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Re: Recommendation for a CL data structures library

From: Raffael Cavallaro
Subject: Re: Recommendation for a CL data structures library
Date: Tue, 04 May 2010 16:11:02 -0000
User-agent: Unison/2.0.5

On 2010-03-25 09:59:52 -0400, Tamas K Papp said:

I disagree -- I don't think that the FSF considers the GPL a "poor
fit" for libraries.  Quite the opposite (see [1]).  They just
recognized that in certain situations, some people would prefer
something like the LGPL, and I guess that they wanted to give them the
choice.  But the GPL is still the option they recommend, even for


I don't put much stock in such rationalizations. IOW, having released the Library GPL, they realized that it was in many ways superior to the GPL from both the user and the open source perspective. They've been backpedaling ever since, and the frankly silly renaming of the Library GPL to the Lesser GPL is a clear sign of this ongoing attempt at damage control.

I.e., when I say they recognize that the GPL is a poor fit for libraries, I'm saying that their actions (release of the LGPL and subsequent renaming) speak louder and more convincingly than their words (the link you provide).

Regarding the broader issue (of how people license their libraries): I
think this is an optimization problem where people have heterogeneous
objective functions, and thus trying to convince people to pick
another license is not always a worthwhile.

It is possible that someone using a GPL/LGPL/LLGPL/BSD/MIT/... license
is perfectly aware of the advantages and disadvantages, it is just that
they decided to make a different choice.  In which case, threads like these
are unlikely to be fruitful.

I don't think their objective functions differ much from mine. I think they don't appreciate how the license plays out in the real world. Those who support the GPL for libraries think that by doing so they maximize the promotion of open source. I contend that the LGPL or Apache or APSL license lead to greater amounts of open source because a GPL library excludes one of the largest pools of possible contributors - professional developers who work on closed source projects. These potential contributors will instead either

1. reinvent that particular wheel in a closed source fashion (loss to free software) 2. use a library with a license that doesn't require any publication such as the bsd, or mit. (possible loss to free software) 3. use a library with a license that requires publication only of covered code such as the LGPL, APSL, Apache, etc. Only this last case inevitably results in more open source.

So by releasing a library under the GPL one provides as many ways for open source to lose as to win. Choosing the winning path in the first place by releasing the library under the LGPL/LLGPL/Apache etc. license leads to the biggest gains for open source. Again, the recognition of this reality is what led to the Library GPL in the first place. So people who support the GPL for libraries are unwittingly advocating for freedom in a way that actually results in less open source.

Even if I don't convince my correspondents here, I do hope that some of those reading this thread will develop a more nuanced view of open source licenses. I've said what I have to say, so (undoubtedly much to your relief), I'll stop.

warmest regards,

Raffael Cavallaro

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