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Linus Speaks Out On GPLv3 615

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-a-spicy-os-dev dept.
Slagged writes to mention the word that Linus Torvalds isn't a fan of the new GPL draft. News.com has the story, and someone purporting to be Linus is causing a ruckus in the Groklaw thread on the subject. From the News.com article: "Say I'm a hardware manufacturer. I decide I love some particular piece of open-source software, but when I sell my hardware, I want to make sure it runs only one particular version of that software, because that's what I've validated. So I make my hardware check the cryptographic signature of the binary before I run it ... The GPLv3 doesn't seem to allow that, and in fact, most of the GPLv3 changes seem to be explicitly designed exactly to not allow the above kind of use, which I don't think it has any business doing."
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Linus Speaks Out On GPLv3

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  • Linus is wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:43PM (#15801817)
    I don't think manufacturers have any business preventing me from running my own code on hardware I purchased, at that stage I may as well be using MS Windows.
    • by Phillup (317168) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:52PM (#15801899)
      Manufacturers should be able to go out of business in any method they desire.
      • Re:You are wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tomhudson (43916) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:28PM (#15802622) Journal

        Manufacturers should be able to go out of business in any method they desire.

        Yup. GPLv3 is just plain dumb. It "addresses" a non-existent problem. People have a choice between DRM and non-DRM platforms and software. They can and do vote with their wallets.

        And for those who are thinking "what about when there are no more non-drm devices, smarty-pants" - a GPLv3 won't address that issue; a swift kick to your political masters' behinds will.

        The GPLv2 isn't broken. v3 doesn't pass the "smell test"; it won't "fix" anything, certainly not a situation such as a fully-drm'd, fully closed world.

        Funny, the biggest push for DRM is from the so-called "free world." What sort of frigging time-warp alternate universe have we been living in for the last 6 years?

        • Re:You are wrong (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28, 2006 @08:56PM (#15803259)

          Yup. GPLv3 is just plain dumb. It "addresses" a non-existent problem. People have a choice between DRM and non-DRM platforms and software. They can and do vote with their wallets.

          Yes, but currently Free Software authors are subsidising the development of platforms that takes their Free code and locks it up so that it can't be modified or replaced. A lot of Free Software authors don't like this because it defeats the whole point of Free Software. That is the problem that it solves.

          • Re:You are wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tomhudson (43916) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:42PM (#15803428) Journal

            Whoa, I think you missed the whole point of freedom :-)

            If they apply drm to anything I write, then *that* particular binary isn't modifiable, but so what? They still have to provide the source on demand to anyone they give the binary to. That, after modification, the source can't be compiled to run on that particular hardware isn't an issue. Why? Because when it happens enough times, people will say f*ck this and buy hardware w/o the lock-in. Nothing worse than a horde of pissed-off customers.

            The original source can still be modded and run fine on non-locked-out platforms.

            Now I understand your point - that if they had to develop their own software, this would cost them extra. But any software that they developed themselves would be totally locked up, and there would be absolutely no leverage to ever convince them to go non-drm, or even a sort of "open drm", where the content might be locked, but not the app.

            GPLv2 deals fine with these issues, by putting everything where it belongs - the push and shove of the marketplace. GPLv3, on the other hand, is both premature and heavy-handed. I'm sticking with v2, not just out of "political" reasons, but because I believe the marketplace works.

            Take a look at what's happening. Microsoft, with all its monopoly power, is scared of linux, firefox, etc. The marketplace IS speaking out. Now, if someone insists on running Windows, this hasn't diminished me in any way - I haven't lost anything. If they want to run my code on a winbox instead of a linbox, how have I, or anyone else, lost out?

            Same thing if they wanted to run it on a box that only allowed signed drm binaries. The only loser is the person who actually does this, then can't take advantage of any updates I do. Their loss, not mine. And its up to them to bear the cost of dumping their locked-in solution and switch.

            The first freedom of free software is to run it on anything you want. That includes proprietary and/or closed systems. Now, personally, I think that's a dumb thing to do in most cases, since open systems have consistently better performance and higher-quality code, but that's my choice - my freedom.

            What are people complaining about? Stuff like Tivo. Really, now - they're complaining about goddamn TV shows! Come on, there are more important things than that ... and if you don't like it, you can always make your own Freevio,or pay someone else to slap one toghether for you. Tivo didn't suddenly make Freevio impossible. What it DID do was give a target to shoot for.

            Lets take a real-life example. I've got some code for an integrated back-end/front-end inventory and web site. If/when I get around to cleaning it up and gpl'ing it, if someone else takes it and mods it so that it runs on a particular piece of hardware, but that only mods "signed" by them will run on that hardware, all they've really done is limited their market to people stupid enough to buy closed hardware. Everyone else is enjoying the benefits of open code on open hardware for less. What's the problem? Its just like a lottery, a tax on stupidity, right :-)

            Just this last week had a demonstration that eventually the market rights itself no matter what, when Microsoft's profits were down by a quarter, with the long-term outlook being more of the same. Closed systems just can't compete over the long term.

