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Torvalds Puts Support Behind GPL2 Linux 326

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the license-and-registration-please dept.
Christiangrays writes "Linux creator Linus Torvalds has used an interview being made public by the Linux Foundation to stress that version 2 of the GPL still makes the most sense for the Linux kernel over the newer GPL version 3. GPL 3, which was released last year by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), reflects the FSF's goals while GPL 2 closely matches what Torvalds thinks a licence should do, Torvalds said. "I want to pick the licence that makes the most sense for what I want to do. And at this point in time, Version 2 matches what I think we want to do much, much better than Version 3," said Torvalds, who is now a fellow at the foundation. He was interviewed in late-October by Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin."
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Torvalds Puts Support Behind GPL2 Linux

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  • by Dareth (47614) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @11:57AM (#21954788)
    We are just clipping Tux's wings a little bit. It is not like he can fly anyway.
    • by niceone (992278)
      Tux needs his wings to swim after fish and avoid starving to death. Maybe Linus hasn't thought of this? Should someone tell him?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      We are just clipping Tux's wings a little bit. It is not like he can fly anyway.


      Hmm. I find your lack of faith disturbing. Do not underestimate the power of Linux:

      "Linux can do endless loops in six seconds." -- Linus Torvalds.
  • 2 vs 3 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cromar (1103585) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @11:59AM (#21954806)
    Before everyone starts arguing about the merits of GPLv3, let's remember that it's just the license for the kernel. It's not going to be changing much when used in proprietary consumer devices. On the other hand, if it's not going to change it much, why lock it up? Kinda a moot point...
    • by corsec67 (627446)
      I one of the main points of the GPLv3 is that someone like TiVo couldn't take the Linux kernel, modify it, and then use it in the TiVo signed with a key, and then distribute the changes but not the key. That would mean that anyone could make a modified TiVo kernel, but load it onto the device since it isn't signed.

      From the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] (the last section)

      What is the value of letting a company use and modify the Linux kernel if they can legitimitely lock out any usage of a modified kernel on that hardwar
      • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:37PM (#21955360) Journal

        What is the value of letting a company use and modify the Linux kernel if they can legitimitely lock out any usage of a modified kernel on that hardware?
        Value to whom? To the company, the value is that they get a cheap and relatively well-supported development platform. To the Linux community the advantage is that more people are working on Linux. To the end user, the advantage is that they get a device with a stable[1] kernel.

        Any company building a product like this has three choices:

        • Use a proprietary kernel like QNX or Wince.
        • Use a BSD licensed kernel.
        • Use Linux.
        Linus believes that changing to GPv3 would push companies to choose one of the first two options instead of Linux. RMS believes that switching to v3 would cause companies to continue using Linux but rethink their policy about locking users out of the systems they bought.


        [1] Please replace stable with any other adjective you feel applies to the Linux kernel.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Speaking of other kernels, what about Solaris? If Linux stays at GPL2, and Solaris is releaseed as GPL3, would Solaris be in a position to replace Linux as the Free kernel of choice? Could Free Software advance even as Linux declines?
          • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:5, Insightful)

            by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:24PM (#21956056) Journal
            The Solaris kernel is superior to Linux in a great many ways, but inferior in one very important one; device support. That said, the importance of Linux to the Free Software movement is greatly overstated. There are several very solid kernels that can be used as drop-in replacements for Linux (right down to ABI compatibility in some cases).
      • As I remember, Linus is of the opinion that hardware vendors shouldn't have to leave their hardware open because there's more of an investment and because it's a physical object, and frankly I agree with him. Tivo has to open up their source code, so why not grab that source code and run it on a device that will allow you to change it? The code is still free, but the physical device that you're being sold isn't. Hardware costs more to produce and develop than software does, and it makes sense that someone m
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sumdumass (711423)
        Well, besides the point that the GPLv3 doesn't stop TIVO from doing that, it only limits it's ability to do it, why have a halfassed broken license that doesn't accomplish what it claims to?

        There are a lot of things in the GPLv3 that are broken with respect to how people think it works. And this includes a lot of the nonsense spouted by the FSF themselves.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by eggnoglatte (1047660)

          Well, besides the point that the GPLv3 doesn't stop TIVO from doing that...

