To create executables to run on iOS platforms, the intended way is to use Apple's XCode to build them. XCode is available for free to run on MacOS devices. But, assuming that Apple's terms allow the distribution of an executable application built using XCode using LGPLv2 source code, would the LGPLv2 also allow distributing it?

Specifically, I wonder whether section 6 of the license may forbid this, as it says that all data and utility programs required to reproduce the executable. As a special exception, it is allowed to leave out components that are normally distributed with the operating system. It explicitly mentions compilers, but XCode is not normally distributed with the iOS operating system (which normally does not come with a compiler at all), but can be ran on MacOS platforms. It could be considered as a part of the whole development ecosystem Apple provides, but when strictly talking about the iOS platform alone, it is probably not something that is distributed with it.

ScummVM, a software that is licensed under the GPLv2 (which contains a similar requirement in section 3), includes an iOS port for some time already. So there seems to be some way of legally distributing (L)GPLv2 licensed software despite of this license term.

Maybe someone can provide a bit of clarification on this matter.

As it's a topic that is frequently brought up when talking about open source software on Apple iOS devices: This question is not about App-Store-related issues.

1 Answer 1


There are very few (consumer-oriented) operating system distributions that come by default with a compiler. Even most Linux distributions have the compiler as an optional component.

The intent of clause 6 of the LGPLv2.1 is that if you receive a closed-source application that uses an LGPL library, then you get the rights and means that an average developer who tinkers with software for the platform in question is able to create a new executable that uses a new version of the LGPL library. Tools that such a developer would normally have at his disposal or would have easy access to, do not have to be included in the distribution.

With this in mind, I believe XCode counts as a "major component" that does not have to be distributed along with the LGPL library.

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