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Re: LGPL vs. GPL

From: JohnF
Subject: Re: LGPL vs. GPL
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2008 16:33:48 +0000 (UTC)
User-agent: tin/1.8.3-20070201 ("Scotasay") (UNIX) (NetBSD/4.0 (i386))

JohnF <> wrote:
> Ciaran O'Riordan <> wrote:
>> Encouraging contributions isn't usually a motivation to switch to LGPL.
>> Writers of proprietary software will generally keep the most useful
>> functionality in their application code (rather than in your library)
>> and will contribute as little as possible.
>> A permissive licence (such as the LGPL) can be good if you want your
>> application to define an open standard.  <<snip>>
>> The LGPL can also be good if you think that your field will naturally be
>> dominated by a single software package and you think you might loose a
>> head-to-head competition with some proprietary rival.  <<snip>>
>> So unless you find yourself in either of those rare situations, then it's
>> probably best to stay with the GPL.
>> You've probably read this, but just in case:
>> Hope that helps.
> Thanks, Ciaran, for the discussion and very useful information.
> It indeed helps, and pretty much coincides with (and clarifies)
> my original thinking -- not much reason (for me) to use the lgpl.
> I hadn't seen why-not-lgpl.html before, but have read it now.
> And I've replied to the email lgpl request, informing him
> that mimetex will remain gpl'ed.

Thanks again, Ciaran, and everyone else.  I'm now in a more
ambiguous situation where someone else (see email below) wants to
distribute a compiled/binary image of my program along with his
free-but-not-open-source program.  My only concern is that he
not make a profit without also making some sort of commensurate
contribution to the open source community.  Here's the email
I need to reply to (hoping the breach of netiquette is
mitigated by the public purpose)...

"I am developing PocketCAS, a free Computer Algebra System for Windows
Mobile devices. For this purpose, I have compiled MimeTeX for Windows
Mobile, using cegcc ( PocketCAS uses the output
of xcas ( and
then sends it to MimeTeX to get beautiful TeX graphics. I would like
to distribute the precompiled MimeTeX executable alongside PocketCAS
with a combined installer. PocketCAS will be free of charge for
non-commercial use, but I won't release my source code under the GPL.
     "I hereby ask for your permission to distribute MimeTeX in the way
specified and I would like to ask you under which version of the GPL
MimeTeX is released, so that I can provide the correct version of the
GPL alongside MimeTeX.  Best Regards
Daniel Alm <>

I'm inclined to say, "Go ahead and distribute a binary image of mimetex
along with your PocketCAS."  Is there any open-source-related reason 
(or any other reason) I shouldn't say that?  Should I maybe instead
say something like, "Permission is granted to distribute mimetex with
free versions of PocketCAS, but not with commercial versions."?
I couldn't google any info about pocketcas or about this daniel alm
(there's an artist with the same name).  What kind of issues are
involved in these kinds of situations?  Do people more often say "yes"
or "no", or is it too complicated for a standard reply?  Thanks,
John Forkosh  ( mailto:  where j=john and f=forkosh )

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