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[P]
KDE is Free

By PresJPolk in Culture
Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 05:52:33 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

Günter Bechly has made an offer to the KDE Project: Change your licenses such that KDE will be included in Debian GNU/Linux, and I'll give you $3000.

The KDE project aims to provide a flexible graphical desktop environment for X11/Unix systems. It made quick early progress, thanks in part to using the Qt Library, written by TrollTech, a company in Norway that pays its bills in part by selling commerical licenses of the Qt library.

The developers of the Debian distribution believe that it is illegal for them to include KDE in their system, because they say that the Q Public license (QPL), under which Qt is distributed, and the General Public License (GPL), under which many parts of KDE are distributed, are incompatibile.

I will argue here that if Debian truly wanted to include betas of KDE version 2, and later the final releases, in its distribution, it could already do so, without violating the Debian Social Contract, and without the need for KDE to change any licenses.


The first thing Debian would need to do, is to include a package for Qt 2.1 for users. Qt 2 is free software, thanks to the QPL meeting the definition of a free software license. Including both source and binaries of Qt would not violate the principles of the Debian project.

Once Qt becomes included in the Debian system, as a separate package, the GPL is no longer forbids including a binary package of KDE. I will go through the GPL section by section to "prove" it.

Section 1 of the GPL grants permission to redistribute verbatim copies of the source of KDE applications. Section 1 is very liberal, and I have heard no objections to KDE and Qt that derive from it.

Section 2 grants permission to distribute modified copies of the source of KDE applications. KDE would not need to be modified to work with Debian, since it uses systems like autoconf, automake, and libtool to ensure compatiblity across platforms.

Should, however, Debian need to make a change, Section 2 still grants the needed permission. KDE's dependence on Qt headers does not matter. Section 2 gives three conditions for distribution of modified versions, and then states immediately below:

These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works. But when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it.

Qt is clearly a work that is identifiably separate from KDE. It Qt and KDE are distributed as separate packages, then that classifies them as "separate works." Therefore, the requirements in section 2 do not apply to Qt, if KDE were to be modified. There would be no conflicts.

Section 3 grants permission to distribute compiled versions of the KDE applications. Debian argues that since KDE links in Qt, KDE is illegal to distribute in binary form, since Section 3, part b would be violated:

b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

Qt's source cannot be distributed according to the terms of Sections 1 and 2, since the QPL does not grant all the freedoms of Section 2. However, this is not the first time that a GPL application has been linked to a non-free library. Consider all the times that GPL apps have been linked to non-free C libraries, often used on non-free operating systems. The GPL takes these situations into account, in section 3:

The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable. However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable.

If the latest versions of Red Hat, SuSE, Slackware, Caldera, Corel, and Mandrake all include Qt, then I would assert that the overwhelming majority of Linux systems are being distributed with Qt. And, if Debian decided to include Qt, then that would mean that probably over 95% of copies of Linux shipped with Qt. How can that not qualify as being "normally distributed... with the major components... of the operating system"?

Sections 4 and 5 seem to be the only parts of the GPL, as applied to KDE, that the Debian developers want to exercise. These sections state the conditions under which the software may not be redistributed, and that one is not obliged to accept the rights the license does grant.

Sections 6 and 7 are complicated, and irrelevant to this discussion.

Section 8 could apply to KDE, should KDE wish it:

8. If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the original copyright holder who places the Program under this License may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding those countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among countries not thus excluded. In such case, this License incorporates the limitation as if written in the body of this License.

However, it is the opinion of some KDE developers (I dare not claim to speak for all KDE developers; that would be silly and untrue) that the distribution of KDE is not restricted by the use of the Qt programming interface, since Qt is free software. Therefore, no restrictions have been added. Debian can't be bound by a restriction that hasn't been added.

Section 9 states that revisions of the GPL, with new version numbers, may be released.

Section 10 is what is being exercised by Günter Bechly. Section 10 tells one to ask the copyright holder, if one wishes to distribute the software under a different license.

And, finally, Sections 11 and 12 disavow any warranty on the software.

So, I am forced to conclude that the 12 sections of the GPL do grant Debian permission to distribute both source and binary packages of KDE.

I now submit this to the kuro5hin.org community, and the free software community at large, because I feel that the KDE side of this dispute is often overlooked.

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Display: Sort:
KDE is Free | 48 comments (48 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
I thought that the problem the Debi... (none / 0) (#7)
by inspire on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 06:45:20 AM EST

inspire voted 1 on this story.

