[Bf-committers] Fwd: Linux Installer for Blender

Gregor Mückl bf-committers@blender.org
Wed, 28 Apr 2004 22:53:53 +0200

On Wednesday 28 April 2004 22:32, Daniel Lopez wrote:
> > Well, I'd not be that sure if I were you. Even with this above statement
> > you have gone further than any of the other companies you name in that
> > you explicitely support the use of your installer for blender. I am not
> > aware that any other installer manufacturer has done so publicly. This is
> > one piece of the puzzle. The other one in the GPL FAQ:
> >
> > http://www.fsf.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#MereAggregation
> >
> > Wether building an installer is "mere aggregation" or  "combining two
> > modules" is the key to this issue. According to this text the latter is
> > actually the case and - this is clearly stated there - this will put your
> > installer under the GPL. Remember that you have already publicly agreed
> > to this combination.
> First, let me state that we consider your concerns seriously. I am myself
> an open source developer and have released code using a variety of
> licenses, including Apache, BSD and GPL.
> The closest I could in the FAQ is the following
> If a programming language interpreter has a license that is incompatible
> with the GPL, can I run GPL-covered programs on it?
> When the interpreter just interprets a language, the answer is yes. The
> interpreted program, to the interpreter, is just data; the GPL doesn't
> restrict what tools you process the program with.[...]
> The key phrase would be "the GPL doesn't restrict what tools you process
> the program with."
> Apart from InstallShield, etc. there are / were several Linux distribution
> installation tools that are propietary, yet used to install tons of
> software under different licenses, included the GPL.
> In any case, if you (the copyright holders) dont see a problem with using
> the installer, I dont see it either :)  Hey, I just want to help, not get
> sued :)
> Best regards
> Daniel

I'm not quite sure wether this is is appliciable here. As I see it your 
reasoning is as follows:

1. The installer is a generic script interpreter.
2. The installation script makes up the particular installer's characteristics
3. Thus, if the installation script is licensed under the GPL this will not 
affect the installer.

I see two weak points here:

1. The script is combined with the installer into a single executable. Since 
the script is program code (in whatever form) this may be seen as "combining 
two modules". No module would work without the other. The interpreter cannot 
fullfill its purpose (namely getting something installed) and the script 
cannot run without interpreter. Weird.

2. How do you argue about the software binary which is included in the final 
installer executable and covered by the GPL? It may be seen as an essential 
module of that executable - without it the installer would not be able to 
fullfill its purpose. Again: weird.

I'm starting to think that what you are doing is indeed legal, although I'm 
not 100% sure about it. I still have an unusually number of open questions 
related to this issue. Usually I can say right away wether something is 
allowed or not under the GPL. In this case I can't.

However, if you want to have watertight solution, I'd recommend you to pass 
out a license of your installer to one of the blender developers and let this 
developer build the blender installer for linux. This way, the worst possible 
case is that the blender installer has to be removed from the downloads.