Thursday, June 27, 2013

rsyslog under ASL 2.0: why I can't simply do that

The ASL 2.0 topic boiled up again due to a much-appreciated IBM contribution to make rsyslog 5.8.6 work on AIX. Unfortunately, this contribution was done under GPLv3+. I tried to work with IBM to have it released under ASL 2.0, but their legal department is of the opinion that this is not possible. This resulted in some restrictions, which can be found in the git branches' README file. Most importantly, it's a dead-end branch branch which cannot be merged up to new versions.

As an option, IBM said if I would release rsyslog 5.8.6 under ASL 2.0, they could release their patch under ASL 2.0 as well. Unfortunately, I cannot do this by just declaring so.

You need to keep in mind that I do not own the complete copyright! Actually, there are a couple of hundreds contributors that I can find in git history ... and there are even more in the original sysklogd, which I can't even identify all. As such, it is simple impossible for me to change the license "on my own".
To reach the current state, I did quite intense research on who contributed what some time (two years maybe?) ago. I concentrated on "easy" files (new ones without sysklogd code) and contacted all contributors if they agree on ASL 2.0. Those files that I got agreement on are now under ASL 2.0. For the "hard" files, I even did some research which of them were still from the original syslogd, which was released under BSD. I replaced these files /code sequences with the BSD version (which is identical), and so could put that under ASL 2.0. But still there is a notable body of code left that needs to be under GPLv3+. Some can probably be changed with more author contacting (especially Red Hat contributions, where I have a general "go" for most things), but some code definitely needs to be rewritten. I guess the additional research takes at least some weeks, with the rewrite taking maybe another month or so.
Bottom line: it's far from being easy and there is no pressing need. But I don't want to fallback on the effort just because of the IBM contribution. I would need to rewrite it in any case, so there is no point in merging mainstream.

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