I thought that the problem the Debian people had with the QPL was that it was not compliant with the Debian free software guidelines - Debian have a specific definition of what they consider to be free software, that doesnt necessarily mean the GNU definition.
--
What is the helix?

Re: I thought that the problem the Debi... (none / 0) (#19)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 07:30:22 PM EST

The QPL does qualify under the Debian Social Contract guidelines.

[ Parent ]
We're talking about one gnu/linux d... (none / 0) (#8)
by Coram on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 07:01:34 AM EST

Coram voted -1 on this story.

We're talking about one gnu/linux distribution's reliance on one library to support one desktop environment, and the debian project's reluctance to include them. Isn't this an argument to be taken to the developers?

--
judo ergo sum

I run blackbox myself, and KDE is s... (none / 0) (#5)
by pwhysall on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 07:22:47 AM EST

pwhysall voted 0 on this story.

I run blackbox myself, and KDE is something that happens Somewhere Else as far as I'm concerned...
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown

actually the first time i enjoyed r... (none / 0) (#13)
by new500 on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 07:56:23 AM EST

new500 voted 1 on this story.

actually the first time i enjoyed reading about a windowing environment in respect to its licensing, even though some was familiar. very nicely written and coherent.
== Idle Random Thoughts. Usual disclaimers apply. ==

Your points are basically moot. KDE... (1.00 / 1) (#4)
by alisdair on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:07:00 AM EST

alisdair voted 0 on this story.

Your points are basically moot. KDE 2.0 is not released yet, so it would be somewhat pointless to include it in Debian anyway. And qt2 is in the distribution:

[alisdair@squat ~] $ apt-cache show libqt2
Package: libqt2
Version: 1:2.0.2-1.1
Priority: optional
Section: libs
And I'm sure the licences do conflict. And a lot of people have gone over this ground before.

Re: Your points are basically moot. KDE... (none / 0) (#16)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 07:10:08 PM EST

And I'm sure the licences do conflict. And a lot of people have gone over this ground before.

It's for exactly that attitude, that I wrote this piece for kuro5hin. I'm tired of people assuming that whatever the Debian people say about licenses, is correct.

Having a good attiude about free software does not make one an expert on license conflict. In fact, I think the Debian hardliners are biased toward seeing conflicts that don't exist, since they would rather see more GNU licences used (hence the GNU in their product's name.



[ Parent ]
Re: Your points are basically moot. KDE... (none / 0) (#24)
by fluffy grue on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:37:40 PM EST

Debian isn't a product, it's a distribution. Debian is specifically (for all intents and purposes) the FSF's distribution, and hence they would use the FSF's name of the OS, namely GNU/Linux, for the name of the OS. Just like how they're working on Debian GNU/FreeBSD, since it's the GNU tools with the FreeBSD kernel (the same reason it's GNU/Linux, it being the GNU tools with the Linux kernel).

Red Hat is a product. Mandrake is (now) a product. Debian isn't a product. It has no marketing budget. It's all volunteer-run. All of the server space is donated. Debian isn't a product, at least not in the same sense that Red Hat and Mandrake and even Slackware are.

Furthermore, the Debian people DON'T exclude KDE unjustly due to licensing issues. They're waiting for KDE 2.0 to come out, as KDE 2.0 is based on Qt 2.x, which is DFSG-compatible Free, and is, in fact, currently in Debian, and by waiting for KDE 2.0, that means a shitload less work for them to keep on remaking and breaking package hierarchies (which always leads to hundreds of useless bug reports from people who can't be bothered to be patient and read the existing bug reports). In any case, It's not that hard to do a search on Qt on Debian's package list. They do not include KDE 1.x because it uses Qt 1.x, which is definitely NOT free, and they don't seem too happy about maintaining the non-free directory or dealing with potential troubles due to closed licenses. The Debian maintainers also seem to be pretty begrudging when it comes to having to maintain the non-free section, since really it doesn't help to further Debian's goals, now, does it.

</rant>
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Wait... (none / 0) (#29)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 10:18:00 PM EST

So Debian *is* going to include KDE 2? If that's the case, then I don't see what the hubbub is about at all... I was under the impression that Debian's complaints about QPL vs GPL applied to KDE 2/Qt 2 as much as they did KDE 1/Qt 1.

