Re: GPLv3 Position Statement

From: Linus Torvalds
Date: Fri Sep 29 2006 - 12:52:26 EST

On Fri, 29 Sep 2006, Helge Hafting wrote:
> This seems silly to me. Sure, lasers and medical equipment is
> dangerous if used wrong. When such equipment is
> controlled by software, then changing that software brings
> huge responsibility. But it shouldn't be made impossible.

It may be "silly", but hey, it's often a law.

Also, even if it wasn't about laws, there is a very valid argument that
you should be able to be silly. There's a reason people don't get locked
up in prisons just for being silly or crazy - sometimes something that
seems silly may turn out to be a great idea.

And people seem to totally ignore that there is no correct answer to "who
may do software updates?". People rant and rave about companies that stop
_you_ from making software updates, but then they ignore the fact that
this also stops truly bad people from doing it behind your back.

Quite frankly, in many situations, I'd sure as hell be sure that any
random person with physical access to a machine (even if it was mine, and
even if I'm _one_ of them) could not just upgrade a piece of software.

Sometimes you can make those protections yourself (ie you add passwords,
and lock down the hardware - think of any University student computer
center or a library or something), but what a lot of people seem to
totally ignore is that often it's a hell of a lot more convenient for
_everybody_ if the vendor just does it.

And no, the answer is not "just give the password to people who buy the
hardware". That requires individualized passwords, probably on a
per-machine basis. That's often simply not _practical_, or is just much
more expensive. It's quite natural for a vendor in this kind of situation
to just have one very secret private key per model or something like that.

In other words, these secret keys that people rant against JUST MAKE
SENSE. Trying to outlaw the technology is idiotic, and shortsighted.

If you don't want a machine that is locked down, just don't buy it. It's
that simple. But don't try to take the right away from others to buy that
kind of convenience.

And yes, Tivo is exactly such a situation. It's damn convenient. I've got
two Tivo's myself (and yes - I actually paid full price for them. I was
given one of the original ones, but that's long since scrapped, and even
that one I paid the subscription fee myself). But you don't have to buy
them. You can build your own at any time, and it will probably be more

So people are trying to claim that something is "wrong", even though it
clearly is. The people arguing for "freedom" are totally ignoring my
freedom to buy stuff that is convenient, and ignore real concerns where
things like TPM etc actually can make a lot of sense.

Can it be used for bad things? Sure. Knives are dangerous too, but that
doesn't make them "wrong" or something you shouldn't allow.

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