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Re: Automake (alpha) release request

From: Bob Friesenhahn
Subject: Re: Automake (alpha) release request
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 09:16:26 -0600 (CST)

On Tue, 18 Dec 2007, Russ Allbery wrote:

This wouldn't be doing any favors for non-FSF projects that use Autoconf
and Automake, particularly given that such huge changes in licensing are
rather not what anyone would expect without a major version change.


Indeed, the configure and files generated by such an Autoconf
and Automake release may actually be illegal to distribute for many
non-FSF projects.  I can think of several of mine just off the top of my
head that would have that problem, due to m4 macros or other content that
is covered by a GPL-incompatible license (usually for historical reasons
that are nigh-impossible to change due to the impossibility of contacting
all past contributors).

There is also the little issue of the generated configure.h, which contains text copied verbatim from autoconf, automake, and libtool. It becomes part of the C source code for an application.

Without the license exceptions, there are probably 1000 open source projects which would be dead in the water since they do not use the GPL v3 license. Even projects which are GPL but have chosen to stick with GPL v2 could be at risk.

The significance of this issue to the open source community should not be under-stated. There is no reason to believe that the FSF will change its mind about non-GPLed projects using autotools but the final proof will be in the license exception text which is generated.

Bob Friesenhahn
GraphicsMagick Maintainer,

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