Subject: programs vs. libraries
From: shap@eros.cis.upenn.edu
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 14:53:05 -0400

I really hesitate to enter this discussion at the moment, but (in
spite of occasional appearances) I respect the opinions out there on
this list...

> One of the things I expect to happen in the next decade, which worries
> me a lot with regard to the GPL: the distinction between "linking with
> a library" and "using a program" will become less and less real....

Also with dynamically linkable subsystems, such as technologies like
ActiveX.

For ActiveX type things, I suspect that the only realistic answer is
that a binary interface is a binary interface.  If you release a
program into the field that supports loading binary modules, you're
not going to have a lot of luck stopping publishers from bundling
proprietary modules on the tape/CD or end users from using those
modules if they are worthwhile.


However, I want to raise two questions in connection with EROS.

1. As I've previously stated, it looks like EROS will go out under
Mozilla.  We will at some point do a binary-compatible UNIX system,
and my inclination is to do Linux compatibility because it seems to
have the most apps.

The easiest way to do this, of course, is to hack up a linux kernel.
We'll certainly make the source available, but it's not very useful
without EROS under it (in much the way that GCC is not very useful
without UNIX under it), and it will be a pretty major set of changes
(diffs will be out of the question).

Are we morally obligated to GPL major portions of EROS if we do this?


2. Drivers are a problem, and a lot of people are working on Linux
drivers.  If we build a generic kernel/driver interface in EROS for
user-mode drivers, we could use a lot of Linux drivers without
contaminating the kernel proper.  Obviously, we'ld need to GPL and
release those drivers.

Once again, does this violate GPL?  It clearly doesn't violate the
letter, but how do people feel about the possibility of our doing
this?