You don't need a compiler to have a working system, yet the GPL gives a
compiler as an example.

It also depends on how you define "the operating system which the
executable runs."  If you define it narrowly then you could say the
executable runs on Debian.  You could define it more broadly as "Linux"
or "Unix like operating systems."  In the case of the latter two it is
pretty normal to include an X11 implementation of some sort.

I think there are several ways of interpreting how broadly to apply the
operating system exception.  All of which can reasonably be accepted as
valid interpretations.  

I'm not sure if FSF has weighed in on this issue but I'd guess Debian
would yield to whatever their interpretation of the issue was.

Ben Reser <ben@reser.org>

"Conscience is the inner voice which warns us somebody may be looking."
- H.L. Mencken

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