Cygwin license

Fergus Henderson
Tue Mar 16 14:01:00 GMT 1999

On 16-Mar-1999, DJ Delorie <> wrote:
> [no attribution, but I think it was]
> > I have seldom found RMS's thoughts to be compelling. You always have
> > to take his adgenda into account and his adgenda is quite complex. I
> > do suspect that without LGPL gcc would be a minor player.
> Nothing about gcc is LGPL.

Yes, misspoke slightly, gcc is not LGPL.  But libgcc.a
is "GPL + special exceptions", the consequences of which are broadly
similar to LGPL, and I strongly suspect that without those special
exceptions, the same conclusion would hold.

> > Every deveoper I have ever met that volunteered to work on gcc cut
> > their gcc teeth using gcc in a place of employment that used gcc to
> > create licensed binary distributed code.
> > These people wouldn't be part of the free software movement without
> > LGPL.
> But they were part of the movement before there was an LGPL, and the LGPL
> doesn't apply to gcc anyway.

Again, misspoke slightly -- he should have said 
with the special exception" rather than "without LGPL".

> > As has been stated earlier on this list it is not clear that Cygnus
> > can restrict the distribution of code that runs under Cygwin.
> > Courts have held in other cases that glue software required for
> > inter-operability can be used regardless of license conflicts.
> The cygwin startup code is not just glue, and there's nothing else for
> us to be inter-operable with.

This issue might be inter-operability of e.g. my program written using
cygwin.dll with someone else's program also written using cygwin.dll.

> Do you know of any other companies
> making a cygwin dll?  If the code were simply a way of hooking you do
> the Win32 API, I might agree, but we're providing a significant amount
> of extra functionality on top of the Win32 API.  The fact that said
> functionality emulates a POSIX environment is irrelevent; Win32 is not
> a posix environment so our code isn't there to make you interoperable
> with the OS.

The point is that your code *is* the OS, or at least part of it, from
the perspective of POSIX programs.  From that perspective, smorris's
arguments might hold.  Whether the courts would look at
it from that perspective is of course an open question...

> > If you consider sourceware cygwin.dll to be a general platform for
> > running UNIX code
> We do not.

But would the courts?

Fergus Henderson <>  |  "I have always known that the pursuit
WWW: < >  |  of excellence is a lethal habit"
PGP: finger fjh@        |     -- the last words of T. S. Garp.

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