[flashrom] LGPL

Rolette, James (Jay) rolette at hp.com
Wed Apr 25 15:29:53 CEST 2012


I started asking my question on IRC and it was suggested that it might be
better to have the discussion on the mailing list.

Here's the discussion from IRC so far:

[16:02] <rolette> Howdy.  Is there any possibility of releasing flashrom
under LGPL rather than GPL?  I've searched through the docs, wiki, archives,
etc. but haven't seen any discussions around this issue.
[16:07] <stefanct> i'd guess that the problem did not arise yet because
libflashrom is not really ready for use
[16:08] <stefanct> feel free to start a thread on the ml :)

[17:06] <PaulePanter> rolette: Why do you need LGPL?

[17:44] <carldani> rolette: We had discussions about GPLv2 vs GPLv3, but
I've never seen a request for LGPL. LGPL would only make sense if parts of
flashrom should be linked against GPLv2-incompatible (e.g.
GPLv3/proprietary) code.
[17:47] <carldani> rolette: To make sure we can always incorporate flashrom
code changes back into our codebase, we decided to stick to GPLv2.
[17:49] <carldani> rolette: AFAIK Google modified flashrom to have a
different command line interface and additional features for better
integration into their update software. That update software just executes
flashrom in a separate process and has a clean licensing barrier that way.
[17:50] <carldani> rolette: That approach may work for you as well.
[17:56] <carldani> rolette: And if you need support for some odd hardware
where the vendor only offers a binary-only driver (e.g. some external
programmers), there's always the option of reverse engineering it. We've
done that in the past, and it works fine and is legally sound thanks to EU
legislation which allows reverse engineering for interoperability regardless
of what the vendor/manufacturer says.
[17:59] <carldani> rolette: Most flashrom developers live in the EU, and
quite a few of us are pretty good at reverse engineering.
[18:02] <carldani> rolette: I would be very interested in hearing about a
use case which requires flashrom to be LGPL. Please tell us about the
background of your question.

[07:31] <rolette> Thanks to PaulePanter and carldani for the responses.  The
reason I'm asking about LGPL is that I'm interested in porting flashrom to
VxWorks and using it in an embedded system.
[07:32] <rolette> Historically we've written our own custom code for
programming the various programmable parts we use and it makes more sense to
work with something like flashrom if possible
[07:33] <rolette> More than happy to contribute back our changes, but need
the license to be something we can use in a system with flat memory space,
[07:34] <rolette> libflashrom is really what we'd be more interested in, but
looks too early for that.  Might be something we could help build if we can
work out the licensing issues
[07:35] <idwer> libflashrom would be derived work, therefor still be GPL2
licensed (afaik, ianal)
[07:36] <rolette> Yep, understood.  That's why I started by asking if there
was any way to license flashrom as LGPL :)
[07:39] <rolette> Given how common programmable parts are in embedded
systems, seems like LGPL would end up netting more contributions from
companies as they add support for the parts they are using on their designs
[07:40] <rolette> Although I'm sure I'm not bringing up anything you guys
haven't discussed
[07:41] <rolette> Let me know if this is something that I should be
discussing on the mailing list instead.  I started here mainly in case there
was going to be an immediate "hell no!" reaction
[07:46] <stefanct> all active developers are here, but since i doubt that
there will be an immediate conclusion it is probably a good idea to have
something more persistent... i.e. a thread on the ml.

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