Can you under the GPL distribute executables without full sources?

James Michael DuPont mdupont777 at
Tue Aug 27 10:21:26 UTC 2002

Thanks for your comments.

Let me clarify the points :
The DIA tool is a GTK(+) based diagram tool.
It has been ported to the windows by Hans Breuer and Tor Lillqvist.

After looking into it, The source code is not exactly broken, just
strewn around. 

There are a bunch of needed dlls, 
libdia.dll dia-python.dll 

gdk-1.3.dll gdk_imlib.dll glib-1.3.dll gmodule-1.3.dll gnu-intl.dll
gthread-1.3.dll gtk-1.3.dll iconv-1.3.dll imlib-gif.dll imlib-jpeg.dll
imlib-png.dll imlib-tiff.dll libart.dll libgdk-0.dll
libgdk-pixbuf-0.dll libglib-2.0-0.dll libgmodule-2.0-0.dll
libgthread-2.0-0.dll libgtk-0.dll libxml2.dll pthread.dll

That are all distributed with the executable. 
Some of them are as old as march 21 2000! 

Others as new as new as June 1 2001.

Some of these have the source code on tors site, some on hans,
others not at all. Some are in the gnome cvs, others in the gnu cvs.

--- David Johnson <david at> wrote:
> On Thursday 22 August 2002 07:32 am, James Michael DuPont wrote:
> > Can a person distribute just a DLL or lib without the source code
> being
> > able to compile directly?
> >
> > Or Even worse :
> > if other people base thier DLLS just on the DLLS provided, but
> no-one
> > is able to recompile the entire thing from scratch, is that legal?
> From my understanding of the (L)GPL, the answer is yes. As common
> courtesy, I 
> would also make it very evident to all comers that the source code is
> broken.

Maybe people have complained about that state of the compilation.

Worse, the way that the port has been setup, people will tend to just
download the ready made development libs and dlls, that are on the
site, but not the source code that is not there.

> > As far as I can tell from the GPL, all sources that do not belong
> > to the standard system install have to be provided, not just the
> name
> > of the lib used.
> It depends a little bit on what you are distributing. If you are
> distributing 
> "some GNOME libs I'm trying to port to Windows, but are currently
> broken", 
> then you have a lot of leeway. It's broken, so they can't build it
> anyway. 
> But if it wasn't broken (or at least not intended to be broken), then
> everything in the software chain down to the OS must be GPL
> compatible.

It was not indended on being broken,
the statement is that the code can be compiled, given lots of work and
setup time.

> What exactly this "systems software" clause covers is a topic of
> minor debate. 
> The FSF argued in the past that the Qt library did not count, even
> for systems where it was installed by default. On the other hand, the
MFC libraries do count, even though they do not ship with the OS.

The GTK will not count either.

> In my opinion, as long as this software is broken, you don't have to 
> distribute anything it depends on, since it can't, by definition,
> depend on anything. 

Sure, but you cannot distribute a binary without having the source
if you get the exec, you need to have the source available. You need to
get a copy of the license.

If you then redistribute the binary that is not GPL compatible,
you are in a no-mans land.

Plus the gettext is FSF copyleft and GPL, and all these tools are
derived including this.

> Standard Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Even if no one is paying you
> to do 
> this coding, you should still hire an expensive attorney to review
> the GPL 
> and advise you in all legal matters pertaining to your porting
> activities. At 
> least that's what my attorney told me.

STANDARD answer :
Thanks, I am doing this on my free time, not for profit at all. 

Thanks for your thoughtfull tips.


James Michael DuPont

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