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[Axiom-developer] GCL compliance and Bill Schelter

From: root
Subject: [Axiom-developer] GCL compliance and Bill Schelter
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003 07:42:41 -0400

re: unexec and gnumalloc

> Rather, I am talking about the implications of those items of source code in
> the purely AKCL, Bill Schelter enhanced/added parts of those tarballs.  That

I have no way to determine the authorship of that code. It was not
common practice years ago  to write your initials on every piece of 
code you changed. Indeed, it was considered egotistical. We used
RSCS with some local cover functions which still exist in the Axiom
codebase (mget.c, mput.c) but the RSCS archives are long gone. Among 
the things Bill and I worked on was the free storage algorithms but 
I don't remember which memory allocator we used.

re: Emacs code

> Spencer W. Thomas, Bob Desinger (at least) for the various unexec files in
> the early AKCL tarball, and at least three authors without surnames or just
> represented by initials for GNU malloc.  Also M. Frigo for the Linux unexec
> in the later tarball.

Again I should stress that names don't always show up in code that
gets changed. I know I've sent patches to Camm for GCL but it is
unlikely that my name is mentioned anywhere nor should it be.

re: GCL and GPL

> | It should be sufficient to ensure that the GPLed (or LGPLed) Common
> | Lisp sources and Axiom sources are available to rebuild the system. If
> | saving the image requires Axiom to also be GPLed then I cannot work.
> Yes, it's a nasty bind and particularly galling considering the amount of
> work that has recently gone into making Axiom work with GCL.

Clearly there is a compromise position which is reasonable. The
position is that language facilities (such as saving system
images) do not require programs written in that language to be
GPLed. The compromise exists between C and GCC despite the fact
that large portions of C code is automatically linked in as a
library and, worse yet, the GPLed compiler code sequences are
generated inline with running code that is not GPL. A runnable
C binary contains very little that is actually new code.

Every language creates a "platform" just as every operating system
creates a "platform". In C the platform includes both library code
and compiler code sequences. That doesn't have anything to do with
the work and intentions of the C programmer.

The work and intentions of the Common Lisp developer are similar
in spirit. Saving a system is equivalent to linking code. The
GCL code could be GPLed as long as it is clear that save-system
images are LGPLed or certainly licensed in such a way as to allow
Common Lisp programmers to work.

If the FSF insists that I can no longer use GCL to develop Axiom
I'd have to argue the case. I'm an (albeit minor) author of AKCL
and GCL is a derivative work. I'd have to claim "copy rights" in
the GCL work and refuse to allow it to be GPLed unless some 
compromise is reached.

I believe that GPL is a good idea but AKCL was written to support
Scratchpad (now Axiom) and I helped with its development. It is
unreasonable beyond belief that I would be prevented from using 
my own work to develop code. Bill shared my office, my computer,
and my coffee while we worked on that code. He'd turn in his grave
if he knew that the GPL was being used to steal my code and my rights.

re: Axiom's copyright

Yes, Axiom was released by NAG under license conditions which I cannot
change. However, if I did hold the ability to change the license it is
unlikely that I would change it anyway. I ran the license (modified BSD)
text thru Stallman and got his blessing on it being a free software

> To clarify, I underatand that (IBM or NAG?) released the code with licencing
> conditions on it which cannot be changed.

> >From a practical point of view, I would hate to look a gift horse (free BSD
> Axiom)in the mouth when the gift came from such an appalling example (IBM,
> at the very least from the Thomas J Watson years apparently) of the
> subjugation of moral responsibility to commercial and 20th century right
> wing political imperatives.

I have to react to this screed with anger. You grossly paint IBM and,
by proximity, NAG with some sort of political mud. Corporations are made
up of people, of which I was one, and I am incensed that you would sling
such unfounded assertions at people I hold in the highest regard and
deepest respect. The people at NAG and IBM Research are among the best
I've ever worked with. If you want to argue politics please find another

Tim Daly

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