          I salute you! Finally somebody who gets it. I so wish I had mod points right now. Whenever this topic comes up, I am tempted to post the N different ways for circumventing GPLv3 that I can think of, but ultimately I don't want to encourage anybody.

          Escalating the rules and restrictions for distributors in the GPL is somewhat similar to ever increasing new DRM methods: the more difficult you make it, the more likely it is that you'll find somebody who sees it as his mission to produce a workaround. The es

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by 91degrees (207121)
        What is the value of letting a company use and modify the Linux kernel if they can legitimitely lock out any usage of a modified kernel on that hardware?

        They can still sue the modified kernel on their own hardware.
    • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:19PM (#21955130) Homepage Journal
      Before everyone starts arguing about the merits of GPLv3, let's remember that it's just the license for the kernel. It's not going to be changing much when used in proprietary consumer devices. On the other hand, if it's not going to change it much, why lock it up? Kinda a moot point...

      The real question, is how would a move to GPLv3 benefit Linux? If the answer is not at all, then by keeping it a GPLv2 helps make everyone's life simpler. Any change in license would in certain cases mean that Linux would have to revetted by legal departments in a number of companies and for TiVO-like products a real pain in the neck.

      In many ways GPLv3 is a reaction to DRM, but getting all religious about things is not going to be the solution either, IMHO.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

        The real question, is how would a move to GPLv3 benefit Linux?

        No, the real question is, "how would a move to GPLv3 benefit Linux users?"
        The GPL, regardless of version, has always been about the end user, not the developer or any of the intermediaries.

        In many ways GPLv3 is a reaction to DRM, but getting all religious about things is not going to be the solution either, IMHO

        The GPL has always been 'religious' about the end user's freedoms. You could just as easily say that DRM is a reaction to people's natural expectations of freedom.

        The GPL's philosophy can be summarized in one sentence: Guarantee that the end user has full ability to tinker with the product. The GPLv3 simply plugs a f

      • The real question... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:26PM (#21956098) Homepage Journal
        The real question is would a move to GPL3 benefit your freedom? Unfortunately, Linus doesn't give a hoot about your freedom. Here's a practical example of the importance of freedom for those who aren't willing to consider it in the abstract. I have some Sony HDTV hard disk recorders. They are going to stop getting the TV guide and will stop having the ability to set their clock when the analog TV shutdown completes at the San Francisco PBS station (which broadcasts that data in its vertical interval). These devices use Linux and indeed they come with a copyright notice for Busybox (which I created). They are also DRM locked. Sony is just going to allow the devices to become bricks, even though they were sold as HDTV, rather than analog TV, recorders. I will have to somehow crack their DRM if I want the devices to be useful after next February. GPL3 would have given me a better ability to do this work and save my device from an uncaring vendor. GPL3 is also compatible with DRM for media, as long as the DRM isn't done in the GPL3 program. So, Sony could have used it, and could have made it more possible for this device to continue to live.

        Bruce

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          I rather think that if Busybox were GPL 3 licensed then it wouldn't have been used at all, and you'd be in an even worse position in your attempt to hack Sony's devices.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Bruce Perens (3872) *
            There is nothing about the DRM provisions of GPL3 that matters where Busybox is concerned, because Busybox doesn't do the DRM.

            Actually, I am working on a dual-licensed version of Busybox. It doesn't include the work of other folks, and does include a new UDEV implementation. People who don't support freedom can pay for the privilege, and I'll use that money to make more free code.

            Bruce

        • Just because the box is DRMed doesn't mean that you don't have access to the source. The GPL should be provided as part of the box and a reference to the source. If Sony is smart then all the DRMed stuff would be in user space and therefore protected by an independent license. What you won't get are the keys to the DRM, unless they are in kernel space - truth if you are doing DRM properly then the keys should be on a separate chip, which is readable by the system.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bruce Perens (3872) *
            I have the source. I don't get any DRM programs, so I don't really need the DRM.