[ Parent ]
Re: Wait... (none / 0) (#35)
by fluffy grue on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 11:46:00 PM EST

Uh, no. I'd never heard anything about any shutting-out of KDE 2. In fact, the impression I got was that the Debian maintainers were *welcoming* KDE 2, and in fact looking *forward* to it. It's been a while since I've been on Slashdot, though, but last I heard on there was what I just said - that they were *excited* for it. I mean, there's no possible license conflict... KDE 2 is LGPL, Qt 2 is LGPL-like (again, Qt 2 is *in* Debian now), neither one is viral, everyone's happy.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Re: Wait... (none / 0) (#37)
by PresJPolk on Sun Jun 11, 2000 at 02:04:06 AM EST

KDE 2 is LGPL

Well.. that's the trick. :-) The only KDE package that has a mandated license is kdelib, to my knowledge, and that is the LGPL. Perusing the kdenetwork package shows how diverse the KDE project licensing is:

  • Caitoo: GPL
  • Columbo: LGPL
  • KArchie: GPL
  • KBiff: I can't find a license mentioned
  • Keystone: oops... this seems to staticly link QPL and GPL code (since Qt has omitted some network classes in Qt 2.1, for some reason). I'd better write the author.
  • KFinger: GPL
  • KMail: GPL
  • KNode: GPL
  • Knu: GPL
  • Korn: I can't find a license mentioned
  • KPPP: LGPL
  • KSirc: Artistic
  • KTallkd: some LGPL, some BSD

In addition, my little project, Kit, will be going in to kdenetwork, which offers two licenses: LGPL because it's my preferred license, and GPL because I choose to share with GPL users. I'd do BSD, but that would leave open the option for AOL to swipe my stuff, slap on advertising code, close up the servers, and leave me with nothing.



[ Parent ]
Re: Wait... (none / 0) (#40)
by fluffy grue on Sun Jun 11, 2000 at 03:37:04 PM EST

Well, okay, what I meant was that the core of KDE (namely libkde) is LGPL. What's the legality of all those other applications if they're GPL and linked against Qt 1, though? Or does the QPL permit that? I forget the terms of QPL 1.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Re: Wait... (none / 0) (#42)
by AArthur on Sun Jun 11, 2000 at 07:12:20 PM EST

Couldn't the Debian project just omit those QPL incompatible titles, that use the GPL or other incompatible license?

Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264
[ Parent ]

Re: Your points are basically moot. KDE... (none / 0) (#27)
by Carl on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:57:15 PM EST

In fact, I think the Debian hardliners are biased toward seeing conflicts that don't exist, since they would rather see more GNU licences used (hence the GNU in their product's name.
I think that most Debian people don't really care about what free software license is used as long as it follows the Debian Free Software Guidelines (the basis for the Open Source Definition). But that they don't like it when someone says that they use the GPL but make special exceptions to the GPL without saying so.

They are basicly saying that if you use the GPL for your program then you have to accept the consequences. And one of the consequences is that you cannot use code in your program that is not licensed under a GPL compatible license. Since QT is (IMHO and Debians and GNUs) not licensed in a way that is compatible with the GPL you should either not use the GPL for your program or add a special exception to the GPL to make a derived work that uses such code.

If they didn't follow such a 'hard-line' approach they would tolerate that the GPL would be used in a way that was not the intention of the original GPL. If they tolerated that then the next step would be that someone says that his program does indeed depend on a non-free piece of code that they don't want to share, but they can still use GPL code since KDE applications are also distributed under the GPL and those applications are also derived from code that is not GPL compatible. They just want to make sure the GPL will stay 'pure' so that people that really care about the spirit of the GPL have a better change of defending their source code.

[ Parent ]

Re: Your points are basically moot. KDE... (none / 0) (#30)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 10:23:20 PM EST

And one of the consequences is that you cannot use code in your program that is not licensed under a GPL compatible license. Since QT is (IMHO and Debians and GNUs) not licensed in a way that is compatible with the GPL you should either not use the GPL for your program or add a special exception to the GPL to make a derived work that uses such code.

Yes, but Qt code is *not* part of the GPL code. It is dynamically linked, at RUN TIME, into the GPL address space. This happens at the user's command, far far after Debian makes and ships the package.

I know that the FSF keeps saying that dynamic linking and static linking are the same, but I don't see how that's possible. Everyone knows the two are not the same; one of the big benefits of dynamic linking is that the size of the executible is smaller, since the library code is not included!

f they didn't follow such a 'hard-line' approach they would tolerate that the GPL would be used in a way that was not the intention of the original GPL.

