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Re: [fink-core] Running Octave from Fink?

From: David R. Morrison
Subject: Re: [fink-core] Running Octave from Fink?
Date: Thu, 8 Nov 2012 12:11:05 -0800

On Nov 7, 2012, at 6:24 AM, Jordi GutiƩrrez Hermoso wrote:

> I'm CCing current GNU president Richard Stallman. He might like to
> comment further on these issues.

> The distinction between the operating system and the libraries is made
> in the GPL. The GPL allows you to build, run, and distribute the
> software in a hostile operating system, but does not extend this
> permission to non-free libraries. Such proprietary glue sometimes
> falls under the system library exception, but this depends on the
> manner in which it's distributed (the precise GPLese is libraries that
> are "in the normal form of packaging a Major Component").
> So Fink is doing binary distribution for Octave, AIUI, but it's also
> linking to proprietary libraries that do not fall under the system
> library exception? I am not sure if this is the current situation, but
> I find it troubling.

Absolutely not.  Fink goes to great lengths to make sure that the software it 
builds does not accidentally
link to libraries which were not specified in the package description.  In 
particular, GPL-licensed software
built with Fink won't link to non-GPL-licensed software if the package 
description has been written correctly.
(We occasionally find erroneous package descriptions but we fix them quickly.)

Also, note that Fink does not currently do a binary distribution of anything, 
due to a lack of manpower and
appropriate automated tools to create a binary distribution we can vouch for. 

Fink downloads source code, and uses the Apple-supplied build tools to build 
and link that source code.  Every 
Fink user compiles their own software.

The issue for you, as I understand it, is that one has to make an additional 
download of the build tools, and
accept a license specific to them, beyond the non-free license one has already 
accepted as a user of OS X.
I don't know the difference between those licenses, but I'm not sure that it 
matters:  the totality of the host
system is non-free.

(Note one crucial feature here is that OS X does not come with a compiler of 
any kind by default.  At one time,
there were several alternative compilers that one could acquire, but these days 
I believe Apple's is the only one.)

I agree that it is not an ideal situation that the build tools themselves are 
not free.

  -- Dave

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