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From "Ralf S. Engelschall" <>
Subject Re: apache2-ng7
Date Wed, 05 Jan 2000 18:34:19 GMT

In article <> you wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 04, 2000 at 03:09:50PM -0600, Manoj Kasichainula wrote:
>> On Mon, Jan 03, 2000 at 03:00:09PM +0100, Sascha Schumann wrote:
>> >[...shtool...]

Sorry for the delay in replying, but I'm currently very busy with other
projects. A few facts from my point of view:

1. You're encouraged to use GNU shtool in Apache, of course. There
   is no technical reason from my point of view why shtool shouldn't be
   used. It proofed to be stable and robust, because I'm using it in
   GNU Pth and I've personally tested GNU Pth on really all major Unix
   platforms over the last year (plus lots of minor Unix platforms where
   I also had access to) and shtool worked on really all of them without
   any problems. I consider shtool to be one of the most portable and
   robust non-trivial shell scripts you can find out there.

2. Using GNU shtool in Apache more or less follows the same path as
   using GNU libtool, GNU autoconf and GNU automake. For instance,
   fact is that all these four tools are covered by the GPL. Full
   stop. Nevertheless they can be _USED_ and _INCLUDED_ inside non-GPL
   packages, because all four ship with particular GPL exception

So, it is clear that Apache has no problem in _INCLUDING_ and _USING_
the stuff of all four packages as long as the stuff is not changed.
What remains is just the point about "modifications". Here it is clear
(for both maintainance reasons and fairness) that modifications usually
should be done to the original packages and not to their generated
stuff. But I know that for convinience reasons it can be useful to
distribute a slightly patched version of a script.
Autoconf and Automake don't have to make any restrictions here at all,
of course. Because their generated stuff cannot be reused to create a
new package (especially under a different license). That's the reason
why their exception clause allows everything. But if you want to change the
Automake or Automake packages theirself, the modifications are covered by the
GPL, of course. For Autoconf this is no problem, because instead one can
override macros in m4. For Automake it gets harder, there is not as easy
to adjust Automake for Apache, except under GPL.
Remains Libtool and Shtool. They have to restrict the "usage" more,
because out of their scripts a new package could be easily created
(especially for shtool, where the generated "shtool" is more or less
just a script merged together from the sh.* scripts in the original
distribution). That's why both Libtool and Shtool doesn't allow you to
relicense the ltconfig, and shtool scripts. Else one could
create a new package out of them too easily, covered for instance under
a weaker license like the Apache license. Shtool expresses this point
explicitly through the "verbatim" in the clause, Libtool only implicitly
(it talks just about _inclusion_, but I know from RMS how this is
interpreted [by him] as "included without modifications, of course).

So, in short, you _CAN_ modify libtool and shtool stuff, but your
modifications are covered by the GPL, of course. I think this is just
fair and should be no problem for Apache, because not everything can
be re-licensed under Apache license, of course. What should count is
whether Apache can _USE_ and _INCLUDE_ the stuff for its own advantage.
And not whether the ASF can relicense the stuff and do with it what the
ASF want. If the two packages would allow this, the ASF could too easily
create an ASF libtool and ASF shtool out of them, licensed under the
Apache license...

So, in short:

1. From my point of view you can use all four packages without a problem
   in Apache 2.0. And I'm sure that even RMS would give Apache 2.0
   its blessing to go this way. The only restriction is that Apache
   modifications to the scripts are covered by the GPL. That should be
   no real problem.

2. If some paranoid license guys under us really insist to be on the 100%
   safe and non-questionable path, I'm happy to give us (the ASF)
   a special Apache-specific exception clause for the particular
   shtool script we include into Apache 2.0, of course. This then can
   officially allow the ASF to patch their shtool script and
   distribute this modified version.
Because, hey, IMHO you all too often speak as if authors who use GPL or
LGPL for some of their packages want to punish the world. That's not
case in general. So it's clear, that if someone asks and can argue that
he isn't doing a completely license-violating thing with a package,
one certainly _always_ can receive a personal exception clause for GPL
and LGPL packages. I've said this already twice in the past, but seems
like no one listened carefully. That's a common practice and one which
even RMS supports to some degree. And IMHO except for some very subtle
situations (mainly where a violation of previous contributor assumptions
could occur) there is usually no reason why an author shouldn't grant
such exception clauses. So please don't complain about GPL or LGPL
packages in advance before you talked to the author and asked for
possibilities. Distribution licenses are IMHO to protect the package in
the _DEFAULT_ situation where one does _NOT_ contact the author/vendor.
But no one prevents one from contacting him and arranging special

                                       Ralf S. Engelschall

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