[Rd] Non-GPL packages for R

Michael Dewey info at aghmed.fsnet.co.uk
Fri Sep 11 18:41:58 CEST 2009

At 08:07 11/09/2009, Romain Francois wrote:

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

It seems to me very reasonable for people to be asked to distribute 
their software via some other route if they cannot join in the spirit 
of the enterprise. So add my vote in with Romain's.

>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.
>>[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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Michael Dewey

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