Cygwin license

Chris Faylor
Tue Mar 16 07:41:00 GMT 1999

On Tue, Mar 16, 1999 at 05:01:32AM -0800, Earnie Boyd wrote:
>---Gernot Heiser <gernot@zuse.disy.cse.unsw.EDU.AU> wrote:
>> >>>>> "DD" == DJ Delorie <> writes:
>> >> However, we can, of course, not relax Stanford's restrictions on
>> >> commercial use without their agreement (which seems unlikely).
>Hence we
>> >> fear that we might be technically in breach of your license if we
>> >> SimOS against your library, even though we feel that we would be
>> >> adhering to the spirit of it.
>> DD> You could get a commercial license for cygwin, which would allow
>> DD> to choose a more restrictive license for SimOS, but then not
>allow the
>> DD> resulting program to be used commercially.
>> Yes, but $8k for a license just to produce code we give away freely to
>> students, and while following the spirit (if not the letter) of the
>> license seems a bit overdone.
>I agree with this.  If an Open Source tool used as an aid in porting
>code from one platform to another doesn't allow me to honor the
>license of the code I'm porting; of what use is it to be Open Source? 
>Since the first time I saw this discussed I've been uneasy about the
>license conflicts.  If you (Cygnus) refuse to change the license to
>LGPL (which I and many others think should be done) at least supply
>exceptions in such cases as these.

I don't know if you've been following RMS's thoughts on the subject but
he essentially thinks that the FSF made a mistake with the LGPL.

>What this says to me and most likely other Open Source supporters on
>this list is that Cygnus wants to _control_ all Open Source.  I know
>the intent isn't this but rather a means to try to make all code using
>the cygwin tool to be Open Source unless special provision is made
>with the purchase of a special license from the owners (Cygnus) of the
>code.  But, the end result speaks louder than the intentions.

Come on, Earnie.  We're distributing the code under the GPL.  The GPL
is very clear on what can and can't be done.  RMS has spoken on the
subject of DLLs and the GPL.  He's indicated that the cygwin DLL should
be GPLed.

We do consider changing the licensing from time to time but, so far, no
one has been able to convince the powers that be at Cygnus that making
cygwin into a LGPLed program would be worthwhile.  It would certainly
remove some of the incentive for buying the commercial product but,
perhaps more importantly, it would allow people to produce proprietary
applications based on the cygwin DLL.  That does not sound like a good
plan to me.

>Gernot Heiser's predicament is a good example of what is wrong with
>the way that the cygwin product is licensed.  Cygnus, I as an Open
>Source supporter speaking to an Open Source supporter, plead and beg
>with you to give Gernot Heiser the privilege of using cygwin with his
>package without paying anything to do so.  Open Source is and should
>always be free.  (Yes, I know you need to pay the bills, but this one
>isn't the same as someone making money from commercial software).

I don't think that this is a particularly good example of anything,
personally.  This is a very unique situation.

FWIW, I have forwarded this request to our marketing department when it
first appeared.  I asked them to provide a complimentary license to this
university.  We have no policy for this type of thing so it is being
mulled over now.

If Mr.  Heiser wants to pursue this directly he can send a request to, detailing his requirements and mentioning that this has
come up in the cygwin mailing list (just to avoid a loop) and that Chris
Faylor suggested sending email there.


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