GPLv3: What the Hackers Said (Update)

When I wrote about the wrangling over the GNU GPLv3 licence a month back, it provoked a lively conversation in the comments. Given this evident passion among readers, I thought it would be interesting to ask the top hackers - the ones actually involved in the discussions - for their thoughts on the matter. So I contacted Richard Stallman for the FSF angle, and a bunch of the top kernel hackers - Linus, Alan Cox, Greg Kroah-Hartman, Andrew Morton and Dave Miller - for their view.

Since these people are all pretty busy, I didn't expect much of a response - the odd line here or there if I was lucky. But I was wrong: they all responded generously, with fascinating comments and insights into the GPLv3 and related issues. In fact, their replies were so detailed that they are too long to print here in full. Instead, I've pulled out what seemed to me some of the key points each was making (for the kernel coders, I've followed the order adopted in the GPLv3 poll). If you want the full story, I've put Richard Stallman's detailed thoughts, and the collected wisdom of the Linux hackers, online elsewhere, with individual links in each section below.

Richard Stallman

The purpose of the GNU GPL is to defend for all users the freedoms that define free software. It doesn't make sense in terms of open source. It's the result of implementing the philosophy of free software in the most strong way that we can. So all the version of the GPL have prevented middlemen from restricting subsequent users by changing the licence. Some free software licences permit that, for example the X11 licence permits that. The various BSD licences permit that. But the GPL was specifically designed not to permit that - you cannot add restrictions making the program non free.

Now, what we didn't have 15 years ago was the threat of making the program effectively non free by technical restrictions placed around it. That's what Tivoisation is. Tivoisation means taking a free program and distributing a binary of it, and also providing the source, because the GPL requires that. But when the user changes the source code and compiles it and then tries to install the changed program he discovers that that's impossible because the machine is designed not to let him.

The result of this is that freedom number 1, the freedom to study the source code and change it so the program does what you want, has become a sham. Tivoisation is essentially a way to formally comply with the requirement, but not in substance.

So we've come to the conclusion that this is more than just a minor issue. That this will be common, probably the usual case, if we don't do something to stop it. And therefore we've decided to do what is necessary so that our software will not be Tivoised. Our purpose is to deliver freedom to the user. (more)

Linus Torvalds

I don't think there will necessarily be a lot of _practical_ fallout from it, so in that sense it probably doesn't matter all that much. It's not like we haven't had license "discussions" before (the whole BSD vs GPL flame-war seemed to go on for years back in the early nineties). And in many ways, it's not like the actual split between the "Open Source" and the "Free Software" mentality is in any way new, or even brought about by the GPLv3 license.

So while I think there is still a (admittedly pretty remote) chance of some kind of agreement, I don't think that it's a disaster if we end up with a GPLv2 and a new and incompatible GPLv3. It's not like we haven't had licenses before either, and most of them haven't been compatible.

In some ways, I can even hope that it clears the air for all the stupid tensions to just admit that there are differences of opinion, and that the FSF might even just stop using the name "GNU/Linux", finally admitting that Linux never was a GNU project in the first place.

The real downside, I suspect, is just the confusion by yet another incompatible license - and one that shares the same name (licenses such as OSL and GPL were both open source licenses and they were incompatible with each other, but at least they had clear differentiation in their names). (more)

Alan Cox

There is no such thing as GNU/Linux. For an article like this it's really important to understand and clarify that (and from the US view also as a trademark matter).

I mean there is no abstract entity even that is properly called "GNU/Linux". It's a bit of spin-doctoring by the FSF to try and link themselves to Linux. Normally its just one of those things they do and people sigh about, but when you look at the licensing debate the distinction is vital. (its also increasingly true that FSF owned code is a minority part of Linux)

Linux is not and never has been an FSF project. I would say the majority of the kernel developers don't buy the FSF political agenda. Linus likewise chose the license for the pragmatic reason it was a good license for the OS, not because he supported the GNU manifesto.

Thus this isn't about the Linux people splitting from the FSF, its a separate project that happens to have been consulted as to whether it would like to use a new, allegedly better, variant of the license it chose.

