[Developers] ADMB-IDE licensing

John Sibert sibert at hawaii.edu
Wed May 13 10:46:06 PDT 2009

Hi Arni,

You are trying to make an important and constructive contribution to the 
ADMB project. Unfortunately, Richard Stallman and the Free Software 
Foundation, want things done in very specific way (as I said, it all 
seems like a dispute between religions to me) and have turned the emacs 
license to be a really intimidating document. From 
> 3. You may copy and distribute GNU Emacs (or a portion or derivative 
> of it, under Paragraph 2) in object code or executable form under the 
> terms of Paragraphs 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the 
> following:
> - accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source 
> code, which must be distributed under the terms of Paragraphs 1 and 2 
> above; or,
> - accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, 
> to give any third party free (except for a nominal shipping charge) a 
> complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be 
> distributed under the terms of Paragraphs 1 and 2 above; or,
> - accompany it with the information you received as to where the 
> corresponding source code may be obtained. (This alternative is 
> allowed only for non commercial distribution and only if you received 
> the program in object code or executable form alone.)
> For an executable file, complete source code means all the source code 
> for all modules it contains; but, as a special exception, it need not 
> include source code for modules which are standard libraries that 
> accompany the operating system on which the executable file runs.
> 4. You may not copy, sub license, distribute or transfer GNU Emacs 
> except as expressly provided under this License Agreement. Any attempt 
> otherwise to copy, sub license, distribute or transfer GNU Emacs is 
> void and your rights to use GNU Emacs under this License agreement 
> shall be automatically terminated. However, parties who have received 
> computer software programs from you with this License Agreement will 
> not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in 
> full compliance.
It looks to me like if you want to distribute the emacs executable, you 
also have to make the source code available. I suppose you could do 
that, but it would be giving users more than they really want and might 
make the whole package a bit bulky.

Can you create your package in such a way that it is the  end user's 
responsibility to correctly install emacs?

When you installed emacs, did you receive the source code?


Arni Magnusson wrote:
> 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.
> Cheers,
> Arni
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