A license is a contract. The words in the contract are enforceable, whether they allow unintended uses or not.



[ Parent ]
Re: Your points are basically moot. KDE... (none / 0) (#20)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 08:22:45 PM EST

KDE 2 requires QT 2.1, Debian includes 2.0.2.

[ Parent ]
Nice clear exposition of the side o... (none / 0) (#11)
by decomyn on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 10:02:24 AM EST

decomyn voted 1 on this story.

Nice clear exposition of the side of the controversey not often stated. I haven't really paid that mutch attention to the question, will start me thinking about it. From that standpoint, the author should consider it a successful article.

Ah, they Joy Of Licenses! It's goo... (none / 0) (#9)
by Arkady on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 12:37:35 PM EST

Arkady voted 1 on this story.

Ah, they Joy Of Licenses! It's good to see someone try to find the common philosophy in all thises different "free" licenses.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


Slightly better writeup than the or... (none / 0) (#2)
by Demona on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 01:22:00 PM EST

Demona voted 1 on this story.

Slightly better writeup than the originals I saw on other news sites. Good topic for discussion given the controversy over Debian possibly removing non-free.

+1 because of the discussability, e... (none / 0) (#3)
by fluffy grue on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 01:55:58 PM EST

fluffy grue voted 1 on this story.

+1 because of the discussability, even though I disagree with his premise. Why? Well, KDE 2.0 already WILL be, since it'll be based on Qt 2.0, which isn't just Debian-compatible, it's *in* Debian.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]

  No, I came to K5 to get... (none / 0) (#14)
by Denor on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 02:29:11 PM EST

Denor voted -1 on this story.

  No, I came to K5 to get /away/ from the flamewars!

-Denor


Yes, I like some debate on KDE is f... (none / 0) (#12)
by Peureux et anonyme on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 02:48:48 PM EST

Peureux et anonyme voted 1 on this story.

Yes, I like some debate on KDE is free but QT is not. What bugs me with Qt is that if I want to use KDE under let' s said HPUX, I can't port by myself QT. Same stuff, if I want to port KDE to NT, I can't because QT for NT is not "free as in free speech" software, QT is just "open source" under Linux and even I can't patch by myself, I'll have to have approved by Troll Tech. I don't say it's a "bad thing" than one central authority supervises QT, i just say that I feel "less free to do whatever I want with it". And I know, if I'm not happy, I can work on Harmony. Or even use Gnome or whatever else replace the current KDE program I'm using.

This article won't reach the target... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by sakti on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 03:09:04 PM EST

sakti voted -1 on this story.

This article won't reach the target audience of debian developers as they have hashed and rehashed every point discussed here (see the debian mailing lists for more). It will just cause yet another rehashing of the debate (which is pointless IMO). 2 other points: 1. Debian does include QT 2.x (2.0.2 at the moment). 2. Section 3 of the GPL has always been interpreted as meaning *nix, not just Linux.

Re: This article won't reach the target... (none / 0) (#17)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 07:27:43 PM EST

My target audience is not the Debian developers. Enough of them already have their minds made up.

My audience is the community at large. So many people only hear one side of the debate, since so many people just assume that the Debian people are the "good guys," and that the corporate Trolls are the "bad guys."

And, yes, I do make the point that Qt is a standard part of Linux, not all of Unix.. but remember that we're talking about Debian GNU/Linux, not Debian GNU/Hurd!

[ Parent ]
KDE 2.0 uses QT2.x which meets the ... (2.00 / 1) (#1)
by Inoshiro on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 04:04:49 PM EST

Inoshiro voted -1 on this story.

KDE 2.0 uses QT2.x which meets the requirements of the Debian Free Software Licence spec. LGPL licences on KDE allow it to be linked with QT. Where's the problem?

--
[ イノシロ ]

Re: KDE 2.0 uses QT2.x which meets the ... (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by Carl on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:37:30 PM EST

The problem is not with programs or libraries that are distributed under a license that allows linking with the now free version of QT, but with programs that are distributed under the plain GPL without the special exception to link with QT.

If that exception is added to those KDE programs that still use the plain GPL all problems would be solved and Debian would happily distribute those programs.

