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

Herbert Thoma herbert.thoma at iis.fraunhofer.de
Thu Aug 10 17:45:12 EDT 2006


I never managed to achieve the status "core developer" but I
contributed some patches and I am a really long time GnuCash

I started using GnuCash in 1999. Yes, it was called Xaccountant
back then and the extension of my GnuCash data file is still
.xac :-). I have been reading gnucash-devel since I have been
using GnuCash. I was never aware that GnuCash is part of the
GNU project but I don't care very much either.

However, my name appears in the copyright statements of
some GnuCash source files and I never transfered my copyright
to the FSF. I don't know if any of the current or former
developers did.


Chris Shoemaker wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 10, 2006 at 09:52:59AM -0700, Derek Neighbors wrote:
>>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
>>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 didn't really mean user-level documentation.  For as far back as I
> can research, the GnuCash source code and associated files
> (e.g. README) have always been rather verbose on the topics of
> licensing, authorship and copyrights.  In that context, the absence of
> any "This is GNU software" statement certainly casts doubt in my mind,
> _especially_ since that would perhaps be the only objective mark of
> the fact, given that copyright was not being assigned to FSF.
>>>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.
> Could you clarify that last part, please?  Communicated by whom, to
> whom, in what form and how explicitly?  Any references would be
> especially helpful.
>>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.
> There may or may not have been a conflict of interest.  However, his
> statement certainly doesn't "muddy copyright waters".  "The copyright
> is actually owned by the many individuals and the companies who have
> contributed to the project."  This is a clarification, and true.
> Whether or not GnuCash was a GNU package seems to be fairly objective,
> so on that topic, I feel comfortable saying he either told the truth
> or not, perhaps unintentionally, or perhaps deceptively.  Based on
> what I've seen, I think what he wrote was true.
>>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.
> I think the current devs are satisfied with maintaining the status
> quo, so in that sense, it _does_ matter if GnuCash was part of the GNU
> Project.  If it was, and in the absence of any decision to withdraw
> from the GNU Project, we should immediately and visibly announce that
> GnuCash is indeed a GNU package, despite all the things that would
> seem to indicate otherwise.  If it was not, but RMS wants to say that
> it is, what does that hurt us?  It seems to be spreading a rather
> harmless misconception that has little effect on GnuCash and may even
> benefit RMS.  It's like Novell calling GnuCash a SUSE package.  Again,
> I think the current devs just don't care much, (unless we're all
> mistaken and GnuCash really is a GNU Package, in which case serious
> clarification is appropriate.)
> -chris
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Herbert Thoma
Group Manager Video
Multimedia Realtime Systems Department
Fraunhofer IIS
Am Wolfsmantel 33, 91058 Erlangen, Germany
Phone: +49-9131-776-323
Fax:   +49-9131-776-399
email: tma at iis.fhg.de
www: http://www.iis.fhg.de/

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