What is source code? GPL

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#16 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: What is source code? GPL

Posted 28 December 2012 - 07:55 PM

Hrm? Who's attacking?
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#17 Skydiver  Icon User is offline

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Re: What is source code? GPL

Posted 28 December 2012 - 10:17 PM

So where does one draw the line between "editing configuration files" and "modifying source code"?

If the line drawn is that if a change cause a significant change in the way the original source code behaves (and there is a standard for "significant"), then someone has crossed the line from editing a configuration line into modifying source code.

Unfortunately, using that as the litmus test isn't very good. If the software is not configured, then more likely than not it won't run. By setting up the configuration, then it is running. I would say that there is a pretty significant difference in behavior between running and not running.

Even .INI files are in the the gray area of is it source code or is it configuration. The contents of the file may not be compiled or executed, but it may contain enough information in there that controls major bits of behavior of the software that reading the .INI file.

For example, to me config.ini is not source code:
[Watermark]
name=Sandy Claus
company=Christmas, Inc.
licencekey=12345



But setup.ini is source code:
[Options]
Manifest="ExpressionStudioManifest.cab"
LangId=1033
MinDotNet=DotNet40
[SetupFiles_0]
File=Setup\XSetup.exe
File=Setup\XSetupAct.dll
File=Setup\XSetupLic.dll
File=Setup\sldl_dll.dll
File=Setup\sldlext.dll
File=Setup\Microsoft.Expression.Licensing.dll
File=Setup\msvcr100.dll
File=Setup\License\Studio4Premium\client-issuance-ppd.xrm-ms
;
; other lines deleted
;
[SetupFiles_1033]
File=Setup\en\XSetup.resources.dll
File=Setup\en\XSetupAct.resources.dll
File=Setup\en\XSetupLic.resources.dll
File=Setup\en\XSetupSqm.resources.dll
File=Setup\en\XSetupUI.resources.dll
File=Setup\Eula.en.rtf


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#18 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: What is source code? GPL

Posted 28 December 2012 - 10:29 PM

View PostSkydiver, on 29 December 2012 - 12:17 AM, said:

So where does one draw the line between "editing configuration files" and "modifying source code"?

If the line drawn is that if a change cause a significant change in the way the original source code behaves (and there is a standard for "significant"), then someone has crossed the line from editing a configuration line into modifying source code.

Unfortunately, using that as the litmus test isn't very good. If the software is not configured, then more likely than not it won't run. By setting up the configuration, then it is running. I would say that there is a pretty significant difference in behavior between running and not running.



Is there really a question about this? It seems perfectly clear to me that filling in the blanks in a configuration file is not a modification of the source code, any more than entering values into a spreadsheet is.
I'm all for amateur legalisms and pedantic handwaving, but does anyone actually think there's anything unclear about the terms of the GPL on this point?
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#19 Skydiver  Icon User is offline

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Re: What is source code? GPL

Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:51 AM

<Pedantic>
And if one of those blanks is labeled: "Enter CSS here for menu styles:"? Since it's "configuration", there is no need to reveal the secret sauce that make a plain Jane looking website into a super sexy Jezebel?
</Pedantic>

:)

Actually, I think we need to distinguish between compile time and run time configuration files. I feel that run time configuration files are not covered by the GPL, but the GPL Violations homepage makes it pretty clear that compile time configuration files are considered to be covered by the GPL:

Quote

Also, some programs such as the Linux kernel tend to have compile-time configuration (in case of the Linux kernel the .config file). Since this compile-time configuration undoubtedly controls the process of compilation, you need to include any such compile-time configuration files, too.

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#20 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: What is source code? GPL

Posted 29 December 2012 - 03:53 PM

You would have to include the config files, yes, but your particular values for those files?

Quote

<Pedantic>
And if one of those blanks is labeled: "Enter CSS here for menu styles:"? Since it's "configuration", there is no need to reveal the secret sauce that make a plain Jane looking website into a super sexy Jezebel?
</Pedantic>


<Pragmatic>
I can just take that off your site
<Pragmatic>

More seriously, if we're talking about a piece of software like mediawiki, changing the skin of that is not something that counts, for me, as a modification. I would hope that a user would enjoy showing off their work and make that css available - and even write up the details of how they made the decisions they made so others can learn from them - but I wouldn't want to require that. The css, it seems to me, is a separate work, which they can "share" or not. To make that point more clearly, let's suppose that there is a new development, whereby styling can be applied without the code that produces it being delivered directly to the browser. Suppose, for example, that we develop a flash-like product which handles all rendering and so forth on the server side and delivers only an interactive frame to the browser. And suppose that we run a mediawiki in this product: now you can see my styling, but not the css. (please ignore the holes in this scenario...)
In this case, I would say that you have no duty to distribute the CSS.

And of course this raises a much more interesting question. Suppose you deploy mediawiki to your servers, in some modified form. Let's suppose, for example, that you improve the code which detects internal links, so that people editing pages on your wiki have a much better experience than users of, for example, wikipedia.

In this case, do you have a duty to share the changes you've made to the source code? Or can you keep them private?

Clearly, if you distribute your changes to someone else to deploy on their machines, that would be distribution, no question. But do you have a responsibility, under the GPL, to show your work to others if you're only deploying it on your servers?
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#21 alicemenezes  Icon User is offline

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Re: What is source code? GPL

Posted 10 January 2013 - 03:57 AM

You don't "have to" give all the details of your source code to everyone. These details will be required only by one who needs access to the application coding. Otherwise why would wiki give the details of their connection string?
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