[ Parent ]
Re: KDE 2.0 uses QT2.x which meets the ... (none / 0) (#41)
by AArthur on Sun Jun 11, 2000 at 06:59:53 PM EST

This may sound like a silly question, but is it legal for a GPL'd app to link to a LGPL library, without special permission? This would seem to be the same case with a GPL program being linked to a QPL library.

AFAIK, this still remains pretty much an unknown, the GPL 2.0 doesn't clearly state if I can or not -- or does it -- am I missing sometihng?

Andrew B. Arthur | aarthur@imaclinux.net | http://hvcc.edu/~aa310264
[ Parent ]

Re: KDE 2.0 uses QT2.x which meets the ... (none / 0) (#44)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 03:45:01 AM EST

You seem to be under mistaken belief that QPL is more free than GPL which it is not. GPL does allow linking with code under different licenses _if that license grants all the rights GPL does (or more)_ . Examples of such licenses would be LGPL, XFree License, BSD license without advertising clause. QPL is more restrictive than GPL therefor you can't link GPLed code with it, examples of more restrictive licenses would be QPL, original BSD license with advertising clause, Suns 'community license'.

[ Parent ]
Paying someone to be ethical, that'... (none / 0) (#10)
by _cbj on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 05:28:53 PM EST

_cbj voted 0 on this story.

Paying someone to be ethical, that'll work.

Ok, but if it doesn't comply with t... (4.00 / 1) (#6)
by Neuromancer on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 05:36:58 PM EST

Neuromancer voted 1 on this story.

Ok, but if it doesn't comply with the license... why not just put it in the not free directory

Re: Ok, but if it doesn't comply with t... (none / 0) (#18)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 07:28:39 PM EST

The non-free section of Debian is technically not a part of Debian.

[ Parent ]
Re: Ok, but if it doesn't comply with t... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by Carl on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:34:11 PM EST

I think the Debian people feel that if they shipped KDE binaries they would be also guilty of ignoring the (subtle) GPL violations.

And a strict interpretation of the licenses involved would indicate that all distribution would not be legal.

[ Parent ]
But QT is not a separate works or system component (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by Carl on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:29:04 PM EST

I think there are two flaws in the reasoning.

The complete seperate work section describes completely seperate programs not libraries or source code that are a essential part of the resulting program. And the system component section was used in the early days of free software to denote system libraries shiped with a system which couldn't be seperated. QT can easily be seperated from a distribution. This is also a loophole in the GPL that will hopefully disappear in the future, since it is no longer needed. (Also note the last part - unless that component itself accompanies the executable - which applies to KDE distributed with QT.)

The only thing the Debian people ask is to clarify that KDE depends on the QT toolkit to run and that the KDE developers give explicit permission to link their source code with the QT toolkit to form a derived binary that may be freely distributed under the GPL with that single exception.

Re: But QT is not a separate works or system compo (none / 0) (#25)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:43:53 PM EST

And the system component section was used in the early days of free software to denote system libraries shiped with a system which couldn't be seperated.

It's not the intent that matters; it's the actual words. The license is a contract, and the words are enforceable.

This is also a loophole in the GPL that will hopefully disappear in the future, since it is no longer needed.

One one hand, you say that this is a flaw in my reasoning. On the other, you say that this is a loophole in the GPL. Why don't you just come out and say that I'm right, and you just don't like it. :-)

(Also note the last part - unless that component itself accompanies the executable - which applies to KDE distributed with QT.)

KDE isn't shipped with Qt. When a package of KDE and a package of Qt are stored in the same archive, or on the same CD, that's a case of "mere aggregation," in my view. They're separate packages, separate tarballs, separate installations.. whatever you want to call it.



[ Parent ]
Re: But QT is not a separate works or system compo (none / 0) (#31)
by Carl on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 10:23:31 PM EST

It's not the intent that matters; it's the actual words. The license is a contract, and the words are enforceable.
I think this is where we (and possibly the Debian people) disagree. You are right that only the actual words of the license are legally binding. But I think we should not ignore the intent. I think the intent is the most important thing about free software (and the GPL in particular).

And the intent of the GPL is that you should only use GPL code in combination with code that is also licensed under conditions that are as free as the GPL. QT does add aditional restrictions and KDE depends on QT. You can follow the precise letter of the GPL and find what you think is a loophole (and I don't agree that you found one) to make a program that is distributed under the GPL but is also derived from QT but that doesn't mean that you also found a loophole in the intent of the GPL.

