[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

bug#57399: etiquette / GPL question

From: Terence Kelly
Subject: bug#57399: etiquette / GPL question
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2022 23:55:17 -0400 (EDT)
User-agent: Alpine 2.22 (DEB 394 2020-01-19)


I'm preparing a publication about a software tool (call it the "Munger"), and I would like to use GNU grep as an example of how the Munger can be used.

I'm writing to ask how to address the requirements of GPL in the context of my somewhat unusual undertaking. I want to obey the letter & spirit of the GPL and to avoid annoying the GNU grep maintainers. I also want to keep things as simple as possible and minimize fuss & rigmarole for my readers. There might be a tension between these goals.

In the absence of any legal or etiquette requirements whatsoever, the simplest thing I could do is:

(Plan Zero) Write a little shell script that (a) downloads the grep-3.7 tarball, (b) unpacks it, (c) applies a small patch to a single .c source file, which adds roughly ten new lines of code, (d) builds the grep executable by calling ./configure, make, and make check, (e) applies my stand-alone general-purpose Munger tool to the grep executable, and (f) runs the resulting "munged" executable to show how my Munger tool changes the behavior of grep.

I'm happy to apply GPL to the script described above. My reading of GPL is that a stand-alone general-purpose tool like my Munger need not be GPL'd merely because it touches the grep executable. (I might apply a GNU license such as Affero to the Munger tool anyway; I haven't decided yet.)

I'd also be happy to arrange for the patch applied in step (c) above to insert a notice that the affected .c source file has been modified.

I'd like to avoid having to distribute a large volume of material, e.g., a tarball that is nearly identical to the official grep-3.7 tarball. The Plan Zero approach sketched above --- a small script that applies a small patch --- achieves this goal.

I'd also like to minimize the changes to the official grep distribution. If you insist, my script could patch several files (such as README, AUTHORS, INSTALL, etc.) to insert notices that one file of the original source has been modified. This seems like overkill to me, and it feels like a tail wagging a dog. Again, the only change I'm making is adding roughly ten lines of code to a single source file.

I don't want to require my readers to use git or its hub, for three reasons: Lately FSF has been discouraging Free Software developers from using GitHub, I don't like git, and a substantial fraction of my readers don't like and/or can't use git.

Please let me know how I might accomplish my purpose without offending you. And thanks for writing and maintaining GNU grep, which I have used every working day of my life for the past thirty years.

Thank you.

-- Terence Kelly

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]