libntfs and GPL/LGPL?

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libntfs and GPL/LGPL?

Anton Altaparmakov
Hi everyone,

All GPL-ed projects I have used recently have moved from GPL only to
GPL/LGPL for their libraries and remained GPL for their utilities so that
more applications can link to their libraries.  Examples: gnutls, gcrypt,
gpg-error, etc...

What would you all think about doing the same for libntfs to follow suit
with everone else.  E.g. we could make the next release 1.13.0 or 2.0.0 or
whatever and say that starting with that release the LGPL also applies to
libntfs.

Or does anyone specifically only want to allow GPL projects to link to
libntfs?  If so that is fine, we just leave it to be GPL, but if not we
can have a lot more gunieapi^H^H^H^H^H^H^Htesters and users of libntfs.

I thought I would throw this up as a discussion topic to see what everyone
thinks of it.

I guess it boils down to: do we want all ntfs users to be GPL or do we
want a wider userbase and potentially therefore larger contributor base.

As a famous game show presenter says: "The choice is yours..."  (-:

Best regards,

        Anton
--
Anton Altaparmakov <aia21 at cam.ac.uk> (replace at with @)
Unix Support, Computing Service, University of Cambridge, CB2 3QH, UK
Linux NTFS maintainer / IRC: #ntfs on irc.freenode.net
WWW: http://linux-ntfs.sf.net/ & http://www-stu.christs.cam.ac.uk/~aia21/


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Re: libntfs and GPL/LGPL?

Yuval Fledel
On 11/6/05, Anton Altaparmakov wrote:
> Hi everyone,
>
> All GPL-ed projects I have used recently have moved from GPL only to
> GPL/LGPL for their libraries and remained GPL for their utilities so that
> more applications can link to their libraries.  Examples: gnutls, gcrypt,
> gpg-error, etc...

All the three project you mentioned are linked. I consider them as one.

> What would you all think about doing the same for libntfs to follow suit
> with everone else.  E.g. we could make the next release 1.13.0 or 2.0.0 or
> whatever and say that starting with that release the LGPL also applies to
> libntfs.

LGPL can be a great reason bumping to 2.0.0.

> Or does anyone specifically only want to allow GPL projects to link to
> libntfs?  If so that is fine, we just leave it to be GPL, but if not we
> can have a lot more gunieapi^H^H^H^H^H^H^Htesters and users of libntfs.

That's the main issue here.
LGPL allows a larger user base, while GPL ensures freedom.

The GNU site itself describes why LGPL is not advised in this context
[1]. Especially notice the GNU Readline paragraph.

Last time I checked, there is no publicly available non-free
library/product that is even remotely equivalent to libntfs. What is
your incentive for lessening the license?

If for example some company wanted to create a Partition Magic/Ghost
clone, and given that Szaka plans(/ed) to move lots of shared code
from ntfsclone/ntfsresize to libntfs (even if not the actual resizing
stuff), they could create a [competing] working product in no time.
(just add a gui around it, and rewrite the stuff that is not in
libntfs, and yes, I know that ntfsresize.c is not trivial to
reimplement). Assuming the codebase is stable, bugfixes will not be
needed and this project will not gain a thing.

I usually like LGPL because it logically separates the library from
the application. I don't see the reason to use it in this case because
ntfsprogs and libntfs are tightly coupled.

Up till now, Most of my contributions were to ntfsprogs. I have 3
non-trivial contributions to libntfs:
- security.c: Which is based on a patch I sent you (Anton) and you
rewrote it, so right now it just has the spirit on the original patch.
- layout.h: The only place my name appears in the copyright, due to
the $EFS stuff. This is trivial to reimplement.
- win32_io.c: Even though my name is not in the copyright, This took a
lot of time, And I don't want to relicense that to LGPL. There is no
gain in that either, as it largely depends on Cygwin, which is GPL
itself.
I don't like to add my name to the copyright list. Maybe this is a mistake.

My mind is changeable if some company will say "This is the product we
like to build" and "This will be our contribution (not just bugfixes)
if libntfs is LGPL".

Sincerely
-- Yuval

[1] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/why-not-lgpl.html


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Re: libntfs and GPL/LGPL?

Anton Altaparmakov
On Sun, 6 Nov 2005, Yuval wrote:
> On 11/6/05, Anton Altaparmakov wrote:
> > Hi everyone,
> >
> > All GPL-ed projects I have used recently have moved from GPL only to
> > GPL/LGPL for their libraries and remained GPL for their utilities so that
> > more applications can link to their libraries.  Examples: gnutls, gcrypt,
> > gpg-error, etc...
>
> All the three project you mentioned are linked. I consider them as one.

True but I have seen this happen in a lot more projects but I could not
think of specific examples other than those.

> > What would you all think about doing the same for libntfs to follow suit
> > with everone else.  E.g. we could make the next release 1.13.0 or 2.0.0 or
> > whatever and say that starting with that release the LGPL also applies to
> > libntfs.
>
> LGPL can be a great reason bumping to 2.0.0.
>
> > Or does anyone specifically only want to allow GPL projects to link to
> > libntfs?  If so that is fine, we just leave it to be GPL, but if not we
> > can have a lot more gunieapi^H^H^H^H^H^H^Htesters and users of libntfs.
>
> That's the main issue here.
> LGPL allows a larger user base, while GPL ensures freedom.
>
> The GNU site itself describes why LGPL is not advised in this context
> [1]. Especially notice the GNU Readline paragraph.
>
> Last time I checked, there is no publicly available non-free
> library/product that is even remotely equivalent to libntfs. What is
> your incentive for lessening the license?
>
> If for example some company wanted to create a Partition Magic/Ghost
> clone, and given that Szaka plans(/ed) to move lots of shared code
> from ntfsclone/ntfsresize to libntfs (even if not the actual resizing
> stuff), they could create a [competing] working product in no time.
> (just add a gui around it, and rewrite the stuff that is not in
> libntfs, and yes, I know that ntfsresize.c is not trivial to
> reimplement). Assuming the codebase is stable, bugfixes will not be
> needed and this project will not gain a thing.

