Monday, 20 June 2011


"You learn from a conglomeration of the incredible past - whatever experience gotten in any way whatsoever", according to Bob Dylan, quotes by whom I found myself searching out this morning in the hope of finding something inspirational - something as inspirational and uplifting as the rendition of My Back Pages from his 40th anniversary concert. Well, that seemed like a useful quote to remember, and when I found myself doing some more research this evening, into the Python programming language, I got some experience which I thought might be worth sharing. After all, the second most popular posting on my personal blog shares my experience of how to replace a Nissan Micra K11 water pump drive belt (the most-read one is about an Achilles heel injury, although it might be the Dylan song title I used for it that draws in the visitors).

If you want to know about the Python language itself, Wikipedia has what looks like a good article on it - though with Wikipedia, who knows? No warranties. What interested me was the licence: the original Python was incompatible with the GPL, apparently for the sole reason that it was governed by the laws of the State of Virginia. I assume that doesn't reflect at all on the laws of that particular state: merely that the GPL doesn't permit stipulations about governing law. In any event, the licence was modified to overcome this and the replacement, the Python Software Foundation License is compatible with it. The PSFL as it is familiarly known is a BSD-style, permissive free software license. What I found interesting is that it is not a copyleft licence: it permits modifications to the source code, as well as the construction of derivative works, without making the code open-source. So a program written in Python (of which Wikipedia lists many) isn't necessarily going to be open source just because it was created with open source tools.

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