From: Giacomo Fiorin (
Date: Thu Dec 16 2021 - 13:18:41 CST

Hi Arthur, I'm assuming that your software has sufficiently complex
dependencies to warrant using a container. Otherwise if it is mostly
scripts that run alongside an unmodified VMD I would really suggest (A)
trying to contribute it to the VMD distribution or (B) distribute it
outside of it, which can be done in a variety of ways including the "store"
plugin suggested by Nuno.

To bypass the license issue, I would suggest instructing users to pass the
path to their own installation of VMD on the host computer, and bind-mount
the corresponding folder so that the container can see it and use it. Both
Docker and Singularity allow both features.

Optionally, if you're able to allow users to modify the container image,
you could provide them with a script that embeds VMD in the image itself.
Clearly, the container image would qualify as a "derivative work" and
subject to license restrictions for redistribution.

The VMD pre-compiled builds, although functionally limited compared to
one's own custom VMD builds, have the advantage of being very portable
across modern Linux environments (i.e. both inside and outside containers).


On Thu, Dec 16, 2021 at 1:54 PM John Stone <> wrote:

> Hi,
> The standard VMD license, as written, doesn't allow redistribution of
> binaries to third parties. Out of curiosity, why are you distributing
> your "program" in a docker container? If you made the program
> independently
> available, then it would seem that any existing VMD user could download
> and use it, and the license would not be a restriction. It's hard to guess
> whether there may be various other practical solutions without knowing
> a lot more than what you've stated below, but the suggestion I give above
> is a straightforward solution, absent more details about what you're doing.
> Best regards,
> John Stone
> On Thu, Dec 16, 2021 at 02:37:57PM +0000, Arthur Pereira da Fonseca wrote:
> > Hello everyone,
> >
> >
> >
> > I developed a program to help me run some analysis on a dcd MD. This
> > program uses mostly VMD to perform such analysis. Now I want to
> distribute
> > this program to my research group and other people interested.
> Looking at
> > the VMD's license file I saw:
> >
> >
> >
> > 2. Licensee may, at its own expense, create and freely distribute
> > complimentary works that interoperate with the Software, directing
> > others to
> > the TCBG server to license and obtain the Software itself.
> >
> >
> >
> > The problem is I'm deploying my program as a Docker container, and I
> need
> > a binary VMD included. Is it possible? Can I verify that the user got
> a
> > license for VMD? Is there any framework that I can use to validate an
> > user?
> >
> >
> --
> NIH Center for Macromolecular Modeling and Bioinformatics
> Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
> University of Illinois, 405 N. Mathews Ave, Urbana, IL 61801
> Phone: 217-244-3349