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Subject:
From:
Laurent Guerby <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Date:
Thu, 8 Jan 1998 16:57:45 +0100
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[I'm not speaking for ACT or ACT Europe here, it's just what I learned
by working around GNAT ;-]

> It is without fail that the Ada community worries the most about free
> vs. non-free stuff, and that there are a good many
> "commercial"(actually "aerospace") companies that reject "free"
> software for very unrealistic fears.  Perhaps it's just a culture
> thing.

   These "unrealistic fears" live their last days. They must
   *die*. Major aerospace companies are using GNU software with
   support. The European Space Agency funded studies on Free software,
   and except some misunderstandings between "public domain" and "free
   software", and some surprising points about the lack of commercial
   support (ignoring Cygnus for GCC and ACT/ACT Europe for GNAT, but this
   is now under control ;-), the report is very positive.

   Also, most of these "aerospace" companies purchase source license
   of their compiler anyway, so they are of course including this
   basic gain (not small!) of using Free Software in their estimation.
   Plus the insurance of a long life time.

   As for licensing freely developped software, it's right that you
   have the choice between multiple alternatives. But be aware that
   only the GPL and very close derivatives have "support".

   What happens if some big company violates the ACL? Probably
   nothing. It would put the FSF and the free software world in a bad
   position. Everything is based on the GPL, what happens if the ACL
   is flawed... (Dave I assume you're not a lawyer ;-).

   If it's the GPL, I'm pretty sure the FSF and a huge lobby will take
   immediate action.

   (If you're not worried about licensing, put your stuff in the
   public domain, end of the story! Someone will take them and put a
   GPL on it.)

   In some sense, if you choose another license, you weaken for some
   "unrealistic fears" the free software world on the licensing issue,
   which is a central one.

   The GNAT library code is using a slightly modified GPL to allow
   linking this code in proprietary programs without having to make
   the proprietary stuff available. All ACT/ACT Europe clients (and
   other teams without support) routinely write proprietary (and
   sometimes *very* proprietary) software with GNAT, and are fully
   aware of the licensing conditions of the GNAT library.

   This slightly modified GPL is the adaptation to Ada of the license
   used for the small library that comes with GCC (and is present in
   *all* GCC compiled programs, most of them are proprietary). So
   nothing GNAT specific here, this is standard FSF stuff.

   So please look at the header of the GNAT library sources:

-- GNARL is free software; you can  redistribute it  and/or modify it under --
-- terms of the  GNU General Public License as published  by the Free Soft- --
-- ware  Foundation;  either version 2,  or (at your option) any later ver- --
-- sion. GNARL is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITH- --
-- OUT ANY WARRANTY;  without even the  implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY --
-- or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the GNU General Public License --
-- for  more details.  You should have  received  a copy of the GNU General --
-- Public License  distributed with GNARL; see file COPYING.  If not, write --
-- to  the Free Software Foundation,  59 Temple Place - Suite 330,  Boston, --
-- MA 02111-1307, USA.                                                      --
--                                                                          --
-- As a special exception,  if other files  instantiate  generics from this --
-- unit, or you link  this unit with other files  to produce an executable, --
-- this  unit  does not  by itself cause  the resulting  executable  to  be --
-- covered  by the  GNU  General  Public  License.  This exception does not --
-- however invalidate  any other reasons why  the executable file  might be --
-- covered by the  GNU Public License.                                      --

   And use this licensing conditions for libraries if you find it
   okay!

   For standalone programs, the full GPL is still a must.

   I really think there's a global polical point not to be missed when
   choosing your license.

   Sincerely,

--
Laurent Guerby <[log in to unmask]>, Ada Core Technologies Europe.
   "Use the Source, Luke. The Source will be with you, always (GPL)."

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