Linux does use FSF tools but that doesn't make it a GNU project any more than this article will be an IBM project because it was typed on a PC, or a BT project because it used an ADSL line.

The Linux kernel being GPLv2 isn't a problem we can see for the future. It is a distinct work to the applications that run on it, just as Windows kernel is to Windows applications. The more awkward corner cases will be LGPL and similar licenses where you want the benefits and flexibility. The FSF have indicated they understand that and will ensure it works out. The licenses are about having barriers to abuse, not barriers to use. (more)

Greg Kroah-Hartman

The process is not over, and we still hope to influence things. We would not have written that letter otherwise. The main reason it was not done earlier is that we just did not think it was going to be a problem, as the kernel was not going to change licenses. But the more that we realized this was going to have a problem outside of just the kernel, and affect the whole community, we felt that we should at least voice our opinions.

Also, please note that the DRM issues have changed over time from being very broad (which was at least admirable), to being explicitly targeted at only the Linux kernel. Now the license is worded to try to stop the "tivoization" issue.

This is the where a bootloader or bios determines if the crypto signature of the kernel is acceptable or not before it decides to run it or not. This means that only "approved" kernels that come from the company will run properly on the hardware.

Now this kind of restriction pretty much _only_ affects the kernel, not any other type of program. This is because only if you can control the kernel can you ensure that the system is "secure".

So it seems that the FSF is only targeting the Tivo issue, which us kernel developers have explicitly stated in public that it is acceptable to use _our_ code in this manner. So they are now trying to tell another group (us) what we should do to our code.

As the FSF has no contribution in the Linux kernel, and has nothing to do with it in general, we kernel developers are now a bit upset that someone else is trying to tell us that something we explicitly stated was acceptable use of our code, is suddenly bad and wrong. (more)

Andrew Morton

Well gee. We're programmers and we spend our time programming, not swanning around at meetings talking about legal matters and playing politics. We find things like licensing to be rather a distraction, and dull. So most people largely ignored it all.

It was only later in the process when the thing started to take shape, when we saw where it was headed and when we began to hear the concerns of various affected parties that there was sufficient motivation to get involved.

In fact this points at a broad problem with the existing process: I'm sure that a large majority of the people who actually write this code haven't made their opinions felt to the FSF. Yet the FSF presumes to speak for them, and proposes to use their work as ammunition in the FSF's campaigns.

And why haven't these programmers made their opinions known? Some are busy. Many work for overlawyered companies and are afraid that they might be seen to be speaking for their companies. Some don't speak English very well. Almost all of them find it to be rather dull and a distraction. (more)

Dave Miller

For the kernel I'm pretty sure things will go on as they have before.

The problems are most likely for the projects under the GNU Project umbrella. All the copyrights to those projects, such as GCC, Binutils, etc. are all assigned to the GNU Project. So the FSF could, and almost certainly will, make all of those projects use the GPL v3.

As an aside, I will note that originally the FSF used to say that they wanted copyright assigned to them "to make it easier to enforce the GPL in court for software projects under the GNU Project umbrella." But as is clear today, it's also a power thing, in that having all the copyrights assigned to them allows the FSF to choose the licensing of the code as they see fit since they are the copyright holder of the complete work.

At the point of a relicense to GPL v3 for these GNU Project source trees one of two things could happen. Either the developers are OK with this, even if to simply "grin and bear it" and things go on under GPL v3. Or, the developers are unhappy with this, and fork off a GPL v2 copy of the tree and do development there.

In the end, even though they've assigned their copyrights to the FSF, the developers do control the ultimate licensing of these GNU projects. If they don't like GPL v3 and work on the GPL v2 fork instead, the FSF is at a loss because while they can mandate whatever they like such mandates are useless if the developers don't want to contribute to the GPL v3 variant.

So being the ones who do the development work is actually a kind of power which permeates through all of the politics. If the political folks do something stupid, the developers can just take their talent and efforts elsewhere.

I'm more than familiar with this process, since I was part of the group that forked the GCC compiler project many years ago because the majority of the GCC developers found the head maintainer (Richard Kenner) impossible to work with. Although he was quite upset about it, there wasn't much that Richard Stallman and the FSF could do about it. In the end the fork became the "real GCC" under GNU Project umbrella once more.