            Another example. I wrote the beginning of a c2java converter, because java lacks a lot of the constructs I like. One of these days I'll finish it and put it out there for people to play with. What would be the incentive for someone to pay for a drm'd version, wehn they can have the original one, with source that they can modify and run, for free? There is none. Anyone trying to market such a setup would be doing the "web 0.0" dot-bomb thing.

            Anyway, that's my take on it at this point. Let the free market handle it. There are too many of "us", and too few of "them", for us to fail unless we just stand there bent over with our hands around our ankles and buy any and all locked-in products. And if we do that, then we really do deserve the shafting we get.

            • Re:You are wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Znork (31774) on Saturday July 29, 2006 @04:59AM (#15804834)
              "I think you missed the whole point of freedom"

              I think you missed the whole point of whose freedom is protected in the GPL.

              "If they apply drm to anything I write"

              If they want to apply DRM to anything I write, then they can damn well write the code themselves (or join the anti-IP fight). The GPL aint a free lunch, it's a guarantee of the freedoms for the recipients of the works and derivative works.

              The application of DRM further creates a free rider problem where companies releasing under GPL risk finding themselves at a disadvantage versus those who dont; suddenly it's a one-way street.

              "this would cost them extra"

              Enough extra to make it unprofitable, or to give the open competition an advantage on price, a difference that is only going to grow in the future.

              "Let the free market handle it."

              Oh, please. The whole IP industry is nothing like a free market. The GPL restores free market competition for a small segment, but the business is full of protectionists trying to find ways to cheat even that.
          • Re:You are wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

            What about if you spend a lot of time (a year or two) to develop a piece of software and try to sell it since you need to eat and pay rent. Then someone comes along and starts selling your software for his own profit (he can as long as he gives away the source code say). Now you lose revenue because he sells it for less maybe... you still lose revenue even if he sells it for the same because he is cutting into your market. Then a lot of people start doin this, and now you have to get a job at a proprietar

            • Re:You are wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

              by mrchaotica (681592) * on Saturday July 29, 2006 @10:52AM (#15805754)

              But in the end, who cares if they lock it up? As long as they give out your source code. If you don't want them to use it, then don't give it away.

              Personally I think BSD or Apache are more altruistic and realistic.

              Ah, here's the problem: you're missing the point of the GPL!

              With BSD-style licenses, people do use them for the reason you stated: because they want other people to use their code. With the GPL, this is not the case. Instead, people release their software under the GPL because they want to preserve the user's control over his own computer.

              Remember, Richard Stallman first created the GPL because his printer wasn't doing what he wanted, and the company refused to give him the source code so that he could fix it. If that happened now, with a printer that used GPL v.2 software but required a company-authorized version to run, the user would be just as screwed as if the code weren't Free Software at all. That's what the GPL is for, and that's why version 3 is needed!

        • Re:You are wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

          by illuminatedwax (537131) <stdrange@alumni. ... 14o.edu minus pi> on Saturday July 29, 2006 @01:29AM (#15804219) Journal
          No, it fixes a very important issue.

          You know the story of rms' printer driver: he wanted to be able to modify the printer driver so it would bloody work right or work better. He couldn't do that, so he made GNU.

          Now let's say the new rms. smr wants to fix his printer which is running embedded GPL software. Great, he thinks, I have the source code to this, so I can just fix the source and make my printer work/better.

          Oops! The printer doesn't allow you to do this. This is an awful loophole that restricts your freedom to modify the program. You can modify it, but you might as well write it on on a piece of paper for all that's worth. What the user needs to be able to do is modify the software and use it to really have that freedom. GPLv3 protects this. Linus is really being a stubborn idiot about this.
          • Re:You are wrong (Score:3, Informative)

            by tomhudson (43916)

            The printer example is now obsolete, and has been since the advent of the PC.

            Back in the bad old DOS days, you had the following options:

            1. intercept the output of the driver via a tsr
            2. modify the driver in-memory
            3. save the output to a file for post-processing
            4. replace the driver with one you wrote (not that big a deal in the days of dos).

            That was when printers were a lot more expensive than today. A good dot-matrix could easily set you back $500, a daisy-wheel even more.

            As for today's situation, again,

    • Re:Linus is wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spazmania (174582) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:43PM (#15802310) Homepage
      This is a twisted and difficult issue.

      On the one hand, the whole point of open source is that you can change it and then run your changed version. That shouldn't be suddenly untrue at the arbitrary border between hardware and software. Hardware that uses approved versions of open source while actively preventing my version from running violates the spirit of the thing.

