[Developers] ADMB-IDE licensing

Arni Magnusson arnima at hafro.is
Tue May 12 19:54:16 PDT 2009

Thanks, John and Dave, for your feedback.

> If you use emacs you probably immediately lose about 95% of the
> world, including me.

The idea behind my ADMB-IDE is to use Emacs with admb-mode as the engine,
but the user interface is very different from the default Emacs. The
keybindings are similar to the majority of editors, as listed on the last
page in the manual draft (attached admb-ide.pdf). The manual is not quite
ready, but it gives a decent overview.

I hope that I won't lose potential users by using Emacs as the underlying
engine. For me, Emacs Lisp is a general language with strong support for
editing files. Much like S is a general language with strong support for
statistical modelling. Both are rich, mature, and expressive. [Reminds me
of a lady I once knew.]

> If you are distributing Emacs and GCC or any other GPL product, you
> are obliged to license the whole thing as GPL, regardless of how
> anything else is licensed.

That's what I was worried about. One possible solution is to release
ADMB-IDE in two Inno packages: GCC plus Emacs with hardwired target
directories (GPL license), and ADMB plus my config files (BSD license).

> And your users may also be obliged to release whatever they create
> with your software under a GPL license.

I've seen messages on the web saying that applications compiled with GCC
are not subject to GPL, but haven't found a definite reference. ADMB on
Linux uses GCC, and my understanding is that ADMB applications are not
subject to GPL.

As for Emacs, I would find it hard to believe that everything I write
becomes GPL. The same would then be true for Crimson, Gedit, jEdit, Kate,
Nano, Notepad++, Scite, and all the other GPL editors. I hope users are
also allowed to adjust the settings for syntax highlighting, compilation,
and menu entries. It's hard to interpret the licensing legalese, but the
ADMB development team needs to get a clear picture - perhaps with the aid
of a lawyer, as you have mentioned earlier.

> That is why many people dislike GPL and why we chose BSD for ADMB.
> It is a sort of religious struggle in the open source software
> world. So I would hope that you could find a way to release your
> package under BSD also.

Roger that. Do you think the best solution is to release ADMB-IDE in two
Inno installers, separating the components into BSD and GPL bundles? It's
a shame if users can't enjoy my current click'n'go admb-ide-345-1.exe
installer, but maybe that's just life.

I wonder if I could then prepare a zip file containing the two installers,
along with a tiny meta-installer script.

> You might want to verify the licenses on GCC and Emacs. As I recall,
> GCC is released under LGPL (Lesser Gnu Public License). The LGPL may
> be less restrictive than GPL, but the question has apparently never
> been brought before a (United States) court.
> My advice would be not to include anything in your package
> distributed under GPL. LGPL may be OK. So please check it.

I tried to research this, but couldn't understand it very well. Any
further feedback regarding licensing is much appreciated.


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