Re: Next Ada compiler for Debian: the votes so far

Steve Whalen a écrit :
> Thanks for this summary. I think these are by far the most
> important issues to be included in the Debian log (or whatever it's
> called).

The Debian changelog is specific to each package, so I'll put this
into a new version of the debian-ada-policy package.

> It would be nice if a sponsor could be found to pay AdaCore to do
> GMGPL releases periodically, but I'm starting to wonder if
> AdaCore/ACT always intended to "go proprietary" as soon as they
> could. With as "soon as they could" being whenever another "version"
> of Ada was standardized that was NOT called Ada95.

AdaCore has not "gone proprietary", GNAT is, remains and will always
remain Free Software.

> It's my understanding that the GNAT Ada95 compiler was basically
> built with DOD $$$ on the condition that it be free for all uses and
> users (but ACT and others were free to charge for support as long as
> a compiler remained free). This specifically included the libraries
> being under a LGPL / GMGPL type license.

If memory serves, that that was done at the insistence of the NYU
team who wrote the software, and then formed AdaCore. But I wasn't
there so I cannot say for sure.

> By "closing" off the creation of commercial applications with the
> GPL'd Ada2005 compiler the Ada2005 compiler would no longer meet
> that requirement of the original Ada95 DOD compiler contract.

The GNAT GPL 2005 Edition is an *additional* service rendered at no
cost to people who develop GPL software. This service consists in the
compiling, packaging and validation of the entire tool chain.

The creation of commercial applications is not closed off; anyone is
still free to use GCC or GNAT 3.15p. The additional convenience has
just not been provided to those who want to do proprietary software.

If some "greedy proprietary capitalist" now complains that the
convenience of a recent and validated binary distribution has been
removed from them, that's correct but I think it is immoral for them
to complain that they can no longer *conveniently* enslave and bind
their customers into captivity.

They can still enslave and bind and make things inconvenient or
impossible for their customers, but now they have to go through some
inconvenience themselves. They deserve it.

I do feel sympathy for Free software developers who wish to distribute
their programs under non-GPL but Free licenses. The "interoperability
argument" is powerful.

> (quoting from comp.lang.ada:
> Robert Dewar Aug 2 1995, 12:00 am)


> Now if this continued fredom were achieved at the expense of
> seriously limiting use of the resulting software, that would be an
> unfortunate side effect. In a world with no proprietary software,
> they there would be no issue. In recognition of a more practical
> world in which free software and proprietary software continue to
> co-exist, the modules of GNU C and G++ are distributed with four
> different levels of licensing ranging from the GPL, to completely
> unrestricted, with two other levels in between. The status of each
> module is chosen to achieve an appropriate balance between trying to
> maintain the free availability of the software and trying to
> maintain its reasonably unrestricted use. This has been quite
> comfortably achieved with GNU C, which has been used by a wide
> variety of users in a wide variety of commercial and technical
> settings, and there is no reason to think that GNAT will not be able
> to achieve the same appropriate balance.
> (end of quote)
> I think AdaCore/ACT has lost that "appropriate balance".

I think that 10 years have passed since that quote, and free software
has now reached a state where it no longer has be nice to proprietary
software developers. The special permission was granted only for
practical reasons, which I think have now largely disappeared.

Ludovic Brenta.