[rms at gnu.org: Some problems on gnucash.org]

Derek Neighbors derek at gnue.org
Thu Aug 10 12:52:59 EDT 2006

I could be totally full of crap, but have been around a while.  I can  
add some history (from my perception)... Hopefully Linas will correct  
me where I am wrong.

On Aug 10, 2006, at 9:10 AM, Chris Shoemaker wrote:

> On Thu, Aug 10, 2006 at 01:07:14AM -0700, Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
>> Christian Stimming <stimming at tuhh.de> writes:
> Maybe you were just joking around, (I do see a smiley), but if you're
> seriously asserting that GnuCash was ever "released under the auspices
> of the GNU Project"[1], which appears to be definitive of GNU
> packages, then I would expect GnuCash's documentation to have declared
> itself to be GNU software.  I've been unable to find any evidence that
> this was ever true.  Do you have any?  If not, I believe you are
> mistaken.

At the time that GNUCash appeared to be friendly with the GNU Project  
there wasn't much documentation about GNUCash in general.  I don't  
think it or propagating relationships in what existed was a primary  
focus.  In a nutshell, just because documentation doesn't state  
anything doesn't prove a ton (in either direction).

> I admit that the FSF has apparently declared GnuCash to be "a GNU
> package" for at least some time. [2] But, the FSF's own definition of
> a GNU package seems to require that the software authors declare their
> software to be so.  I have no explanation for this inconsistency.

RMS' email to this list was asking this project to FIX this problem.   
I admit that it seems a bit delayed.  For the record some time ago  
GNOME put Open Source on their home page and it caused quite a  
problem (as obviously they were at the time one of the most prolific  
GNU projects).

> As for RMS's implication that "the GNU Project" wrote GnuCash [3],
> GnuCash's authors are quite well noted in GnuCash's source and AUTHORS
> file.  I don't know of the official membership of the GNU Project -
> perhaps it's a circular definition, but of those contributors, you,
> Thomas, are the only one I know of that's apparently associated with
> the GNU Project.

I think only the developers can say.  Here is where I think some of  
the roots (or my understanding of them) are confused.  It is my  
understanding that Linas took an X-accountant program which was no  
longer maintained and gutted it to not be dependent on Motif.  My  
interactions with Linas certainly made me believe he was very  
connected to the Free Software Foundation AND the GNU Project because  
I was introduced to him via RMS as needing to collaborate for the  
betterment of the GNU Project.

It is also my understanding that the GNU Project very much helped  
Linux Global Partners put money behind the company Linas ran  
(GNUMatic) which employed many of the people in the AUTHORS file.   
During my interaction with GNUMatic it was very much communicated  
that GNUCash was part of the GNU Project.

Once GNUMatic shut its doors most of those developers stepped away  
(including Linas) and Derek Atkins took primary leadership of the  
project.  Since that happened there seems to no longer be any  
connection to the GNU Project.

> I'm just trying to objectively examine the few things that would
> suggest ambiguity on the subject.  On the whole, I'm inclined to trust
> the more numerous and less ambiguous data that clearly indicate the
> GnuCash has never been a GNU package, e.g. a public statement by a
> core GnuCash developer in 2001, "While GnuCash is licenced under GPL
> software, we are not technically a GNU project." [4]

I don't think a comment in a Slashdot posting is "hard evidence".   
Note that Robert Merkel, if memory serves correct, was an employee at  
GNUMatic.  Many of the GNUMatic employees started Linux Developers  
Group (LDG) after GNUMatic closed.  There was a vested interest to  
try to muddy copyright waters of code for LDG's gain.  Note: I am not  
saying that to be negative or indicate any sort of wrong doing.  Not  
even saying the source is wrong.  Just saying that the source loses  
credibility because of potential conflict of interest.

The FSF asks projects to ASSIGN copyright, but doesn't MANDATE it (or  
at least they used to not do so).  I think well run projects do, both  
for legal issues and issues like this.

> All that aside, I don't really have a strong opinion either way, if
> other devs wanted to make GnuCash a GNU package.  They would have to
> announce it, though.  As far as I can tell, they don't really care
> much.  However, it's strange that RMS claims that GnuCash is a GNU
> package, and definitely impolite to imply that GnuCash was written by
> "the GNU Project." [3]

I definitely agree here.  I think the current developers (those  
putting in their time) need to assess whether they want to be a part  
of the GNU Project.  If so, they should do the things that are  
expected of GNU projects.  If not, they should let RMS and the FSF  
that they are not interested in being part of the FSF GNU Project.

In summary,  I am not so sure it matters if GNUCash was or wasn't  
part of the GNU Project.  I think what is important is deciding if  
they CURRENTLY want to be part of the GNU Project.

Derek Neighbors

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