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gnulib's licensing

From: Reuben Thomas
Subject: gnulib's licensing
Date: Wed, 4 May 2011 00:08:13 +0100

I just found a reference to Diego Pettenò's article about gnulib:

Its summary section is quite interesting, because despite being
written six years ago, it still lists what I see as the main defects
of gnulib (licensing, dependency on autotools, source library).

Of those three defects, the third is now being addressed (at least,
for POSIX APIs, by libposix), and the second is not particularly
urgent (autotools has a much bigger reach than it had 6 years ago, and
has less competition; moreover, by using libposix one doesn't need to
use autotools in a dependent package, at least for POSIX APIs,
ignoring the rest of gnulib's goodness).

However, licensing is a problem. In particular, I'd love to use gnulib
in other projects on which I work, such as file (Christos Zoulas's
version, used widely in BSD and GNU), but it seems I can't, because
it's BSD-licensed.

I assume the licensing for gnulib arises from standard GNU policy; I
just wonder if the portability parts may be a case for an exception. I
imagine fondly being able not only to simplify and solidify file
(which is a bit of a dog's breakfast in the same way as much GNU code
was pre-gnulib), but also of the opportunities, in both directions,
for getting portability code out of programs such as OpenSSH and into

gnulib seems to have made a big difference wherever it's been used (it
certainly has to me), and yet only a fraction of its potential uses
have been tapped...and it seems to me that there's a huge opportunity
for the entire free software ecosystem here lying unexploited.


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