[nSLUG] On topic of favorite distros, and Linux on the Desktop

bdavidso at supercity.ns.ca bdavidso at supercity.ns.ca
Mon Mar 8 00:08:45 AST 2004


On Sun, 7 Mar 2004, Jeff Warnica wrote:

> Quote http://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-not-lgpl.html :
> > However, when a library provides a significant unique capability, like
> > GNU Readline, that's a horse of a different color. The Readline
> > library implements input editing and history for interactive programs,
> > and that's a facility not generally available elsewhere. Releasing it
> > under the GPL and limiting its use to free programs gives our
> > community a real boost. At least one application program is free
> > software today specifically because that was necessary for using
> > Readline.
> So there is at least one example of the GNUs idea of freedom being
> forced on a program(mer) due to the GPL. Actually the whole why-not-lgpl

No, the programmer in question could have implemented the functionality of
readline on their own, or maybe found some similar code elsewhere under a
different license, if they found the GPL onerous.  The programmer must
have weighed the effort of re-implementing readline against the putative
"cost" of releasing under GPL and decided the latter was outweighed by the
former.  They had plenty of choice, nothing was forced on them.  That's
like saying the GPL takes away one's "freedom" to steal code.  But you
never had that "freedom" to begin with, so it takes away nothing.

> > "without its knowledge." You place code under the GPL, the GPL doesnot
> > assimilate code. In order to place code under the GPL, you have tobe
> Yes, it does. RMS just said it did. He is proud of it, and it is part of

He said no such thing.  He said that someone chose to release their code
under the GPL in order to use and benefit from the work of others.

Some person or people wrote some very useful code, packaged it up as a
library, and gave you the freedom to use it under very generous terms.
Because they didn't give it to you holus-bolus and let you pretend it is
yours, you want to say they took something from you.  But what you say
they took away was something you never had, whereas they actually gave you

> I didn't say that public domain would ensure freedom. I said it would be
> the most free. If I receive some code that is in the public domain (or
> under a BSD license), I can do more with it then I could if it was under
> the GPL. I could, for instance, include it in a proprietary app. Clearly
> public domain (or BSD) is more free then the GPL. With the GPL, if you
> make a change, and distribute the compiled output, you are required to
> also distribute your code. Your unique, brand new, code, depending on
> how your write a Makefile, may be required to be GPLd.

It has nothing to do with how you write your Makfile, it has to do
with the code you choose to appropriate and the terms under which it was
distributed.  If you don't like the license, don't use the code.  Code
released under the GPL is free to use, not free to take.

> Compared to
> public domain, the GPL restricts freedom.

You have provided exactly the kind of example that shows how the GPL
enhances freedom rather than restricts it.

Bill Davidson
bdavidso at supercity.ns.ca

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