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Re: Gow, Cygwin alternative refers to GNU programs as open source UNIX t

From: Jean Louis
Subject: Re: Gow, Cygwin alternative refers to GNU programs as open source UNIX tools
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 2020 04:07:15 +0300
User-agent: Mutt/+ (1036f0e) (2020-10-18)

* Kaz Kylheku (gnu-misc-discuss) <> [2020-10-27 23:48]:
> On 2020-10-27 12:43, Jean Louis wrote:
> > * Kaz Kylheku (gnu-misc-discuss) <> [2020-10-27
> > 22:13]:
> > > On 2020-10-27 07:43, Jean Louis wrote:
> > > > On this page accessible with LibreJS turned on:
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > There is useful tool Gow that runs GNU programs on Windows, quote:
> > > >
> > > > Gow - The lightweight alternative to Cygwin
> > > 
> > > There is a case to be made here that the project is GPL violating;
> > > it's shipping compiled GNU programs without any clue as to how
> > > the user can re-build that from scratch.
> > > 
> > > I see only compiled binaries in the Gow repo; I don't see any build
> > > scripts or instructions how rebuild it from scratch: how the
> > > binaries were obtained.
> > > 
> > > It seems to be shipping MSYS DLL's, so it appears to be a MinGW
> > > derivative.
> > 
> > I did not notice it. There are no sources on Github, just binaries and
> > there is Gow license which is contradictory to GPL license making it
> > unclear that it is majority GNU programs and GPL license:
> >
> Moreover, some wording in the documentation (FAQ list and Contributing)
> are insinuating that if the user wants some utility included, the way to
> do that is to create a ticket and wait for upstream to spin a new binary
> release, using the unreleased build system. In other words, the user is
> dependent on the author of this package.

Isn't that alright? It is friendly, somebody asks, author provides

How I understand it, it is my lack of knowledge and author is probably
assuming that it is easy to know, is that VBS is virtual basic script
and there is VBS source code. Only that it is bundled with the
compiled GNU programs and others. That is not common to me that source
is bundled with compiled programs. And because programs are compiled
and not readable, it is difficult for user to know what is what. GNU
programs always have its banner about GNU GPL, and in --version, but
when GNU programs are advertised as UNIX tools it is unclear and

To build this program one would need Virtual Basic, that is probably

> I'm suspecting that this is being cobbed together using manual steps.
> So that is to say, the author massages a program into building, and\
> then adds the .exe file into version control.
> Even so, then the documentation should describe the exact build
> environment, and document the steps, no?
> From the GPLv3:
> "The “Corresponding Source” for a work in object code form means
> all the source code needed to generate, install, and (for an
> executable work) run the object code and to modify the work,
> including scripts to control those activities. "
> But what if the build procedure is not completely scripted, relying
> on manual steps?

It is my lack of knowledge about Virtual Basic, it could be that it is
mouse based tool and very common for people to load the .VBS file and
make EXE out of it, I do not know.

> I think that to comply with this in situations when there are manual
> steps, the redistributor has to document those exact steps. Basically,
> the user who gets binaries must be able to closely reproduce those
> binaries.

Confusion for me is created by these:

- author is providing confusing description, using UNIX tools

- distributing binaries from Git where people expect to find sources,
  fine, only not common.

- distributing binaries along the Gow sources, this is fine, just not

- for binaries in git tree author is providing sources from releases
  section. Fine but very uncommon. Normally I can find sources in the
  git tree and all packaged together as sources in release section.

I see no problem with compliance with GPL but confusions created. When
binary is provided there is I guess GPL license, it is just not clear
what is what. If somebody needs source it is probably indicated

Jean Louis

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