      On the other hand, most of us have spent the last decade saying that its OK to use both open source and closed source software on the same machine. No one argues, for example, that you can't run GCC on top of a closed-source unix kernel even though it requires that kernel in order to run. Nor does anyone argue that the processor and other chips used by the kernel must be an open, free design.

      The real problem, I think, is that RMS (via the FSF) is trying to force it down our throats as usual. He's a strange bird in that he really gets the freedom issue at one level while it flies totally over his head at another.

      I think I'd put the DRM stuff in GPL3 as an optional component and see what happens. Let us authors decide whether we want it. If it works for us, it can be made permanant in GPLv4.

      So I'd do something like this: Software released under the GPL MAY designate (on either a file-by-file or full release basis) that it can not be used by any device which by design actively prevents its legitimate owner from adjusting the software or data. Distribution of code so designated would be fully compatible with distribution of any other interlinked GPLv3 code with the sole exception that binary forms of the portions so designated may not be distributed for use with the restricted systems.

      But then I'm a vi guy. Maybe if I'd written emacs I'd see it differently.
      • I think I'd put the DRM stuff in GPL3 as an optional component

        The linux kernel project has the choice of staying with GPL2 or writing their own license. They could even fork GPL2 to make their own new license if they want. So the DRM stuff is optional.

        • Re:Linus is wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

          by HiThere (15173) *
          Actually, the Linux kernel project DON'T have a choice. It is and will be GPL2. To switch to GPL3 would require getting the agreement of a very large number of people, living and dead...or just totally out of contact. This isn't going to happen.

          GPL3 will be used where GPL3 is used. It will (probably) be compatible with GPL2, so I don't expect any conflict there. Some people will choose to use it, some will choose GPL2, some BSD, etc. And this makes me quite suspicious of those who are vehemently again
      • Re:Linus is wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dbIII (701233)

        He's a strange bird in that he really gets the freedom issue at one level while it flies totally over his head at another.

        He gets it - it's just thing english language dictionary definition of the word "free" he doesn't like so he has his own definition. Go back over some of his interviews (or just one - he used to bring any topic around to the same points he wanted to get across) and it will become clear. The silly stunts with ID badges and throwing away petitions to get attention or renaming other peopl

      • Re:Linus is wrong (Score:3, Informative)

        by turbidostato (878842)
        "The real problem, I think, is that RMS (via the FSF) is trying to force it down our throats as usual."

        Oh, well... I didn't know RMS (or the FSF or the SPI for that matter) were pushing governments so only choice to license the software you wrote was the GPLv3. It's good to know, thanks! ...or is it that RMS it trying to offer a well thought license so you can -IF YOU WANT TO, avoid the software you write to be involved in some situations you really didn't want to?

        For the hardware manufacturers: they can A
  • by BlackGriffen (521856) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:45PM (#15801840)
    It's fine to have the hardware validate the software, I don't think anyone can rationally argue against that. What's not fine is to have the hardware refuse to run the software at all. If the user is conscious that the software is modified and therefor unsupported, then the user should have the ability to run any software he chooses.

    So, have a cryptographic check alongside a message or error light or something about running in unsupported mode, but don't completely cripple the hardware just because you want to avoid support headaches.
    • by HairyCanary (688865) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:51PM (#15801893)
      You are failing to see this from the point of view of the manufacturer. What you have proposed simply gives you a way to run unsupported software. Where does it actually help the manufacturer? They are still going to get the calls, error light or not. Only now, in addition to providing support, they have to explain why they will not support a particular version of the code.
      • by AuMatar (183847) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:55PM (#15801925)
        No, I don't. I have to look at it from the point of view of the owner. If I buy a piece of hardware I damn well have the *right* to run any software I want with it. Now, doing so may void the warranty. But as the owner of the hardware I am allowed to make that choice.
        • by timeOday (582209) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:05PM (#15802002)
          Exactly. What if that "hardware" is a PC and that "validated software" is Windows? So much for Linux.

          I don't find this far-fetched in the slightest.

        • You may have the right to try, but the company that created the hardware "damn well" has the right to use technology to stop you if they want to.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:10PM (#15802036)
            And the copyright owner of the software has the right to restrict the use of that software on devices which perform that hardware check. What's your point?
          • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:18PM (#15802559)
            You may have the right to try, but the company that created the hardware "damn well" has the right to use technology to stop you if they want to.

            Which is EXACTLY why the GPLv3 is necessary.

            GNU all started with a Xerox printer and RMS's need to make it do things (report errors) that Xerox did not think of and did not want him to do.
      • The thing is, when it comes to modifying embedded apps, firmware, etc. anyone who is doing such a thing should, in theory, be knowledgeable enough to understand why what they are doing cannot be supported. It's not Joe Smith, 45 year old plumber who uses a computer once a week at work to enter his timesheet, that is going to be changing the software. Plus, even if it is, anyone who has gotten suckered into phone support and actually has enough knowledge to understand this themselves will probably get fed
        • Plus, even if it is, anyone who has gotten suckered into phone support and actually has enough knowledge to understand this themselves will probably get fed up with it and have little trouble saying "Sorry, we don't support that. Thanks for calling." and hanging up if it becomes a problem.... or maybe I was just an asshole when I did phone support.

