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(obsolete) Squeak in Debian
Last updated at 9:37 pm UTC on 22 March 2017
Please see (obsolete) Effort to relicense Squeak for the latest update on the Squeak Re-Licencing work.
Very obsolete; the Squeak licensing 'issue' was solved and Squeak is not properly accepted as open source and is a member project of the Software Freedom Conservancy


This page summarizes the debate on whether Squeak will go into Debian non-free. If it does go in, then this page will probably be added to the package for future reference. If it does not go in, then this page will be posted to debian-legal for the archives.

Please post any comments, questions, or objections at the bottom of the page, or even better, comment to the debian-legal mailing list. This way, the main content of the page has a single editor.

Nothing on this page is official in any way; it is just one person's attempt to summarize the state of the discussion.


As of April 30, 2004, Squeak is not included in Debian. Debian users can still obtain packages for Squeak as described on Squeak for Debian Users. There is some discussion on the debian-legal mailing list about whether Squeak may be distributed in Debian non-free.

Non-Free versus Main

Some clauses of the Squeak-L seem to violate the DFSG. Most notably, the export clause is an issue. Thus, while most agree that Squeak is an extremely free and permissive license, it is not suitable for Debian/main. Thus, the current discussion is on whether Debian will include Squeak in non-free. To do this, Squeak-L must provide sufficient premission, it must impose sufficiently few requirements, and it must incur sufficiently low liability.

Issues on Particular Parts of the License

Export Restrictions

Squeak-L requires that any distribution of Squeak follows US Export Law.

Since Squeak does not include any cryptographic software, the main requirement seems to be that Squeak not be distributed to countries embargoed by the US.

It is still being discussed whether Debian can enforce this satisfactorily. It has been noted that some Debian servers might already be enforcing the restriction, but there is as yet no verification on which servers those are.

It has been argued that mirrors of US-based servers still need to have the same protections as the US-based servers, anyway, because US law makes it illegal to export to someone who will then reexport to an embargoed country. Thus we may want to adjust our servers anyway to disallow downloads from embargoed countries.

Summary: open issue


In some circumstances, the license requires people who distribute Squeak, to reimburse Apple for legal fees accrued in response to litigation involving the distribution. However, the liability is carefully tailored to restrict the liability: Debian would only be liable for legal fees to the extent a suit is related to Debian's distribution of Squeak.

Additionally, it is extremely unlikely that Apple will be sued over Squeak at all, much much less in any way that involves Debian's distribution of Squeak. If someone has a problem with Debian distributing Squeak, then they are much more likely to sue Debian directly. In fact, if someone does sue Apple over Debian's distribution, then Apple must give Debian an offer to defend the case themselves if they prefer; if Apple does not offer this opportunity, then Apple cannot request legal fees.

summary: open issue

Computers under Direct Use

The license contains this text:
"2. Permitted Uses and Restrictions. This License allows you to copy, install and use the Apple Software on an unlimited number of computers under your direct control."

Two people have claimed that this renders Squeak non-distributable by Debian, but the reasoning is unclear to this editor. The counterargument is that this sentence merely grants permissions, and thus cannot be removing permissions; two sentences later, the following text appears, which is a good basis for having permission to distribute Squeak:

"You may distribute and sublicense such Modified Software only under the terms of a valid, binding license that makes no representations or warranties on behalf of Apple, and is no less protective of Apple and Apple's rights than this License."

Furthermore, the "plain English license terms" (see Squeak-L) that Apple posted seem to mean that they interpret their license as providing wide permission to redistribute Squeak.

summary: open issue


Squeak-L does not allow the included fonts to be modified or to be included in a for-profit product. This is a non-issue, however, since it is planned to remove these fonts before distributing Squeak in Debian.

summary: no problem

Pre-Distribution Checklist

Some things must be checked before Squeak goes into Debian, even if and when the above issues are resolved:

  1. Remove the Apple fonts.
  2. ?? what else?

The fact that The original Squeak release is available under APSL2 might help too. Is APSL2 in concord with DFSG (Debian Free Software Guidelines)?

APSL is not compliant with DFSG (according to the replies to the above mail). That means that it cannot be added to the main section. Could it be put to non-free section? (Matej Kosik)

Squeak is mentioned in DFSG and Software License FAQ (Draft) (point 22) as an example of "almost free" software.

Alan Kay reports that Steve Jobs has agreed to relicense Squeak under
the Apache License so we can include it with the base software in the