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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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  • 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 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 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.

  • 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 morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:12PM (#21955026) Homepage Journal
    Who has gotten to Linus? Why does he no longer love free software or RMS?

    So now, suddenly, since there is a new version of the GPL, anyone who stays on the old version hates software freedom?

    Wow. That's kind of an extreme way to look at it. Especially since RMS himself said that there's nothing wrong with continuing to use GPL V2, if that's what a project wants to do.

    If I were RMS, I would forbid the packaging of any GNU code with a GPLv2 GNU/Linux.
    Without altering the language of the GPL, simply put, he can't.

  • 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:2 vs 3 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:39PM (#21955390) Journal
    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:2 vs 3 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:41PM (#21955430) 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?

    They can still sue the modified kernel on their own hardware.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:58PM (#21955710)

    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 few loopholes that have come to light since the GPLv2 was written. It does not extend the original philosophy one iota.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @12:59PM (#21955724) Journal
    Welcome to the license wars, where both sides are populated by fanatical idiots. Stallman, in particular, gets on my nerves because he's become nothing more than pontificating mushroom. At least Torvalds remains a productive member of society, even if he's a bit of troll in his own right.

    The nice thing about lots of licenses is that you, as the developer or development team, can pick the one that you feel best serves your project's interests. It seems to me the license wars are the very dichotomy of the idea of an open license, because they're all about trying to force developers down a specific path.
  • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by civilizedINTENSITY (45686) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:00PM (#21955736)
    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?
  • by amliebsch (724858) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:10PM (#21955880) Journal
    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 sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:17PM (#21955952) Journal

    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 my stand and adopt it as their own then present it as their own? Or did we just unify around people who had similar opinions. I think it was more of the last then any of the formers.

    And to this not, I think the siding with Linus is because he makes so much sense compared to Stallman. If you aren't already a subscriber to the Church of Stallman, he is a little hard to swallow.
  • Re:Patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by One Louder (595430) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:21PM (#21955996)
    The GPL3 doesn't protect against patent claims by entities that have not distributed the particular code released under that license.
  • 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).
  • by CarpetShark (865376) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @01:56PM (#21956666)

    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.
  • by kdemetter (965669) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:03PM (#21956806)
    GPLv2 worked fine for Linux in the past . Why wouldn't it work fine for Linux now .
    It would be less acceptable if Linus immediatelly accepted GPLv3 , without looking at it . The fact that he stays with GPLv2 means he looked into it , and decides to play on the safe side and stay with a license that worked well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:07PM (#21956874)
    Most people who use computers are way more concerned over their userland experience than over what kernel is the basis of the OS. For various reasons, Linux the kernel is going to stay at GPL2, but the folks who brought us the license have looked at the situation and determined there were some serious flaws, so they went on to version three, much as Linus keeps modifying his kernel because a longer view and rethinking warrants that. It is the natural order of things. It is a *pity* he cannot see that both of these advances are necessary, you cannot just sit at a stasis point and think you have all your bases covered.

        What he wants is his cake and eat it too, it is OK for him to keep coming out with new and improved versions of his stuff, but other people have to stay stuck with an older version of the critically important license? Why is this? Does he exist in some bizzaro world where he can't see the obvious threats from patent troll companies and the redmond monopolist gorilla and so on? He can claim to be a-political, but modern reality is politics and laws affect you whether you want them to or not, you can't go hide your head under the covers and just hope the boogieman goes away. And that is exactly what he keeps claiming he is going to do. Someone needs to take his baby bottle away from him and make him grow up a little. I like his kernel but he is being quite naieve and childish. I will be switching operating systems to the first decent kernel and userland package that goes to gpl3, because the future comes regardless of what Linus wishes to not-happen. If he can't be bothered to read some damn IT news now and then and stay up on the issues, maybe he needs a vacation from coding and go read some. How would he like it if a lot of people just told him to stop coming up with new kernel versions? Would he pitch a fit, just stop, or what? Nope, but he wants everyone else to stop being affected by modern laws and bogus business practices-well, he just ain't that powerful. He is living in a virtual reality make believe world where he can stop the clock on some point that he picks at random and assumes that that is all there is to it, just because he says so. Sorry, but that is just plain vanilla dumb. He's a smart guy when it comes to coding, but just doesn't get it on some things. In other words he is human, and has made a major mistake on this.