          Obviously you were the asshole who took the call before I did & passed the previously frustrated and now angry customer on to me.
          Seriously, in today's call

          • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwinNO@SPAMamiran.us> on Friday July 28, 2006 @06:20PM (#15802570) Homepage Journal
            Seriously, in today's call center you are not allowed to hang up on customers.

            I find this seriously hard to believe. I've been hung up on by several call centers (Comcast, Cingular, CapitalOne, Dell, ahem. . . .) I think there quite seriously are companies which do permit people to hang up on customers.

            I'm not rude, but if I _know_ I'm right on an issue I will be firm, and I will insist on speaking to someone else. I spent 2 hours on the phone with Cingular, discussing a point on my contract, until an administrator finally admitted that I was, indeed, correct, and issued my credit. I don't yell, I don't curse, but I won't accept what they say at face value when I know them to be incorrect. I don't see any reason to give into a big company because they feel they are correct, and on more than one occasion I've documented their errors only to be told by customer service representatives that it didn't matter. At one point, a certain cable company told me they couldn't help me, it didn't matter, I couldn't speak to anyone else, and that because my modem was an older modem (DOCSIS 1.0, 1.1, 2.0 compliant!) it supported a maximum of 1 Mbps. Then I was hung up on.

            I've worked in call centers, so I know how much it sucks to have rude customers, but I'm starting to get the impression that their most definitely are abusive call center managers who do NOT respect their customers or employees, and these people permit employees to hang up on customers who are problematic.
      • Only now, in addition to providing support, they have to explain why they will not support a particular version of the code.

        That one's easy: "You have modified the product. The support is only for an unmodified product."
        After all, if someone physically modified the product (e.g. do their own rewiring, maybe adding some extra component), then you wouldn't expect them to still give support for that modified product either.
    • What I don't seem to be getting is how a software license can have any effect on a hardware distributor/vendor. If they want to lock their hardware onto a particular version of the Linux kernel, how does the GPL3 stop them?

      What if they hire an independent developer to create some anti-freedom code and release it as GPL? Who's breaching the terms of the GPL if they choose to make their hardware run only that code? While I might agree with what RMS is after, the license appears to have such an easy workar

    • And now welcome to the real world... no.

      What you say is a fine theory, and for desktop computers great, it fights the good fight.

      But if I'm putting out an embedded device which I know will brick if things are modified in the slightest, why should I loosen things up to allow the customer to hang themselves?
    • by Pausanias (681077) <pausaniasx@g3.14mail.com minus pi> on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:16PM (#15802084)
      BlackGriffen wrote:
      It's fine to have the hardware validate the software, I don't think anyone can rationally argue against that. What's not fine is to have the hardware refuse to run the software at all. If the user is conscious that the software is modified and therefor unsupported, then the user should have the ability to run any software he chooses. So, have a cryptographic check alongside a message or error light or something about running in unsupported mode, but don't completely cripple the hardware just because you want to avoid support headaches.
      What you say makes sense; however, I don't think the current language of the GPLv3 draft is clear on this point. Here is the relevant passage, emphasis mine:

      The Corresponding Source also includes any encryption or authorization keys necessary to install and/or execute modified versions from source code in the recommended or principal context of use, such that they can implement all the same functionality in the same range of circumstances. (For instance, if the work is a DVD player and can play certain DVDs, it must be possible for modified versions to play those DVDs. If the work communicates with an online service, it must be possible for modified versions to communicate with the same online service in the same way such that the service cannot distinguish.)
      It seems that the first phrase in bold allows what you describe: "implement all the same functionality" does not seem to prohibit a pop-up warning that the code is unsigned. However, the second phrase in bold says that modified versions must be indistinguishible from the original source from the point of view of an outside device. This seems to prohibit that same pop-up warning. So, it seems that Moglen & Stallman still have some clarifying work to do.
      • However, the second phrase in bold says that modified versions must be indistinguishible from the original source from the point of view of an outside device.