            Bruce

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by mrchaotica (681592) *

      On the contrary, the kernel is exactly where the difference between GPLv2 and v3 matters most. Let's say the device maker wants to implement DRM. This requires kernel support, because if it were attempted solely in userspace somebody could modify the kernel to intercept the stream. If the kernel is GPLv3, then there's no problem doing so. But if the kernel is GPLv2 (as in the TiVo), then the device can prevent the modified kernel from running and thus enforce the DRM.

      In other words, the point is not moot a

      • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:4, Interesting)

        by moderatorrater (1095745) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:40PM (#21955414)
        Bullshit. That's like saying that because you pay taxes, you support torture! Or like saying since you support slashdot, which is part of a corporation, you're promoting the exploitation of poor chinese children! Linus believes that there's a difference between hardware and software, and that software shouldn't dictate hardware. That makes sense to me.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Linus believes that there's a difference between hardware and software, and that software shouldn't dictate hardware.

          Read my signature.

          GPLv3 cannot dictate terms to hardware. All it can dictate is which hardware that software may be run on.

          In fact, it cannot even dictate that -- unless you intend to redistribute the software.

          So, in a sense, it does limit the poor little TiVos of the world -- they are no longer free to simply take GPL'd code and give nothing back. Obviously, we can't stop them from makin

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Darinbob (1142669)

            So, in a sense, it does limit the poor little TiVos of the world -- they are no longer free to simply take GPL'd code and give nothing back.

            And what's wrong with that? I like TiVo, I like their device, and I like that they used open source and were able to leverage the work of others (as all good engineering does). Hurray, Linux gets more exposure. Hurray, the goal of open source to promote the reuse of software instead of reinventing the wheel has been advanced.

            So what is wrong with the TiVo pictur

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by krunk7 (748055)

              Open source should not be about "preventing" proprietary software. And it usually isn't about that. Except in the GPL case. Open source should be about creating software and letting others use it in any way they want, no matter what political views they have. That's software 'freedom'.

              Obviously some people disagree. Some disagree a little and will use GPLv2, some disagree a lot and will use GPLv3, some will complete agree and those will use BSD.

              But here's the kicker: All of them OWN the code they wrote

      • by sumdumass (711423)
        Actually, Linus isn't really advocating DRM but he has said he sees no reason to forbid it.

        I too see no reason to forbid it. I also don't see the problem with the Tivo but that is another subject all together. Freedom in software or anything for that matter isn't just the freedom that you want to allow people to have. Even if they use that freedom to restrict yours. There is another political term for the illusion of freedom that is basically "you can do what I say" and I will leave it to the reader to figu
        • Actually, Linus isn't really advocating DRM but he has said he sees no reason to forbid it.

          I chose my words very carefully in that post, but apparently not carefully enough. I didn't say he was advocating DRM; I said he approves of it (which is the same as seeing no reason to forbid it).

          Freedom in software...

          Software, hardware, whatever! When you bring DRM into the picture then there's not really a difference, because if you don't have access to the hardware, you can't use the modified software!

          ...or an

          • by caluml (551744)
            There's a long way between "approving" of something, and not condemning it. Just because you don't condemn/reject something, doesn't mean you approve of it. Approve to me means that you feel it's a positive thing. What if Linus just doesn't care either way, but doesn't feel that there's a need to reject/ban it?
          • by sumdumass (711423)

            I chose my words very carefully in that post, but apparently not carefully enough. I didn't say he was advocating DRM; I said he approves of it (which is the same as seeing no reason to forbid it).

            Well, it isn't really that he approves of it either. And yes, I misread what you wrote. From what I remember, he is just indifferent to the subject. He doesn't approve or disapprove of it. He just don't think it is up to him to stop others from using the software how they want in this manor which I think is the

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by mrchaotica (681592) *

              You can use the software on other hardware...