    Hopefully some place like Sun will go to a gpl3 kernel and those of us who look forward to a better future with FOSS can move on, and the political and business luddites can stay stuck back in time, and to each their own, choice is good. What is going to happen to them though eventually is they are one major court decision away from being screwed over royally by some huge company or cartel. Unless he thinks the sco case was all there was to it and all is well. That's another naive thought,. the multi billion dollar company out there has only begun to defend their market share, and they have more cash to do this with than some nations GNP. he is naive to think they will ignore Linux forever just because sco is mostly over. That was a low profile scouting expedition, they haven't even started on the major artillery barrage yet, and the more it looks like they are threatened, the closer we get to that big guns stage, so the faster we can get a full FOSS implementation of the GPL3 idea out there the better, because that is the best anti patent troll armor we have right now. Linus is offering *nothing whatsoever* to counter this threat at this point other than his blankie and wishful thinking.

    Hey Sun, are you paying attention? You waited some years too long to open Java, don't fart around with Solaris, GPL3 it NOW. Learn from past mistakes. You will quintuple volunteer devs within a week if you do so, and gain huge props and creds and mindshare in the global FOSS community, and you know what follows after that, which is more business.

    You cannot outright purchase such support, but you can get it for free by changing your license and opening it up.

        Think about it,don't waste anymore time on this. Linus intransigence is your business opportunity of the century right now.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:14PM (#21957012) Homepage Journal
    I have the source. I don't get any DRM programs, so I don't really need the DRM.

    Bruce

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:21PM (#21957126) Homepage Journal
    All copyright licensing effects a political end, which is the private ownership and control of the right to copy. All law originates in politics, and most politics originates in economics.
  • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mwlewis (794711) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @02:21PM (#21957132)

    Yes, but as has been pointed out to you, you've wandered outside of strictly software. It obviously doesn't matter to you, but consider that the argument is (roughly) equivalent to complaining that some GPLed i386 assembly code wont run on a PPC. You can still do whatever you want with the code, but the software license shouldn't have anything to do with the hardware (according to those who don't agree with this part of GPLv3).

    GPLv3 advocates believe that the software license should also be able to reach out to affect how the hardware interacts with the software. This places requirements on the hardware as well as the software. Yes, you've extended the rights of the user at the expense of the developers, but you've gone beyond only dealing with software.

    Just please accept that not everyone thinks that software licenses should do this.

  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @03:02PM (#21957806)
    RMS is absolutely brilliant, no doubt about it. Anyone who has known him in real life can attest to his brilliance. He body of work speaks for itself, he has consistently predicted things that would happen and proposed solutions. His being the "smartest guy in the room" gives him tremendous abilities to logically predict trends well before those of us normally gifted" people, and with the ability to look like magic divination to those that are of normal intelligence or lower. These facts are not in dispute.

    However, for all RMS's brilliance, his lack of social grace, to put it mildly, undermines him as the CEO of the Free Software/Open Source Enterprise. Indeed, the fact that his "movement" was hijacked and renamed Open Source, and his operating system was hijacked and renamed from GNU to Linux, is a testament to that.

    Big companies don't hire CEO's that can forecast the future. CEO's hire rooms of people that do that. Companies hire CEOs that can communicate the vision of the company to the outside world AND the people inside the company. The forecasting ability of Stallman is tremendous, but the lack of communication skills is devastating for him as leader of the movement. It's tragic, because he wants to hold the reigns because this is 100% all his idea, but he's a lousy spokesman for his own ideas, and lost control by not finding a better one.

