Where Windows meets GNU

So, you've heard Microsoft Loves Open Source, right? No doubt. Of course, there is a huge question as to what to do with the trained machine learning model used in copilot. That is, of course, another topic.

Recently the "conservancy" - friends of the open source cancel culture mob, posted about open source and obtaining the source code. We believe in friendly reminders and training over militant enforcement and fascism.

Often, a misstep or oversight happens and a friendly reminder can open the conversation rather than "enforcement", "going after violators", and such. In fact, when we were just beginning as a community, it was clear from RMS to not be "policing" - but, teaching. Alas, here we are - with SFC proposing DMCA exemptions to open software and not respecting our basic freedoms in the name of... freedom?

Freedom is not just one-sided. To respect everyone's freedom - right? Freedom for all? Or just for those the SFC doesn't suspect of using Open Source code... correctly.

At any rate, here are some scenarios where an exe from an open source project is used for a project on Windows.

Remember to offer friendly reminders or training. The following is some guidance when using GPL v2 and v3. Refer to the license you may be using.

Also, remember this does not constitute any legal advance and is simply a technical documentation explanation of the terms. Consult your legal department or a lawyer for more specific advice.

Some sample scenarios *.exe are found here:

Completely Separate

  • An exe is used as a separate component and not an integral or primary core component to the function of the software.
  • This external component is separate from your project.
  • This is downloaded and installed separately from your project by the user.

External and Separate

  • An exe is used as a separate component.
  • You are clear your code uses this as an external component only.
  • You are required to distribute the source code for the exe project.
  • You are not required to GPL your code.
  • You are not required to distribute your source code.

Integral Core Component

  • An exe is used as a core component of your software project.
  • The exe is an integral part of the project and not just an external component.
  • All source must be GPL at this point and released freely.
  • Distribute the source for the exe project code and your code.

So, when a friendly reminder is given, use this as an opportunity to understand more about or development, our community and grow together. We may have our differences, but we can respect each other and get along without the Copyleft police.

Peace, Love, GNU Linux.

About the Author


Marcia K Wilbur

Marcia K Wilbur is a developer and author. She attended the first DMCA protest in Washington DC in 2000. After the protest, she set up the website, DMCAsucks.org, the first DMCA protest website, listing news and events. 

In 2002, she began an internship where she served as Advisory Committee Member of the Digital Speech Project at the Free Software Foundation. She worked with the EFF in 2003, writing the DMCA blog. 

She is the Lead Debian Developer for Libre Respin and a Technical Communicator. She holds undergraduate degrees in computer science and technical writing. Her masters degree is in Technology with an emphasis in graphics.