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Linux Creator Calls GPLv3 Authors 'Hypocrites' 920

Posted by Zonk
from the family-fued dept.
AlexGr writes "We've heard conflicting tales regarding Linus Torvalds' acceptance of GPLv3. InformationWeek reports on comments by Mr. Torvalds that would seem to decide the issue: 'Torvalds said the authors of a new software license expected to be used by thousands of open source programmers are a bunch of hypocrites ... For Torvalds' part, it appears unlikely he'll ever adopt GPLv3 for the Linux kernel. He accused the Free Software Foundation leadership, which includes eccentric, MIT-trained computing whiz Richard Stallman, of injecting their personal morality into the laws governing open source software with the release of GPLv3. "Only religious fanatics and totalitarian states equate morality with legality," Torvalds wrote.'"
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Linux Creator Calls GPLv3 Authors 'Hypocrites'

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  • Re:Fork? (Score:3, Informative)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday July 13, 2007 @05:50PM (#19854145) Homepage

    The GPL is not free for non-verbatim redistribution.

    I don't see why not. You can't take something released under the GPL and pick-and-choose which parts you want to redistribute under, but if you're the original copyright holder, I don't see why you wouldn't be permitted to use an altered form of the GPL for distributing your old code. When you're the original copyright holder, you can license your IP however you please. Or am I wrong?

  • Re:Fork? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dn15 (735502) on Friday July 13, 2007 @05:51PM (#19854157)
    I was intrigued by what you said about not being able to make a new GPL-based license so I looked it up on the FSF website [fsf.org]:

    Can I modify the GPL and make a modified license?

    You can use the GPL terms (possibly modified) in another license provided that you call your license by another name and do not include the GPL preamble, and provided you modify the instructions-for-use at the end enough to make it clearly different in wording and not mention GNU (though the actual procedure you describe may be similar).

    If you want to use our preamble in a modified license, please write to <licensing@gnu.org> for permission. For this purpose we would want to check the actual license requirements to see if we approve of them.

    Although we will not raise legal objections to your making a modified license in this way, we hope you will think twice and not do it. Such a modified license is almost certainly incompatible with the GNU GPL, and that incompatibility blocks useful combinations of modules. The mere proliferation of different free software licenses is a burden in and of itself.
  • by delire (809063) on Friday July 13, 2007 @06:08PM (#19854347)
    Was..

    I don't think it's hypocritical to prefer the GPLv3. That's a fine choice, it's just not *mine*.

    . What I called hypocritical was to do so in the name of "freedom", while you're at the same time trying to argue that I don't have the "freedom" to make my own choice.

    See? THAT is hypocritical.
    and..

    In a very real sense, the GPLv3 asks people to do things that I personally would refuse to do. I put Linux on my kids computers, and I limit their ability to upgrade it. Do I have that legal right (I sure do, I'm their legal guardian), but the point is that this is not about "legality", this is about "morality". The GPLv3 doesn't match what I think is morally where I want to be. I think it *is* ok to control peoples hardware. I do it myself.
    The rest here [lkml.org].
  • Re:Fork? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zonk (troll) (1026140) on Friday July 13, 2007 @06:08PM (#19854353)
    Well, these guys [affero.org] did it, and the GPLv3 even mentions it [gnu.org]:

    13. Use with the GNU Affero General Public License.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of this License, you have permission to link or combine any covered work with a work licensed under version 3 of the GNU Affero General Public License into a single combined work, and to convey the resulting work. The terms of this License will continue to apply to the part which is the covered work, but the special requirements of the GNU Affero General Public License, section 13, concerning interaction through a network will apply to the combination as such.

  • Re:Context please? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Friday July 13, 2007 @06:11PM (#19854385) Homepage Journal
    This was in the comments on the article page: http://lkml.org/lkml/2007/6/20/223 [lkml.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13, 2007 @06:26PM (#19854519)

    With all due respect to his work, what exactly has he ever done for "linux"? Yes the media often confuses "linux" with the whole of OSS neatly neglecting that OSS not only is much older then the Linux kernel written by Linus but that is also contains software written under a whole set of other licenses (BSD being the most important).