        I don't think that's exactly what it says. It's more along the lines of, if I use gpl software for my instant messaging client, I can't make it so that a modified version of said instant messaging client is blocked from logging onto my servers, or treat them differently by deciding that they don't get to use one of my cool features like...saving y

  • Closing OSS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by saterdaies (842986) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:48PM (#15801855)
    Part of the point of OSS is that anything that you can modify should be modifyable. From the FSF's perspective, a hardware vendor shouldn't be allowed to lock you into using their approved software. You should be able to run whatever software you'd like on the hardware that you paid for. I'm not from the heart of OSS evangalism, but by allowing a hardware vendor to lock you into a certain version of an OSS application, you've closed the source of that app. It can be modified, but not run - and, to me at least, running is the ultimate point of software.
    • Okay, I'll agree with the, "...a hardware vendor shouldn't be allowed to lock you into using their approved software." argument, but offer a different idea. How about a vendor allows anything to run but only warrantys their specific software? Having dealt with large vendors and working for a large organization, I can tell you that we specifically like standardization because it means that a small staff (15 or so) can take care of 30,000 machines over about 100 sites. If I'm a vendor with thousands of cus
      • Re:Closing OSS (Score:3, Informative)

        by AuMatar (183847)
        Thats perfectly fine, and allowed by the GPLv3 draft 2. WHen you sell something with a warranty, you're never responsible for negligence or user damage. If the user chose to change the software, that would caunt as user damage to any court. Its then up to the user to decide if the benefits of the software change outweigh the loss of the warranty.
    • Re:Closing OSS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yunzil (181064)
      From the FSF's perspective, a hardware vendor shouldn't be allowed to lock you into using their approved software.

      Why is the Free Software Foundation trying to tell hardware vendors what to do?
    • Re:Closing OSS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kosmosik (654958)
      You are certainly right - but it is only one side of the coin. From the other side I see much benefit from being able to control what can be run on my hardware - note that when you buy hardware it is possible that you don't exactly buy it to own it but you f.e. license it to use it. Quite normal and I would not like that to change.

      But it is irrevelant after all. You decide which hardware to buy and if you don't like it - don't buy it. Simple. Same thing with the license. Whomever may come up with whatever s
  • on the other hand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ptr2004 (695756) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:48PM (#15801859)
    Say I'm a hardware consumer. I decide I love some particular piece of hardware and buy it with my hard earned money. But when I try to run one particular version of open source software customized for me, it doesnt run because the hardware complains it is not validated.
    • by ClosedSource (238333) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:14PM (#15802070)
      Then either you live with it or you vote with your feet and not buy hardware from that company again.
  • not surprising (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Peter La Casse (3992) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:48PM (#15801866) Homepage

    It's not surprising that Linus isn't crazy about GPLv3, because he's not crazy about the GPL in general, in the way that RMS and the Free Software folks are. He's into Linux for the engineering, not to Free the software world.

    I am curious about why he chose the GPL and not something BSD-ish for Linux.

    • Re:not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by linvir (970218) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:54PM (#15801919)
      http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Linus_Torvalds [wikiquote.org]
      "Making Linux GPL'd was definitely the best thing I ever did."


      http://hotwired.goo.ne.jp/matrix/9709/5_linus.html [goo.ne.jp]

      I'm generally a very pragmatic person: that which works, works. When it comes to software, I _much_ prefer free software, because I have very seldom seen a program that has worked well enough for my needs, and having sources available can be a life-saver.

      So in that sense I am an avid promoter of free software, and GPL'd stuff in particular (because once it's GPL'd I _know_ it's going to stay free, so I don't have to worry about future releases).


      In other words, Linus likes the GPL for the actual reasons that it is a good license, not out of any kind of narrow-minded 'software ideology'.
    • One aspect of the GPL is that it ensures that the author of the software gets to make use of all of the modifications other people make to the software (well, except for changes which aren't distributed, but that's no big deal). This is a more selfish approach to the GPL, but I think it's a completely valid one.
    • He's into Linux for the engineering, not to Free the software world.

      Actually, I think he is being very consistent.

      As a programmer he wants to be able to do exactly what he wants with software he writes. And he believes all programmers should be able to do that.

      So, if a programmer wants to close his source... that is fine. It is the programmer's software.

      And, hardware is treated the same way. The "person" that creates it gets to set the rules on how it is used.

      Live or die by that choice.

      I am curious about wh
  • The real problem was and is that there are lots of people who disagreed with the FSF on issues (mine was the definition of source code, while I know that some commercial entities felt that the patent language was totally unsupportable). And the FSF took that input, and then totally ignored it.

    So as far as I can tell, the whole GPLv3 "process" has been a sham from the very beginning. Eben and Richard talk about "discussion drafts", but it's not "discussion" if you don't actually care what the other side sa

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What if the only binaries whose cryptographic signature matches happen to be binaries that come out of Redmond?

    Or, even more likely- that the only machines that are permitted to license Redmond binaries are required to enforce that only
    Redmond binaries will run.

    In that case, goodbye Linux. Goodbye BSD. Goodbye everything except a world of unending data held hostage.

    This needs to be stopped. Now.
  • Linus Doesn't Get It (Score:4, Interesting)

    by concord (198387) on Friday July 28, 2006 @04:50PM (#15801884) Homepage
    Linus is becoming less and less relevant as time goes by. He probably thinks that the entire community is contributing to GNU/Linux because they like him personally. What good does free software do us if we cannot modify it and continue to run the modified code? We already don't own many of the things we buy - proprietary software, music, movies and many other things. Now we won't own (control) the hardware we purchase either?