So why do you think that such company cannot do that _today_?  It just
needs to wrap ntfsresize (the binary) using a gui that calls it and parses
its output to display it graphically.  And that gui can be non-gpl and can
be sold for money and linux ntfs would not gain anything from that either
and it can be done independently of libntfs becoming LGPL.  It just means
that it is a little more work for the company/person to do it since binary
wrappers are not as nice and not as flexible and more work rather than
just being able to link against a LGPL-ed libntfs...  And if they really
wanted they could make a small gpl utility if ntfsresize binary is not
flexible enough and then wrap that with their binary gui.

That already happens in tons of places in/around Linux GPL projects and
code...  It happens the most with graphics cards drivers, dvd decoder
card drivers, and stuff like that but there is no reason for it not to
happen with ntfsprogs, too.  This is the getout clause the GPL failed to
address...

> I usually like LGPL because it logically separates the library from
> the application. I don't see the reason to use it in this case because
> ntfsprogs and libntfs are tightly coupled.
>
> Up till now, Most of my contributions were to ntfsprogs. I have 3
> non-trivial contributions to libntfs:
> - security.c: Which is based on a patch I sent you (Anton) and you
> rewrote it, so right now it just has the spirit on the original patch.
> - layout.h: The only place my name appears in the copyright, due to
> the $EFS stuff. This is trivial to reimplement.
> - win32_io.c: Even though my name is not in the copyright, This took a
> lot of time, And I don't want to relicense that to LGPL. There is no
> gain in that either, as it largely depends on Cygwin, which is GPL
> itself.
> I don't like to add my name to the copyright list. Maybe this is a mistake.

It is for things like that.  In the UK at least on paper I AFAIK it does
not matter since the copyright is implied in the authorship but e.g. in US
I believe this does not apply.  But I may be wrong, I don't really know.

> My mind is changeable if some company will say "This is the product we
> like to build" and "This will be our contribution (not just bugfixes)
> if libntfs is LGPL".

No, that's fine.  You are against it and so is someone else who emailed
off-list so no problem, it stays GPL.  I only asked in case everyone said
"Yes, let's do it" and then we could have done it.  My original reason for
putting libntfs GPL was exactly so that non-GPL projects would not profit.  
But then I was not working on non-GPL projects and now I am
inconveninenced by my own choices...  Such is life.  I will be writing
binary wrappers then...  (-:

Best regards,

        Anton
--
Anton Altaparmakov <aia21 at cam.ac.uk> (replace at with @)
Unix Support, Computing Service, University of Cambridge, CB2 3QH, UK
Linux NTFS maintainer / IRC: #ntfs on irc.freenode.net
WWW: http://linux-ntfs.sf.net/ & http://www-stu.christs.cam.ac.uk/~aia21/


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Re: libntfs and GPL/LGPL?

Yuval Fledel
On 11/6/05, Anton Altaparmakov <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Sun, 6 Nov 2005, Yuval wrote:
> > If for example some company wanted to create a Partition Magic/Ghost
> > clone, and given that Szaka plans(/ed) to move lots of shared code
> > from ntfsclone/ntfsresize to libntfs (even if not the actual resizing
> > stuff), they could create a [competing] working product in no time.
> > (just add a gui around it, and rewrite the stuff that is not in
> > libntfs, and yes, I know that ntfsresize.c is not trivial to
> > reimplement). Assuming the codebase is stable, bugfixes will not be
> > needed and this project will not gain a thing.
>
> So why do you think that such company cannot do that _today_?  It just
> needs to wrap ntfsresize (the binary) using a gui that calls it and parses
> its output to display it graphically.  And that gui can be non-gpl and can
> be sold for money and linux ntfs would not gain anything from that either
> and it can be done independently of libntfs becoming LGPL.  It just means
> that it is a little more work for the company/person to do it since binary
> wrappers are not as nice and not as flexible and more work rather than
> just being able to link against a LGPL-ed libntfs...  And if they really
> wanted they could make a small gpl utility if ntfsresize binary is not
> flexible enough and then wrap that with their binary gui.

Sure they can, I have no problem with that. Exactly like BK used GNU patch.

But the resizing algorithm and implementations are still free. If they
want to add a feature, like "resizing from the left", adding a "not
enough free space" notification or creating a NTFS v3.1 volumes, they
will have to hack ntfsprogs, which is still under the GPL, and not
their application. And creating new applications (such as a defragger)
is not possible without using the api directly, etc.

Binary wrappers can't do everything.

> > I don't like to add my name to the copyright list. Maybe this is a mistake.
>
> It is for things like that.  In the UK at least on paper I AFAIK it does
> not matter since the copyright is implied in the authorship but e.g. in US
> I believe this does not apply.  But I may be wrong, I don't really know.

Its not just legal stuff here, Its also practical.

Both of us know who did what, and know what the other is capable of. I
know that you can reimplement everything I did in a few days, I will
be mad but probably not take any legal action. You won't do that
because of ethics, not that you are afraid of being sued (I'd like to
believe that).

> No, that's fine.  You are against it and so is someone else who emailed
> off-list so no problem, it stays GPL.

Others have more code than me in libntfs, and if they decided to stay
off-list, this is where I shut up.

Sincerely
-- Yuval


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