RFH: GPLv3

Basile STARYNKEVITCH basile@starynkevitch.net
Mon Jul 16 06:43:00 GMT 2007


Laurent GUERBY wrote:
> On Thu, 2007-07-12 at 17:11 +0200, Basile STARYNKEVITCH wrote:
>> [...] Still, I do believe that almost all my distant colleagues from
>> CEA http://www.cea.fr/ (notably compiling their numerical 
>> code for e.g. nuclear, astronomical or thermodynamical numerical
>> computations) will find funny a version number change 
>> from 4.2 to 4.2 only for the compiler license change. Most of them
>> don't care about GPLv2 vs GPLv3 for the compiler, 
>> they just want to compile their (sadly proprietary) numerical code (in
>> Fortran or C++).
>>
>> IMHO the only persons who really care about GPLv2 vs GPLv3 are
>> open-source enthusiasts (and active open-source 
>> contributors).  [...]
> 
> I hope your employer follows industry standard practice of caring *a
> lot* about licensing issues for all the software they use. You're
> greatly mistaken if you think only compiler hackers look at software
> licences, lawyers and management have they say here (at least
> in the organisations I know).

Of course CEA's lawyers do care about GPL and know it quite well (the CECILL license http://cecill.info/ which in my 
limited understanding is an adaptation of GPL to french law originated at CEA & INRIA & CNRS).

But the developer use a compiler (perhaps GCC) to produce a binary (which might be the object of a commercial contract).

Unless there is a new point in GPLv3 which affects (i.e. changes) the legal status of a binary produced by GCC (I 
understood and hope that not, and this would be against the spirit of free software, and might perhaps even be illegal - 
e.g. Microsoft don't have any rights on the documents written with Word) I don't see the point.


Most of my distant collegues probably don't even compile GCC but uses it (in a binary form) from some distribution. This 
is probably the case for most GCC users.

Very few compilers (even proprietary) have strange licenses affecting the legal status of the produced binary (and I am 
not sure the license of the compiler matters here). The only exceptions I heard of are some (eg prolog or lisp) 
compilers with an explicit runtime license (usually per binary sold or transfered) for their runtime library.

AFAIK the only equivalent in GCC is libgcc (and perhaps libstdc++) which is not under GPL (ie has an exception clause 
which covers the common case of a proprietary binary).

My point is still that most GCC users don't compile the compiler and don't seem touched by the GPLv2 -> GPLv3 license 
change, provided they can do whatever they (or their management) wants with the binary produced by GCC.

Of course if the GPLv3 said clearly that the user have limited rights on the binary produced by GCC that would be very 
different (and GCC user base would almost vanish!).

So I still think that a version number change from 4.2.x to 4.3.y for only GPLv2 -> GPLv3 license transition in the 
compiler itself (not in the produced binaries) would be an annoyance.

What most GCC users care most is the legal right to use the produced binaries by the GCC compiler. It is not about the 
compiler's license, provided this license is compatible with the practice of compiling proprietary software.


-- 
Basile STARYNKEVITCH         http://starynkevitch.net/Basile/
email: basile<at>starynkevitch<dot>net | mobile: +33 6 8501 2359
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*** opinions {are only mine, sont seulement les miennes} ***



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