    The Biggest Elephant in the Room: Copyright ownership and standing

    The most important thing to the FSF is copyright assignment to maintain a single owner to have standing to enforce. If this is so important to free software, why was that not incorporated into the license. You could have a provision that did roughly the following:
    1. You are free to modify for your own use, no need to even agree to license
    2. You are free to distribute modifications, if you do, you agree that your modifications are a derivative work, and all copyright is maintained by the maintainer of the software (define this in the license, first person to distribute becomes maintainer, unless a new maintainer is named by them)
    3. You are free to fork, but you have to rename the software, you then become maintainer of the fork, owning all derivative changes from here on out of your version

    That might not have been an obvious problem in the 80s, but given the Emacs vs. Xemacs ownership of code issue (Xemacs could use Emacs, but not vice versa because FSF requires ownership of all copyrights), arguments about relicensing, etc., this was obvious by the time v3 was created. Some solution should have been found to maintain single ownership of projects for the purpose of standing that didn't require a lot of paperwork.

    Examples of this:
    1. GNU vs. Linux... Linux sounds like Unix (people knew Unix, liked Unix, but couldn't afford Unix), and the fact that it's a play on a name is irrelevant. Digital Unix, Xenix, HP-UX, etc., all prepped people for a *ux/*ix name for a Unix. GNU? Hard to pronounce, a silly inside joke, etc., lousy brand. The system didn't become Linux instead of GNU by fluke, Linux's superior name and brand displaced GNU.

    2. Free Software / Open Source: Open Source is descriptive... there is more to it than the source being viewable, but that's the main action item, the rest is details. Free Software? confusingly vague, similar to Freeware (an already existing term with a lousy brand), and required a "manifesto" to understand. In fact, the existence of a "manifesto" was problematic, because we only here the word "manifesto" used in conjunction with "crazy people" and "revolutionaries," with a tremendous overlap between them. Free Software, captured the ideal if you understood the concept... clever for someone with a 180 IQ to create, interesting for people in the 130-150 range to understand and ponder, and meaninglessly abstract for someone in the normal range... bad branding #2, and RMS lost his movement.

    3. Emacs vs. Xemacs: the exchange ab
  • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @03:48PM (#21958672)
    If you (or the kernel community) do not want to leave it up to, say the FSF, then fine. But whatever you do, make sure you have SOME way to update the license for the entire project. If you want to lock a given project to a particular license, then run your project such that the copyright of contributions must be given (exclusively or non-exclusively) to a central authority.
    You SHOULD have a way to update the license, unless you are one of those who think that there is such a thing as a perfect license that is absolutely garanteed to be problem free and imune to any change in laws.

    "v2 or later" is better than "v2 only" because the former provides a way out of a license issue.

    If Linus owned ALL of the kernel code, then "v2 only" wouldn't be a problem.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @04:03PM (#21958964) Homepage Journal
    GPL3 will keep my software from being used in that sort of hardware, at least unless the manufacturer pays for the privilege. I think that's fair. It's damned annoying to be locked out of a box running my own software.

    I can buy an analog TV converter box because the government is paying for me to have two of them. I can not buy a TV Guide on Screen converter box because none is available and the format is proprietary and DRM-locked.

    Bruce

  • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @04:08PM (#21959066)

    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 picture? Apparently some GPL fans feel that the political aims are more important than the engineering aims. The goal is not to promote reuse, except by people who agree with them. "Give nothing back" sounds too much like the crazy BBS days when readers were rated on "upload to download ratios". But if TiVo had decided not to use Linux, would these GPL people be happier? If someone doesn't like DRM, then bitch at Hollywood or Hughes Satellite, not the company that's trying to create a useful product under real world conditions.

    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'.
  • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @04:11PM (#21959138)
    He can republish ***HIS*** code with a new license. He cannot republish ***SOMEONE ELSE'S*** cod with a new license. Not all code in the kernel is owned by Linus. You need to ask the other contributors to also relicense, and that can only happen if the contributors can be contacted.

    Instead of always talking about v2 vs v3, it would be nice to see people challenge Linus on how the legal aspect is (mis)managed, and what he plans to do to address this.

    Linus "likes" GPLv2 better because if he disliked it, he'd be faced with a rather big problem. I have vague recollection that at one point Linus said if he had to do it again, he'd pick something other than GPL - though, I don't have a reference for this.

