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    Apple won’t ship anything that’s licensed under GPL v3 on OS X. Now, why is that?

    There are two big changes in GPL v3. The first is that it explicitly prohibits patent lawsuits against people for actually using the GPL-licensed software you ship. The second is that it carefully prevents TiVoization, locking down hardware so that people can’t actually run the software they want.

    So, which of those things are they planning for OS X, eh?

    Copyright lawyers from multiple organizations that I’ve spoken to simply aren’t too happy with the GPLv3 because to them it lacks clarity. It took quite a while for GPLv2 to be acceptable in any place where lawyers have a veto because of its unusual construction, and GPLv3 added more of that, in language that doesn’t make it easy to interpret (apparently, I’m not a lawyer).

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      I work at a large company and the guidelines from above are that we should avoid GPL licensed code at all cost. If we cannot avoid it, we need to get permission and isolate it as well as possible from the rest of the source code. This is done not because we want to sue our customers or begin with TiVoization, but simply to guard ourselves against lawsuits and being forced to release sensitive parts of our code.

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        That’s the generic “careful with GPL” policy. There are companies that are fine with GPLv2 specifically (for the most part) but aren’t fine with GPLv3 because they consider its potential consequences less clear.

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          Which is why I now use AGPLv3 for everything I personally write. Fuck people taking and taking and not giving anything back. I feel like we’ve lost our open source way. I referenced this very article a few years back when I wrote this:

          https://battlepenguin.com/tech/the-philosophy-of-open-source-in-community-and-enterprise-software/

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            This is counterintuitive.

            Less people willing/able to even consider using your software instantly means less potential for submissions to fix bugs or add features.

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              It depends on your priorities. Do you want more users or do you want your software to be free?

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                You seem to want more contributions, which is why I commented.

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            The company I work for has the same policy.

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              Yep. Policies like your employer’s are the main reason that I carefully choose licenses these days. I want to exclude as many corporations as possible from using the code without disqualifying it from being Free Software. I think WTFPL is the best widely-used license for this purpose; does your employer’s policy allow WTFPL?

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                One of my employers explicitly put WTFPL on the backlist. Apparently it’s important to have the warranty disclaimer somewhere which it lacks. Consider the ISC-L (https://opensource.org/licenses/isc) instead, which is short and to the point, yet ticks all the boxes that seem to be important to lawyers.

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                  The ISC license is a fine license indeed, but if you re-read my original comment, I am looking for licenses which are not employer-friendly. Indeed, I had considered the ISC license, but found that too many corporations would be willing to use ISC-licensed code.

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                    Ah, right. I misread, I’m sorry.

                    Yes, WTFPL is corporate kryptonite (but still theoretically compatible, unlike the CC-*-NC variants that are explicitly non-corporate, but therefore non-free software compatible, too), so I guess it’s a fine choice for that.

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              It feels to me like the FSF overplayed their hand with GPLv3, and it’s led to more aggressive efforts away from the GPL.

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                Are there any articles from lawyers about what form this lack of clarity takes?

                Or is this just the old concern about linking and the GPLv3 has provided a convenient FUD checkpoint?

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                  I talked to people (several years ago, so a bit hazy on the details, too), so I don’t have anything to read up on. Generally speaking these lawyers are friendly towards open source and copyleft, so I doubt it was just a FUD checkpoint for them.

                  The best I found (but I’m not sure it matches the points that I heard) is Allison Randal’s take on the GPLv3 from 12 years ago: http://radar.oreilly.com/2007/05/gplv3-clarity-and-simplicity.html. That one focuses more on the “laypersons reading a license” aspect that shouldn’t worry copyright lawyers too much.

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                are they really prepared to throw away all that goodwill by shipping obsolete tools and making it a pain in the ass to upgrade them?

                Personally I’m not really concerned as long as macOS ships with a decent C/C++ toolchain so I can build my own software. Of course I don’t upgrade preinstalled software bundled with macOS, but I think that most systems are no different nowadays: if you’re on an old Debian Stable or RHEL or OpenBSD and you want a cutting-edge version of Python, the best thing to do is to build it from source and keep it in your home directory. Never change the system!

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                  I just wish they’d ship an open source C/C++ toolchain. Last time I looked it wasn’t possible to build macOS binaries without Apple’s patched clang/LLVM.

