[Rd] Closed-source non-free ParallelR ?

David M Smith david at revolution-computing.com
Wed Apr 22 17:36:56 CEST 2009

Patrick made all the points that I was going to make (thanks,
Patrick), but I wanted to reinforce one point that may be the source
of the confusion: ParallelR is not a modified version of R: ParallelR
is a suite of ordinary R packages that run on top of the R engine like
any other package. The R code and Python code in these packages were
written entirely by REvolution Computing staff (including Patrick),
and do not contain any code (derived or otherwise) from the R project.

In retrospect, the name ParallelR may be somewhat confusing in this sense...

# David Smith

On Wed, Apr 22, 2009 at 7:40 AM, Patrick Shields
<pat at revolution-computing.com> wrote:
> I'm Pat Shields, one of the software engineers working on ParallelR.  I just
> wanted to make two points: no R code or previously gpl'd code can be found
> in any of the non-gpl packages in ParallelR.  I'm sure that the phrase
> "derived works" is a legally subtle one, but all these packages include are
> R and occasionally python scripts (as well as the standard text
> documentation).  If these are derived works, doesn't that mean that any R
> code is also, by extension, required to be GPL'd?  If not, is it including
> these scripts in a package that forces the use of the GPL?
> Also, I'm confused about your dimissal of the MCE example.  If that code was
> a derivative work of R, how could it swap a GPL license for the BSD?  I
> didn't think such a switch was possible.  If it was, I'd imagine a lot more
> use of it, as a quick front project could make GPL software into BSD
> software after which all changes could go on behind closed doors.
> On Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 7:38 PM, Matthew Dowle <mdowle at mdowle.plus.com>wrote:
>> Dear R-devel,
>> REvolution appear to be offering ParallelR only when bundled with their R
>> Enterprise edition.  As such it appears to be non-free and closed source.
>>    http://www.revolution-computing.com/products/parallel-r.php
>> Since R is GPL and not LGPL, is this a breach of the GPL ?
>> Below is the "GPL and ParallelR" thread from their R forum.
>> mdowle >  It appears that ParallelR (packages foreach and iterators) is
>> only available bundled with the Enterprise edition. Since R is GPL, and
>> ParallelR is derived from R, should ParallelR not also be GPL?  Regards,
>> Matthew
>> revolution > Hello Matthew,  ParallelR consists of both proprietary and GPL
>> packages.  The randomForest and snow libraries GPL licensed, whereas the
>> other libraries we include have a commercial license(including 'foreach' and
>> 'iterators').  Stephen Weller
>> revolution > I wanted to expand on Stephen's reply. ParallelR is a suite of
>> R packages, and it is well established that packages can be under a
>> difference license than R itself (i.e. not the GPL). For example, package
>> MCE is licensed under BSD, RColorBrewer is licensed under Apache, most of
>> Bioconductor is under the Artistic license and some are under completely
>> unique licenses (e.g. mclust). REvolution Computing developed all of the
>> code in ParallelR (except for the bundled GPL packages Stephen mentions),
>> and we decided to release it under our own license in REvolution R
>> Enterprise.
>> That said, we do already release components of parallelR, such as the
>> underlying engine, Networkspaces (also written by REvolution Computing)
>> under an open source licence. Also, we are likely to release some other
>> components including foreach and iterators, to CRAN soon.
>> David Smith
>> Director of Community, REvolution Computing
>> mdowle > The examples you give (MCE, RColorBrewer, Bioconductor) are all
>> available for free including the source code. Their licenses have been
>> approved by the FSF. Free software and open source are the terms of work
>> derived from GPL licensed software. REvolution's packages 'foreach' and
>> 'iterators' are neither free or open source.  Can you provide a precedent
>> for proprietary closed-source packages for R ?  Is your policy approved by
>> the FSF ?
>> I don't object to REvolution. I am a fan of you making money from training
>> courses, consultancy, support and binaries. These are all permitted by the
>> GPL. However the GPL does not allow you to distribute work derived from R
>> which is either closed source or non-free.
>> R is GPL, not LGPL.
>> The above is my personal understanding. I am now posting to r-devel to
>> check, feel free to join the public debate there.
>> Regards, Matthew
>>        [[alternative HTML version deleted]]
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> --
> Pat Shields
> Software Engineer
> REvolution Computing
> One Century Tower | 265 Church Street, Suite 1006
> New Haven, CT  06510
> P: 203-777-7442 x250 | www.revolution-computing.com
> Check out our upcoming events schedule at
> www.revolution-computing.com/events
>        [[alternative HTML version deleted]]
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David M Smith <david at revolution-computing.com>
Director of Community, REvolution Computing www.revolution-computing.com
Tel: +1 (206) 577-4778 x3203 (San Francisco, USA)

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