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The GNU people have gone off their collective rocker

April 6th, 2009

I wanted to find out why more and more libraries are now licensed under the GPL instead of the LGPL. In my search, I found GNU’s article telling people not to use the LGPL. I thought that was odd.

Today, I had the need for an RSS reader/writer library for work. MagpieRSS did almost everything I needed. It parses pretty much any RSS feed and has fairly loose parsing methods. I thought: well that’s easy enough, I can just write a function to turn the MagpieRSS object back into RSS XML. I’d need to add <enclosure> functionality as well. I could submit the code back to the MagpieRSS people and MagpieRSS would be an RSS writer as well.

That’s when I saw the license… GPL. So, that makes MagpieRSS useless for this project. That means I have to write my own RSS reader and writer. It’s not that big of a deal to write an RSS parser. It’s not like RSS is incredibly complicated. For that matter, it’s not that big of a deal to write an RSS writer, either. But as we all know, why reinvent the wheel?

So now I have to write my own RSS parser and writer which I’ll then release under a normal license like BSD or LGPL. Now there will be competing open source projects that provide the same functionality thanks to GNU’s short-sightedness.

People are not thinking their cunning plans all the way through. By preventing commercial use of libraries, they lose the support that commercial users also provide.

In short, the GNU (and MagpieRSS) people are being annoying fanatics.


  1. Alex M.
    April 6th, 2009 at 13:42 | #1

    What entitles commercial software vendors to make money from other people’s work? If you want to use software for free then you should make your software free too. If you want to make money from MagpieRSS, then you should contact them, commercially license them, and give them a fair cut for their efforts.

  2. April 13th, 2009 at 16:08 | #2

    I don’t agree with Alex M. assessment entirely as in this case I don’t think you would have been violating the GPL–assuming you were using the software for internal purposes. The GPL prevents commercial endeavors from including Open Source software bundled with (or part of) proprietary software. If you were just planning on using the software for commercial usage and not resale, then I think you would have been fine.

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