[Rd] Non-GPL packages for R

Romain Francois romain.francois at dbmail.com
Fri Sep 11 09:07:42 CEST 2009


Commit to freedom if you want the free services of CRAN, etc ...

On 09/11/2009 12:13 AM, Dirk Eddelbuettel wrote:
> On 10 September 2009 at 14:26, Gabor Grothendieck wrote:
> | The SystemRequirements: field of the DESCRIPTION file normally
> | lists external dependencies whether free or non-free.
> Moreover, the (aptly named) field 'License:' in DESCRIPTION is now much more
> parseable and contains pertinent information. A number of more 'challenging'
> packages basically pass the buck on with an entry
> 	    License: file LICENSE
> which refers to a file in the sources one needs to read to decide.
> This is e.g. at the basis of Charles' and my decision about what we think we
> cannot build via cran2deb [1]: non-free, non-distributable, non-commercial or
> otherwise nasty licenses.  There are a couple of packages we exclude for this
> (or related reasons), and we have been meaning to summarise them with a
> simple html summary from the database table we use for cran2deb, but have not
> yet gotten around to it.
> Just like John and Ravi, I would actually be in favour of somewhat stricter
> enforcements.  If someone decides not to take part in the gift economy that
> brought him or her R (and many other things, including at least 1880+ CRAN
> packages with sane licenses) then we may as well decide not to waste our time
> and resources on his project either and simply exclude it.
> So consider this as a qualified thumbs-up for John and Ravi's suggestion of a
> clearer line in the sand.
> Dirk
> [1] cran2deb is at http://debian.cran.r-project.org and provides 1800+ Debian
> 'testing' binaries for amd64 and i386 that are continuously updated as new
> packages appear on CRAN. With that 'apt-get install r-cran-foo' becomes a
> reality for almost every value of foo out of the set of CRAN packages.
> |
> | On Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 1:50 PM, Prof. John C Nash<nashjc at uottawa.ca>  wrote:
> |>  Subject: Non-GPL packages for R
> |>
> |>  Packages that are not licensed in a way that permits re-distribution on
> |>  CRAN are frequently a source of comment and concern on R-help and other
> |>  lists. A good example of this problem is the Rdonlp2 package that has caused
> |>  a lot of annoyance for a number of optimization users in R. They are also an
> |>  issue for efforts like Dirk Eddelbuettel's cran2deb.
> |>
> |>  There are, however, a number of circumstances where non-GPL equivalent
> |>  packages may be important to users. This can imply that users need to
> |>  both install an R package and one or more dependencies that must be
> |>  separately obtained and licensed. One such situation is where a new
> |>  program is still under development and the license is not clear, as in
> |>  the recent work we pursued with respect to Mike Powell's BOBYQA. We
> |>  wanted to verify if this were useful before we considered distribution,
> |>  and Powell had been offering copies of his code on request. Thus we
> |>  could experiment, but not redistribute. Recently Powell's approval to
> |>  redistribute has been obtained.
> |>
> |>  We believe that it is important that non-redistributable codes be
> |>  excluded from CRAN, but that they could be available on a repository
> |>  such as r-forge. However, we would like to see a clearer indication of
> |>  the license status on r-forge. One possibility is an inclusion of a
> |>  statement and/or icon indicating such status e.g., green for GPL or
> |>  equivalent, amber for uncertain, red for restricted. Another may be a
> |>  division of directories, so that GPL-equivalent packages are kept
> |>  separate from uncertain or restricted licensed ones.
> |>
> |>  We welcome comments and suggestions on both the concept and the
> |>  technicalities.
> |>
> |>  John Nash&  Ravi Varadhan

Romain Francois
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