Baloo Framework - License Exception

Sebastian Kügler sebas at
Mon Jan 5 12:58:15 UTC 2015


On Sunday, January 04, 2015 11:23:49 David Faure wrote:
> On Tuesday 16 December 2014 14:02:18 Sebastian Kügler wrote:
> > - If it's effectively GPL-licensed, it should not be a proper Framework
> I would like to challenge this reasoning.
> It seems to me that the premise is:
> * we need baloo
> * baloo currently needs Xapian
> * Xapian is GPL
> * the architecture we have now is that libraries coming from the KDE
> community are released together as KDE Frameworks, with an effort (greater
> than before) on making these libraries useful and useable outside the KDE
> community. (BTW that effort is bearing fruit, I'm visiting a company in 2
> weeks who is going to use KIO in an embedded-linux product)
> From these facts, a reasonable (IMHO) conclusion is that:
> * we can release baloo as a framework, as long as we indicate clearly in its
> documentation that baloo is "effectively GPL" due to Xapian.
> Not releasing baloo as a framework:
> + makes it simpler to say "all frameworks can be used under the LGPL"

We should make the licensing as clear and easy to understand as possible. When 
pondering a library to use, I usually do a coarse check for its license, 
LICENSE file, perhaps a few header files, and then assume the answer is clear 
to me.

This would definitely not be the case with this Baloo situation, it says 
something different from what it effectively turns out to be, and I have to 
wrap my head around its reasoning. I think we should prevent it for the sake 
of clarity, if something says it's LGPL, but in practice can't be used as 
that, then it's effectively not LGPL (not in a useful way, anyway), and the 
label is misleading.

I understand that there's value to releasing it as a framework (your list is a 
good start), but I wouldn't want to trade the clarity of "all frameworks are 
LGPL and I know what that means, no weird corner-cases and exceptions" for 
Baloo being a framework or not. To me, the promise of Frameworks are LGPL is a 
legal safety-net, and we're about to be poking a hole into it.

> Are we going to shoot ourselves in the foot (= making our lives more
> complicated, by having a dependency that works differently from the other
> dependencies and has to be released separately) just so that we can say "all
> frameworks are LGPL" ?

I wouldn't call it shooting ourselves in the foot (since we know well about 
its consequences), but yes, I think it's worth it.

> Finally, note that releasing baloo as a framework doesn't contradict
>, which says the source
> files [of baloo] should be LGPL. They are. It's Xapian that isn't.
> (What we should avoid is to use baloo from other frameworks, but that's a
> fact whether or not baloo itself is a framework or a separate lib.)

And that again requires people to understand this particular situation. Great 
value of Open Source licenses comes from standardization, meaning: I don't 
have to spend days or weeks to understand the licensing of a project. An 
exception like this to me is watering down that benefit.

sebas | | GPG Key ID: 9119 0EF9

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