              I'm going to tell you a little story. I'm sure you've already heard it, being a Slashdot reader, but I'll continue anyway:

              A couple of decades ago, there was a programmer, working at a college in New England, who had just gotten a new printer. He had a problem, though: the printer didn't do quite what he wanted. But that wasn't a big deal; like any good programmer, he figured he'd simply modify the printer's driver to fix it. In order to do this he'd need the so

      • by Aladrin (926209)
        He's not saying he approves of it. He's not saying -anything- about DRM. If you have to put words in his mouth, try something a little more accurate like: He doesn't think DRM is a battle for the Linux kernel to fight.
      • GPL3 supports DRM in non-GPL3 applications atop a GPL3 kernel, in hardware, and in microkernels under the GPL3 kernel. It is perfectly possible to implement DRM in a system with a GPL3 kernel.

        Bruce

        • Well sure, but it wouldn't be effective DRM, because (since hardware access is controlled by the kernel) you could always find somewhere to intercept the deencrypted stream. Unless you know something about it I don't (which is certainly likely; you're Bruce Perens!)...?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Bruce Perens (3872) *
            Thanks for the compliment :-)

            Microsoft does DRM the way I'm talking about. They have a microkernel, called the "NIB", under their macrokernel. It is small, and implements the DRM as a service to the macrokernel above it. It can lock layers above it, which is necessary if the DRM device drivers live in those layers. However, if the DRM device drivers lived in the microkernel, you would be able to modify the kernel any way you wanted and it would not break the DRM.

            Another way to handle this is to do the DR

  • Could somebody give a link to a good description of the differences between the two? My understanding was the GPL v3 essentially made it so that once code was committed, the committer implicitly gave up rights to any patentable material relevant to what they committed. I can understand that this would make people wary of committing code because they might inadvertently give an algorithm to the public domain. What would happen with the GPL v2 then? The company could order a cease and desist to the open sourc
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cromar (1103585)
      From FSF [gnu.org] (This is the meat of the patent section.)

      Discriminatory patents are restricted as follows: A patent license is "discriminatory" if it does not include within the scope of its coverage, prohibits the exercise of, or is conditioned on the non-exercise of one or more of the rights that are specifically granted under this License. You may not convey a covered work if you are a party to an arrangement with a third party that is in the business of distributing software, under which you make paymen
    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:48PM (#21955532)
      That's true, but we're not discussing that difference. The difference that we're mostly discussing here is that if you produce hardware that uses open source code, you have to let the user run modified code on that device. Tivo uses linux on all their boxes but they have a checksum to make sure that if the software is modified, it won't run it. They do this because they are required to make sure that you can't use their device for widespread copyright infringement, to shield themselves from the MPAA.

      Stallman, in the meantime, sees Tivo using their software but not allowing people to modify it and run it on their device, gets his panties in a bunch and decides that they need to modify the license to keep device manufacturers from doing that.

      Linus, on the other hand, takes his evil corporate leanings and decides that hardware is different from software and that hardware manufacturers are, therefore, different from software developers and proclaims that hardware manufacturers should be able to do whatever they want.

      Slashdot, in the meanwhile, get's a huge boner off of the conflict, especially Zonk, who's tickled pink that he doesn't even have to give misleading headlines and summaries to inflame people.
    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:47PM (#21957526) Journal

      I can understand that this would make people wary of committing code because they might inadvertently give an algorithm to the public domain.

      I don't really see how. I mean, if you're worried about giving an algorithm up, maybe you shouldn't be releasing the source in the first place?

      Don't take that as a "we don't want your code" argument. It's more of an appeal to your own sanity. If that algorithm really is so critical to your success that you need to patent it, it's probably not something you want other people to know how to implement.

      What would happen with the GPL v2 then? The company could order a cease and desist to the open source project because it violated one of their patents, even if they themselves provided the code?

      If the project accepted that code, then yeah, pretty much. That's why people are so wary of Mono.

      However, there are other rather large changes with the GPLv3 -- mostly, closing loopholes which revolve around the definition of "distribution" and the usefulness of "source code". Distribution is the easier one to explain -- if you're running a website on open source (Apache, etc), you are technically not "distributing" it, even if you get a million hits per day. Because you're not distributing it, you don't need to accept the GPL, and you don't need to give source code to visitors of your site.

