OpenPGP Card

Alon Bar-Lev alon.barlev at
Tue Sep 6 23:16:53 CEST 2005

David Picon Alvarez wrote:

I dropped all stuff regarding the differences using API and 
communication... I think you are wrong, there is exception for 
the rules... I try now to contact FSF for a formal position.

> The lawyer who wrote GPL wrote it with the explicit intent to incentive
> programmers to write free software and keep software free. Allowing linkage
> to or from NON-GPL code is generally considered to be counterproductive for
> the purposes stated.

Here is what you imply... And it is so sad that I want to cry :-(

On Microsoft platform, there is an API called CryptoAPI which 
is provided as part of the operating system.
This API uses CSPs (Cryptographic Service Providers) that is 
provided by the smart card vendors.

So GPLed program can execute on Windows platform which is 
TOTALLY NOT A FREE software and use vendor provided smart card 

On the other hand, in Linux environment, the flag ship of the 
free software, a GPLed software cannot use vendor provided 
smart card interface since (As you claim) every shared library 
that is used must be also GPLed.

Microsoft environment turns to be the best environment for 
GPLed software, since it provides all features as part of the 
operating system... This is how they use their monopoly... And 
you and all people who think like you fall into their trap.

Your arguments should not be if the code is run here or run 
there or how technically you use a piece of code, your 
argument should be around the ability to spread free software, 
and this ability is provided if the free software uses as many 
standards as it can, PKCS#11 is one of them.

There is no sense in turning Linux environment to be less 
attractive for free software development, since smart card are 
hardware based, they will never be free and as such every 
program that need to use hardware will have to use proprietary 

 From your position there are three options:
1. Linux will not be able to use many hardware devices 
available in the market. So there will be less application for 
Linux, more application for  Windows.
2. Vendors will develop NONE FREE software and sell it to 
people who insist to use these hardware devices and Linux. For 
example, I will write a PKCS#11 gpg-agent and sale it for 
enterprises... If they insist of using gpg... But I don't 
believe they will...
3. Application in Linux environment will invent standards like 
the OpenPGP card, and be left out with some early adapters 

When I read the GPL and the GPL FAQ I don't understand that 
this was the wish of the authors. Exactly because of that they 
allowed exceptions. People should understand when a situation 
occurs that satisfied an exception.

Best Regards,
Alon Bar-Lev.

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