    When you see Linus say that he likes GPLv2 better than v3, you should read it as "I - Linus Torvald - prefer to put my head in the sand, rather than face the problem I created".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @04:30PM (#21959502)

    The real question is would a move to GPL3 benefit your freedom?

    That really depends on how you define freedom.

    As a free software developer, I want to give any (especially any other free software/open source) developer the option of (re)using my code for his/her projects. If I choose the GPLv3, then only other developers who want to push the GPLv3 can use my code legally. What about those who wish to remain using GPLv2? Or what about those who /can't/ relicense to GPLv3 for some reason? They get screwed. That's not freedom, that's tyranny under the freedom banner.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the intentions of the GPLv3 supporters (yourself included) are noble, but forcing your ideals onto other people is no better than what you proclaim to be fighting against.

    Note: I've been contacted by debian maintainers for a handful of my libraries due to some application or another linking against one of my GPL libraries and another library with an incompatible license. The latest example of this was some program linking to my lib and openssl - the debian maintainer asked me if I'd be willing to provide a linking exception. My solution was to simply change my license to LGPLv2.1 (which is what the other contributors to my lib were comfortable changing it to). To avoid similar problems in the future, I'll be starting new projects using BSD (minus advert clause) or MIT X11 most likely. This whole GPL thing has just been a big headache to me and I regret ever choosing it.

    The main reason I ever chose to license my code under GPL in the first place is that that's what most other projects were licensed under and being that it was the more restrictive license, it allowed me to not worry too much about looking over source code for most other projects.

    As I have come to realise, though, is that having my projects licensed under GPL, it has caused problems with getting my library adopted by some other free software projects due to linking to some other lib or another with an incompatible license. This is really frustrating.

    Going with the MIT X11 or BSD licenses in the future is unfortunately going to limit my ability to build on top of other libraries, but I've come to the conclusion that that is what is best for what I believe.

    Bashing people for not using your preferred license is not a very "freedom lover" thing to do, it's very hypocritical if you ask me.

    I know that your feeling is that the GPLv3 protects the end users (and that's fine and dandy), but it doesn't necessarily make developer's lives any better nor does it promote true freedom - freedom for anyone to do whatever they want. It only promotes freedom for end users which is but a subset of the affected people.

    The way I see it, by promoting true freedom everywhere, it means that while some software vendors may take (my?) free software and use it in their proprietary products - end users can still decide to obtain their software from someone else if said vendor doesn't give them what they want (which might be that they want the source code). So everyone still wins. Proprietary software vendors win because they can still use my code. End users still win because they can demand the source code in an attempt to make the vendor change his/her mind or they can go elsewhere.

    But more to the point, it means that other free software developers are able to use my code without license incompatibility frustrations.

  • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr_mischief (456295) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @04:31PM (#21959526) Journal
    It is clear you're an accusatory and condescending ass. That's what's clear. Because someone disagrees with you is no reason to say they don't understand an issue. If everyone agreed, there wouldn't be an issue to discuss and no licenses pointing out the differences would be necessary. Come down off your high horse if you want to continue the subthread, please.

    Why is a developer of something with open source code any more privileged than the end user? That's the whole point of the source code being available.

    Furthermore, why is the manufacturer of a particular piece of hardware more privileged than the end user? The end user has every right not to buy that brand of hardware. The only real disadvantage the end user has isn't that the hardware in non-free. It's isn't even that they can't run their update kernel on the proprietary, sealed hardware without modifying the hardware. It's that without being able to decrypt the OS and then uncompile it, or to be able to run it in a sandbox, that they can't be sure the compiled kernel is really the same as what the manufacturer supplies as source. If Linus pushed the matter of making them prove it's the same, he could probably witness the signing of it and vouch for them. Otherwise, the very act of distributing a signed binary is counter to the requirement to provide the real source. However, if you have that little trust in the vendor, why would you buy their hardware, as it could be doing any nefarious thing too?