So the opinion of the developers matters a lot, especially when it comes to licensing. It could get messy is a lot of these projects fork, but the GPL v3 isn't a done deal yet so the FSF still has time to fix things up and make it more palatable to people. (more)

Glyn Moody writes about free software and open source at opendotdotdot.


Further to the interview I conducted with him, Richard Stallman has offered the following comment.

While I addressed the topic you proposed--version 3 of the GNU General Public License--Alan Cox chose instead to present a misleading picture of the history of GNU and Linux.

The GNU/Linux system comes out of the effort that I began in 1983 to develop a complete free Unix-like system called GNU. GNU is the only operating system that was developed specifically to respect computer users' freedom. Since our goal was to achieve freedom as soon as possible, we utilized the scattered existing free software packages that would fit. That still left most of the components for us to write. In those years, we of the GNU Project systematically developed the essential components of this system, plus many other desirable components, ranging from libraries to text editors to games.

In 1991, Linus Torvalds developed a kernel called Linux--initially not free software, but he freed it in 1992. At that time, the GNU system was complete except for a kernel. The combination of Linux and the GNU system was the first complete free operating system. That combination is GNU/Linux.

Cox says that Linux is not part of the GNU Project. That is true--of the kernel, Linux, that he and Torvalds have worked on. But the combined system that Cox calls "Linux" is more our work than his.

When Cox says that "FSF-copyrighted code is a minority in [GNU/Linux]", that too is misleading; he knows that just a fraction of the GNU packages' code is copyright FSF. What part do GNU packages compose in the whole system? Many are just as essential as Linux is.

In 1995, GNU packages were 28% of the system, while Linux was 3%. 28% is less than half, so that was a minority; but it is a lot more than 3%. Nowadays, after thousands of other groups have added to the system, both the GNU and Linux percentages are smaller than before; but no other project has contributed as much as the GNU Project.

Calling the combined system GNU/Linux is right because it gives the GNU Project credit for its work, but there are things more important than credit -- your freedom, for example. It is no accident that the GNU GPL existed before Linux was begun. We wrote the GPL to protect the freedom of the users of GNU, and we are revising it today so that it will protect against newer technical methods of denying that freedom. When you think about GPL issues, this is the background for them.

If the developers of Linux disagree with that goal, they are entitled to their views. They are entitled to cite their important work--Linux, the kernel--to be listened to more, but they should respect our right to cite the GNU system in the same way.

See for more explanation.



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The DMCA, the GPL and the Individual...

g_fernandes's picture

Well I'm glad we agree that TiVo is currently a small minority when it comes to considering Linux kernel deployments :)

As for the rest, I sincerely think that DMCA is also over-stepping its domain and blurring the line of ownership. In doing so, it damages an individual's rights as an owner.

Because it is a legal weapon, I think the GPLv3 provisions are sensible and necessary deterrents.

Linux currently has enough momentum - I think you will agree with me that the GNU/Linux OS is where it is today almost completely because of the people (here, I mean individuals and not corporate entities) behind it.

Such legal deterrents - aka the GPLv3 provisions - effectively split the opposition (hardware media manufacturers and digital content distributors) and therefore gain leverage for the entire FOSS community and ensure a fair deal for the end-user. It is, in my opinion, an important tactical manoeuvre.

I know you don't think that way. :)

And that's where I think we will just have to agree to disagree :)


pdof3's picture

Well I'm glad we agree that TiVo is currently a small minority when it comes to considering Linux kernel deployments :)
LOL, I don't think anyone would argue that point.

As for the rest, I sincerely think that DMCA is also over-stepping its domain and blurring the line of ownership. In doing so, it damages an individual's rights as an owner.
You have no disagreement from me there. For that matter I don't think you would get a disagreement from anyone who understands the situation. It is the people that have believed the line of bull from the entertainment industry that would argue the point. Mostly because that is the only side they have heard. My dad was all for the DMCA after the law was passed. I spent hours arguing with him before I convinced him it was wrong.

