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Re: Notes from the GROW'10 workshop panel (GCC research opportunities workshop)

Toon Moene wrote:

Mutatis mutandis, the same goes for GCC: There might be too many hurdles to use GCC in academia.

This is probably true, however, the plugin ability of the just released GCC 4.5 (or is it released tomorrow) helps probably significantly.

Academics (even people working in technological research institutes like me) will probably be more able to practically contribute to GCC thru the plugin interface. It brings two minor points: a somehow defined plugin API (which is a sane "bottleneck" to the enormity of GCC code), and the ability to practically publish code without transfering copyright to FSF (in the previous situation, the only way to avoid that was to create a specific GPLv3 fork of GCC; in practice it is too expensive in labor for academia).

My point is that academics can quite easily contribute to GPL software, but much harder obtain the necessary legal authorizations to transfer copyright to FSF. My intuition is that if (in a different past & a different world which did not happen) GCC was only GPLv2+ without the FSF copyright requirement -exactly as Linux kernel is, things would have been much different.

With the new plugin ability of GCC, I would believe that academics would be a little happier to contribute to GCC, by coding plugins (or even perhaps MELT extensions, which are plugins with a different API).

I know several French university employees (professors or lecturers = "maitres de conférence" or interns or PhD students) who all can very easily, without even asking officially any high-level suit at their Univerisiy, publish some GPL code on their site and a paper in a conference or journal, but for whom getting any kind of document signed by their dean about transferring copyright to FSF is so painful that they won't even try.

I would actually believe that the amount of code from academics in the Linux kernel is bigger than the acedemic code in GCC, just because of this copyright issue (which is soften by the plugin feature, assuming people will publish & maintain plugin code).

Perhaps most of the GCC community don't care about getting more academics contribute to GCC (in my opinion this is a mistake of the GCC community; we should attract more academics).


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