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[gNewSense-users] Re: APT and licences.

From: Chris Andrew
Subject: [gNewSense-users] Re: APT and licences.
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2007 15:49:46 +0100


Thanks for taking the time to reply, on behalf of the apt package team.

I understand what you are saying about removing restricted and multiverse from /etc/apt/sources.list, but unfortunately the software in main doesn't appear to be quite as free as everybody thought.  At gNewsense (gNS), we are aiming to comply with the FSF defined _4 freedoms_.  These are the initial findings regarding suspected non-free software.

I realise that a huge array of licences exists, but if apt/pkg/dselect or whatever, could narrow these down, then it would make checking a lot easier.  See gNS progress here.



On 23/07/07, Michael Vogt < address@hidden> wrote:
On Sat, Jul 21, 2007 at 10:49:39PM +0100, Chris Andrew wrote:
> Justin,

> Having reviewed many licences in gNewsense, I know that the majority are
> GPL, but I take your point.
> At least we could perhaps aim for a query using APT/ dpkg etc, such as _all
> packages that aren't licenced under GPL_.

You can access the debian/copyright file relatively easily on, e.g.:

A python-apt script should be able get to contruct the right urls and
automatically check the license (with some heuristics that will need a
lot of fine-tuning). If I can find a bit of time, I will try to hack
something together.

> For example, if APT/ dpkg produced a list of all packages available to a
> distro, that were not GPL, then this could reduce the number of packages to
> be checked, by 80%.

One problem with this is that the amount of licenses is very big. So
the general feeling is that the component of the distribution should
be used (e.g. main for everything that is DFSG-free). Out of
curiosity, why is that needed? Shouldn't it be enough to get rid of
restricted and multiverse to get only dsfg-free software? Or am I
missing something here (gfdl maybe?).

There is nothing that prevents a XS-License field in the meta-data,
apt will happily read and display it and python-apt will happily make
it available. Its just hard to find a format (GPL, GPLv2only,
GPLv3only, GPLv2only+openssl-excpetion, GPLv2only+qt1.4exception etc).


> On 21/07/07, Justin Dugger <address@hidden> wrote:
>> Whatever path you choose, keep in mind that there's nearly as many
>> licenses as there are programs.  Many projects allow exemptions for
>> OpenSSL.  Some projects have different code files under different
>> licenses.  If the use case is to make gnewsense / gobuntu easier to
>> create, these exemptions make the process far more difficult.
>> Also, I think you mean dpkg / .deb rather than APT.  APT is a tool to
>> aggregate .debs over a variety of sources.  It should be trivial to
>> add a section to the .deb format, but defining what exactly you need
>> may be non-trivial.
>> Justin Dugger
>> On 7/21/07, Zeth Green < address@hidden> wrote:
>> > On Sat, Jul 21, 2007 at 08:24:55PM +0100, Chris Andrew wrote:
>> > > Hi, all.
>> > >
>> > > Over at gNewsense, a great idea was mentioned on the list, or IRC;
>> could
>> > > packages be identified (in the future) using APT, to display the
>> licence
>> > > used?  The idea being that you could select all packages with or
>> without a
>> > > certain licence, and sort accordingly.  This could be a great way for
>> > > example, to find non-GPL'd (or any other licence) packages.
>> > >
>> > > Any thoughts?
>> >
>> > Gentoo's portage does include the licence in the metadata, although
>> nothing
>> > much is done with it. It seems like a good idea at least. This is an
>> > upstream APT problem rather than a distribution problem. Perhaps the
>> best
>> > step forward is to track down the APT maintainers to see what can be
>> done.
>> >
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