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Torvalds Critiques of GPLv3 and FSF Refuted 548

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the time-for-a-face-to-face dept.
j00bar writes "After Linus Torvalds' impassioned critiques of the second draft of GPLv3 and the community process the FSF has organized, Newsforge's Bruce Byfield discovered in conversations with the members of the GPLv3 committees that the committee members disagree; they believe not only has the FSF been responsive to the committees' feedback but also that the second draft includes some modifications in response to Torvalds' earlier criticisms." NewsForge and Slashdot are both owned by OSTG.
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Torvalds Critiques of GPLv3 and FSF Refuted

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  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @02:38AM (#15854430) Homepage Journal
    The FSF intends to use the GPL as a means to prevent people from doing certain "bad" things with free software. I get that and I support the idea. Linus seems to have chosen the GPL for practical reasons. He didn't want the code that he and so many others poured their hearts and souls into to be stolen and closed like the Cedega situation.

    I suspect that Linus just wants to make his software while the FSF wants to change the world.

    LK
  • by JanneM (7445) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @02:40AM (#15854433) Homepage
    I'm sure lots of people will correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Linux kernel - and thus Torvald's views - rather unimportant here?

    The entire kernel, and all contributions from hundreds or thousands of people, are explicitly licensed as GPL version 2. Even if the kernel people were rabidly enthusiastic about GPL v3, they'd have a very, very difficult time changing the license in any case; as a practical matter it'd probably be impossible. So what Torvalds, in the guise of kernel maintainer, thiks of the license is not really relevant since the licence, no matter what it looks like, would never be used by the kernel in any case.

    Torvalds views as an OSS developer are of course relevant - but as one voice among the hundreds of other leading developers in various projects. And as has been pointed out, if he really wanted to be constructive he'd have joined in the debate itself, rather than just sniping at it via the media.

  • Re:Sure to happen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday August 06, 2006 @02:40AM (#15854434) Homepage
    One indeed has to wonder what's going on with Torvalds. It's one thing to feel that Stallman is a kook and the Free Software ideal is often overly zealous. I admire Stallman and his movement, but I acknowledge that many people consider it all an embrassment. However, it's another thing entirely to actively cheer on the introduction of DRM, which Torvalds has been doing now for a couple of years. Doesn't Linus realize that with strict hardware controls enforcing what may and may not be run, one's freedom to tinker may disappear? You'd think that someone who invented an operating system "just for fun" would want other people to be able to experience the magic of doing whatever they likes with their computer.
  • by Quadraginta (902985) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:03AM (#15854467)
    Absolutely right. But so far it's been Linus who's done the most to actually change the world. Proving once again the superiority of actually getting working technology out the door, versus spending a decade or so fine-tuning your philosophy about how to begin working on the great technology that you will eventually design when you have the philosophy just perfect (if everyone hasn't succumbed to old age first).

    I've had enough troubles in my own career directly traceable to wanting to Get Things Right at the expense of Getting Things Done to appreciate this particular point with some sensitivity, not to say bitterness. Feh.
  • by vdboor (827057) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:08AM (#15854475) Homepage

    I've read TFA, but noticed most arguments against Linus' option are made by members of the Open Source / Free Software communities. It would be more interesting to hear the feedback from commercial party's who're involved with Linux as well (e.g. Novell, HP, Oracle, Trolltech). This doesn't exactly put any weight under the arguments of the article.

    I believe Linus is more open towards commercial development then most FLOSS community members are. This makes it understandable why he is so against enforcing freedom through everyones throats. Linus has always been the more practical type.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:12AM (#15854479)
    Wow, the GNU utilities you use every day, the compiler, and many other things the GNU project started were completely ignored in your post.
  • by Mornelithe (83633) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:19AM (#15854486)
    Yes, yes. Quite right. Hardly anybody uses gcc, or glibc, or gdb, or emacs, or bash, or...