    If GNU/Linux had started 20 years later than it did this wouldn't even be an issue. DRM would've killed it before it even got off the ground. Linus would just be the name of a Peanuts character.

    Think damn it, think!
    • I'm VERY MUCH against TC & the TCG. The whole idea is wrong with me.
      Linus says, it's not the GPL's business to forbid the kind of use he cites. I agree with him. I don't think that v3 should impose those restrictions. I don't think that's the way to win this fight.

      <spoiler> We won't win this fight. </spoiler>
      • It's perfectly reasonable for the GPLv3 to not allow DRM and similar suggestions. Software authors can choose the GPLv3 if they like it. If software authors don't like it, they can use a different license; possibly GPLv2. No software authors are forced to use GPLv3.

        Similarly, no hardware vendors are forced to use GPLv3 software. If they don't like it, they can find software with a different license, possibly GPLv2. The key thing is that the hardware vendors are not allowed to violate the license terms chosen by the software author.

        For Linux it is completely irrelevant. Despite any opinions Linus might have on the matter, it is effectively impossible to get all of the owners of the copyright of any non-trivial amount of the Linux code to agree to a license change, so Linux will use GPLv2 for most of its code for the forseeable future.

    • He probably thinks that the entire community is contributing to GNU/Linux because they like him personally

      "He probably thinks"? Wow. And you got moderated +4?

      BTW, I find what Linus says completely reasonable. He says that GPL has no bussiness in forbiding vendors from locking you in a hardware platform. I completely agree. GPL is a SOFTWARE license. Getting the GPL to rule what hardware can do is very dangerous - losing support from hardware makers like IBM, Intel, HP, for example. And it's not that what th
    • Linus is becoming less and less relevant as time goes by.

      What utter bullshit. I disagree with him, but that doesn't make him any less relevant. If everytime RMS said something I disagreed with, and I called him "irrelevant" that would be stupid along the same lines.

      It's akin to saying Jefferson isn't relevant anymore, because he's dead. So obviously we should ignore his views on the constitution.

      Now there are companies involved, all of a sudden the original volunteers that built the community fr
  • GPL v3 will fail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:05PM (#15802005)
    It will get issued but it won't get widely adopted. RMS has become impatient in this quest for social revolution and now he's decided to wield a bigger club. I don't think many others, who write and widely distribute highly useful software, will pick it up and join him.
    • Re:GPL v3 will fail (Score:4, Informative)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:26PM (#15802170) Journal
      I am one developer who will be using the GPL v3. It's fine with me if people want to use my work, but I would like a little respect in return.
      Further, the entire GNU toolchain will become GPL v3, which is not insignificant. GCC likely will become GPL v3. Based on the comments I've been seeing so far, a lot of other developers feel the same way I do.
    • Re:GPL v3 will fail (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Prof.Phreak (584152) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:40PM (#15802292) Homepage
      I don't see what the big deal is. I mean really, if you have the source code, it is implied that you should be able to tweak how things work. What's the point of having the source code without the ability to tweak things (ie: if the hardware is locked to not accept your tweaks?).

      This leads to "trusted computing"---while this discussion is centered around `devices', it might find its way into computers. Imagine all the motherboard manufacturers being forced (by the paid off politicians?) to not allow you to run non-signed operating system. Obviously MS will get a signature, as well as major Linux distributions, but... What's the use of having the entire source for Linux, if you cannot compile and run your own version?

      I see GPL3 as an extention and realization that hardware now a days is exactly like software. General purpose microcontrollers running some software is NOT a `device' in the same sense it was a few years back, it's a computer running software. Very few devices are `custom built'---most are just microcontrollers with software determining how the thing works and `what it is'. GPL3 essentially says hardware = software as far as licensing is concerned. You cannot close hardware if you use open software on it. I think it makes sense.

      Anyone who disagrees with this isn't a consumer of hardware/software. They're hardware vendors looking to lock out users, while at the same time getting a free ride from open software.
  • by cygnus (17101) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:12PM (#15802053) Homepage

    imagine a world where there's an open source electronic voting software package that everybody used... wouldn't you want the voting machine to be able to reject software that wasn't say verified by a voting auditing board and signed?

    the same thing could be true of open source ATM software. would you want your ATM to whine like HAL having his memory yanked when malware was loaded onto it, or would you want it to refuse to run?

    • by arose (644256)
      GPLv3 doesn't prevent this, if the owner of the hardware (goverment, bank) has the keys to sign software or have the ability to change what keys the hardware trusts the requirements are satisfied.
    • imagine a world where there's an open source electronic voting software package that everybody used... wouldn't you want the voting machine to be able to reject software that wasn't say verified by a voting auditing board and signed?

      the same thing could be true of open source ATM software. would you want your ATM to whine like HAL having his memory yanked when malware was loaded onto it, or would you want it to refuse to run?