    When someone calls themselves the "Free Software Foundation", they should be limiting the free use of the software as little as possible to further its greater freedom. The GPLv2, for all its perceived flaws, does that pretty well. To say something is free software, but that it can only be used in this or that way by people who agree with the whole political platform of the foundation is frankly blatant hypocrisy. What good is it to the end user to have the source code if they're not allowed to run the software? How is that keeping the privileged developers and members of the FSF from limiting the freedoms of end users?

    Why is it a problem that Linus doesn't agree with the FSF altogether? Is complete agreement with the FSF prerequisite to abhor slimy, lying, monopolistic, closed-source Unix vendors? Is it important to carry an FSF card to think that cooperating with other developers around the world can produce something better than what's being pushed by the innovative marketing department at Microsoft? Linus chose the GPLv2 because what RMS codified in it made a lot of sense to him and to many other people.

    It might help you to remember that RMS and the FSF are the ones who have changed position. The people who are sticking to the GPLv2 are doing exactly what the FSF asked of them up until a few months ago. Now, the FSF wants to ask them to change. Why is it that Linus or anyone else is being called anti-FSF when it's the FSF that has changed direction?

    The FSF used to always say that if you liked the GPLv2 even enough to consider it, that it was better to use it and stand united as a Free Software community than to splinter off new and slightly incompatible licenses. That's true, and Linus saw the wisdom in that. Now, the GPLv3 is a license other than the GPLv2 and it's causing a bunch of strife and incompatibility in the community. Many people in and adorers of the FSF think that because they wrote both licenses that everyone should just switch. However, they encouraged the use of GPLv2 by a much wider audience than their core group, and now they're trying to say there's some dogma attached to the licenses. The licenses are legal documents for men, though, and not handed down from on high and dictated to software developers by angels.

    The FSF should be glad so many people are using the GPLv2 rather than BSD, MPL, or any of a hundred thousand closed-source EULAs. By bickering with people who support the major beliefs of the FSF but not the dogma and specifics, the FSF is alienating all the OSI crowd who never bought into a centralized repository of "free" software at MIT in the first place. These are the people they should be glad are on the same side, even if they're not in the same tent.
  • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by w000t (1141427) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @04:47PM (#21959768)
    I disagree. Seems that everybody forgets that months ago Microsoft latest strategy against OSS was to cut "interoperability" and "patent protection" deals with every Linux distribution it could (a move that allowed them both to throw FUD and -potentially- profit on OSS at the same time). It was the release of the GPLv3 (which among other things, closed that possibility) what made them back out; something which was accomplished without needing any actual project to change their license (the mere threat that it could happen was enough). I'd say that alone justify it's existence and is prove enough that there is a point to GPLv3. Just because it's not perfect it doesn't mean that it's not better than it's predecessor (and it certainly doesn't mean it's worst). That said, I can understand that in some scenarios the new previsions are not exactly a win (TheRaven64 (641858) makes a good point a few post above), but for a lot of projects (especially those not concerned at all with embedded software) I think the GPLv3 is an improvement.
  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @05:59PM (#21961016)

    I've never seen Stallman as a control-freak. I know he's got that reputation because he wants people to call GNU/Linux "GNU/Linux", but that's just pedantry you can expect from a geek. He doesn't seem to have had any problems ceding control over software projects he's started, and his general aim seems to be to try to explain why acting ethically is in everybody's best interests rather than to amass followers. In fact, something people have often suggested, which he is adamantly against, is a way of stopping Free Software from being used in particular ways that people don't like (e.g. on non-Free operating systems, military purposes, etc). If he were a control freak, he'd be trying silly stuff like that rather than denouncing it.

    I didn't say control freak, you did. He isn't obsessed over control with software, although he's shown some examples of acting that way. However, when shown better code, he normally backs down and turns in over, which isn't an unreasonable solution, and is the "pure geek" one at that.

