[GRASS5] Proprietory Frontend for Mac OS X (was: Grass Projection Parameters)

Hal Mueller hal at seanet.com
Fri Feb 22 20:44:30 EST 2002

At 4:01 PM -0800 2/22/02, Jeshua Lacock wrote:
>On Friday, February 22, 2002, at 07:34 AM, Bernhard Reiter wrote:
>>On Mon, Feb 18, 2002 at 04:52:01PM -0800, Jeshua Lacock wrote:
>>>On Monday, February 18, 2002, at 06:45 AM, Bernhard Reiter wrote:
>>>>We might have to check that what you do is not voilating GRASS'
>>>[moved up from below]
>>>Our front-end only sets system environment variables and executes
>>>binaries. It does not modify or use any Grass code internally.
>>>Further, I do not plan to put the two products on a single disk.
>>>I am sure that it is within the context of the GPL.
>>It might be legal,
>>at least it is not entirely within the spirit of the GRASS community.
>>I will consult more people on this.

I think that Jeshua's plan is completely within both the GPL and the 
spirit of the GRASS community.  I hope he goes ahead with it, I hope 
we Mac users end up with a great product, and I hope Jeshua makes 
wheelbarrows full of money.  I don't even see any reason to put his 
two products on separate disks.

As some of you know, I'm mainly a PalmOS developer these days.  I'd 
like to toss out an example from that world (the word "militant" does 
not come close to describing some of the open-source folks over in 
the PalmOS community).

There are two main development environments for PalmOS, Codewarrior 
(proprietary, hundreds of dollars) and PRC-tools (based on GCC, GPL). 
However, there's also a proprietary environment from Falch.net called 
Developer Studio.  That's simply a nice GUI/IDE wrapped around PRC 
Tools.  If you want PRC Tools, you can have it for free.  If you want 
the IDE, you pay.  This strikes me as a very close parallel to 
Jeshua's project.

Now suppose I sit down and write a shell script to drive GRASS. 
That's certainly not a modification of GRASS (as defined in the GPL, 
paragraph 2).  It's simply a new program.  It's mine, I control the 
copyright and licensing, and I can sell it to anyone I can manage to 
convince to buy it.

But maybe I can't get the performance I need out of a shell script. 
So I write a C program to do the same thing.  It's not as crystal 
clear as the previous example, but I think this is still a separate 
program (the GPL calls it "identifiable sections of that work are not 
derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered 
independent and separate works in themselves").  Maybe it depends on 
how it's linked--or maybe not.

There's another phrase in the GPL that's relevant.  "...it is not the 
intent of this section to claim rights or contest your rights to work 
written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to exercise the right 
to control the distribution of derivative or collective works based 
on the Program".

I don't see how a front-end can be considered a derivative work. 
It's a new work.

Finally, there's one more thing I hope folks will consider.  If the 
GRASS community gets a reputation for throwing up obstacles to new 
software, that can only hurt the future of GRASS and the open-source 
movement in general.  Of course, it will also put more money into 
ESRI's pockets.

Hal Mueller
Seattle, Washington    hal at seanet.com

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