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

Daniel Carrera dcarrera@math.toronto.edu
Thu, 23 May 2002 23:52:47 -0400 (EDT)

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

Yeah, my feelings are kind of like that too.  I think I'd also add
Applications == GPL, libraries == LGPL/BSD/X11/...

> 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
> proprientary?

Some people are not out to make it "better", but out to make it
*propietary*.  Take the example of Kerberos.  Microsoft did not add
anything to make it better.  They added just enough to make it
*incompatible*, and kept the incompatablities secret.

The objective is not to improve, but to appropriate.

> 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's not a perfect world.  You can't possibly put a measure on how much is
"a lot" or "a little".  1,000 lines from one program might involve
significantly more work than 10,000 from another.  Or else, what if the
programmer who wrote the 1,000 lines doesn't want people using his work
without sharing back.  We should respect that decision regardless of how
many lines he wrote.

We want to protect the time and effort put in by programers.  The GPL is
the only license that really does that.  The conditions that it imposes
are the source of this protection.

> 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.

I just though of an interesting question.  Suppose I make a simple script
that just calls mono.  The line in Perl would be something like:

system("mono $filename");

In this case the program is not linking to mono or using any mono code.
However, it is using mono in a very real way.

Such a script could be under any license, right?

> >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'm willing to use propietary software.  Heck, I even dare say that I love
PowerPoint!.  However, I do have a bias for free software.

> >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.