What's "Linking" under the GPL?
Andrew C. Greenberg
werdna at mucow.com
Fri Nov 2 03:29:34 UTC 2001
On Thursday, November 1, 2001, at 10:07 AM, goran.hultgren at bluefish.se
> It all comes down to how you define "free" and I also like the BSD/MIT
> variant mostly in favour of GPL.
> But I can still understand the mechanics behind GPL and the reasoning
> behind it.
I usually rely upon the dictionary definitions. Last time I looked,
none of the definitions of free suggested or implied the notion of
"constrained" or "limited."
> I would say that GPL is more like "free, and it bloody well should stay
> free"-license than
> the MIT/BSD - "free, and you can do what you want with it including
> making it nonfree"-license.
Indeed, Goran, who accused others of engaging in propagandizing, proves
too much. Clearly the use of the term "free" for GPL is itself a form
of propaganda. As I noted, there is not a single dictionary definition
of free consistent with GPL's viral nature.
> To then liken FSF/GPL (etc) with the Soviet when FSF in fact are trying
> hard to keep
> software free, sounds really strange to me...
Sounds to me more like they are trying to appropriate the word "free"
more than they are trying to keep software "free." As Goran has so
skillfully observed, GPL does not require that the software be "free" as
in "free beer," and by its own terms, the software isn't free as in
liberty. The fact that I can't incorporate a GPL program in Squeak
proves the point.
>> As to Goran's points, none of them are substantive. 1 and 2 amount to
>> name-calling, proving nothing. 3 is also name-calling and silly,
>> presuming that references to Microsoft somehow marginalizes an
>> and ignores the fact that a substantial contingent of the Slashdot
>> make the same arguments. And 4 simply states a conclusion. In short,
>> none of the four points constitute argument. Interestingly, the
> I didn't realize that I was in court! ;-) It was just a bunch of
> subjective statements
> but I still stand by them:
> 1. I HAVE heard this comparison over and over and it is boring TO ME at
So? Why would that have any relevance to the validity of the analogy.
> 2. Those making the comparison have often not read anything about the
> argument behind the GPL or the ideas of FSF.
> 3. Microsoft has clearly also been going after GPL/FSF calling it names
> thus trying to throw dirt on the "free/opensource community".
Quote the Microsoft press release making the analogy.
> 4. And yes, I still think it is totally wrong comparing it with
And the reasons?
>> paragraph after the numbered points proves too much -- the
>> of a society of software users seems, to me, to make the original
>> poster's point more than otherwise.
> I said that the LICENSE is engineered, not the users. Don't put words in
> my mouth, please. ;-)
I'll stand by my remark, for reasons previously stated. I believe it
> My point is that the GPL has a different purpose than the
> licenses and if you like that purpose then there is nothing "wrong" in
And what, specifically, in your view, are those purposes?
> Well, since the author thought GPL was like communism (I know, that
> wasn't his exact words)
> I think he has grossly misunderstood it, and that is why I stepped up to
> the plate.
We are waiting for you to swing, then. What has he misunderstood. Can
you explain, without the platitudes, why it is inapposite?
> And the list wasn't trying to prove anything, that was why I asked the
>>> I have a question here: What do you dislike about the GPL? (assuming
>>> that you do dislike the system of old Soviet Union)
>> The fact that it ultimately limits what I can do with the software in a
>> manner that can rarely be repaired without substantial expense. I
>> use GPL software in a monolithic image, and that's very bad for
> I would say that you can't use it it a NON GPLd monolithic image. And
> is exactly what the author of the GPLd licensed code wants, right?
Sorry, I misunderstood your meaning earlier, when you said they wanted
it to be free. Indeed, they just wanted it to be GPL.
> Since he chose GPL he has given you a license to use his code in a
> certain way
> and that does not include mixing it with non GPL software - so be it. It
> is what
> the author wants, what is your problem more exactly?
Exactly this: I am not free to use it. The software is not free.
> Do you want to be able to do exactly what you want with the software
> closing it up? Ok, then ask the author if you can get such a license
> And if he says "No, I don't want that.", then respect his wish and let
> it go. ;-)
Absolutely. But the software isn't free -- it is constrained.
>> GPL doesn't promote the propagation of free software (again, using the
>> english denotation of the word "free" rather than the FSF appropriation
>> thereof) so much as it promotes the propagation of GPL'd software. RMS
> True - using your view of "free", which is more or less the BSD-view I
Webster's New International, actually.
> In short, one of the most crucial things to understand with the GPL is
> the fact
> that it tries to "protect" software from being turned "non free". Thus
> it protects
> "the next guy" in the foodchain.
Little old Andy isn't free to use it with Squeak. It ain't free for
me. But hey, there's always a bigger fish.
> A common example:
> Microsoft grabbed the BSD-licensed TCP/IP stack and stuffed it in NT (I
> think it was NT).
> They turned it "non free" and they sure don't share any of their
> improvements of it
> back to the BSD camp (afaik).
Nonsense. Every line of the code is still BSD-licensed and available.
Their improvements aren't part of that code. (And, in case you haven't
noticed, they didn't make any improvements -- although they have already
introduced some bugs.)
> This means that the "next guy" - the NT user - has no source and can't
> improve upon the
> software. He got the "closed up" version from Microsoft.
Every line of the original BSD code remains available. Nobody is
obliged to use microsoft's version. However, i still can't use GPL code
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