pkgconfig license

Owen Taylor otaylor at
Sat Apr 23 14:00:48 PDT 2005

On Sat, 2005-04-23 at 22:28 +0200, Matthieu Herrb wrote:
> Owen Taylor wrote:
> > 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.
> This is one possibility, but we'd like to avoid it if possible. Are you 
> officially telling that changing pkgconfig is totally out of question ?

How could I do that? I'm not the pkg-config maintainer. I think Red Hat
would be willing to consider relicensing the portions of pkg-config 
we wrote (not all) given a compelling reason, though I haven't really
heard such reasons yet. 

I will say (officially) say that that relicensing the copy of GLib
statically linked inside pkg-config is not possible, so that relicensing
it would require a fair bit of work to remove use of GLib data
structures and portability routines.

That's work someone would have to step up to do. Note that breaking
Windows portability isn't an option.

[ There actually is a C++ alternate implementation of pkg-config
  floating around. I haven't looked at the licensing of that. ]

> > 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.)
> Sure. We all understand that. This is not the point.
> Requiring pkgconfig to build the modular tree breaks the goal to be able 
> to build X as part as OpenBSD's base system without requiring more GNU 
> tools to be installed (I never said *any* GNU tool when expressig this 
> in the past).

I think in any open source project, the person who introduces the goal
is the person who is responsible for doing the work. There seem to be
two ways to achieve the goal:

 A) Not use pkg-config. Affects all developers. Makes things harder
    for users. The extra work doesn't neatly fall on the persons with
    the requirement.

 B) Write a non-GPL pkg-config. 

The nice thing about B) is that it doesn't need to block or impede
work elsewhere. It's only the functionality of pkg-config that matters
to X, not what specific implementation.

> > (Wondering what *compiler* is being used for this base system build...)
> It has been discussed several times on various lists and forums. It is 
> not relevant here. gcc and GNU binutils part of OpenBSD and NetBSD. 
> There are currently no useable open source replacement for them.

I certainly don't want to drag up any old sore subjects.


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