    The GNU/Linux thing is because the systems were primarily the GNU system running on the Linux kernel, which he thought should recognize the GNU nature of the system. People on Slashdot like to make obnoxious comments about, "should we call it the GNU/X/Apache/Linux system," but Stallman's argument is real. His project wrote an entire operating system, and were then turning to the kernel. Linus wrote a simple kernel to replace the 8086-80286 targetted Minix kernel with an 80386 one and posted it. People decided to use the GNU tools instead of the simple, for educational purposes only, Minix ones, and the "Linux System" was born, using probably 95% GNU code and 5% Linus's simple kernel. All of a sudden, those GNU tools that people used where they liked them better than the standard Unix ones, were being used in the system rms envisioned, only they were calling it Linux.

    Although, there is a bit of irony, since he blasted the generally freer BSD license for the advertising clause, then tried to push the horrible sounding GNU/Linux system. The fact is, GNU wrote the Unix-like operating system, yet the Linux name stuck because GNU sounds horrible AND became known as a project, not an OS. People were using GNU Tools, and nobody was going to call it Slackware GNU, because it sounds bad. If they had even done something lame like Freenix, that might have stuck. I think that the loss was on the branding front, same as Free Software lost out to Open Source, and the ideological driven push by Richard Stallman lost out to small minded thinkers targeting corporate development.

    He wanted a movement. He wanted user freedom. He wants the freedom to tinker. These are his goals, and he used software and licensing as a tool to do it. Read his explanations on when to use the LGPL and when to use the GPL [gnu.org]. If you are making a Free version an existing library, use the LGPL to make it easier to work with. If it is new functionality, put the GPL on it, so if people use the code, they need to contribute to the body of GPL'd software. His goal is a growing pile of GPL'd code (which he started) that is an enticement. He wants each developer to look at the GPL'd landscape and say, "Wow, if I will GPL my app, I can saved hundreds of thousands of dollars with this free libraries... let me do just that." Like minded people releasing GPL'd software isn't the goal, it's the means to get people that don't really agree to release GPL'd software. That's the goal of the FSF, in the article linked, he writes, "If we amass a collection of powerful GPL-covered libraries that have no parallel available to proprietary software, they will provide a range of useful modules to serve as building blocks in new free programs. This will be a significant advantage for further free software development, and some projects will decide to make software free in order to use these libraries. University projects can easily be i

  • by Bryan Ischo (893) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @07:25PM (#21962332) Homepage
    It's hard to believe that someone who is as intelligent as you appear to be and has done as much thought about the issue as you have, could have come to such a completely incorrect conclusion.

    > That's not freedom, that's tyranny under the freedom banner.

    This is a *complete* mischaracterization of the situation. You are using the absolute wrong terms here when you say 'freedom' and 'tyranny'. First off, freedom is such a loaded word that it's really hard to extract anything meaningful out of its use in situations like this. But 'tyranny under the freedom banner' is so clearly just *wrong*. The author of the GPLv3 is giving access to the copyrighted work under very specific terms. These terms don't take way anyone's freedom, and they don't establish any tyranny. They just give fewer freedoms than I suppose you would like them to give. I'd hardly call that 'tyranny'. To use an analogy, if I let any of the neighborhood kids play in my yard but I require that they not play baseball because I am worried that they'll break a window, am I being a tyrant? Not letting them come into my yard to fetch a ball that they accidentally hit there, would probably be tyranny. Not letting them play in my yard at all, maybe tyranny depending on your viewpoint, but I would argue not tyranny because it's my yard and really no one has a right to it except me. But letting them play in my yard and establishing a few rules that I require them to follow? How is that tyranny? And similarly, how is *giving away* the fruits of my labor, but with certain stipulations that don't affect how they use the software at all, just how they redistribute it - how can you possibly call that tyranny?

    > I'm sure the intentions of the GPLv3 supporters (yourself included) are noble, but forcing your ideals
    > onto other people is no better than what you proclaim to be fighting against.

    I thought only people who hadn't put any thought into these issues at all used this argument. I guess not. Can you please explain how anyone is 'forcing [their] ideals onto other people' by releasing software for those other people to choose to either use or not use, depending on a) whether the software is useful to them and b) whether or not they agree to the licensing terms? Do you think that someone publishing a book is 'forcing their ideals' onto other people because those other people, if they were to choose to buy the book, would not be able to photocopy it for their friends? Forget about my pre-emptive arguments for a moment, and please just explain in what way someone who releases their code under GPLv3 is forcing anyone to do anything in any sane sense of the word 'force'?