Because it is a legal weapon, I think the GPLv3 provisions are sensible and necessary deterrents.
I don't think it is as strong a legal weapon as you hope for; which is where I think our disagreement starts.

Linux currently has enough momentum - I think you will agree with me that the GNU/Linux OS is where it is today almost completely because of the people (here, I mean individuals and not corporate entities) behind it.

Such legal deterrents - aka the GPLv3 provisions - effectively split the opposition (hardware media manufacturers and digital content distributors) and therefore gain leverage for the entire FOSS community and ensure a fair deal for the end-user. It is, in my opinion, an important tactical manoeuvre.
And this is were I disagree with you.
(1) I don't think linux has the momentum to enforce change at this time.
(2) The digital content distributors already have laws backing them. Trying to place a split between them and the manufacturers will simply force the manufacturers to stay with proprietary software. For the most part because they have no choice as the distributors already have laws backing their side. It would cost them more money in court and lobbying congress than to simply pay for the proprietary software.
(3) So the result would actually result in (perhaps) more leverage for the FOSS community - but useless leverage - and therefor less acceptance of FOSS.

Its like I keep saying. FOSS could gain much more leverage - useful leverage - by educating the general public and getting them to take action before it is too late.

I know you don't think that way. :)

And that's where I think we will just have to agree to disagree :)
Like you, I know you don't think that way, but it is how I see it.

I think agreeing to disagree at this point is a good option as I am not getting any work done, and that is a bad thing. :)

LOL, yes the DMCA gives them

pdof3's picture

LOL, yes the DMCA gives them that ability. But, as I said, if enough people cared in the other direction laws would be passed in the other direction voiding the DMCA. Your problem and the problem of the FSF is that enough people don't care. Or, more to the point, do not even understand the problem.

So, in return, what the FSF is trying to do is force its beliefs down other people's throats. As I said before, it wont work. People don't like things shoved down their throat and tend to react negatively to it. People in the case of the GPL V3 being corporations using Linux. These corporations will simply retaliate by moving back over to proprietary software.

If the Linux kernel and all of the GNU projects switch to GPL V3 do you honestly think TiVo, or any other company like them, will continue using Linux or any other open source software under the GPL V3 license in their hardware. Of course not. They will go back to proprietary. Other companies like, IBM for example, that will have serious conflicts with the patent part of the license: Do you honestly think they will bend over backwards for the FSF? No, they will either find a work around or more than likely go back to nothing but proprietary software.

What the FSF is about to do is seriously undermine whatever progress Linux and open source has made. These companies aren't going to bend over backwards and take it, they will simply move on and around.

Basically, if you actually believe that businesses will accept GPL V3 and live by its rules you are the one living in Dreamville.

Unfortunately the FSF has taken the fun world of computer programming and turned it into politics. It is truly very sad, but you have to understand that it is politics at this point, and as always with politics the winning side is never in a colored area; it is always the people who hang around the grey area who win the most. Right now it is a negotiation and you will have to give some if you want to win. If you say it is my way or the highway as the GPL V3 tries to do and stomp your feet and pitch a fit the other side (in our case businesses) will simply walk away. And without those businesses GNU, Linux etc will fail and always just be a hobby OS for people with nothing better to do than sit around their computers tinkering with software that will only be used by a small percentage of people tinkering around themselves. There are more productive things people can do with their lives.

GPL and non-free third party kernel modules

Anonymous's picture

For some discussion on the GPL and non-free third party kernel modules, see: (mirror)

There are also HOWTOs on:

1) cloning your windows XP/2000 installations using Linux (back-ups).
2) installing windows XP/2000 on a spare partition with Linux.
3) accessing and writing to Windows XP (formatted with the NTFS) from Linux.
4) a script to walk you through a Gentoo Linux installation.
5) remix those 14 Debian installation CDs as 2 DVDs.
6) compile the worlds best DVD/Movie/Video/MP3 Player and Encoder (MPlayer and MEncoder).
7) 3D acceleration for ATI cards (simple procedure, works for SuSE, Mandriva and Debian).
8) the entire book "Linux Device Drivers 3" in HTML format.

