[License-discuss] Discussion: AGPL and Open Source Definition conflict

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Wed Aug 14 18:25:36 UTC 2019

OpenLDAP does not provide an interactive user interface, so that provision
of AGPL does not apply to it. It provides an interface meant to  work only
with programs,  rather than a human being. In contrast, the first
generation of internet servers where intended to respond to connection from
the telnet program, and provide a human readable help message.

If you want to err on the side of caution, a message which is visible by
sniffing the network connection would fulfill the responsibility. If your
server is incapable of providing such a message, I would submit that this
is an error in the protocol design. In the case of LDAP, such messages
should have been tolerated during the connect stage. In contrast,
connecting to an HTTP server allows all sorts of verbiage to pass by in a
form guaranteed to be ignored by the software.



On Wed, Aug 14, 2019, 6:27 AM Howard Chu <hyc at openldap.org> wrote:

> Clause #10 of the definition https://opensource.org/docs/osd
> 10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral
> No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology
> or style of interface.
> I note that the Affero GPL https://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl-3.0.en.html
> clause #13
> 13. Remote Network Interaction; Use with the GNU General Public License.
> Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, if you modify the
> Program, your modified version must prominently offer all users interacting
> with it
> remotely through a computer network (if your version supports such
> interaction) an opportunity to receive the Corresponding Source of your
> version by providing
> access to the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge,
> through some standard or customary means of facilitating copying of
> software.
> violates the OSD clause #10. This issue arose specifically in the case of
> OpenLDAP when
> Oracle relicensed BerkeleyDB 6.x using AGPL. There is no available
> mechanism in the LDAP
> Protocol to allow us to comply with clause #13 of the AGPL. I believe the
> same is true of
> many common internet protocols such as SMTP, FTP, POP, IMAP, etc., which
> thus now precludes
> servers for these protocols from using BerkeleyDB. It appears to me that
> AGPL is plainly
> incompatible with the OSD and should not be an OSI approved license.
> This is no longer a pressing issue for us since we have subsequently
> abandoned BerkeleyDB
> in favor of LMDB. But I thought I should point it out since it may affect
> other projects.
> --
>   -- Howard Chu
>   CTO, Symas Corp.           http://www.symas.com
>   Director, Highland Sun     http://highlandsun.com/hyc/
>   Chief Architect, OpenLDAP  http://www.openldap.org/project/
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