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From: Graham J Lee
Subject: Re: LLVM
Date: Fri, 29 Feb 2008 19:07:17 +0000

On 29 Feb 2008, at 15:51, Nicola Pero wrote:

I mean, IIRC we got our current Objective-C compiler from NeXT *because* of the GNU GPL. If GCC had had a license like the LLVM one, we might not even have a free Objective-C compiler
available! :-)

That's correct - see "Copyleft: Pragmatic Idealism" by RMS: http:// www.gnu.org/philosophy/pragmatic.html

I understand why Apple wants that kind of license - so that they get our improvements to the compiler, but we don't get theirs. They have no requirement to give anything back to us. :-(

GCC's license is much better for us - and much worse for Apple - if you contribute to GCC, Apple can take your improvements for free (ie, they use them in the compiler they ship on their computers), but then at least they have to give back *their* improvements for free, because of the GNU GPL (well, there might be work required to merge back the improvements into mainline GCC trunk, but you definitely get to see them, and you get a GPL license to use them). That seems fair to me ;-)

With the LLVM license, we might never see any of the Apple code/ improvements.

I agree with all of that - remembering of course we have little to no influence over what Apple do, so if they decide to go with a differently-licenced compiler/runtime we'll never see their improvements anyway, and they're the only people really driving new features into the language or runtime :-( Especially their new 64- bit runtime. Consider also:

* the NeXT and Apple64 runtimes aren't really ported to anywhere except NeXT and Apple platforms, so practically the advantages they offer aren't available except on those proprietary platforms; and * the GNU runtime isn't really compatible with the above two runtimes, so the new Apple features aren't readily available even by pasting them into the GNU runtime (and hence aren't available on other platforms by this route, either)

I'm not really going anywhere with this :-), just pointing out that practically the Free Software advantages of the NeXT/Apple ObjC runtime aren't providing any benefits to users on Free Software platforms at the moment.

From a technical standpoint, I'd love to see a free software alternative to GCC to compile Objective-C, but this is not a convincing alternative - the license seems designed to abuse contributors.

Given a finite amount of developer time, and the choice between yet another ObjC compiler or better ObjC support in GCC, I'd choose the latter :-).


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