[self-interest] Re: license

Jecel Assumpcao Jr jecel at lsi.usp.br
Fri Apr 16 04:46:38 UTC 1999

Steve Dekorte wrote:
> Jecel Assumpcao Jr <jecel at lsi.usp.br> wrote:
> > You *can* create commercial products with GPLed code, but you have
> > to release the sources and some people think nobody would buy your
> > products if you did that.
> Why have this restriction at all?
> Restrictions are excusses not to use something. It's hard enough to
> use non-mainstream technologies in commercial products without
> restrictions.

It can be pretty upsetting if you have a commercial product that
depends on Smalltalk V/286 and you have problems that might have
a solution if you had the sources for the virtual machine. This
restriction is intended to avoid this situation. I agree that it
often makes it hard to make any money with it (and can get you
sued by your shareholders!).

The main point to remember here is that Gordon Cichon wrote this
code, so the license should reflect his viewpoint. Anyone can take
the orginal Self 4.0 VM sources and do another port to the PC and
use the Sun Source Community License or whatever they prefer (as
long as the credit thing is taken care of).

Dru Nelson wrote:
> The GPL would force any code added to self to be GPL.
> Unless the code was under the L-GPL.
> My main concern isn't that it can't be used for commercial
> purposes (which it probably could). I just don't like this
> particular 'borg'ing of the already free license by the GPL.

This is a real concern with Self/Smalltalk/Forth systems even
though I mentioned before that it is a myth with Linux and similar
systems. Here is the explanation prepended to the GPL in the
Linux sources:

   NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel
 services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use
 of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".
 Also note that the GPL below is copyrighted by the Free Software
 Foundation, but the instance of code that it refers to (the linux
 kernel) is copyrighted by me and others who actually wrote it.

                        Linus Torvalds

In Smalltalk and Self it is nearly impossible to separate an
application from the whole development system. If you change
the VM, the GPL would make you release the code. If you patch
Self system code (to fix bugs or to make it work in true color)
then you would also have to release the sources. But what happens
if you write a Tic Tac Toe game in Self? It just gets added to the
whole mess of objects that is Self 4.0. Do you still have to
release the sources? Actually, there is no method currently in
Self of not releasing the sources, so all this is academic anyway.

The Squeak license tries to deal with these issues explicitly. From
their viewpoint if you create a new class then it is a separate
application, otherwise it is a modification of the system and must
have the sources released. Something similar could be defined for

-- Jecel

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