[ANN] Cygwin DEV survey

DJ Delorie dj@delorie.com
Mon Mar 8 07:34:00 GMT 1999

> Maybe I need to read the GPL again but my recollection is that sources
> must be made available without additional charge.

You may charge a copying fee.  This option is available to
distributors *if* they provide a *written* offer, good for three
years, to provide the sources for that distribution, on the same media
as the distribution.  If you sell a binary CD, you must be willing to
provide a source CD anytime in the next three years.

In most cases, the cost of maintaining an archive of those sources
exceeds the cost of just delivering them with the binaries up front.

> There are many ways of meeting this requirement. For example the
> sources could be on an optional CD only provided on request. This
> used to be common when distributions were mostly on tar tape and
> expensive to generate.

It would have to be the same type of media as the binaries.  You can't
put binaries on a floppy and sources on a CD, for example.  Or, for a
more esoteric example, you can't put binaries on a CD and sources on
an 800m 1/2" tape reel or a stack of punch cards, because the user may
not be able to use them.

> Also I believe that the GPL allows you to distribute binaries on a CD
> but the sources only from a web site.

No, it does not allow this.  RMS has hinted that GPL3 maylow this,
but it still must be the *distributor's* web site.  GPL2 requires that
sources be made available via the same means as the binary.

> Many people get lazy and only provide a pointer to the sources on
> someone elses site. This does NOT meet GPL requirements unless the
> pointed to site agrees to act as the source providing agent for the
> binary distributer. For example it is not OK to say "you can get the
> sources at Cygnus" unless Cygnus agrees to this arrangement.


> Of course this flexibility is up to the specific copyright holder of
> the software. Cygnus, as the copyright holder for Cygwin, is free to
> be flexible or not as they wish according to their own
> interpretation of their interests and the interests of the cygwin
> community.

I think we've been pretty flexible so far, but that doesn't mean
you're not breaking the law, or that we won't change our policies in
the future to be more strict.  Personally, I'll always advise people
to follow the letter and the spirit of the GPL.

> Notwithstanding the subtleties of GPL it is still preferable to get
> sources with the binary distribution and that is current common
> practice.

Yup :-)

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