[Rd] Non-GPL packages for R

Robert Gentleman rgentlem at fhcrc.org
Fri Sep 11 16:48:14 CEST 2009


Peter Dalgaard wrote:
> Prof. John C Nash wrote:
>> The responses to my posting yesterday seem to indicate more consensus
>> than I expected:

  Umm, I had thought that it was well established that responders need 
not represent the population being surveyed.  I doubt that there is 
consensus at the level you are suggesting (certainly I don't agree) and 
as Peter indicates below the issue is: what is maintainable with the 
resources we have, not what is the best solution given unlimited resources.

   Personally, I would like to see something that was a bit easier to 
deal with programmatically that indicated when a package was GPL (or 
Open source actually) compatible and when it is not.  This could then be 
used to write a decent function to identify suspect packages so that 
users would know when they should be concerned.

   It is also the case that things are not so simple, as dependencies 
can make a package unusable even if it is itself GPL-compatible.  This 
also makes the notion of some simple split into free and non-free (or 
what ever split you want) less trivial than is being suggested.


>> 1) CRAN should be restricted to GPL-equivalent licensed packages
> GPL-_compatible_ would be the word. However, this is not what has been
> done in the past. There are packages with "non-commercial use" licences,
> and the survival package was among them for quite a while. As far as I
> know, the CRAN policy has been to ensure only that redistribution is
> legal and that whatever license is used is visible to the user. People
> who have responded on the list do not necessarily speak for CRAN. In the
> final analysis, the maintainers must decide what is maintainable.
> The problem with Rdonlp2 seems to have been that the interface packages
> claimed to be LGPL2 without the main copyright holder's consent (and it
> seems that he cannot grant consent for reasons of TU-Darmstadt
> policies). It is hard to safeguard agaist that sort of thing. CRAN
> maintainers must assume that legalities have been cleared and accept the
> license in good faith.
> (Even within the Free Software world there are current issues with,
> e.g., incompatibilities between GPL v.2 and v.3, and also with the
> Eclipse license. Don't get me started...)
>> 2) r-forge could be left "buyer beware" using DESCRIPTION information
>> 3) We may want a specific repository for restricted packages (RANC?)
>> How to proceed? A short search on Rseek did not turn up a chain of
>> command for CRAN.
>> I'm prepared to help out with documentation etc. to move changes
>> forward. They are not, in my opinion, likely to cause a lot of trouble
>> for most users, and should simplify things over time.
>> JN
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