      As for "source code", the GPL was originally written not because Stallman wants to see the source, but because he wants to be able to modify any program he's running -- the original story is that Stallman made a modification to a printer driver (because they provided source, as a matter of consideration), but later, when the lab got a new printer, it did not come with source, so he could not make that modification.

      Linus claims to use the GPL for a different reason: He only wants to be able to see the source -- see what people are doing with his code -- and then re-incorporate any useful changes they made back into the project.

      GPLv3 is a problem because it closes some loopholes by which you could get the source code, but not be able to modify that same program and run it on the same hardware. This is the "Tivoization" argument -- Tivo gave you source code, but no actual Tivo player would let you compile and run a modified version. Specifically, the hardware would use checksums to verify that the software had not been modified.

      Linus has no problem with Tivo -- in fact, he likes it, because his software gets used for more things, and he still gets source code to play with on non-Tivo devices. Stallman hates Tivo, because he can't buy a Tivo and start tinkering with it, so the source code, while useful, no longer serves that original purpose of the GPL.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:03PM (#21954880) Homepage
    a: This is very old news, from back in October, just rehashed to get more clicks.

    b: It is irrelevant. Even if Linus loved the GPLv3, there is so much code contributed to the Linux kernel without a transfer of copyright and under GPLv2 only terms that it couldn't be changed anyway.
    • by kebes (861706)
      It's true that relicensing the entire kernel to GPLv3 would be impossible. But it could transition to GPLv3 in a "ship of Theseus [wikipedia.org]" manner if all new code contributions were licensed as GPLv3 (or dual licensed v2/v3). As older code becomes replaced with newer code, a larger and larger fraction of the code-base would be covered by v3. In principle eventually the kernel would be completely available under GPLv3. (Does anyone know the average lifetime of code in the kernel? How long does it take for the entire
      • by ZorbaTHut (126196)
        It's highly doubtful that he'd ever accept v3-only submissions since that would mean that the kernel could no longer be distributed under gplv2 *or* gplv3, but instead different parts of it would have to be distributed under different licenses. I'm not even sure that's legally possible.

        I imagine he'd accept dual-licensed submissions but it's quite possible that he wouldn't bother to document the gplv3 part.
    • by _KiTA_ (241027)
      b: It is irrelevant. Even if Linus loved the GPLv3, there is so much code contributed to the Linux kernel without a transfer of copyright and under GPLv2 only terms that it couldn't be changed anyway.

      I was under the impression that the GPLv2 allows anyone to pick any later version of the GPL if they so choose?

      Ergo, who cares what he says about GPLv2 or GPLv3, just download it, state to yourself (loudly, proudly, standing at your cube, with a cape blowing in the wind if possible) "I declare this copy of the
  • With Microsoft's patent FUD I'm guessing it is only a question of time until we get some SCO clone to file a patent lawsuit against the Linux kernel. Will be interesting to see Linus' response when that happens.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by One Louder (595430)
      The GPL3 doesn't protect against patent claims by entities that have not distributed the particular code released under that license.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by itsdapead (734413)

        And even the GPL v2 says quite clearly that you can't distribute GPL2 code without passing on the full GPL rights and cites a patent license as an example of something that might prevent this.

        As I understand it, the patent stuff in the GPL 3 was an attempt to prevent attempts to fudge around this with shenanigans such as:

        I promise almost certainly maybe not to sue your immediate customers over any intellectual property of mine which may or may not turn up in this code but this doesn't violate GPL2 becau

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:06PM (#21954936)

    A lot of people characterise Torvalds as being pragmatic as opposed to Stallman's idealism, but Stallman is pragmatic too, he just looks further ahead than Torvalds. This short-sightedness doesn't pay off. Stallman warned about the BitKeeper problem, but Torvalds didn't do anything about it until the situation blew up in his face. The FSF started requiring a paper trail for GNU contributions, Torvalds didn't follow their lead until SCO started suing.

    I'm not a fan of GPLv3, but I can't understand why people consistently deride Stallman and worship Torvalds. Stallman is consistently proven right.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sumdumass (711423)

      I'm not a fan of GPLv3, but I can't understand why people consistently deride Stallman and worship Torvalds. Stallman is consistently proven right.