The problem of course is that the intent of the KDE people was also to make more free software. But they thought that it would be a great idea if they just used the GPL but still derived from code that is not distributed under a license compatible with the GPL. The big question now is do we agree that we can tolerate this little violation of the GPL and possibly endanger the interpretation of the GPL in court and create a precedent which says that it is OK to make a derived work from both GPLed code and code that adds some additional restrictions to the users freedom, or do we nicely ask the developers of such a program to make clear that the intent indeed is to distribute the program under the GPL, but that the program depends on a library that has some extra restrictions so there is a special exception added to only that program and not any other GPL program to link with that particular libary.

The Debian people have decided that the best thing to do is to ask for the special permission for the KDE programs (that do not yet have such an exception). And I personally think that is the best choice.

[ Parent ]

Re: But QT is not a separate works or system compo (none / 0) (#33)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 10:37:31 PM EST

Whew.. my attempt at humor could have been taken very harshly. I'm glad to see a nice response. :-)

I think this is where we (and possibly the Debian people) disagree. You are right that only the actual words of the license are legally binding. But I think we should not ignore the intent. I think the intent is the most important thing about free software (and the GPL in particular).

Good answer. I have respect for someone (including the Debian project) for writing a set of principles, and standing up for them.

I have had the impression all along that certain members of the Debian project are objecting to KDE for "moral" reasons, rather than technical grounds. It's as I said in the writeup: the Debian developers could include KDE if they wanted to, but they don't want to.

If the Debian project considers the sanctity of their view of the GPL and freedom, as more important than getting a quality open source environment like KDE into their distribution, then that's their choice. But, I don't think the KDE project should bend to their will.



[ Parent ]
Re: But QT is not a separate works or system compo (none / 0) (#32)
by Carl on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 10:36:47 PM EST

One one hand, you say that this is a flaw in my reasoning. On the other, you say that this is a loophole in the GPL. Why don't you just come out and say that I'm right, and you just don't like it. :-)
You are not right and if you were I would not like it :)

What I meant was that it was a loophole for system libraries which is no longer needed since we have all the system libraries we want as free software these days. And this loophole in the GPL cannot be used to 'solve' the KDE/QT/GPL problem since QT cannot be seen as a system library since it is not core system component that cannot be seperated from the operating system.

But this also shows where I basicly disagree with you. You try to find a loophole in the letter of the GPL which would allow to distribute programs which are licensed under the GPL but depend on code that has aditional restrictions. I don't like it if someone tries to circumvent the intent of the GPL (wether they succeed or not).

[ Parent ]

Re: But QT is not a separate works or system compo (none / 0) (#34)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 10:44:01 PM EST

So, is there, or is there not, a "loophole" in the GPL that allows GPL code that depends on non-GPL dynamic libraries, to be distributed?

What is your opinion of the QPL? It meets the DFSG. I don't see how the spirit of the GPL is violated by that.

In the case of Debian, it's a case of being biased in favor of GTK (and thus GNOME), against Qt (and thus KDE).

What is it you have against Qt?

[ Parent ]
Re: But QT is not a separate works or system compo (none / 0) (#26)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 09:49:06 PM EST

Oh, yes, and I forgot one thing: The nature of shared libraries allows for Qt to be replaced with a binary compatible substitute, without changing the KDE binaries. It wouldn't be an easy task to write a binary compatible Qt 2.1 substitute, but it could be done. That, to me, is the proof that KDE only depends on the Qt *interface*, not on the Qt *code*. It's as if I wrote a program that forked, and exec'd gcc. I'm only using a standard way of calling code in another binary file; I'm not including the actual code in my program.

[ Parent ]
Re: But QT is not a separate works or system compo (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by FlinkDelDinky on Sun Jun 11, 2000 at 01:54:28 AM EST

The nature of shared libraries allows for Qt to be replaced with a binary compatible substitute, without changing the KDE binaries

This is what Harmony is supposed to do right? Is Harmony still alive?

Can't Troll cause legal problems for the Harmony guys?

As to the debate in regards to KDE's inclusion into Debian, I support Debian. The KDE guys have done a great job (I assume, I use Gnome) but they've got a minor, but real, licensing conflict. They should switch from GPL to QPL or otherwise solve their license conflict.

This is not Debians fault. Those distros that ignore these conflicts could be weakening the GPL.

It's funny, Redhat, Mandrake, Caldera, Suse, Corel, Stormix, etc. all have KDE. Everybody seems to be on Debians back because they've actually got some balls to go along with their mission statement.

