Accepting GNU Free Documentation Licensed content

Mark Wielaard
Wed Aug 21 10:50:00 GMT 2019

Hi Ben,

On Tue, 2019-08-20 at 12:18 -0700, Ben Coyote Woodard wrote:
> What do you guys think of accepting derived works based upon GNU Free 
> Documentation Licensed content?
> As far as I can tell, allowing a project like elfutils the freedom to 
> fork and derive specialized content is what this license was intended to 
> do and elfutils use of the various GPL licenses expresses an overall 
> intention to not restrict user's freedom. The GFDL is in line with that 
> intention.

As long as it has "with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover
Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts" I am fine with GFDL. Otherwise it
is a pain to share and an argument could be made (as e.g. Debian does)
that it isn't really a Free license.

The DWARF Standard Document is also published under the GFDL 1.3, so we
could then also freely use some standard texts.

That said, I actually like the documentation being under the same
license as the code (GPL) since that makes it easy to share
documentation and code. e.g. We could generate an initial set of man
pages for the tools with and
then copy/paste changes between the man pages and the source code.
Which isn't possible if we use different incompatible licenses between
documentation and code.

The counter argument of course is that a manual describes something
different (better) than the simple code docs/help does. So sharing code
and documentation might not happen all that much in the first place.

> e.g. there is readelf and eu-readelf is designed to take the same 
> options and work the same way but there may be a couple of differences. 
> Why don't we just fork the readelf man page and describe any differences 
> that there may be.

How are those manuals generated? Do you want to keep sharing/updating
them from binutils? Or just use them as initial templates?

It would be good to see which differences there are in options. We try
to not be deliberately incompatible, but I believe there are some
(accidental) incompatibilities anyway.



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