I waded through a lot of irrelevancies and noise, in
SmoothWall situation. There was crap and smoke-blowing from both sides.
The critics were somewhat clueless and wrong-headed. Richard Morrell
was belligerent and just a bit less than forthright.
I mention these things mostly to point out that, although they
all discussion of the matter at the time, they're utterly _irrelevant_ to
the issue at hand -- which, as usual, is code and its licensing.
There were two incidents:
(1) 2001-08-13 release of "Smoothwall GPL" 0.9.9 beta included
unprecedented and unadvertised prefix to the usual GPL COPYING file:
http://www.jasonclifford.com/COPYING (at the main critic's site):
Portions of SmoothWall, including the installer and the ADSL
utilities, are licenced under modified licences which are available on
application. No modifications to either the installation libraries or
binaries and re-distribution of modified binaries based on the installer is
permitted without the owners permission. The owners of this code are
Lawrence Manning (email@example.com) and Daniel Goscomb
GPL v. 2 itself followed this, verbatim, unchanged. (Thus,
critics' claim, FSF's copyright on GPL v. 2's text was NOT violated --
but prefacing the file is probably a bad idea, simply because people
The developers' continuing to name the product "Smoothwall
noting the proprietary utilities/installer was questionable but was not,
of course, GPL violation.
It is unclear what the new code's licence terms were. However,
not relevant to the question of GPL compliance.
Much, much noise ensued, over the next two days.
2001-08-15, the licensing change was eliminated. According to
claim, the 0.9.9 ISO9660 image was replaced around that time.
Question: Was there any GPL violation, at any point in this
Answer: Not that I can see. Nobody seems to even claim that Manning,
Coscomb, and Morrell intermingled or linked their proprietary code
with anyone else's GPL code. The critics' somewhat wild accusations
seem to be based on the mistaken assumption that GPL v. 2 prevents any
introduction of proprietary code into a "thing" (SmoothWall) previously
described as GPLed. But that "thing" is, for licensing reasons, a
collection of modules. The GPLed modules remained GPLed. Some modules
from Manning and Coscomb under restrictive terms were added to the
tarball. Later, a different instance of them came out under GPL terms.
Nobody's rights were infringed.
(2) In early November 2001, Smoothwall came out with binary
which among other things added "nagware" screens urging you to make
donations. Following URLs are from a critics' mailing list founded in
This addition, too, was claimed to constitute GPL violation.
code was GPLed! Essentially, the critics were objecting that Morrell
and company were constructing GPLed code they disapproved of. Fscking
Question: Was addition of "nagware" screens any sort of GPL
Answer: Hell no. The software authors' terms of distribution were
fully complied with. Consequently, among other things, critics had
complete freedom to modify (and redistribute) the work as they wished,
and/or to fork the project.
Conclusion: I see no substance to the critics' claims as
My best guess is that they're confused about what "GPL violation"
means -- unless there's some other hanky-panky I've somehow missed,
which I doubt. Confusion is the charitable interpretation. The
alternative is that they deliberately used baseless claims to badger
Morrell into changing some (admittedly obnoxious) policies.