    Many people have problems with Richard Stallman, especially americans, because he keeps telling them stuff ain't right and you need to do something about it to make them right. That just ain't right, you can't expect people to ACT on things that are wrong and set them right! That is communism!

    The simple fact is that Richard Stallman so far has proven to be correct time and time again. The latest being the whole mess involving Microsoft and Novell/Suse deal.

    RS believes that software is/should at its base a basic need. That humanity as a whole will be better for it if basic software (like the linux kernel, but also the countless GPL tools) are available to all, to use and modify.

    I personally think he is right, it ain't hard to see that a world in which everyone can just buy and or make their own basic tools based on existing designs without having to worry about who owns what. Do you really want a world in which the philips screw REALLY is the philips screw and for every screw you use you got to pay philips a license and if you create a new screw you could be sueed for trespassing on their invention?

    People wonder why MS Vista is so goddman expensive. Why so much money for just an OS. Have any stopped to think to just how many people MS owns money to include their tiny piece of software to make a modern OS works? Just what hope would an individual, or even a non-billion dollar company have off ever licensing all the tools needed to make their own OS? Just imagine what "linux" would be without the GPL. Without Richard Stallman. It would be nothing more then a hobby project by some fin.

    Linus Torvald may be many things but he ain't a visionary. He is just a coder and a damn good project manager. A bloody good one and it is possible that without him the GPL would have never ever gotten itself a working kernel and have remained obscure and underused. GPL needs Linus Torvald but Linus torvald needs the GPL.

    But if anything this makes Linus the hypocrite, he is the one who wants to use the GPL (to make his kernel of any use whatsoever) without accepting the political ideas behind the GPL. Sad thing, but political ideals, require sacrifices. If you believe in democracy then your first sacrifice must be that you are willing to listen to majority rule for example.

    The simple fact is that the notion that software should be available to all, and under the control of all, has enemies.

    A somewhat related story, the current mess with internet radio. You don't really think this is about license fees do you? It is about taking control away from the public and making sure only the right people can operate radio stations. There was a time ANYONE could start their own over the air radio station and broadcast whatever they want. Dangerous things, naked titties, different political ideas, non-top-40 music!!!

    In a way GPL software is about the same thing, thanks to the efforts of Richard Stallman software has been taken out of the control of the likes of IBM and HP and even the newbie Microsoft and handed to the entire world. Count the number of linux distro's vs commercial OS'es. A sign of fracturing? Wasted resources? Splits in the community?

    No, they are a sign of people excersising freedom. You can take GPL (and all the other licenses) software and use it to suit your own needs. Wether that is Gentoo for the needs of the criminally insane or Red Flag for the needs of a ruthless dictatorship, they are essential if you believe that the software you use now and in the future should NOT be totally controlled by the party/state/monopoly.

    But there is a price to pay. There is a reason it is Li

  • Read the original (Score:5, Informative)

    by jopet (538074) on Friday July 13, 2007 @06:30PM (#19854553) Journal
    That article can create some misunderstandings about what Torvalds actually said and meant. If you want to form your own opinion, read the email discussion thread (it is huge) at http://marc.info/?t=118136815500004&r=36&w=4 [marc.info] and Linus' posts e.g. at http://marc.info/?l=linux-kernel&m=118235728513045 &w=4 [marc.info] and http://marc.info/?l=linux-kernel&m=118236278730043 &w=4 [marc.info] .

    I think Linus' statements make much more sense in context.

    For instance, several posters here have responded to "Only religious fanatics and totalitarian states equate 'morality' with 'legality'," by pointing out that all western legal systems represent morality in some way. However that is missing the point, and I think, not what Linus meant. Democratic systems compromise on a *common* idea of how morality should be represented by laws. This is entirely different from religious fanatics or totalitarian states where the moral ideas of an individual or small group is the only acceptable one. The point Linus is making here is that the GPLv3 is used as a vehicle to impose upon others the ideas of a few and regulate what Linus thinks should be a matter of choice.

