A friend pointed out to me that the Free Software Foundation's "Practical Guide to GPL Compliance" has some intriguing details. One, in particular, caught his eye.
Most people familiar with open source understand that distribution of modified open-source software compels the modifying party to make source code available for the derivative work. However, as the Free Software Foundation points out, there is no obligation to make it easy to compile source code:
The GPL contains no provision that requires distribution of the compiler used to build the software. While companies are encouraged to make it as easy as possible for their users to build the sources, inclusion of the compiler itself is not normally considered mandatory. The Corresponding Source definition--both in GPLv2 and GPLv3--has not been typically read to include the compiler itself, but rather things like makefiles, build scripts, and packaging scripts.
In other words, source code must be available, but the onus isn't necessarily on the code author to pave the way to a perfect binary. I personally believe that it's in the developer's interest to make it as easy as possible to compile as the benefits of open source start the moment the receiving party can contribute and participate in the code, but it's not a requirement.
One other thing that caught my eye was the Free Software Foundation's clarification as to whom a code author must distribute her source code:… Read more