Re: Dual-Licensing Linux Kernel with GPL V2 and GPL V3

From: Bernd Paysan
Date: Thu Jun 14 2007 - 05:19:16 EST

On Thursday 14 June 2007 09:32, Paul Mundt wrote:
> This is perhaps the part that's the most interesting. For the very small
> number of people that _do_ want to change these things (usually at the
> expense of a voided warranty, in the consumer device case), there's
> always a way to make these changes, even if you must resort to hardware
> hacking. Trying to mandate this sort of functionality in the license
> might make it easier for a few people to get their code loaded, but the
> vast majority of users have zero interest in anything like this.

I don't feel this is a very conclusive argument.

How many computer users do want to change their OS? I mean not only want to
change the OS in the sense of "apply patches released by Microsoft", but on
their own? Many typical computer users ask for help to "fix their computer"
when turning it off and on again already "fixes it". They would never ever
change the source code of their OS even if they technically could do it -
they are not programmers.

However, if there is the technical possibility to change the firmware of an
appliance, somebody does it, and often mere users upload these changes to
their own device (like the OpenWRT stuff).

Let me give one example: My parents own a DVB-T DVR. It was a cheap one, and
it was cheap because the software is lackluster. Unfortunately it isn't
free. Many users of this device complain to the manufacturer about the
stability and quality of the software, but with no avail - there haven't
been any updates in the last two years. I suppose I would be able to fix
the problem, most other users probably wouldn't (and my parents neither).
But if I did fix the problem, and provided them with an updated firmware,
they would install it on their device.

That's the "help your neighbour" right in the GNU manifesto. It's as
important as the "help yourself" right, maybe even more. It was the
original motivation of RMS to make free software - the frustration of not
being able to help his neighbours. He had an NDA to help himself.

What people want is software that works. If the firmware of your microwave
or DVR works, you don't care so much if it is free or not. You only care if
it doesn't work, and you feel the urge to fix it (and turning it off and on
again doesn't fix it). That's why people complain loud about ATI drivers
not being open, and don't care that much about the Nvidia driver, which is
just as closed, but works.

Bernd Paysan
"If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself"

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