Excellent Article

Anonymous's picture

This was extremely informative. It was also reasurring to hear what the actual developers had to say; In my opinion they are too often drowned out by FSF acolytes or opinionated journalists who masquerade editorials as "articles," or certain Forbes writers which are pretty negative towards both Open Source and Free Software as they lump them together. I knew the linux OS wasnt a GNU project but it didnt occur to me how little affect GPLv3 might have without getting used by the kernel until I read the connection Greg Kroah-Hartman made.

Seriously, this is one of the best articles/blog entries Linux Today has ever linked to.

GNU/Linux is right here on my desk

cprise's picture

GNU/Linux is the Linux kernel plus the GNU userland libraries and tools ...remember those commands you like to type into Bash? Every "Linux distro" I've ever seen (even the appliances) has relied on some crucial GNU components.

So Torvalds and Cox are being disingenuous when they claim that GNU/Linux is a misnomer.

As for the bare Linux kernel being an "operating system", that point is debatable.

Trusted Computing

Anonymous's picture

A point that many are loosing, is that what is generally called
'Trusted computing': A hardware/software setup, for
the general use in 'PCs', which is based on the very same
principles of TiVO. Moreover, Intel (Ladrande, 'safer computing initiative'), AMD (secure execution mode),
ARM (TrustZone) Microsoft (paladium), and others
have public plans to ensure that each and every Desktop,
server, mobile device (everything that has software on it)
to has a TPM (module to ensure the 'trusteness').
So at the end, the discussion about TiVO isn't so much 'thin air',
because as many have already pointed out, it is a possibility, that,
in few years, the only way to 'run' 'some software' or to 'access some
sites', will be trough a 'Trusted Plataform'... and them, it doesn't
matter if this 'TP' is a windows machine, or some kind of 'locked down' linux kernel...because the 'user' will have no option but
use it 'as it is'.
Game over.

Gee, why aren't Alan and

Doug's picture

Gee, why aren't Alan and Linus upset when people refer to Linux as an OS?

I mean, think of the additional responsibility they should be feeling.
Pot, kettle, Alan, Linus.

Why should the be upset?

Anonymous's picture

Why should the be upset? anyway, Linux IS an OS, of course, you need to understand first what is an OS.

Linux is the *kernel* of an OS, not an OS.

Martijn Dekker's picture

Linux is not an operating system; it's merely the kernel of an operating system. That's, after all, why Linux is called a "kernel". It's impossible to use a computer with only Linux on it; it will produce a kernel panic because, after booting, it cannot find any program to run.

That's where GNU comes in. The operating system, i.e. the minimum of what's required to actually operate the computer, is the combination of the Linux kernel with the GNU system, i.e. the GNU/Linux operating system.

Which might not exist as an abstract entity, as one kernel developer remarked in the article, but it certainly exists as a concrete one; every "Linux" user is running it!

GNU/Linux doesn't exist

jkaplenk's picture

As explained in several of the articles. We use the name Linux to refer to the kernel and the operating system. There is n distribution of Linux that just includes GPL/GNU licenseed software. There are many licenses in use. Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl and many other pieces don't use GPL To say that you can call them all GNU is not only invalid, but probably illegal. If Stallman would think about it he would probably not want it all to be called GNU/Linux because if then legally kills his trademark claim to GNU and GPL. It is something about the dilution of trademark.

The FSF should insist on the removal of all non-GPL software from anything called GNU/Linux as part of truth in advertising and for philosophical and legal reasons.


cprise's picture

Calling a distro having non-Linux (non-kernel) components "Linux" is wrong for the same reason.

Just because I have "Linux" on my desktop doesn't mean my whole OS == Linux kernel. In reality its based on Linux, and based on GNU as well, and has lots of other stuff.

Just because I say I've got an internal combustion engine in my driveway doesn't mean there is nothing more to the vehicle than a bare engine.

What a stupid conversation! Aren't people reading this site supposed to know what they're talking about? Or are they just here to order a cute penguin plush toy?

what would the process be...

Simon Kenyon's picture change the kernel from v2 to v3?

would this not require the permission of all the copyright holders?
this would seem to be a big logistical challenge in and of itself.