    > This whole GPL thing has just been a big headache to me and I regret ever choosing it.

    Clearly you didn't read, or understand, the GPL before you chose it for your work, or maybe you just didn't think far enough ahead to realize that the problems that you had are inevitable if you use the GPL. I personally release my code under GPL *specifically* because I don't care about satisfying people who want to link my code into their application without obeying the GPL. I am not going to re-release it under the Lesser GNU Public License, because I chose the GPL *specifically* because of the freedoms that it guarantees users, and switching to the LGPL just backpedals on that in a way that makes one wonder what the point of using GPL in the first place ever was. Now I'm not saying that *you* have to use the GPL, or that the LGPL isn't the right choice for you, or that BSD, MIT, etc, licenses aren't better for you. It's your code, you should be the only person in the world who says what the best license is for your software. But I don't understand why you would talk about the GPL like *it* was the cause of some problems when in fact it was just your choosing of the *wrong* license for your intentions was the real cause.

    Also the BSD without the "advert" clause is almost exactly the same thing as public domain. Why you would care th
  • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krunk7 (748055) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @08:04PM (#21962812)

    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 and are 100% within their rights to tell you and anyone else the conditions required to use *their* work. And since it does belong to them in every sense of the word, they have no moral imperative to do what *you* thing they *should* do with it.

    Now, this has been beaten to death. But please realize that BSD is a license that maximizes the freedoms of the developer while GPL maximizes the freedoms of the user. I use both depending on who I want the code to benefit the most: users or developers.

  • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by galoise (977950) on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @09:07AM (#21967144)
    ehem. i think you built a strawman of my original possition and my subsequent reply and proceeded to bash it. in regards to that:

    1.- i have not said that i have the only valid possition. I have not said that all other possitions are invalid. I'm only saying that you originally made the mistake of believing that the fsf should generally defend the greater freedom (abstractly) in the use of software (and software only).

    2.- From that mistake stems your point about the fsf "restricting some freedoms is bad precedent". To me is the other way around: the fsf HAS to limit freedoms, the question is not about how much freedom, or if it restricts the freedom at all, is about which freedoms. I was ONLY arguing THAT PART. at least until now.

    Now to the rest of what you say:

    You could interpret the intentions of the fsf in a restricted sence, as a movement for the freedom to "see the source", applicable only to software. Or you can interpret the intentions of the fsf as a movement for the freedom to tinker and to share the results of your tinkering with your fellow human beings.

    If you believe the first, then yeah, the anti-tivoization clauses could seem out of place to you in the effort to preserve the "freedom to see the source". If you believe the second, then the anti-tivoization clauses are just common sense.

    The OSI crowd and ESR and Linus believe the first... They "like" the bazaar model and all that just because they believe that it is an "efficient" way to make "Good Software". They have no interest in the freedoms preserved by the fsf and gnu per se, but just as means to make Good Software. This is a completely different movement, with a completely different agenda. But jumping on the wagon of the fsf, using its licenses, presenting yourself as some kind of evangelist of the movement and then crying foul when the fsf takes the obviuos steps needed to acomplish its objectives is, at least, opportunistic.

    So, yeah, you can keep showing the "fallacies" in my argument, and insist on the spoureous relation between kernel-signing and the "freedom to see the source". But i am NOT talking about this. I dont give a damn about your "freedom to see the source".

    And more importantly, the fsf doesn't too!
  • Re:2 vs 3 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday January 09, 2008 @09:15AM (#21967202)

    We can't have an open source DRM media player even if we want one.

    But the idea doesn't even make sense! If you care about it being Free Software, then you also care about it not having DRM; if you don't mind it having DRM, then you shouldn't mind it being closed-source! Either you care about having control over the damn thing, or you don't! Any other opinion is logically inconsistent.

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

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