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documenting LICENSE scope and limitations for pkgsrc users


at present, "The pkgsrc user's guide" of the pkgsrc guide
doesn't mention DEFAULT_ACCEPTABLE_LICENSES at all.
IMO, that should change.

how about:

----- snip -----
X. About Package Licenses

pkgsrc sets a default list of licenses that are acceptable for private
use of unmodified packages (as in pkgsrc) in most legislations that we
are aware of.
If you want to distribute modified packages, or use them in a commercial
setting to link into or otherwise join with software of your own, please
seek legal counsel on which licenses are acceptable and which are not.
In the latter case, please also read the actual license of the original
software and do not rely on the LICENSE variable in the package Makefile
(or by extension, make show-license if it is a standard license);
the software may offer you a more convenient but uncommon license, or
contain additional clauses or subtle wording differences to the named
standard license that are applicable to your intended use.

Licenses get checked by default if you build packages. You can waive that
check by setting SKIP_LICENSE_CHECK.

The default list of acceptable licenses is named
DEFAULT_ACCEPTABLE_LICENSES when building from source.
If this list contains licenses not acceptable to you, you can
remove them from the variable in pkgsrc/mk/ 

Licenses by default do not get checked when installing binary packages.
If you want licenses to be checked before installation, set
CHECK_LICENSE in pkg_install.conf (see the man page for details).

If you use binary packages and the default list of acceptable licenses
contains licenses not acceptable to you, remove them from the
default_acceptable_licenses variable in
and rebuild the pkg_install package.

Licenses that are potentially problematic or non-free can be declared to
be locally ok by adding that license to the ACCEPTABLE_LICENSES variable
(in mk.conf when building, in pkg_install.conf when checking licenses
for installation of binary packages) or by adding that license to the

----- snip -----

'X' above might be a 5.2. (and move the current chapters lower), any
opinions? Modify the ACCEPTABLE_LICENSES entry in 5.1 to "see next

Is the above text understandable and correct? Is anything missing that
ought to be there?

As far as I can see, in the pkg_add case you can add additional
licenses by setting PKGSRC_DEFAULT_ACCEPTABLE_LICENSES in the environment
(which you can also do by setting PKGSRC_ACCEPTABLE_LICENSES, so why does
it exist?), but you cannot remove licenses from the default list without
essentially editing source. This is inelegant.
Are there reasons why we do not let setting of
in config files) override the shipped list?

-- (S.P.Zeidler)

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