    Damn those FSF nuts for never writing any software that's good enough for use. After all, everyone knows that all you need is a bare kernel to get things done.
  • The answer... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dosius (230542) <bridget@buric.co> on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:21AM (#15854491) Journal
    The answer if you can't handle Linux being bound to GPL2 when the rest of the world goes GPL3, is to drop Linux for a GPL3-compatible system. Don't get me wrong, I like Linux, but maybe this will cause a lot of movement from Linux, not to Hurd - Hurd is still shit - but to FreeBSD, which is the next best thing to Linux and the license ought to be compatible with any version of the GPL.

    And besides. In this "GPL vs Proprietary! White vs Black!" debate that's been going on past 15-aught years, I've sided with NetBSD.

    -uso.
  • Re:Linus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:25AM (#15854493)
    I'll go you one further, and I hope Linus gets to read this. His behavior regarding this new draft is starting to cost him significant respect, and he's also hurting both the free software camp, and his own open source group, while providing Rovian press material for some real class A crooks. Linus is a great developer, but he needs to show a little moderation, and a little more respect for Richard Stallman. Call him what you will, but Stallman's vision regarding the GPL to this point has been beyond genius. And if it was not for Stallman's vision and tenacious courage (with Eben Moglen's help) in the face of just about every kind of demeaning criticsm and ploy one could imagine, Linus would still be in Finland, himself eating herring every day and trying to get Windows to stop crashing.

    Stallman's license has stymied a large nest of very nasty people for 20 years, people who would steal Linus blind if it weren't for Stallman and his vision. And given Stallman's record, dedication, and results, if he sees issues with patents and DRM, if I were Linus, I'd listen first, and then ask respectful questions via professional channels.

    Based on the past 20 years, and the benefits that will accrue to all of us due to his work, Richard Stallman is deserving of a Nobel prize nomination. Linus is just a developer and project manager, and he should show Stallman commensurate respect.

    jwwjr
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:27AM (#15854495)
    "He didn't want the code that he and so many others poured their hearts and souls into to be stolen and closed like the Cedega situation."

    The thing is, changes in the GPL (mainly those dealing with DRM) are absolutely necessary if you don't want code to be "stolen and closed." It's not some theoretical, idealistic thing. It's an extremely practical consideration.

    If you write a program and release it under the GPL, and if it's permissible to make derivative versions that will no longer run when modified (due to DRM in hardware), then I can take and build upon your code and never give the improvements back. You may be able to see the source, but you can't use my changes because your future alterations will no longer execute on the hardware you own. I can also sell hardware including your code, and even though the GPL intends that my customers should thus have the right to modify the code -- they can't.

    Allowing commingling of DRM and GPLed code is a huge loophole. It essentially allows someone to make a proprietary branch of your code. From then on, you can still look, but you can't touch.

    As for patents, that's another very similar situation. By claiming patents on my modifications to your GPLed code, I can make my own proprietary branch of your code. You can no longer build upon my changes, because to do so would be a patent infringement... but I can freely take yours.
  • by DrJimbo (594231) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:33AM (#15854504)
    Lord Kano said:
    I suspect that Linus just wants to make his software while the FSF wants to change the world.
    The FSF wants to change the world so that people like Linus will continue to be free to create and modify their free and open source software.

    Without the DRM provisions in the GPLv3 that Linus is complaining about, we could eventually face a situation where it is literally impossible to develop FOSS for the latest generation of computers. Worse, those computers could be running the GPLv2 software we wrote even though we have lost all of our rights to further modify it and we've lost the right to even choose what software we run on our own computers.

  • by DrJimbo (594231) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:52AM (#15854528)
    vdboor said:
    I believe Linus is more open towards commercial development then most FLOSS community members are. This makes it understandable why he is so against enforcing freedom through everyones throats. Linus has always been the more practical type.
    I've heard over and over again that Linus is taking the practical and/or pragmatic side of this debate. Poppycock! He is not being practical, he is being very short sighted in a way that could come back and bite all of us in the hat someday.

    The DRM provisions in the GPLv3 that Linus is complaining about are there to help ensure that FOSS developers like Linus will not be locked out from developing software on future generations of computers.

    Furthermore, if we are locked out from developing FOSS on those computers, we can take some comfort in the fact that it will be illegal to run GPLv3 code on them.

  • by init100 (915886) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:55AM (#15854533)

    You may be able to see the source, but you can't use my changes because your future alterations will no longer execute on the hardware you own.

