Looking to learn more about "EXCEPTIONS" -- gnu style

David Johnson arandir at meer.net
Wed Mar 8 05:33:15 UTC 2000

On Tue, 07 Mar 2000, Mark Rauterkus wrote:

> I'm trying to get my mind around the ins and outs of the granted GNU
> exceptions. I didn't find any list of all the software titles that have been
> granted "exceptions".

It would be difficult to create such a list, as there are thousands of
GPLd programs out there..

> It makes sense that a "compiler" and even the kernel would be an exception
> -- so as to allow that tool to craft "non-free" output.

It's more than just "non-free" output, as the GPL is not the only free license.

The GNU compilers have exceptions, but as I understand it, they're
only there to placate some fears. I seem to recall some early rumours that
compiling your programs with a GPL compiler would cause the output to be under
the GPL. This is patently false, as the GPL already excepts the output of most
programs, including gcc. Nevertheless, the fear was there so the exception was

I still wonder why the Linux kernel is GPL+exception, instead of being LGPL.
Can anyone shed light on this? Was the LGPL available when Linux was put under
the GPL? According to Linus from an interview, the exception is there so
that programs can make kernel calls without falling under the GPL. Without it,
one could argue that *every* program running under Linux would be a derivative
of the kernel and thus have to be GPLd. This would have killed Linux before it
got a foot off of the ground.

Many Qt programs that are under the GPL have an exception allowing them to be
linked with Qt. A lot of people, myself included, think this is unecessary, but
there are those who think programs without are illegal to redistribute. As it
now stands, there are hundreds of stable and useful Qt programs available, but
Debian only has five the last I checked. Two of them were GPLd with the
exception, the remainder were BSD or Artistic.

As for other exceptions, I have not seen any, though I have seen one that had a

David Johnson...

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