[Haskell-cafe] Hackage and Free Software

Mike Meyer mwm at mired.org
Sat Feb 28 20:18:23 UTC 2015

On Sat, Feb 28, 2015 at 1:43 PM, fr33domlover <fr33domlover at riseup.net>
On 2015-02-28
Mike Meyer <mwm at mired.org> wrote:
> > Anything that excludes software that we could use, or otherwise
> > discourages people from making software available to the community, is
> > a bad idea. A restriction to OSF-approved licenses would exclude
> > anything released under a Creative Commons license, since the OSF
> > doesn't list those, which makes sense as they aren't "software
> > licences" per se. And your restriction of "released under a license"
> > would exclude public domain software - at least in countries that
> > recognize such a thing.
> As to creative commons - indeed they aren't meant for software (maybe
> for CC0, which is basically like public domain). But I also don't think
> want to use them once they see the problem: If you want it permissive,
you have
> Apache for example (also BSD/MIT), and if you want copyleft you have GPL
> AGPL, etc.).

And what if I want something like the CDDL or the EPL? Those are both
licenses that the OSI says are popular.

> As to public domain: It's actually just fine! It's true than most
> recognize lack of license as "all rights reserved", but I also think it's
> very small and trivial task for a maintainer to add a few license lines to
> state that the software should be globally treated as public domain.
> So public domain software is just fine, free software.

You're addressing the nits, not the core issue I tried to raise:
placing restrictions on what licenses (or lack thereof) are acceptable
will discourage people from making software available via Hackage.

> > Yes, these are nits, but these are nits that could cause someone to
> > decide not to put software that is otherwise perfectly acceptable on
> > Hackage.
> That depends on what "acceptable" means. In the worst case you can have
> separation between free and nonfree software by tag, and make it possible
> turn nonfree software on/off using a cabal-install commandline option.
> This will allow people to upload first, and then think and understand the
> licensing situation. Once they do, they can properly tag their project.
> that work?

I don't know. I suspect that if you do that, a lot of people would
never bother tagging their packages. Would that work for you?

You also talk like free/non-free was a binary decision, when it
isn't. The OSI lists licenses that aren't compatible with the GPL -
like the aforementioned EPL and CDDL. People releasing software under
one of those will want to avoid GPL licensed software, whereas people
releasing GPL licensed software will want to avoid those licenses, but
they are all free.

Or I may not care. If I build a binary that uses one package that's
GPL-licensed and one that uses an incompatible OSI-approved license, I
can distribute my source under whatever terms I want, because my
source doesn't include source from those packages. I can build and run
binaries myself with no problems, and that may be fine. But I can't
distribute binaries because I can't satisfy both licenses
simultaneously, and that may not be acceptable.

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