    I agree with Linus point of view: it might be wrong to trust in the choice of users. Maybe users will not do what I wish they would do - not buy DRM protected music etc. Maybe this will lead to a point where Linux needs a program that can play DRM protected media. But still, I think that taking that choice away from future Linux users would be the totalitarian way of trying to achieve things. Personally I would not want that. I hate DRM, software patents, vendor lock it, but as a *NIX user of more than a decade, I do not want Linux (and other open source software) to become the blunt weapon of a few fanatics instead of an inviting and competitive alternative.
  • by wrook (134116) on Friday July 13, 2007 @06:31PM (#19854557) Homepage
    I wish I had mod points...

    Sigh... the author of the article seems to be yet another bozo trying to stuff words in Linus's mouth. Clearly people opposed to free software development have decided that trying to make GPL V3 a big issue will win them points.

    What's interesting is that I haven't heard any criticism from the FSF over Linus's choice to keep the Linux kernel GPL V2. Clearly they want people to upgrade to GPL V3. In fact, here's RMS's editorial on the subject:

    http://gplv3.fsf.org/rms-why.html [fsf.org]

    In it he doesn't even mention the Linux kernel. In fact he goes so far as to say it's OK to run a GPL V2 program side by side with a GPL V3 program.

    I'm getting a little bit tired of this stuff. The spin doctors are working overtime to discredit free software developers. I think it's time we just ignored them and got back to writing code.
  • Re:Fork? (Score:3, Informative)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday July 13, 2007 @06:32PM (#19854565) Homepage

    You can't just willy nilly make your own derivative GPL.

    And what if the FSF gave you permission [fsf.org]?

  • by rumblin'rabbit (711865) on Friday July 13, 2007 @06:32PM (#19854573) Journal
    The GPL has always been morality first, freedom second.

    The terms of GPL are quite stringent, and are designed to encourage/force people to release source code when they might otherwise not. From Stallman's own words, it's clear that this has always been a full frontal attack on the evility (new word) of proprietary code.

    The maximum amount of freedom is achieved simply by releasing software into the public domain, not by licensing through the GPL. That Stallman does not encourage this says much about his motivation.
  • Re:duh (Score:2, Informative)

    by asills (230118) on Friday July 13, 2007 @06:34PM (#19854597)
    Well, they could take it and sell it, or take it to someone else and license them to sell it and not redistribute the source. His licenses do not permit that.
  • Re:Tivoization (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chirs (87576) on Friday July 13, 2007 @07:07PM (#19854931)
    "Did the people who wrote the GPL software used in the Tivo desire for it to be used that way? Did they envision DRM and locked down hardware? Of course not."

    Actually, Linus has explicitly stated that he is *absolutely fine* with what Tivo has done. The GPL ensures that the code changes Tivo made are available back to the community. This ensures that others can make use of the changes for their own purposes. The fact that you cannot make code changes and then load it back onto the Tivo is not something that he considers to be a problem.
  • by anwyn (266338) on Friday July 13, 2007 @07:49PM (#19855283)
    Linus' original message [iu.edu] is by no means as confrontational and sharp as the Infoworld indicates. Linus and RMS are comming from different perspectives. Linus' is more pragmatic. RMS is driven by his particular beliefs. The kernel will definitely not be moving to GPLv3. The world is not comming to and end. GPLv2 and GPLv3 software can coexist on the same distribution.

    Both are sincere in their beliefs. RMS is accused of being idealogical and hard to get along with, however it was perspective and tenacious that created free software and the GPL in the first place.

    RMS is the original author of GPL, gcc, bash, glib, emacs and many other important tools. No "normal" person would have had the vision or determination to do what RMS has done. He originally intended to create the compiler, the runtime library, the editor (emacs) and to OS. Only a person that was a little bit "crazy" would have even attempted to do this. The Free software world and the "open source" world are greatly indebted to RMS, no matter how hard to get along with he is, or what people may think of him. The vary characteristics that some people dislike, are exactly the characteristics that made it possible for RMS to achieve what he achieved. Without RMS free software would be nowhere. The GPL was introduced from the start, as being with a certain idealogical intent, the intent of the GPLv3 is in the same spirit as this intent.