That's right

Glyn Moody's picture

Which is why Greg said that there was no real prospect of that happening.

Some fresh voices?

Anonymous's picture

Great interviews, Mr. Moody. Even Linus, for once, didn't cuss or call anyone names. :) It's interesting how much ill-will there is towards Stallman and the FSF, and how much of this is plain old resistance to change. Though I don't fault them for not wanting to rock the boat when it comes to license changes- legal issues are notoriously slippery and vexing no matter how clearcut the rules seem to be.

Have you considered interviewing some lesser-known, newer kernel devs? Someone who doesn't have a knee-length geekbeard, and isn't all old and crotchety and set in his or her ways? As much as we respect and adore Linus, Alan, and the rest of the usual gang, I'd be interested in hearing some new voices.

thank you, as always, for a good article.

It's all irrelevant anyway

Chris's picture

One thing I haven't seen mentioned is that the GPLv3 explicitly allows you to add any permissions you want. So Linus could create the "Linux Kernel License", which could be GPLv3 + "you're allowed to Tivoize", and that would be a GPLv3-compatible license.

But the whole discussion is irrelevant, because as a practical matter the Linux kernel cannot be relicensed. Even if Linus and the core developers looked at the final GPLv3 and thought, "Wow, that's the best license ever," they couldn't change to it without getting permission from all the thousands of developers who have copyrights on the kernel. The probability of that happening approaches zero.

I don't think so

Anonymous's picture

>But the whole discussion is irrelevant,....
I don't know if this is true,because the license headers frequently says something like "this software is under the gpl v2 or later version",and it's that "or later version" the problem.

The kernel is v2 only

Chris's picture

The FSF recommends that GPL software state: "either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version." Many programs do that, which means that they can be relicensed under GPLv3 (when it's finished) by anybody who wants to do that.

But the kernel was licensed under GPLv2 only, and that can't be changed without permission from each copyright holder. Since the kernel has thousands of copyright holders, simply contacting all of them is a near-impossible job.


Glyn Moody's picture Greg Kroah-Hartman said. The interesting issue is what's going to happen to other GNU projects, as Dave Miller points out, and to other projects that use GPLv2.

about a few subjects on this board i see.

Dez Ainsworth / Supermorph's picture

i remember in 2001 when i got to goto my first expo, i was excited cos i wanted to meet the famous mr torvalds.

lol we couldnt stay all the day so i never got to meet him, shame really, but anyways heres a thing to think about sure it is sco but its similar thing i think (sorta)

when i was there, there was this american dude, having a speech in an area when they was known as caldera systems, fine whatever works mr, you suggest all those nice things u wasnt about to do lol

and i remember this was when kde was at 1.x lol i thought thier installer for thier distro was easy, and it had tetris game at the end. but getting to the point, they decided to leave linux entirely, and went into trying to make somthing of linux invalid #(was it the licence i cant remember) anyways, and they was in big lawsuits with a few companies, and i remember seeing on thier site that they charged per cpu a few thousand dollars (correct me if wrong) that made me mad actually because they owned nothing of linux, and tried to say ppl was using unix code in the kernel which i found ludicrous,

as far as i know it was a few small companies who bought the idea insake of not being sued. fair does they wanted linux, so they got it , but at a sco licencing price, sad, annoying, and bullying all into one.

but for the vast majority (including myself)
most of them decided to take the """risk""" lol of "who cares what sco says they dont own my system or linux so they dont tell me what to do kinda thoughts" and ignored such licencing sco tried to force.

and with me saying all that this bit is where i find a similarity

(if they dont own it all, fsf? then they cant make people change to a new licence, even if they do own a compiler and bintools etc,)
because people will only go back to forked versions of gcc or whatever and they will basically ignore what will make thier distributions/systems/productivity either invalid/illegal/not worth the hastle (if any legal proceedings was to be held for any reason)

most of this might sound weird, but in my view i thought that it should not be one body to sort the licence issues, this should be on wherever the programmers go, and if need be, a translator group, so all peoples voices can be heard, just like those politics meetings (the worldwide ones where the big round table is and headsets with translators talk to them)

in my opinion i also think consumers should have a say to some degree,
as, if it wernt for consumers or general public, wanting to try change i dont think us chin waggling bearded men/or women lol would be concidering these licence issues or anything the like, as companies wouldnt be turning to it due to the consumer wouldnt use anything they didnt think existed or was an alternative (aka macs and pc's, if macs were never advertised at all would people of bought them? )

this also applies to companies
if people thought they had to either design thier os or an environment, or was forced to use windows as thier only option or they didnt know linux existed as a competent alternative, would the likes of apache as been popular as it is now?