      And imagine that in such a world, the Bank bought such ATMs (ie. ones protect

  • I am very glad to see that Linus is standing up against the GPL and their misguided attempts to oppose trusted computing technology. It means that Linux will continue to be available as a basis for trusted computing research and development.

    When you get past the misinformation, errors and outright lies, trusted computing is not as bad as people think it is. It is a technology for enhancing security in a variety of environments. See the TPM thread a few postings down on the slashdot main page for some commen
    • by Prof.Phreak (584152) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:50PM (#15802342) Homepage
      When you get past the misinformation, errors and outright lies, trusted computing is not as bad as people think it is.

      I don't think you realize that "trusted computing" generally means "distrust the USER/OWNER of the computer". I think what everyone is afraid of is losing control of THEIR computer to some government/corporate organization.

      And yes, you have a point, it's not as bad as it may appear... if you're the one in control of what trust. Unfortunately, from the talk that's going around, it's likely users won't be in control (ie: hardware vendor ensures that any OS that runs on the box must be signed by some authority, etc.)---I franky cannot see how that benefits anyone but some corporation.

      And slowly but surely this technology is getting here. Music players, etc., many of them already restrict their owners. In a few years, it's not unlikely this will happen to PCs.
    • When you get past the misinformation, errors and outright lies, trusted computing is not as bad as people think it is. It is a technology for enhancing security in a variety of environments. See the TPM thread a few postings down on the slashdot main page for some commentary there.

      The GPLv3 as written does not forbid running software covered by it on a TPM system. What it says is that when a TPM platform vendor distributes GPLv3 software as binaries signed to run on their platform, they must not only pr

  • by d.3.l.t.r.3.3 (892347) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:39PM (#15802285) Homepage

    By my point of view a benevolent dictator is still a dictator.

    We should thank Torvalds to keep the questioning open, otherwise it would be like Christian Church: the Pope speaks, the lambs obey.

    The article also makes a very saddening statement: the GPL3 is basically written by the companies behind the FSF. The article cites that HP is pushing to have their own interests protected. Do you really think that other GPL-oriented companies (like IBM or Novell) will just stay and look or they will also try to drive the boat towards their coasts?

    After all, FSF made just a favour to many commercial distributions (another case of uninterested philantrophism?), claryfying that if you have to fork a distro, you have to redistribute every single packet by yourself, instead of shipping only the relevant, modified ones like GPL says. GPL is too generalized and vague. You can't have a license that has hundreds of pages of "clarifications" continuosly swapped and rewritten to praise an actor or to damage another. Most of the clarifications are just more ambiguos or simply idiotic. Do you know that by FSF interpretation, subclassing or implementing an interface is considered a derivative work? That's makes impossible to use any object oriented library released over LGPL by the term of the license, they will be as plain and simple GPL licensed code. There's a lot of OOP libraries wrongly placed in the LGPL domain. Do you really think that their author bothered about the implications? They just followed the leader. For not good reason and without a clue. Why LGPL3 talks only about header files and libraries? Open source licenses should be technlogy neutral and C/C++ is not the only language out there. Sure our benevolent dictator may pretend that the other technologies are not there gut they will not fade away. Today IT rarely uses anything compiled aside core OS programs and it's hard to find a place for the delusional aims of a puppet in the hands of other non-Microsoft corporations.

    Sure A guru's life is expensive and big corporations makes hefty donations. Let Stallman explain to us mortals why Microsoft has to be destroyed and IBM or HP are valiant partners whose interests are to be protected.

    HP advanced pressures to make the GPL3 more friendly towards their PATENTS! The world got upside down or what?

  • by Kalak (260968) on Friday July 28, 2006 @07:01PM (#15802806) Homepage Journal
    PJ Deleted Linus' first comment due to language restrictions, but has redacted the swearing, reposted and continued the discussion [groklaw.net] (and the discussion reads like Linus, so I believe in MathFox's opinion [groklaw.net] on the identity of these posts). The discussion is well worth the read, no matter if Linus has PGP signed his posts or not.
  • He's mostly right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bitspotter (455598) on Friday July 28, 2006 @08:21PM (#15803136) Journal
    I think Linus has it basically right here, except in saying that the FSF/GPLv3 has "no business" excluding that kind of use ("abuse" is more like it). The FSF *is* in the business of protecting user freedoms, and this is one of those things one must do to prevent just such an abuse. If developers don't want their work abused by hardware vendors that want to end-run a user's freedom in this way, they can choose GPLv3, and said vendor can find some other app to do that with (or write their own). Those developers who don't care for that kind of protection still have GPLv2. Choice is good.

    Hardware restrictions like that impact software freedom, and that *is* the Free Software Foundation's "business".

