Source code and test suites

Sam Liddicott sam at
Thu Jan 19 13:09:45 UTC 2006

Alex Hudson wrote:

>On Thu, 2006-01-19 at 12:48 +0100, Jeroen Dekkers wrote:
>>Because you don't distribute (or propagate in GPLv3 terms) anything
>>when running a test suite on a program, I don't see how the GPL could
>>enforce anything about test suites.
>I guess if the program is complex enough and the output needs to be
>correct, you can argue that the source without the test suite is not the
>complete source code (not the preferred form for modification).
I disagree in general but I can create cases where it is true.
Let the source be in some obfuscated langauge where mistakes are common.
Let the compile not have error checking, but have its source available.
It then becomes futile to try and edit the source without the "test 

This certainly is a bizarre corner case but lets not pretend that the 
GPL may tend fiends in this direction if it is the only way out. I don't 
think it will do them any good...

To me the test suite is an incomplete computer executable form of the 
specification. The test suite may technically be partially derived from 
the project which could render it's distribution subject to the GPL.  
This may prevent me from distributing a test suite that is based on a 
closed framework, if I am using it to test GPL software.


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