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Re: GPL and statically linking with non-GPL standard C library

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GPL and statically linking with non-GPL standard C library
Date: 26 May 2004 19:37:25 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3.50

Barry Margolin <> writes:

> In article <x57juz1584.fsf@lola.goethe.zz>, David Kastrup <> 
> wrote:
> > The GPL does not force you to create portable code: it is
> > certainly allowed to create derivatives that will only be
> > recompilable with a proprietary compiler.  If that compiler always
> > comes with system libraries, I don't see how the GPL can enforce
> > that they be free: they are part of the build system.
> > 
> > If the GPL could prohibit that, the GNU project could never have
> > been legally distributed while there were no free systems
> > available yet for bootstrapping them.
> At the time the GNU project started, all Unix systems came with a C
> compiler and libraries.

No.  This is simply false.  Development kits cost extra.  Apart from
that, GNU programs have been compilable on a lot of non-UNIX systems
as well.

There is a reason that GPL 3 will probably come without the operating
system exception: it is a loophole big enough to drive a truck
through.  But it was a necessary loophole at a time where you were
basically forced to make your GNU program
cooperate/build/bootstrap/link only within a proprietary environment.
And since GPL 2 had to cater for such environments, there is nothing
that can keep you stripping down or extending a GPLed program where it
will again only work within the confines of such an environment.

But if you remove this exception, GPL programs may no longer get
ported to Windows for example using ming32: it requires linking with
proprietary Windows DLLs after all.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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