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Defence of the GPL realm (The H)

Defence of the GPL realm (The H)

Posted Dec 19, 2012 0:17 UTC (Wed) by dlang (subscriber, #313)
In reply to: Defence of the GPL realm (The H) by armijn
Parent article: Defence of the GPL realm (The H)

all you say is true, but I'll point out that back in the day it was common to require proprietary compilers to compile things for some environments. The requirement was never to include the compilers, even though it was impossible to recreate the binaries without them.

This point is a fairly major split in the community.

One one hand we have people who say that if they can't compile the exact same binary (and install it), the GPL really hasn't been complied with.

On the other hand we have people like Linus that say that if they get the source code, that's all the the GPL requires.

Now, when you get to the point where there is a legal challenge stating that you have not complied, merely producing source and stating that it's what was used is not likely to be good enough. At that point a company could stand on that point and take it to court, or they could work with people like Bradley to convince them that it really is the source, by providing them with whatever help is needed to let the compile the source to get the same binary. It's _far_ cheaper to do that sort of thing than it is to pay lawyers to go to court.

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Defence of the GPL realm (The H)

Posted Dec 19, 2012 1:53 UTC (Wed) by JoeBuck (subscriber, #2330) [Link]

If Linus says this (and I'm not sure he has), he hasn't read the license text. The relevant GPLv2 text states (I added the emphasis)
The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable. However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable.

Now, in the cases Linus is most concerned about, the standard Linux build system will work fine with the distributor's new code or patch, so he doesn't need a build script, he already has it (so if he said something like this, then perhaps that's what he meant). It is covered in the exception in the last sentence above. But if the code won't build with a simple command or three (e.g. configure, make, make install), then more must be included.

Defence of the GPL realm (The H)

Posted Dec 20, 2012 23:34 UTC (Thu) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285) [Link]

That exception is major though.

It means that if you have the source code for the firmware for a network card, or a hard drive, you don't have to be given the compiler. After all, it is a normally distributed part of the operating system on which the executable runs: in that case, the chip hardware. And to get that special compiler or even the opcode list for the processor might require committing to the purchase of a very expensive dev kit. If the ASIC is completely custom and proprietary you might not be able to get a compiler at all.

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