pkgconfig license

Owen Taylor otaylor at
Sat Apr 23 10:08:40 PDT 2005

On Sat, 2005-04-23 at 11:46 -0400, Adam Jackson wrote:
> On Saturday 23 April 2005 10:22, Jeremy C. Reed wrote:
> > On Sat, 23 Apr 2005, Matthieu Herrb wrote:
> > > Reading I see that
> > > pkgconfig is required to build the modular tree, not only for
> > > developpers. This conflicts with the goal that X.Org should be buildable
> > > on OpenBSD's (or NetBSD's) base system which doesn't include pkgconfig
> > > (and never will as long as its license is the GPL).
> > > Is it possible to ask the pkgconfig developpers to change the license to
> > > the MIT/X one or at least to a dual scheme ?
> >
> > I agree it should have a better license.
> >
> > And it should be easy to rewrite.
> >
> > Also, I think pkg-config can be bypassed also for OpenBSD and NetBSD since
> > you already have a defined system and clearly know what software is
> > included.
> Good pkg-config style is to use a pkg-config check first and fall back to 
> traditional configure probes if it's not available.

A lot of code does this for the core X libraries now because the .pc
files are not yet widely distributed, but it's not good pkg-config
style; rather the reverse. It should never be done for fontconfig, 
or GLib, or any other library where you know the library ships with
.pc files.

So, unless we want to support doing things like building the
libXft against someone else's libX11, duplicate checks in the autoconf
files would be a mistake.

On this issue OpenBSD and NetBSD will have to decide whether they want
to spend a few days of a developer's time to rewrite pkg-config from
scratch or make an exception. But I can't see how it should be a concern
of the project or cause distortion of the build system.

The use of a GPL pkg-config for the build has no material affect on any
use of the X libraries or systems and objections to its licensing seem
to be primarily political. ("political" here isn't meant as a term of
abuse. The GPL is an explicitly political license.)

(Wondering what *compiler* is being used for this base system build...)


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