Free software, as in speech, without Makefile

Paul van der Vlis paul at
Fri Mar 20 14:50:24 UTC 2015

Op 20-03-15 om 11:41 schreef Carsten Agger:
> On 03/20/2015 11:26 AM, Paul van der Vlis wrote:
>> Hello,
>> Somebody asks me to support a nice program with a AGPL license.
>> It is free as in speech, but not as in beer. If you want to use it for
>> more then 5 users, you have to pay a fee,
> That's fine! Anyone will be able to make a version with unlimited users
> with no fee requirement and distribute it, though!

Only the people with enough skills, and who want to do that. Realize
it's software for enterprise users, not for home users.

>> The source is available but the Makefile is missing. The developer says
>> it's to make it a bit more difficult to build it yourself. Eventually
>> for removing the registration.
>> It's a complex Java program what depends on many third party components
>> (all free), so maybe it's not so easy to make such a Makefile, no idea.
>> What's your opinion?
> It's up to developer whether to supply a Makefile with the source code
> or not.
> However, I'd consider it bad form, and if that program ever becomes
> popular, someone could and should create a fork with the Makefile
> included. In a way, I'd say it undermines the intention of freeing the
> program, as it provides obstacles to people building their own version
> without "reverse engineering" the build process.  In all cases,
> discouraging people from building their own version contradicts the
> spirit of free software. It may also violate some free software licenses
> (though I can't think of any examples right now).
> There's absolutely nothing wrong with creating free software with
> built-in registration requirements, but that does not mean that one
> should put obstacles in the way of users wanting to exercise freedom no.

My problem is, that I cannot check if the sourcecode can create the binary.

> 1. If you, as a supporter, can get the Makefile from the main developer,
> everyone else should be able to get it too.

He would give me the Makefile, and some other interested developers. But
I would not publish it when he does not want that. You will understand.

With regards,
Paul van der Vlis.

Paul van der Vlis Linux systeembeheer, Groningen

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