beware GNU Smalltalk if you want to contribute to squeak

Paolo Bonzini bonzini at
Thu Jan 10 07:35:14 UTC 2008

> Please note that I am *not* saying anything about the relative merits of GPL
> or BSD-family licenses.  Please stop dragging that into the issue.

I didn't try to do that.  OTOH, "damn GPL" seems a pretty clear 
statement on these relative merits.

> So, you can choose to be either a Squeak core contributor, or someone who has
> been looking at (and contributing to) the GNU Smalltalk project.  But you'll
> never be both.

So a changeset from me to SqueakCore would never be accepted?  (My GNU 
Smalltalk code is copyrighted FSF, so I cannot in principle relicense it).

I think there are two other issues to consider:

1) Size of "Squeak core".  I believe that most of GNU Smalltalk's code 
would not fit into Squeak core (which I would like to become smaller and 
smaller).  If anybody wants to port it to Squeak, most of the time they 
would release it on SqueakSource under LGPL and be done.

Some other parts would (these might include for example the 
continuation-based implementation of generators, which spurred a sibling 
thread on comp.lang.smalltalk AFAIU) but they are probably more fun to 
reimplement from scratch, and not so easy to port anyway.

2) Right now, the opposite would also be true.  The licensing situation 
of Squeak is such a mess that GNU Smalltalk contributors should also 
steer clear.  It's not possible to look at a random method and 
understand what license it is distributed under.

So it's mainly an issue of being willing to cooperate.  I think all GNU 
Smalltalk people (almost all?) are and it's also true at least for some 
Squeak people.  If somebody took a package (several thousands lines of 
code, etc.) wholesale, ported it to Squeak, and licensed it under MIT on 
SqueakMap that would be copyright violation.  But everything can be done 
"cum grano salis".  Nobody is going to sue you if you copy an interface 
from GNU Smalltalk, reimplement in Squeak (for fun!), but you did look 
at the method comments in GNU Smalltalk -- and OMG maybe you got a 
glimpse of the source code just below!  Copyright does not protect 
having similar implementations (patenting would, and GNU Smalltalk has a 
clear patent license as part of the GPL/LGPL -- does Squeak have one?).

I think we're all for interoperability and for exchange of opinions 
within the communities.  Asking questions instead of making statements 
in three different places, and using a more moderate tone than "beware 
GNU Smalltalk" (*) is a good way to start.


(*) not to mention the "GNU Smalltalk sucks" subliminal messages that 
some people including you keep sending on #squeak.  We all know that all 
computer programs suck.

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