-fdump-translation-unit considered harmful

Robert Dewar dewar@adacore.com
Thu Dec 30 02:53:00 GMT 2004

Stefan Strasser wrote:

> the problem some people may see isn't some technical way to link to gcc 
> while circumventing the GPL. if this isn't covered by GPL by law an 
> interface in gcc is the smallest problem of free software in general.
> it is that you could easily export the data from the interface to a file 
> and e.g. write a proprietary backend which only needs the file. this 
> isn't covered by the GPL

This is a legal judgmnent that is dubious. The mere fact of using a file
is not clearly a factor here. The issue is whether the programs form
some kind of unit which is not "mere aggregation". In Intergraph vs
Bentley, where a similar issue arose, I tried to establish the idea that
if you have a program which is only useable in conjunction with another
program, that they form a unit. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately,
who knows), the case settled the day before the judge issued a ruling.

(compare loading an image by gimp into your
> proprierty app).

I don't know if a jury would find this comparable or not. These are
not simple issues.

> but I think this shouldn't be a reason to make gcc less useful for free 
> software.

Especially when it is based on legally dubious GPL reasoning :-)

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