beware GNU Smalltalk if you want to contribute to squeak

Joshua Gargus schwa at
Thu Jan 10 17:52:36 UTC 2008

On Jan 10, 2008, at 2:20 AM, Paolo Bonzini wrote:
>> I *want* to have some of the things from GNU Smalltalk in Squeak.   
>> I guess for
>> now, it'll have to be limited to the things that people reimplement  
>> in a clean
>> room, or leave unbundled in SM/SS/Universes (but then I have to  
>> worry about
>> accidentally using those packages in my commercial applications).
> I don't think so.  First of all because you don't have to worry  
> about accidentally using LGPL packages.
> As to crossbreeding, I'm all for it!  Make a list of things you'd  
> like; if they are GPL some could be relicensed to LGPL.   
> Unfortunately, I must say that BSD/MIT/Apache is not on the radar.

As Goran said, Andrew Greenberg (a Squeaker and IP lawyer) extensively  
analyzed the LGPL situation with respect to Squeak.  I'll restate it  
more strongly than Goran did:

LGPL code is completely unacceptable for inclusion in the main Squeak  
distribution, and doubly so if it is code that the FSF holds the  
copyright to.  RMS was unwilling to elaborate on the interpretation of  
the LGPL for image-based systems such as Squeak.  In his view,  
including a single LGPL class makes the entire image into a "derived  
work" that can only be redistributed subject to the restrictions of  
the LGPL.  This is not the opinion of some random guy on the internet,  
this is the official position of the organization that:
	- is the copyright holder of GNU Smalltalk (as with other GNU  
projects, the FSF requires that copyright of contributions be assigned  
to them)
	- has litigated against more GPL/LGPL violators than anyone else

Does looking at LGPLed Smalltalk code mean that you can't write  
similar code and contribute it to Squeak?  The issue hasn't been  
tested in court, so we don't know the answer for sure.  It seems  
better to avoid having an issue to test in the first place.

Judging by this thread, at least some people were unaware of the  
issues involved.  Randal's warning provided a valuable service by  
raising awareness of the potential pitfalls.  I hope that it doesn't  
dampen the buzz around GNU Smalltalk 3.10, but if it does it should be  
viewed as an unfortunate but predictable side-effect of choosing the  
LGPL.  It doesn't appear to me that Randal has a vendetta against GNU  
Smalltalk (maybe against the "damn GPL" though :-) ).  On the  
contrary, he is careful to state that it is (probably) OK to look and  
use the protocol and documentation of GNU Smalltalk, just not to look  
at the source code.

Just my opinion,

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