[Rd] Non-free packages in CRAN

Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso jordigh at octave.org
Thu Nov 17 19:06:32 CET 2011


This is in relation to the discussion below:


If this is the wrong place to discuss this issue, I would be thankful
for a redirection to the appropriate forum.

As Henrik says, R or some organisation that acts in R's name, has
accepted his non-free plugin:


Yes, it is non-free, even if it's LGPL, because it's linking to both R
and MOSEK, which is a GPL+proprietary whole. There is no actual GPL
violation because it's avoiding binary distribution. However, I'm
concerned with the overall message this sends.

I was under the impression that R is part of the GNU project, and as
an Octave developer, I have thought of R as being a fellow GNU-in-arms
comrade. I have proudly recommended R to people, both on technical
merits and sound philosophical principles. I don't see R as a
competitor to Octave, but as an esteemed colleague.

I am, however, a little concerned that R seems to be endorsing a
project that is in turn endorsing non-free software. This seems to be
against what an important aspect of what GNU should do: promote free
software and discourage the proliferation of non-free software. While
you may argue that the plugin is free, it is absolutely useless
without the non-free package, so R is ultimately recommending its
users to use a non-free package. This seems like a problem to me.

I see several possible solutions:

    1) R could stop calling itself part of the GNU project. This would
       make me very sad, and I hope R doesn't take this route. As I
       said, I'm proud to be part of the same organisation that R is
       currently part of.

    2) R could stop endorsing R-Forge. This obviously seems like a
       much worse alternative.

    3) R-Forge could remove the offending package. I also hope it
       doesn't come to this.

    4) The authors of MOSEK could make it free. Note: "free" does not
       mean "money is forbidden". One option for MOSEK could be to
       dual-license it: MOSEK is GPL, but anyone who wants to lock it
       up has to pay for alternative license terms. FFTW and Qt are
       two prominent free commercial packages that have followed this

I really would much prefer (4), or if it can't be achieved, (3). But I
encourage the R users and contributors to support the aims of the GNU
project and to stand together with the Octave community in this

Thank you for your time,
- Jordi G. H.

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