To our Linux players: Game Dev Tycoon for Linux and glibc

Originally published at:

On September 5th, the Free Software Foundation informed us that they have terminated our license to use ‘glibc’, the standard C library commonly used with Linux applications and which the distribution of Game Dev Tycoon for Linux dynamically links to.

glibc is licensed under the Lesser General Public License (L-GPL) and is thus fit for use in a commercial application through dynamic linking but we failed to inform our users that this library is in use and failed to provide a copy of the license file.

We respect copyright just as we expect our own copyright to be respected and promptly stopped distributing the Linux version of Game Dev Tycoon when the Free Software Foundation terminated our license and have since worked closely with the Free Software Foundation to address the issue. This blog post is part of the process to have our rights reinstated and we hope to be able to resume our distribution of the Linux version in the next few days.

We have updated our credits page to include direct download links to the license files of third party components. This page already listed third party components which were included in the distribution before, but failed to mention the dynamically linked glibc component for the Linux distribution. This is now corrected. We have also added an updated license directory in the deployment of Game Dev Tycoon to make this readily available to users and the next version of the Linux release will include this directory. As always, players can also contact us at if they have any questions or concerns.


This was not the result of a wilful infringement but simply a lack of knowledge on how to properly distribute an application powered by node-webkit on Linux. Unfortunately, we did not know the intricacies of licensing requirements for dynamically linked libraries and neither did our contractors who prepared the Linux distribution. Node-webkit itself does also not include any information about the use of glibc and we suspect that others who use node-webkit might thus also be in non-compliance with the glibc license. We will try to contact the node-webkit community about this issue and hope that we will remain the only ones who have to go through the official complaint process with the Free Software Foundation.

We received the first letter from the Free Software Foundation almost a month ago, during a stressful time while preparing for the Steam release, and unfortunately it took a while to clarify that there was indeed a problem. As an indie developer, receiving a formal letter from a legal department of a well-known organization is as scary as it gets and this uncertainty was the primary reason why we stopped updating the Linux distribution and why we delayed the Steam release of the Linux version. I want to apologize to our Linux players for the lack of open communication. We drafted a blog post to be more open but found it very difficult to word it so that blame was not put unfairly on the Free Software Foundation. In the end, they simply did their job and responded to a formal complaint. We wish that whoever made this complaint to the FSF had tried to contact us first. This would have saved us a lot of trouble, angst and the costs involved with a formal process.

Next Steps

This blog post is part of the process to resolve this issue. In this post we aim to inform our Linux players about our use of glibc and provide them with a copy of the license through our credits page. Once the Free Software Foundation approves of our changes we should receive a letter re-instating our rights to use glibc and we then plan to resume distribution of the Linux version via our website and introduce a Steam release, all of which will have copies of the necessary licenses included.


On your credits page it states this:

"The Linux distribution of Game Dev Tycoon dynamically links to the GNU C Library (LICENSE), which is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License; as such, you should have received a copy of this license along with this software, if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA "

To direct you to this bit “as such, you should have received a copy of this license along with this software”

So shouldn’t you include the license with the game rather than as your blog post states send people to the credits page for it?

Might be an idea to pin this? :wink:

We will do this with the next release, once we have the rights to use glibc again. At the moment, we cannot distribute the game in its current form.

y u no pin dis on top of the forum :slight_smile:

This topic is now pinned. It will appear at the top of its category until it is either unpinned by a moderator, or the Clear Pin button is pressed.

More waiting for the Linux people… I feel pity for them because they have to wait a long time.

UPDATE: The FSF has reinstated our rights to use glibc.


That is great news. Now that the „unforeseen circumstances“ (I guess that was in regard to this licensing issue) are fixed when will the updated linux version be on Steam?

I’m glad to hear this, now I hope you will upload the Linux version on Steam soon.

Excellent news glad to see it’s sorted! :smile:
Once I see it get an updated Linux release/Steam release I will pick up a copy myself finally. Looking forward to playing :smiley:

Again - you can not license a LGPL software simply by using / dynamically linking it. You must copy, distribute or modify it to do so (statically linking, or copying Dynamically linking does not not copy the library to your software.

Anyway, I hope to see game for linux on Steam soon (with or without the license) :wink:

Happy to wait, thank you for bringing the game to Linux.

This really should get included in the game as a random event :smile:

Feel like an ass right now. I thought the delay was more of a “Linux users are not a priority” kinda thing. I’m so, so terribly sorry you guys. The FSF can seem like the Inquisition, at times. They mean well, though, so I hope this doesn’t make the whole Linux experience unfortunate for you devs.

If you need anything from your Linux fan base, let us know. We’re already recommending this game to our Linux and non-Linux friends, but know that we’re here to support your efforts. Again, so sorry for my mistrust. :blush:


Don’t feel bad.

The timeline doesn’t add up. There has been no release with linux support since the first of July, but the license was only revoked in September. Granted, the first letter from the FSF was a month earlier, but that’s only August.

Plus, there’s no reason not to keep maintaining the version even with a revoked license, as that license is only needed for released software. A quick google search tells you what you need to do to be in compliance (and even common sense dictates that it can’t be that hard – look at all the other proprietary software on linux systems).


According to the FSF, this is not true. It seems that the logic you outlined is true for GPL licensed libraries but not the ones licensed under L-GPL. At least that’s what the FSF said.

Linux is all I use in my life, no Windows at all, and having a Linux version of this game is what attracted it to me (I don’t even use Wine).

I know the feeling of being contacted regarding legal infringements. I had this with an Android app developed by me, and unfortunately I wasn’t directly contacted by the plaintiff before he actually went straight to Google, who wipe my app out of existence.

Hopefully you will never go through that again.

Keep up the good work!

So I was wondering if I should wait for the Linux version to buy the game since I really would rather play it on Linux. However, I have a Windows box just for gaming those stubborn devs that don’t want to write for Linux. Should I hold off or will my Windows Steam purchase load on my Linux Steam engine after the new release? I love to support the Linux software, but don’t like double-paying.


Nevermind, I just found another post that addresses this question. It looks like I should purchase the game through the store page in order to make sure I get the Linux version later.

I agree, the FSF has put in a lot of work such that it should be clear how to comply with GPLv3. Maybe there’s some hesitation on Greenheart Games’ part because they haven’t decided whether GPLv3 is right for them.

I can’t imagine Greenheart are going to license the whole game as GPL - this isn’t a hobby project.

I assume that FSF were asserting that the use of glibc doesn’t meet the full exception of Section 3 LGPL (v3), I guess because some inline functions incorporated are over 10 lines of code long or something, and therefore notices and copies of the license are needed.

Ultimately, I suspect it arises from using node-webkit “out of the box” without knowing this means including a notice, as I suspect it’s node-webkit that does the linking. It may be that the node-webkit devs don’t even know that, or didn’t include it in documentation.

Personally, I think it’s a bit of a trap if developers of an LGPL library include inline functions longer than 10 lines in the header files, because it’s hard for a developer to manually check the whole thing.