Subject: Re: proprietary plugins
From: Alan Horkan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Jan 07 2002 - 14:43:05 CST
On 7 Jan 2002, Rui Miguel Seabra wrote:
> I'd like to bring this to all of you, and I think we hsould have this
> by 1.0 (as a requirement).
insist that users tell us if they are using any plugins. this will be one
of those questions that will just have to be asked ad nauseam.
if the problem may be plugin related then ask them to try and replicate
the problem without any plugins installed. it may not necessarily be
possible for an ordinary user to disable plugins if they have been
installed by the admin/root (can anyone disprove this, please?).
if they are using unnofficial plugins tell them nicely that if the code
is not in the Official CVS then there is not much we can do about it.
if the source is closed tell them there is nothing we can do about it (and
unless by some remote chance the plugin complies with the terms of the
GPL, that the author is obliged to release distribute the source code
with any binaries).
> Since we have plugins support, and plugins can interfere heavily with
> abiword's functionality and behaviour, we should have a way to
The plugin architecture should not trust any plugin.
Although it is not currently practicle (although not impossible) to write
a proprietary plugin, it may eventually be possible and even desirable to
have third party plugins, although preferably not closed source.
Think PDF plugin (ask Dom).
> Such plugins, are not allowed, however, someone can do them.
> We should use something in the likes of what the kernel now does: it
> displayts a warning that it is tainted when it has proprietary modules.
it would be great if we could configure bug-buddy to say what plugins were
in use. it would be great if the debugging output and/or the verbose mode
told use what plugins were in use.
It does not sound easy, it does not sound like a blocker for v1.0
> If someone is using an abiword with a proprietary plugin, and he/she 's
> felling lot's of crashes, corrupt documents, etc, who's the fault? Ours,
Its not our problem, but we may have to try and clean up the mess or at
least bear it gracefully. its certainly not our fault.
The trick or "problem" is identifying or figuring out if and when plugins
are being used and this can only really be done by good quality bug reporting.
It may be a difficult task and be hard to identify, but not our "problem".
(i use the word problem very loosely, i hope you get my meaning).
> or of some plugin nobody can properly debug but the author?
> I think we must not fall in the position of receiving complains about a
> tainted abiword.
> We already do not allow proprietary plugins, but we have to decide
its not that we dont allow proprietary plugins, its just wildly
impractical to make them.
You would have to do some grossly pointless reverse engineering just to
allow you to make a plugin and comply with the GPL. Even so i dont think
the GPL precludes closed source plugins within a company, its only when
you want to distribute binaries publically that it becomes an issue
(ill discuss this offlist if you like).
> what's in our easiest reach: to prosecute for GNU GPL violation and/or
> refuse to support any tainted version.
i think we all know you feel strongly about Software Freedom. Legal
action should be a last resort, the first stage is always to explain
carefully and ask politely that the code be released in compliance
with the terms of the Gnu Public License. Tainted is a stong word to use.
It is something to keep in mind for 1.2 and the future but i cant imaging
it being a huge problem. I dont there is much need to say anything about
third party plugins until they exist, or keep it simple and say if you did
not get it from abisource then its not official and not supported.
If i wanted to close off Abiword i would run a Web based
frontend and farm out tasks to abiword i the background. I beleive this
is one of the murkier details of the GPL and a possible way to circumvent
it, but i digress...
I like software freedom too.
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