    I want to agree, however, that the kernel is not a good candidate for this new provision. I'd point out that the ability to lock out the running of software on your own property - say, when you rent or loan it out - is almost as important as having the right run your own software on your own property. The real vicious part of DRM is when vendors sell devices outright, but withold certain property rights we otherwise take for granted. Did you know that "owner" and "taking ownership" are technical terms described in the TCG/TCPA Trusted Computing Specifications? The problem is when "ownership" is "taken" by a vendor at the factory, before they transfer the legal, commercial "ownership" of a device to a consuemr who buys it outright. Although you have all the legal rights of ownership, the vendor is actually the "owner" of the device, from the perspective of the TCG/TCPA specs. The device has been "pre-0wnzored", if you will.

    The DRM clause in the GPLv3 is a direct prohibition on this kind of shenanigan.

    That said, the ability to lock out the running of software on property you really do own - both legally AND technically - is an important one. If the above-mentioned vendor were actually renting or loaning you their property (which isn't a bad idea, in light of some environmentally-geared legislation requiring vendors to take back and recycle their products), they'd have every right to lock out modified software, whether they implemented the TCG/TCPA specs or not.

    The problem is that the license doesn't discriminate between these two cases. Perhaps it should. Users should have the freedom to run - or not to run - any software you choose on any hardware //that you own//.

    Then again, the FSF is specifically geared toward protecting the freedoms of //users//, not of "owners". The concept of device ownership doesn't appear in their mission statement, while users do. Perhaps it shouldn't!

    Not an easy issue.
  • by pennystinker (548132) on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:14PM (#15803327)
    The fact is that the GPL protects the "freedoms" of users by actually emancipating the software itself - through the user! A close analogy is the emancipation of slaves: former slave owners lose freedoms they once enjoyed (owning slaves). Arguably, one could view this is a situation where *some* are now less free (because they cannot own slaves anymore).

    The same is true with GPLed software: no, you are not as free as someone using MIT or BSD licensed software because you cannot go subterranean with the source code and your changes.

    For those poor hardware manufacturers who are lusting after some GPL protected software I can see several options:

    1. Forgo the GPLed software and get a closed-source alternative.
    2. Contact the owners of the software and see if you can get the software under a more "friendly" license. For the Linux kernel that would be difficult if not impossible.
    3. Embrace the GPL and move forward into a net freer world despite, like slave owners, you cannot use GPLed software in a closed system.

    Now, arguably, somebody is going to point out that by taking the stance I've just outlined then I'm contributing to pressures to move *some* manufacturers away from using FL/OSS (e.g. GPLed) software. That may be true. But I'll take some loss of gadgets and gizmos, perhaps even large systems, to maintain the freedoms that the GPL and similar licenses try to ensure.

    In the end I believe that the pressures to "go free" and to "let tinker" will eventually win out for all, including the manufacturer. Consider Id: do they get calls about user mods based on their game engines? Maybe a few, but the overwhelming positive results of user mods makes it a no-brainer: enable the mods.

    As far as entertaining the example from the original post. I wouldn't waste too much mental energy on it. And if the blurb really came from Linus, then here's a message to Linus: get over it, the example you created may be short-term significant, but, if free software eventually is successful, long-term irrelevant.
  • by PostPhil (739179) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:10PM (#15803717)
    The FSF's stance is controversial (as exemplified by the GPL 3) because it's about freedom, which for all of human history has been hardly understood.

    Licenses like BSD/MIT have a view of freedom that is more like anarchy: the "do anything you want" style of so-called freedom (but at least give credit to who wrote the code). This stance doesn't actually create freedom because "anything you want to do" can also include taking freedom away from others. BSD people used to argue that you would still have freedom, only it's with the old code before the proprietary fork, etc. But DRM and other methods of preventing you from modifying and running software is not protected by BSD licensing. So, it is even more true today that BSD-like licensing in actuality has little to do with freedom and more to do with technological research without regard to the sustained openness that made studying that code possible.

    Freedom must be preserved and encouraged in order to exist! It is not a spontaneous choice that can be made after neglecting its preservation. Once freedom is gone, once official mechanisms are in place to restrict you, you can't simply make a choice to be free again. When I think of the FSF, I believe they understand freedom as many others have realized throughout history...

    "You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free." - Clarence Darrow

    "None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free." -Goethe

    "Liberty without learning is always in peril and learning without liberty is always in vain." - John F. Kennedy

    ...while the FSF would probably characterize false freedom as this:

    "After I asked him what he meant, he replied that freedom consisted of the unimpeded right to get rich, to use his ability, no matter what the cost to others, to win advancement." - Norman Thomas

    The more we are tempted by money to deprive others of freedom, the less freedom we all have in the end, and the less it's worth living in such a society even if you're rich. Don't worry about people crying about loss of profitability, etc. History has always shown that there will always be clever people that will find some way to make money, whether people are free or in chains.

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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