If you don't like it get Corel or Stormix (if you want .deb packages instead of .rpm's). Your basically upset with Debian because they've got a standard that you can't meet. And it's that standard that defines Debian. And the reason I use and donate to Debian is that standard.

I've got no problem with you using Corel or Stormix because you prefer their standard.

[ Parent ]

Wrong (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by pretzelgod on Sat Jun 10, 2000 at 10:03:41 PM EST

You misunderstand the problem. Linking a program to a shared library
means it is a derived work. This is why it was necessary to create the
LGPL; otherwise, non-free software could not be linked against free
libraries such as glibc.

Since KDE is linked against Qt, it is a derived work of Qt. Qt is
released under the QPL, which, although it is DFSG-free, is more
restrictive than the GPL. They try to license KDE under the GPL, but it
grants freedoms that cannot be granted because KDE is derived from Qt.

Because of this contradiction, it simply isn't legal to distribute KDE.
Some have suggested that KDE be released under the QPL to solve this
problem. This would be difficult because some parts of KDE were not
written by the KDE people. Permission would have to be gotten from
all these original authors to change the license. The real solution is
for Trolltech to release Qt under the LGPL.

It's ironic that some people call the GNOME people "free software nuts",
when in fact GNOME is more friendly to businesses. If you want to
develop a closed-source, proprietary application with KDE, you must buy
a license from Trolltech. If you want to do the same but using GNOME, it
costs you nothing.

-- 
Ever heard of the School of the Americas?


Wrong^2 (none / 0) (#45)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 12:30:18 PM EST

The argument that KDE is derived work or Qt is all well and good (though it should be pointed our that noone is entirely sure what a derived work is - RMS' opinion on the matter notwithstanding). It would be an utterly devastating argument against distributing any copy of KDE linked against Qt, if the QPL said anything about derived works, but it *doesn't*.

The QPL talks about "modifications" to Qt, and says that these should be distributed as patches. It says *nothing* about derived works. While KDE is quite possibly a derived work of Qt it is emphatically not a "modification" to it.

Suggest you read the license before expressing an opinion.

[ Parent ]
The real problem... (1.00 / 1) (#38)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jun 11, 2000 at 05:57:29 AM EST

"not invented here" regarding KDE

Problem with your analysis (point 3) (none / 0) (#39)
by lordsutch on Sun Jun 11, 2000 at 05:58:35 AM EST

Your analysis misses the last sentence of paragraph 3 of the GPL:

"unless that component itself accompanies the executable."

If Debian included BOTH KDE and Qt, Qt would accompany KDE. So the special exception does not apply.

Linux CDs. Schuyler Fisk can sell me long distance anytime.

Letter vs. Intent (1.00 / 1) (#43)
by mblevin on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 01:21:47 AM EST

You bring up many well-thought arguments which may (or may not) constitute a technical loophole in the wording of the GPL allowing the distribution of binaries that are licensed under the GPL, but depend on the QT2.x libraries to run (such as most of programs in KDE). IANAL, so I will plead ignorance to the correctness of your arguments.

However, I believe that most of the debian developers are motivated by the intent of the software authors (as indicated by their choice of license) instead of the actual letter of the license itself. If we found a loophole in the microsoft EULA for MSOffice that allowed us to redistribute it freely on debian servers, this loophole would not be taken advantage of... and for more reasons than the simple fear of legal entanglements. Respect for the intents of the copyright holders would be one of those reasons.

According to the DFSG, the QPL2.x (under which the qt libraries are licensed) is free software. That is not disputed (at least by me). Also, the authors of the various KDE applications, which they released under the GPL, obviously intended that said apps were allowed to link with the QT libraries... so what is the problem?

The problem is related to the upstream authors who created the various non-QT-dependant apps and code that were drawn upon in the creation of KDE. It is not obvious that the intents of these authors were amicable to linking with libraries licensed under QPL-type licenses. In fact, there is good reason to believe that the reverse is true (due to the GPL forbidding linkage with such vendor-biased libraries (at least in the common interpretation)). (pardon the lispy-looking grammer) :-)

If debian is to respect the intents of the above-mentioned upstream authors, it must not distribute binaries of KDE applications which include GPL'd source code not specifically written for QT/KDE or exempted from the QT linking restrictions stipulated by the common interpretation of the GPL.

