[Mono-list] The viral license problem (was System.CodeDom.Compiler licensing issues)

Garrett Serack gserack@experientia.org
Thu, 23 May 2002 20:54:49 -0600

James Michael DuPont wrote:

>I doubt that you will be able to do any of this
>without a new version of the GPL, belive me, I have
>been in this discussion for over 1 year now.
*sigh* I really didn't want to go down that far.

>>Is there going to be a way I can resolve this?
>>Special License? 
>Maybe a GPLv4?
Uh-huh. That and $3.50 will get me a coffee at starbucks ;)

Somehow I don't think that's going to solve the problem.

>>Get the 
>>mono C# compiler license changed?
>I dont think that is a good idea.
>>I'm a bit confusled as to why the Compiler itself
>>needs to be GPL'd 
>>anyway... I mean is there a *fear* that someone may
>>take it, extend it 
>>and make it commercial without releasing the code to
>That is exactly what RMS was worried about happening
>to the GCC. It can happen very quickly, there is not
>firewall anymore and anyone can link in at any point
>and get and take data from the compiler at will.
Maybe I'm just looking at this a bit simplistically. I don't see GCC and 
the mono C# compilers in the same league. One churns out code for 
bunches of languages, and supports many back ends... Truly a massive 
feat, which grants great power. The other compiles a single language 
into IL bytecode. Not quite the scale of GCC, y'know?

And that's kinda the lines where I like to see things licensed. Big, 
important, powerful == GPL. Smaller, single purpose == BSD

>>Really? I can't 
>>see how someone would. Seems a little unlikely.
>It is not that unlikely at all. 
>There are a more than a few commercial projects out
>there that would *love* to get thier hands on a free
>and tested c# compiler and code generator that the can
>just take from and never give back to.
But they can ship the mono C# compiler anyway as-is... What kinds of 
things would they bother to add to make it "better", and therefore 

>In the course of the introspector project I have had
>many discussions with people who dont want to
>contribute anything, it really is just take take take.
Yeah, I know... I'm not really an opensource zealot, but from whence I 
take, there I give...

>Free software for most people means that they have no
>obligations at all to give back.
And that I really don't mind... It's their choice.

>The GPL protects honest developers from that type of
>abuse, the LGPL does not.
When they take, extend and keep proprietary... Sometimes that doesn't 
bother me, (mostly with components, but it would infuriate me with the 
biggies : GCC, Linux , etc...)

I guess my complaint is with the GPL that it dictates what the overall 
license will be once you commit to using the code. Whether  you leverage 
100 lines of code, or 100,000, or 100,000,000 lines.  Let's face it, if 
I write a million lines, and I use a GPL'd library that's got 100 lines 
in it, I'm forced to go GPL, if I wish to use the code, or write my own. 
 Yeah, it's my choice to use it, and Yeah, it's the author's right to 
license code any way they want.

It is just that in this particular case, I would like to use the code in 
an opensource project, *without* making my opensource project GPL.  I 
don't feel my component is important enough to force my license on others.

Now, if it were at lease LGPL, I could build a library out of it.. ;)

I guess I still don't see the mono C# compiler being in the same league 
as the GCC suite.

>Then answer please my original questions about the
>implementation of the System.Compiler und the X11
>how will that be possible without linking to and using
>the gpled code from the MONO C# compiler itself?
Yes, please... I do want to know that too!

>I wouldn't want the gcc to stop being GPL.  I *want* the software that I
>use to be GPL.  

I wouldn't want GCC to be anything other than GPL too.  I don't need all 
my software to be GPL or even opensouce. I've bought many a software 
package, because it was fundamentally better than the opensource/GPL 
equivalent. And regardless what RMS says, I'm NEVER going to choose open 
first, quality second.

>I find assurance in knowing that the sofware that I use
>will remain publicly available and no one will be able to "take over" that
>software (the case of Kerberos is an example of what I mean).
I don't see how someone can "take over" code under alternative 
licensing. Yes, they can make a copy, and yes they could make serious 
changes to it, to enhance it, but that still leaves the original code 
availible. It didn't dissapear.

>Anyone that wants to continue the thread should really put his money
>(or his code) where his mouth is.
Well, I'm doing both.  :) I'm building code which I'm releasing as BSD 
licensed stuff. I'm not heavily concerned about people using it in their 
commercial apps.