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Are you sure you want to use GPL?

Feb 13, 2009, 15:31 (14 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Armin Ronacher)

"License Compatibilities
bsd is gpl compatible, but gpl does not permit the use of gpl licensed code in non-gpl code. This is especially annoying if important libraries users expect are gpl. For example the very popular readline library is gpl licensed. Users of OS X will know that, because interactive shells of Python and other non gpl applications sucks there. People tried to rewrite readline to get rid of the gpl problem but the alternatives are not as well maintained as the original one.

"I guess this is also what Steve Ballmer referred to as "cancer". Unfortunately he's not entirely wrong there. For example I tried to develop an interactive administration shell for Zine but without readline (which I cannot use as Zine is bsd licensed) the user experience is just meh. I would have to relicense the entire application to GPL just so that I can have an interactive shell with readline support.

"Freedom
Now this depends on how you define freedom. The people behind the gpl have a very communistic point of view in terms of freedom: free software should be available to everybody under the same terms. Unfortunately like communism it does not work out that well because it turns out humans are not really compatible to that way to look at things. On the other hand there are the permissive licenses like bsd that just give away all rights except the copyright and do not enforce freedom. You can take bsd code and re-license it under the gpl if you want to. That kind of freedom however is a one-way ticket. Once you made a gpl release of your code there will always be a gpl version of it. If not for future releases, at least for that one release as you can't revoke the license."

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