Subject: Re: GNU and classified software
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 13:39:17 -0800
Fri, 23 Mar 2001 13:39:17 -0800
on Fri, Mar 23, 2001 at 12:44:10PM -0800, Lucas Vogel ( wrote:
> Can GNU tools be used in the creation/use/distribution of classified
> software?

Define "classified software".  Are you talking about military/defense
security classifications?  This response assumes so.

I can't answer your question directly, but:

    Q: Does the GPL mandate that software created using GNU tools,
       compilers, etc., be covered under the GPL?  
    A: No.  In general, program outputs are not governed by the GPL.

    Q: Does using GPLd libraries mandate that software incorporating these
       libraries (linked to them) be covered by the GPL?  
    A: Yes.  Linking is considered to be a derivative work (defined by
       copyright) under the GPL.  There is some ongoing discussion as to
       how broad, inclusive, or legitimate this claim is.  The general
       understanding is that static linking is, and dynamic linking
       probably is, covered.

    Q: As above, but LGPLd libraries?  
    A: No.  The LGPL allows linking to LGPLd libraries without requiring
       the linked software be covered under the GPL or LGPL.

    Q: Does using the GPL require public disclosure of sources and/or
    A: This depends.  Depending on your distribution of binaries and/or
       sources, this may be mandated.  See section 3 of the GPL for
       requirements and alternatives in addressing source distribution
       requirements.  Note that the one act proscribed by the GPL is
       restricting third party distribution.

    Q: Do classified software requirements conflict with the GNU GPL?
    A: I have no idea.  I don't know what the requirements or
       regulations are.  I *do* know that the NSA has worked with
       GNU/Linux, that Bruce Perens spoke to the Navy regarding (IIRC)
       working with Free Software in classified environments.  My
       general sense is that any such restrictions would come from the
       restrictions imposed by the classification requirements, not from
       the GPL.

IANAL.  I am also not a military security specialist.  I hold no
military security clearances.

Karsten M. Self <>
 What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?       There is no K5 cabal

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