Subject: Re: GNU and classified software
From: Norbert Bollow <nb@thinkcoach.com>
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 22:41:00 +0100

Lucas Vogel <lvogel@exponent.com> wrote:

> Can GNU tools be used in the creation/use/distribution of classified
> software?

Yes, as long as you just want to _use_the_tools_ for this
purpose.

However you are not allowed to take parts of the source code of
GNU programs and adapt them for inclusion in classified
software.  You can use most libraries (to be precise, those
which are released under the Lesser GNU Public License) but not
for example the readline library.

The whole point of the GNU Public license is to give the
greatest possible freedom to the users of the software.   As
long as you are just a user of the GNU software, you can use it
for any purpose, classified or not.  But if the plan is to not
just use the GNU software but create a derivative product, then
the derivative product must also be free software.  In
particular the derivative product cannot be classified.

Why is there a need for classified software anyway?  I agree
that there is a need to keep some information confidential, or
secret.  But I do not see any reason why it would not be a good
idea to rely entirely on free software for processing and
protecting this confidential information.

God bless you,
Norbert

-- 
Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59      Fax +41 1 972 20 69        nb@thinkcoach.com