[Rd] Non-free packages in CRAN

Simon Urbanek simon.urbanek at r-project.org
Fri Nov 18 17:10:49 CET 2011


I think you are misunderstanding a few things here. First, "R" doesn't endorse anything - it is a program, it does what you tell it to do. Second, whoever runs R-forge doesn't endorse the packages hosted on it, either. It's just an infrastructure, with no claim about endorsement of the package hosted there (just like github, sourceforge etc. don't say anything about the software hosted there). Third, LGPL is a GNU license and also a open source license (in fact far more free than GPL - see "Software Licenses" on GNU pages). If anyone shared your interpretation, there would be no GNU/Linux since glibc is LGPL licensed and so are parts of gcc (and hence according to your argument neither can be a GNU project). Note that a lot of GNU libraries are licensed under LGPL.

The fact that you personally may not like licenses other than GPL is completely irrelevant. There are many other open source licenses and there is nothing wrong with using them. It is entirely up to the developer to decide how they feel about their code - whether they want it to be restricted by GPL or more free with some other open source license. Instead of forcing our views on users, we are empowering them to filter packages according to the license they feel comfortable with.

As for giving access to proprietary software - I think the argument is the exact opposite of what you are saying. By having the ability to leverage functionality (be it proprietary) that doesn't exist in R/Octave/.., you are making the free software stronger. If people realize that it is a desirable functionality, then they will create a free alternative since only a part of the community can use it. However, if such link did not exist, then users may choose to abandon the free software and use a commercial product instead (AFAIR in your example it was Matlab that has a link to Mosek). That would also weaken the possibility of a free alternative for the package.


On Nov 17, 2011, at 1:06 PM, Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso wrote:

> Hello.
> This is in relation to the discussion below:
>    http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?thread_name=CAPHS2gwmxJGF9Cy8%3DSEGasQcVRg_Lqu-ndCdVhO-r1LJsRQGuA%40mail.gmail.com&forum_name=octave-dev
> 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:
>    http://rmosek.r-forge.r-project.org/
> 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
>       route.
> 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
> regard.
> Thank you for your time,
> - Jordi G. H.
> ______________________________________________
> R-devel at r-project.org mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-devel

More information about the R-devel mailing list