      I don't think they deride Stallman to side with Linus at all. I think it is more of a situation where they don't see Stallman as being sane and already reside were Linus.

      I remember some time long ago where I took a stand to find that others supported the same as me too. Now the question might be did we come to this conclusion all by ourselves? Did people take m

    • by s20451 (410424)
      I disagree, I think Stallman did the right thing for the wrong reasons when he wrote GPLv2, which I still think is a remarkable and beautiful contribution. I think the lesson of Linux is that GPLv2 is an excellent way for both individuals and large corporations to cooperate on mutually beneficial software (such as an operating system) without worrying that their partners are going to steal their ideas without giving anything back in return.

      History is going to judge GPLv3 harshly for (a) hewing very closely
  • by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:07PM (#21954944) Homepage Journal
    Statements like these are not new. Linus has been avoiding GPL 3 for a while now, even though he says he likes the final license better than some of the early drafts. It's really all to obscure the fact that he can't change the license even if he wanted to. He would have to control the copyrights for all contributed code in order to switch from GPL 2 to any other license, including GPL 3. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your option of the new revision) he does not have the power to do this.
    • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:16PM (#21955924) Homepage Journal
      Would you please stop propogating that misinformation? Linus could change the license in one month, if he wanted to. It doesn't matter how many copyright holders are absent or dead. All he has to do is publish in a legal notice his intent and a clear means for any copyright holder in opposition to request removal of their work.

      A license change (alteration of the terms of the GFDL) was recently done for Wikipedia which is a much bigger problem than the kernel due to the fact that it has tens of thousands of times as many copyright holders. FSF cooperated. It proceeded very quietly.

      Bruce

      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        All he has to do is publish in a legal notice his intent and a clear means for any copyright holder in opposition to request removal of their work.

        That's a super idea! Hey, Sony BMG, I'm going to rip off all your Britney Spears back catalogue unless you tell me not to. Bruce said it would be OK. Yeah, Bruce Perens. What do you have to say to that, Sony?

      • by sumdumass (711423)
        Exactly how legal would that be? I certainly could take a RIAA song, advertise that I am changing the copyright notice and license to a creative commons license and state if you don't object in 2 months it will be final. I mean I couldn't do that could I? The copyright belongs to the people that the government claims owns it. This is either the original author, the company he works for or someone else that was assigned the copyright. You or I can't just make up our own rules and change aspects of it.

        I know,
        • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:51PM (#21956588) Homepage Journal
          The difference is that Linus manages a collaborative community to which the copyright holders have submitted their work. He has made license changes before through just this process. One was to put a prelude on the GPL explaining the system call exception, and another was to remove the GPL upgrade path.

          Could a BSD developer do this to GPL software? No for two reasons. One, because the GPL software was not a contribution to his project. And two, because that changes the entire intent of the license, where a modification of GPL2 to GPL3 would not.

          I am not an attorney, I just work with them a lot because I do corporate Open Source strategy for many big companies. I've discussed this particular question with multiple attorneys.

          Bruce

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            I am not an attorney, I just work with them a lot because I do corporate Open Source strategy for many big companies. I've discussed this particular question with multiple attorneys.

            I sorry I wrongly called you an attorney. Somehow I thought you were, probably because of your associations with them.

            I also understand that it had been done before. From my understanding though, the system calls thing isn't a change in the license rather a clarification on the interpretation of the GPL and the GPL only change

      • I stand corrected, Bruce - I was unaware this was a legally viable option. But for how long a period would holders of copyrights covered by the GPL 2 be allowed to respond? Would they be allowed to make these requests until the code falls into public domain? (If that's the case the kernel developers could be responding to requests to remove and replace copyrighted code for decades.) It also seems like a truly disgruntled holder of GPL 2 code that found its way into the kernel and was redistributed under
        • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:03PM (#21956798) Homepage Journal
          But for how long a period would holders of copyrights covered by the GPL 2 be allowed to respond? Would they be allowed to make these requests until the code falls into public domain?