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                    Apple’s patched Clang/LLVM is actually available at https://github.com/apple/llvm-project. This may be recent; I don’t know when it became available.

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                  I’m very unhappy about that. Mac OS X used to be useful for development out of the box. It wasn’t just convenience, but also gave comfort that it’s a powerful developer-friendly platform, and there was even some pretense of Darwin as a standalone open-source OS.

                  But nowadays the dev part is getting smaller and outdated, and I can’t imagine using it for anything besides downloading Homebrew. It’s like the only good use for Internet Explorer was to download Chrome.

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                    Chrome

                    I think you mean Firefox 😉

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                    Seven years later, the lack of GNU software isn’t something I’ve noticed that Mac users complain about. Or even developers. I’ve noticed that developers complain about the touch bar, yes. About the lack of an ESC key. But about having to make do with tmux instead of screen? I definitely hadn’t noticed that.

                    I suppose this really means that the FSF doesn’t have great software to advance its cause any more.

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                      The only one I’ve seen is complaining about an outdated bash. Apple switched the default shell to zsh this year which will help there.

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                        The old buggy rsync is another problem. I wish they’d just drop the pretense of shipping a useful unixy userland.

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                          One step toward this: they’re removing the out-of-date Python, Ruby, and Perl.

                          Future versions of macOS won’t include scripting language runtimes by default, and might require you to install additional packages. If your software depends on scripting languages, it’s recommended that you bundle the runtime within the app.

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                        Lots of alternative software these days is very available to install via things like homebrew, pkgsrc, macports, nix, etc. Historically, I recall bundled software being much more important as internet pipes were tiny (or nonexistent!), and sidecar packaging systems (if they existed) were more immature/buggy. In fact, many of the BSDs still include “kitchen sink” base systems with tons of seldom used tools. A few of the BSDs (OpenBSD is an example), do make it a point to at least remove (and/or move it into ports) some of the old base system stuff that isn’t much used anymore.

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                          I see someone flagged this as trolling. It’s not. Obtuse, perhaps.

                          The GPL’s viral nature depends on the compelling (or at least attractive) nature of the existing GPL’d software. I think (I’ll be happy to hear any arguments to the contrary) that exactly one of these is true:

                          • The GPL’d software is good enough that developers complain if it’s removed from an OS.
                          • The GPL’d software is not good enough to help the FSF’s cause.

                          That blog posting was written in 2012; my reaction when I read it now, seven years later, is surprise, because I haven’t heard protests. Developers are usually quick to complain when something sucks. With seven years hindsight the first possibility seems not to be the case, so I infer that the second possibility is what’s true.

                          I’m eager to hear any arguments that developers have protested and I not noticed, or that there’s a third alternative, or, or, or.

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                            It’s kinds sad really. I do believe in the FSF and GPL and even GPLv3. I think many of the great ideas behind the FSF/GPL have pretty much been lost today. Open source is all about middleware today .. use our middle wear so you can build apps around our (Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon) systems. We don’t have a lot of good FOSS end-apps. There’s Firefox and Darktable and Libreoffice I guess, but Gimp never eclipsed Photoshop and you’re more likely to see Mac users in a coffee shop than Linux laptops.

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                            I think GPL is getting less popular in the industry in general. Of course you can install all of those packages back if you want them, at least for now.

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                              Take it as conference floor discussions, but I spoke to someone close to Apple recently, and they said that the stance of the FSF is that macOS cannot be shipped in its current form including GPL software.

                              I wouldn’t be surprised by that, as in the case of an operating system, the whole OS can be considered the “distribution”. Debian also seems to follow that view and has a lot of licensing particularities, especially around OpenSSL, which is GPL incompatible.

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                                Wait, I’m confused as to what you’re saying. Are you suggesting that Debian also can’t be shipped in its current form because it contains both GPL’d software and GPL-incompatible software? (Like, for example, CDDL’d software?)

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                                  It can be, but only because they get exceptions: https://www.debian.org/doc/packaging-manuals/copyright-format/1.0/

                                  Search for “The GPL OpenSSL exception”

                                  To my understanding, this is only a concern on the base image, as that is distributed as one.

                                  Also, for further reading: https://people.gnome.org/~markmc/openssl-and-the-gpl