Apple, iPhone, and GPLv3 troubles

Ian Lance Taylor
Wed Sep 24 17:02:00 GMT 2008

"Yuhong Bao" <> writes:

>> 1) This is offtopic.
> Yeah, but I want to bring this up because I can tell it is affecting GCC
> development.
> "> If someone steps forward, are you allowed to follow the patches list
> We can't read the patches nor gcc list.
>> and give feedback and/or approve patches for new contributors? I assume
>> this is possible since you helped out with objc++ review for me just
>> recently.
> Only because I was cced on it."
> "> Are current Darwin maintainers working on fixing anything in the FSF
> sources?
> Currently no. The transition to GPL v3 is problematic for us in the
> short/mid term. :-( Longer term, we'll see how it goes."

Apple's dislike of GPLv3 is a problem for gcc, yes.  However, Apple is
moving to a new free compiler, LLVM, so they have little incentive to
fix the problem.  My understanding of Apple's current position is that
they won't take any action until they see the final version of the gcc
runtime license.  gcc's runtime libraries have not yet been updated to
GPLv3, because the FSF has not yet settled on the final version of the
appropriate license to use for those libraries (yes, this has taken a
ridiculously long time, largely because the FSF is trying to get the
plugin license right at the same time).  Until the runtime library
licenses have been updated, there is little point in discussing
Apple's future contributions to gcc.  Since Apple is moving to a new
compiler, it is likely that Apple will have negligible future
contributions to gcc in any case, though some individuals employed by
Apple may be able to once again contribute on their own time.

>> 2) You didn't say what the problem is.  I certainly can't figure it
>> out from the links you posted.
> Basically, what happened is that Apple created a Tivoized device called the
> iPhone,
> and Apple uses GCC (which is now under GPLv3) and Mac OS X on it.
> Unfortunately, the iPhone is incompatible with GPLv3, if you want more see
> the link I mentioned. 

Using gcc to compile your code does not impose any licensing
requirements on that code.  Many people use gcc to create proprietary
software.  This is understood and is in fact desirable.  This is not a
problem to be solved.  Morevoer, as Peter pointed out, GPLv3 is a
total red herring here, since Apple has very carefully avoided any use
of it.  Not that gcc being under GPLv3 makes any difference
whatsoever, as the iPhone would still be permitted regardless.


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