i may of striked a few mean cords or may have been wrong with some of what i said, if i have i do apologise i was trying to sound positive, even if i didnt get what i meant right lol,

thanks for your patience to read my article/note.

but on the other end of this matter the tivo issue.
did they have the right to make any code people wanted to change not work on thier boxes? like i mean if they used the linux as the base of the products software ,they should be given the right to change what they bought, even if it meant loosing support, or if it came to it, what if they just made backup chips with a restore option if the user did change the coding, that would be much better, as this would mean if the user programmed somthing that made the box do a funky little dance on the screen (aka a programming boo boo) they could restore to the basic (what tivo programmed state)

mabye if this would suggested to either who tells the fsf how it goes or mabye even better, companies who tried this tivo-ism act , as at least they would have a failsafe and could become enterely compliant as they would be letting people use the code in any way-shape-form they desired.

thats my two cents

p.s glyn moody ,even though i done a reply to your note, i just wanted to make my note appear and i didnt know where to enter a note, so i pressed reply to the bottom note at the time which was ur note lol

just incase you thought (what am i on about im nuts) lol
anyways laters

Who will do the V3 Kernel? Apparently not Linus

Anonymous's picture

Linus and his kernel friends don't subscribe to the 4 freedom that the GPL embodies. If they don't wise up soon, they will eventually be left in the dust...

They are creating the same situation using GPLv2, that Stallman originally faced in 1983. Linus' commercial interests are blinding him to the fundamental issue that without V3, there is no long term future for GNU/Linux systems on widely available PC class hardware.

Linus is missing his own destiny... somebody must now step up and replace Linus as the keeper of the "V3 kernel" and the pun should not escape anyone reading this. V3 for GPLv3, and V3 for a replacement for the 2.6 GPLv2 version that isn't free any more.

Linus, and your kernel friends, come to your senses soon, or face tivioization yourselves...

If OSDL does this, things would be good, since V3 could at least use the same device drivers, the most heavily invested part. If Linus and the OSDL remains stupid, then the answer will come from some other quarter. IF the OSDL has a clue, for V3, they'll 1) publicly ascribe to the 4 freedoms, and 2) collect copyright assignments so when GPLv4 comes out, fixing some other legal problem to keep the 4 freedomes whole, they'll be able to upgrade instead of rewrite.


Which 4 freedoms?

Anonymous's picture

The 4 freedoms? I suggest you compare freedom 0 in GPL v2 with the new freedom 0 in the v3 draft. Now, if the v2 freedom was wrong, or flawed, how is it that v2 (and the kernel) has proven so successful? How is it that it has taken the FSF 15 years to supposedly "fix" that freedom? Read-only code is not new.

Remember that the millions of lines of source code that the FSF owns, that make your "Linux" distro what it is, were written by contributors that assigned copyright to the FSF. You can safely assume that they licensed their code under some understanding of "freedom". All of those contributors will agree with the v2 definition of freedom -- but the FSF is threatening to license that code under v3 ONLY. Yes, some of those contributors would agree with the v3 definition of freedom, not all!

That division created by v3 is why I'm writing this post instead of doing something more productive like coding. That divison can only lead to forking and politics; duplication of effort and pointless debate. Such infighting is undermining Linux, and for what? For an untested license clause designed to combat DRM -- a battle that should take place elsewhere, e.g. somewhere that it may be won.

Stallman is embarking on an arms race of license terms vs. technology in his ideological crusade. GPL v4 could be expected to be more of the same, and will alienate even more potential users, and so on until in the end, only RMS contributes code under GPL version N.