[ANN] Cygwin DEV survey

Steve Morris smorris@nexen.com
Tue Mar 9 08:47:00 GMT 1999

Greg Miller writes:
 > DJ Delorie wrote:
 > > The reason I specified full sources for all application is because
 > > when you build an application with cygwin, the resulting binary always
 > > includes sources from cygwin (namely, the startup code and import
 > > library stubs), so all applications thus compiled must be distributed
 > > under the terms of the GPL.
 > Possibly. American courts have *sometimes* held that, for purposes of
 > interoperation with other software and/or hardware, you can ignore
 > licensing terms/copyrights that would prevent that interoperation. Has
 > the GPL ever been tested in an appeals court for Windows .DLLs and the
 > associated .LIB files? If not, we're guessing what would happen.

Hmmm... To expand a little the mentioned rulings might suggest that
one has the right to distribute software that will run under cygwin
even if it means using some otherwise copy protected software. As an
example Microsoft can't restrict the use of code that is required to
write a Windows application, even if they hold the copyright on that

If this were applicable it would mean that Cygnus does not have the
right to restrict distribution of code that runs under Cygwin by
restricting the inclusion of copyrighted code necessary to run under
cygwin. This would suggest that while Cygnus has the right to control
and restrict cygwin itself it cannot similarly control the glue
required to run under cygwin.

Of course cygwin is not Windows. Restricting distribution of software
running under a monopoly environment like Windows is a lot different
than restricting the distribution of cygwin computable software. The
courts might rule differently in these two cases. There are legitimate
alternatatives to cygwin in the UNIX apps on Windows market. The
courts would probably find that relevent.

All I know is that if I ever wanted to do binary distribution of
cygwin applications (i.e. not under GPL) I would buy a license from
Cygnus. It is probably cheaper than the lawyers fees to figure this
out. I would rather Cygnus get the money than the lawyers.

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