          Legally, a reasonable time period like 90 days should work, a month at the shortest. Linus has done this before (when he added a prelude to the GPL, and when he removed the GPL upgrade provision) and I think didn't even wait a month for opposition. But I think it would be best to honor removal requests forever, because whether or not you have to, fixing the code is easier than arguing about it in court. Obviously, you can't remove distributed instances, you can only remove it from the main source tree.

          Code ages, and loses value as it does, especially in an active work like the kernel. You don't want code of folks who don't want to work with you any longer. And remember how long it took Linus to replace Bitkeeper? One month.

          Now, everybody is responding with can I give legal notice to the RIAA? Of course not. RIAA did not contribute their work to your collaborative project. It is the fact that the overall work has multiple copyright holders that makes changing the license without the active participation of 100% of them possible.

          Bruce

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Titoxd (1116095)
        Er, close, but not quite. Wikipedia has not changed its license; it still distributes its content under version 1.2 of the GFDL [wikipedia.org], with the "or later version [wikipedia.org]" clause. The recent announcement was that Wikipedia was asking the FSF to modify the GFDL, a.k.a. create a GFDL v1.3 that is more compatible with the CC licenses. The FSF said, "okay, we'll see what we can do", but AFAIK, nothing has been produced yet. Wikipedia may shift to that license easily, due to the "or later version" clause, but it cannot switch
  • Even if I think GPL3 is the way to go if you care for people not to partially "hijack" your project, for a kernel it seems sensible to use v2. What about a networked box using a gpl3 TCP/IP stack? Wouldn't the use of the box define if it's legal or not? Too much of a hassle.

      I'd go for v2 or any later with the caveat that if you want to merge into official kernel it must be v2.

    Anyway I'm likely missing all the problems with patents which could suggest going GPL3.
  • by Rydia (556444) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:11PM (#21955016)
    Wait, so GPL 2 is "locking code up?" Where were all these people who had strong anti-GPL 2 sentiments before 3 was released? Was it not good enough then, or are we just angry because the FSF is telling us to be?
    • by kebes (861706)

      Wait, so GPL 2 is "locking code up?"

      It's not that the GPLv2 is a bad license--it is a great license. The question is whether the GPLv3 is better (and if so, then why not use it?).

      Where were all these people who had strong anti-GPL 2 sentiments before 3 was released?

      They were discussing the shortcomings of v2 prior to v3 being created (in fact, it was because of those discussions that v3 was born). One can be pro-GPLv2 but still think of ways to improve it, by the way. The complaints used examples like TiVo (extending code, but preventing end-users from exercising freedom to tinker), web-services (making derivative code, but

    • What GPLv2 does in spirit, GPLv3 does in spirit, but also in a court.

      The Tivo example is not about the availability of source code, because that is a must, but about the ability to be able to change the source code. Tivo violated the spirit of GPLv2 when they created their device in such a way that it can only run their signed versions (and their users can't have the key). The problem is that this aspect of the license is not really enforceable in a court, so thus GPLv3 was created. It just spells out spe
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by amliebsch (724858)
        It doesn't block your freedom to modify the code at all. Load it up and modify it. Compile it. Run it. You are free to do all of that because of GPLv2. The only thing you CAN'T do is run it on a specific piece of hardware.
        • by muuh-gnu (894733)
          > The only thing you CAN'T do is run it on a specific piece of hardware.

          You cant do it on probably the only piece of hardware it runs on. Whats the point of a piece of software, if you cant run it on the hardware it is intended to run on? What if not only TiVo did this, but, well, _every single_ PC manufacturer out there? You would have free software everywhere, but couldnt run it anywhere. Well, you could run it, but only in the way the manufacturer intended to. What kind of "freedom" would that be? Isn
  • "I want to pick the licence that makes the most sense for what I want to do. And at this point in time, Version 2 matches what I think we want to do much, much better than Version 3,"

    "I", or "we", Linus?

    In the words of the great Tonto, "What do you mean WE, white man?"

    Linux creator Linus Torvalds has used an interview being made public by the Linux Foundation

    Superbanana has used a posting being made by Slashdot to complain about the lack of editorial skills on the Slashdot staff...yeesh.

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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