But what about original apps by KDE authors who obviously want their GPL code to link with QT?
I agree that these applications could be included in good faith in the debian distribution without disrespecting the intents of said authors. However, now we run into a practical problem... that debian has limited resources. Debian cannot afford to trace the origins of every GPL'd KDE application and verify that all of the contributing authors agree with the QT linking. A "contributing" author does not necessarily know that his/her work is being used with QT, as can be seen with QT-ized applications of GPL'd programs based on other libraries (such as kvncviewer or the qt version of ghostview).

By offering his/her apps under the amended version of the GPL (exempted to allow QT linking), an author is stating that "Yes, all contributing and copyright-holding authors agree in substance to QT-linking of this program." This change will be trivial to implement for KDE authors who are the sole authors for a given program, but is more difficult for those who have appropriated the work of others who might not be so agreeable to the QT-linking.

This seems to me to be the right thing to do, whether or not it is requirement (or a loophole allows otherwise).

-Mitch
PS - I speak only for myself, and not for the Debian project.

Re: Letter vs. Intent (none / 0) (#46)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 12:35:20 PM EST

Which applications were "drawn upon" in creating KDE ? and if this issue really is a threat, why are the authors of these applications not queueing up to sue the people already distributing the two together ?

I am totally unconvinced that the arguments set forth above constitute a loophole in the GPL. It seems entirely reasonable to consider that the *intent* was to allow linking against libs such as Qt, just as much as it allows linking against, say, the Win32 libraries. Hence I am similarly unconvinced that the "intent" of the authors (either of KDE or of any putative apps that were "drawn upon" in its creation") matters a damn.



[ Parent ]
Re: Letter vs. Intent (none / 0) (#48)
by mblevin on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 04:03:16 PM EST

Which applications were "drawn upon" in creating KDE?
I gave two examples of k* apps which had a non-QT GPL heritage. I don't know of any in KDE proper, which I assume are largely original. If this is true, a license change would be fairly easy for the original author(s).

and if this issue really is a threat, why are the authors of these applications not queueing up to sue the people already distributing the two together?
The purpose of my post was to plead "no contendre" on the legal aspect and look at it from the perspective of respect for the software authors' intents. The presence or absence of lawsuits would not be relevant.

I am totally unconvinced...
You are not alone. Many people interpret the GPL to allow linking with Qt libs both in letter and spirit. However, I have seen enough people whom I respect argue otherwise to not accept that as gospel.

Hence I am similarly unconvinced that the "intent" of the authors ... matters a damn.
Just because it doesn't matter to you does not banish it from the consideration of others.

[ Parent ]

Re: Letter vs. Intent (none / 0) (#47)
by Alhazred on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 01:54:16 PM EST

Your argument is without merit for this reason.

THERE ARE NO SUCH APPS. All applications written FOR KDE are KDE apps and use the QT toolkit! Any application which does NOT use the QT toolkit is independent and seperate from the KDE environment generally speaking.

There is NOTHING in the GPL that forbids the binary of an application from being linked with non-free libraries. Simply put no matter WHAT the restrictions of the QPL, as long as both the QPL and the GPL allow distribution, then the BINARY can be distributed. The obligation to distribute the source code DOES NOT NEED TO EXTEND TO QT ITSELF. QT is NOT part of KDE and thus just because I distribute a binary of KDE does NOT mean I must distribute SOURCE for QT!!!!

Anyone that wants the source to KDE or any of its apps can have it. Anyone that wants to modify anything that its reasonable to modify, can do so. If you were to want to modify some part of QT, then you would have to go to TrollTech to get source and patch that (you could then distribute your patches).

Where is the problem here? As long as QT remains binary redistributable there is NOT EVEN THE APPEARANCE OF A CONFLICT. My God, almost any time you link a program using GCC on a commercial Unix machine you end up with non-redistributable binary code linked into your program, yet free software archives have been providing this stuff to people for YEARS, and nobody has ever had a problem with it.

I think the Debian people are being complete idiots personally. My faith in the Debian distribution is evaporating rapidly, and as someone who uses Linux in a commercial environment I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that we don't have time for this BS. I'm not going to depend on a distribution that every so often removes vital components from its releases for stupid reasons!

Debian is destroying itself. I predict it will be dead inside a year because it will get NO commercial support at this rate. I mean what's going to be removed next? GTK? libsomethingorother? What a sad state the Debian maintainers are in, they cannot see the forest for the hairs on the freckles on their own arses...
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]
KDE is Free | 48 comments (48 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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