    It may be this idealogical attitude, together with acceptance of a faulty academic idea called the microkernel, that caused RMS to fail in creating a workable kernel to work with his other software. The HURD is nowhere.

    What is called GNU/Linux and sometimes just Linux, is a merger between Linus' kernel and RMS' free software, and much other software.

    Linus attitude is pragmatic. He uses the GPL as a tool just has he uses gcc. He is a great programmer and kernel hacker. He had the wit to reject the academic idea of the Microkernel which if adopted could have killed Linux just has it did the Hurd. There is no better person to lead the Linux kernel project.

    If the BSDI USL lawsuit had not delayed the BSD project there would have been no Linux. Linus would have joined one of the BSD projects as just another BSD hacker. One of the BSDs would have become the dominant free software OS.

    I believe that if this had happened, Microsoft would have destroyed BSD's commercial chances using "embrace and extend". They would have created a BSD/Windows hybrid that would have duplicated BSD's API. This would have happened because BSD lacks the GPL's so called "viral clause" that prevents embrace and extend. The existence of this hybrid would have been used by Microsoft to prevent the suits from even considering a move to free software.

    Linus lacks the vision that RMS has. This has caused him to make several blunders such as the Bitkeeper Debacle. However the discipline implicit in the GPLv2 will prevent him from making any fatal mistakes. Were Linus to attempt to go in any totally insane direction, his project will fork. He knows this vary well.

    I have given several presentations to Austin Linux Group from this perspective.

    Free software history [io.com]

    Lessons of Free Software History [io.com]

    Tanenbaum-Torvalds microkernel vs monolithic kernel Debate [io.com]

  • Re:duh (Score:4, Informative)

    by Olivier Galibert (774) on Friday July 13, 2007 @07:56PM (#19855341)
    You know what they say about assuming? The egcs guys decided from the start to only accept fsf-assigned contributions to allow re-merging with gcc in the future. Which eventually happened.

        OG.
  • Re:duh (Score:2, Informative)

    by perturbed1 (1086477) on Friday July 13, 2007 @08:43PM (#19855633)
    Wow. I thought the whole world had heard about this one... Any google search on Torvalds and bitkeeper will tell you: http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/05/02/18OPopen ent_1.html [infoworld.com]
  • Re:Fork? (Score:3, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday July 13, 2007 @08:46PM (#19855653) Homepage Journal
    Go read about the history of the AGPL. They asked RMS for permission.

  • Re:Fork? (Score:3, Informative)

    by epee1221 (873140) on Friday July 13, 2007 @08:54PM (#19855693)
    I would think it would be as much GNU/Linux as it was before. Linux is not part of the GNU project -- HURD is the GNU kernel. GNU/Linux is just combining the Linux kernel with a GNU userland.
    (warning: my sarcasm meter is currently broken)
  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Friday July 13, 2007 @09:14PM (#19855809) Homepage Journal
    I was at the Green Party National Meeting http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2007_07_10.shtml [gp.org] last night where RMS gave a talk and he was asked about the issues with the kernel team. The main thing he had to say is that without GPL3, there could be problems with tivoization, where yes, the source is provided, but modifications are not allowed on the specific hardware thus disallowing improvements that are freely made by the community. You can share the code, but if you fix it or improve it or change it is some way that you like, you can't run it, and so you can not share your work. Me: Maybe that kind of deadending is OK since there are other versions that you can hack, and hey, it is just one set of hardware, but it does defeat the spirit of the GPL and GPL3 covers this issue according to RMS. (I have not read it. I just click accept whenever this kind of thing comes up which is why I'm now a towel boy in the house of the borg. Thanks for letting me go to the meeting Mr. Bill.) So, RMS feels, not surisingly, that the changes in the GPL3 are good for free (as in speech) software and it is regrettable if the kernel group does not go along with it. (Didn't they have input?)
    --
    Get solar power with no installation cost. Register your home today: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]
  • Re:Fork? (Score:4, Informative)

    by bluephone (200451) * <grey@burntel[ ]rons.org ['ect' in gap]> on Friday July 13, 2007 @10:24PM (#19856143) Homepage Journal

