Re: GPLv3 Position Statement

From: Michiel de Boer
Date: Mon Sep 25 2006 - 04:54:19 EST

James Bottomley wrote:
Although this white paper was discussed amongst the full group of kernel
developers who participated in the informal poll, as you can expect from
Linux Kernel Developers, there was a wide crossection of opinion. This
document is really only for discussion, and represents only the views of
the people listed as authors (not the full voting pool).



The Dangers and Problems with GPLv3

James E.J. Bottomley Mauro Carvalho Chehab
Thomas Gleixner Christoph Hellwig Dave Jones
Greg Kroah-Hartman Tony Luck Andrew Morton
Trond Myklebust David Woodhouse

15 September 2006

This document is a position statement on the GNU General Public
License version 3 (in its current Draft 2 form) and its surrounding
process issued by some of the Maintainers of the Linux Kernel
speaking purely in their role as kernel maintainers. In no regard
should any opinion expressed herein be construed to represent the
views of any entities employing or being associated with any of the

1 Linux and GPLv2

Over the past decade, the Linux Operating System has shown itself to be far
and away the most successful Open Source operating system in history.
However, it certainly wasn't the first such open source operating system
and neither is it currently the only such operating system. We believe that
the pre-eminent success of Linux owes a great part to the dynamism and
diversity of its community of contributors, and that one of the catalysts
for creating and maintaining this community is the development contract as
expressed by GPLv2.


6 Conclusions

The three key objections noted in section 5 are individually and
collectively sufficient reason for us to reject the current licence
proposal. However, we also note that the current draft with each of the
unacceptable provisions stripped out completely represents at best marginal
value over the tested and proven GPLv2. Therefore, as far as we are
concerned (and insofar as we control subsystems of the kernel) we cannot
foresee any drafts of GPLv3 coming out of the current drafting process that
would prove acceptable to us as a licence to move the current Linux Kernel

Further, since the FSF is proposing to shift all of its projects to
GPLv3 and apply pressure to every other GPL licensed project to move, we
foresee the release of GPLv3 portends the Balkanisation of the entire Open
Source Universe upon which we rely. This Balkanisation, which will be
manifested by distributions being forced to fork various packages in order
to get consistent licences, has the potential to inflict massive collateral
damage upon our entire ecosystem and jeopardise the very utility and
survival of Open Source. Since we can see nothing of sufficient value in
the current drafts of the GPLv3 to justify this terrible cost, we can only
assume the FSF is unaware of the current potential for disaster of the
course on which is has embarked. Therefore, we implore the FSF to
re-examine the consequences of its actions and to abandon the current GPLv3

For what it's worth, i support RMS and his fight for free software fully.
I support the current draft of the GPL version 3 and am very dissapointed
it will not be adopted as is. IMHO, Linux has the power and influence
to move mountains in the software industry, and shouldn't shy away from
the opportunity to take moral responsibility when it arises.

What is the stance of the developer team / kernel maintainers on DRM,
Trusted Computing and software patents? Does the refusal to adopt GPLv3 as
is mean that these two are more likely to emerge as supported functionality
in the Linux kernel? Are there any moral boundaries Linux kernel developers
will not cross concerning present and new U.S. laws on technology? Are they
willing to put that in writing? Will Linux support HD-DVD and BluRay by
being slightly more tolerant to closed source binary blobs? What about
the already existant problems with the Content Scrambling System for

Finally, i hope that the wishes of the community of people that have only
contributed to the kernel a few times but whose combined work may equal that
of the core developers, are taken into account; as well as the wishes of
the massive amount of users of the Linux kernel.

How about a public poll?

Regards, Michiel de Boer

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