Operating systems

FreeBSD takes another step toward GPL escape

The Apple-backed Clang compiler is now the default compiler in FreeBSD.

One of the tentative goals for the upcoming FreeBSD 10 release is for BSD's base system to be totally free of code licensed under the GPL.

(Credit: Apple)

That goal took a massive step forward this week with the announcement that Clang is now the default compiler on x86 builds of FreeBSD, replacing the GPL-licensed GCC compiler.

"There will probably be a few bumps as we work out the last kinks, including a ABI issue for i386 system libraries, but the transition is expected to be fairly smooth for most users," wrote FreeBSD core team member Brooks Davis.

Besides its BSD licensing, Clang, along with its LLVM back end, provides better integration with IDEs by making it easier to map errors back to the offending piece of code better than GCC can. Clang is already used in Apple's XCode.

For philosophical reasons regarding the GPLv3, FreeBSD has been officially using an outdated version of GCC (4.2.1) in its releases for some time, although there was nothing holding back users wanting to update the GCC compiler to later versions themselves.

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7 comments
eldergabriel
eldergabriel

... I may not have heard about this for quite a while otherwise.

janitorman
janitorman

Why anyone would want to use Apple code, period? Making a "free" open source code "closed" so your users aren't free to do things like change it, pass it on, or use it for themselves in another way, isn't "freedom." Lots of people are using Gnu-based code on (shock) WINDOWS, including new GUI's that bypass the Windows 8 interface, entirely, making it more like whatever flavor of OS you like (and I can see that happening because a lot of software written for Windows just won't work under any other OS including in WINE and people perceive they need some particular thing instead of an alternative, or it's too costly to switch, especially in cases of company-specific programs written a few years back that's irreplaceable or would take too long to port or update.)

janitorman
janitorman

Why anyone would want to use Apple code, period? Making a "free" open source code "closed" so your users aren't free to do things like change it, pass it on, or use it for themselves in another way, isn't "freedom." Lots of people are using Gnu-based code on (shock) WINDOWS, including new GUI's that bypass the Windows 8 interface, entirely, making it more like whatever flavor of OS you like (and I can see that happening because a lot of software written for Windows just won't work under any other OS including in WINE and people perceive they need some particular thing instead of an alternative, or it's too costly to switch, especially in cases of company-specific programs written a few years back that's irreplaceable or would take too long to port or update.)

spdragoo
spdragoo

Wow, over 36 hours before the first response. Must be a record for TR. Kidding aside, though, possibly the lack of response is because, perhaps like most, I'm not sure a) why FreeBSD has a problem with GPL, and b) why it's that relevant. First, I thought that most open-source developers were all for the GPL, so I'm not sure why FreeBSD has a problem with it. Second, apparently the user base for FreeBSD isn't that big, or people would have been looking at this more closely.

anil_g
anil_g

FreeBSD is open source of course. GPL isn't required for software to be open source.

anil_g
anil_g

But first, if I have nothing to say why should I spam? And second, the TechRepublic demographic may not well represent FreeBSD users.

ctwise
ctwise

It comes down to your definition of freedom. The FreeBSD folks believe that any restriction of rights is the opposite of freedom. To them, software should be _completely_ free, including the right to take the code closed source. If you want to grab the FreeBSD code, change the name and issue a closed source version, that should be your right. It's like Voltaire's old quote, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend with my life your right to say it." As a result, they've been trying to purge the GPL from their code base for quite some time.