    What you're missing is the copyright on the GPL itself.
    You can't just willy nilly make your own derivative GPL.
    You could make up a whole new license, though, with similar principles.
    Close. From http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#ModifyGPL [gnu.org]

    Can I modify the GPL and make a modified license?
    You can use the GPL terms (possibly modified) in another license provided that you call your license by another name and do not include the GPL preamble, and provided you modify the instructions-for-use at the end enough to make it clearly different in wording and not mention GNU (though the actual procedure you describe may be similar).

    If you want to use our preamble in a modified license, please write to for permission. For this purpose we would want to check the actual license requirements to see if we approve of them.

    Although we will not raise legal objections to your making a modified license in this way, we hope you will think twice and not do it. Such a modified license is almost certainly incompatible with the GNU GPL, and that incompatibility blocks useful combinations of modules. The mere proliferation of different free software licenses is a burden in and of itself.
    You CAN, just strip the required bits, add yours, and call it something new.
  • Damn!-Group Hug! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13, 2007 @11:40PM (#19856557)
    "We would still be thankful for RMS though. "

    Thank you, Richard! [apache.org]

    Thank you, Richard! [x.org]

    Thank you, Richard! [mozilla.org]

    Thank you, Richard! [php.net]

    Thank you, Richard! [zope.org]

    Thank you, Richard! [python.org]

    Thank you, Richard! [ruby-lang.org]

    Thank you, Richard! And happy birthday!
  • So again - somebody please explain what is the problem here?
    Simple. Linus is seeing the GPLv3 as a *developer*, while RMS wrote it as a *user*.

    For a developer, it doesn't matter if the code runs on a DRM machine, as long as your get fixes back. For a user, it does matter that your changed code doesn't run on the same machine.
  • by totally bogus dude (1040246) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @12:24AM (#19856807)

    The FSF believes you can do anything you want with software except make it non-free
    This is what the FSF would like people to believe. However, it is inconsistent with what the FSF is actually doing in advocating GPLv3. GPLv2 ensured that all software remained free. The old license fully satisified that software remained "free," not just in price but in the availability of people to choose how to use it.

    I think it would be fairer to say the FSF believes you can do anything you want with software except remove the freedom of the users of that software. That is, it's not about the software license per se, but about what recipients of the software can do with it.

    The anti-TiVo clause seems to be intended to make sure that if TiVo goes out of business (or drops support for a particular model of hardware and never releases software updates for it again), that end-users will be able to fix bugs, or add functionality that's perfectly viable on the hardware they've already bought. The Free Software Foundation cares exclusively about the users freedom, and completely disregards companies trying to make money out of Free software.

    I think the underlying assumption is that if there's money to be made, people will find a way to make it -- regardless of the restrictions placed on them. Further, there's a belief (and a lot of evidence to support this belief, IMHO) that companies will place as many restrictions on their customers as they feel is needed to maximise profits. Therefore, it makes sense to safeguard the users freedom as much as possible.

    Enforcing freedom is an oxymoron. This however, is the logical extent of what RMS and people at the FSF are proposing with the adoption of GPLv3, forcing people to run their software on certain hardware.

    Nobody forced TiVo to use GPLv2'd software, and nobody will be forcing them to use GPLv3'd software, either. The body of Free software provides many benefits to companies such as TiVo, but it's not a free lunch -- and it's not intended to be a free lunch! Authors can choose what license to release their software under, and companies can choose not to use it if they don't feel they can profit from doing so. You can't benefit from the pool of Free software while simultaneously preventing your users from enjoying the freedoms Free software is supposed to give them. GPLv3 has clauses intended to close a loophole that allowed companies to do exactly that, in specific situations.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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