    The way Linus sees it is from the "developer" viewpoint. The code is still free from this viewpoint, since all modifications are published. You can modify it and run it on a DRM-free machine. The FSF rather thinks of the "end users" viewpoint, where modifying the code and running the modified code on the same machine is paramount.

    For myself, I understand Linus view, but I tend to go along with the FSF view. Being unable to modify free software on a hardware device and run it on the same device violates the spirit of free software. The vendor could build upon the mountain of free code, saving a lot of money in the process (i.e. not reinventing the wheel), but does not grant any of these freedoms to their customers.

    So to sum it up, I'd say they can write their own OS, or license a commercial one, if they don't want to give their customers the same freedoms they have.

  • Re:Linus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Helldesk Hound (981604) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:59AM (#15854543) Homepage
    > Regardless, I don't think Linus will back down and accept it any time in
    > the future. He has been very clear that the kernel is to be licensed under
    > GPLv2 and GPLv2 exclusively.

    However, if the compiler that they use to compile the binary versions of the Kernel is licenced under the GPL v3, then wouldn't the Kernel also need to be licenced under the GPL v3?

    Surely GNU/Linux is an ecosystem, and the Kernel is but one part of that ecosystem that would not be able to function without all the rest of the system - at least sufficient to produce an interactive system that people would be able to use.
  • Re:Linus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:59AM (#15854545)
    GPLv3 will happen regardless of whether or not it is accepted for the Linux kernel.


    Sure it will happen. You could also write a GPLv4 or any other license. On my SUSE there are some 20+ different licences. The question is not wether or not you can make a new license, but wether or not people will start using it.

    I could make a "houghi license" and I am sure nobody will use it, not even me. Now if nobody is going to use it, why make it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @04:00AM (#15854546)
    the bsd license includes even fewer freedom-protecting clauses than gplv2, so why would people who wante a freedom-protection clause in gplv3 defect to bsd licenses?

    They'd have to relicense the bsd stuff (since it's missing the freedom-protecting gplv2 clause of no extra limitations) as gplv3, but it wouldn't be a bsd project anymore, it'd be something else.
  • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @04:42AM (#15854596) Journal
    I don't think it's so much that Linus eschews changing the world. I think that he has an eminently more practical way of doing it. For one thing, he's not hung up on converting people through either religious fervor or through convincing them his way is best (if there's a difference). As he's said, he's not trying to shove anything down anyone's throat. Instead, he shows by example how it's supposed to work, and why open source development is a better way of software development, whatever your motives are. I think it's great that he's not "at war" with proprietary software and proprietary software makers. They aren't relevant to him one way or the other. They can either follow his way now or follow it later. Linus in confident in his methods. He doesn't need to fight anyone. (He's probably confident in his manhood as well.)

    And I think this was the most damn part of his indictment of the FSF. That they're hate and fear based, and when you let hate and fear dictate your principals, you end up hurting yourself and those you want to help. A good example of this is the whole issue of specific code tied to hardware. The FSF wants so badly to hurt DRM that they are willing to hurt legitimate uses. The funny part is that DRM is going to turn out to be a non-issue. DRM is not going to be relevant for long, with no action from the FSF*.

    Really, though, the ones that are going to wind up getting hurt are the FSF themselves. It will be a lot easier to rewrite the userland than it will be to rewrtire the kernel. Or so I'm told.

    Some people will take up GPLv3, but I think the majority will continue to use the GPLv2. The GPLv3 people will risk getting left behind.

    *Here's why DRM will fail on it's own: at this point in history, when a cartel of copyright holders are trying to wall off culture and charge admission, we have unprecedented new tools for the creation, marketing, and distribution of culture. The more that these culture holding companies try to control culture and withhold it, the more new culture will rush in to take its place. The more new culture developed, the less overall value for the walled off culture. There is no scarcity of culture and there will not be a scarcity of culture. On the contrary, music, literature, and art are set to explode. The power of the culture holding companies is already broken. Now it's just the long unwinding of their monopolies.
  • by Znork (31774) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @04:56AM (#15854610)
    "It is up to the FSF to convince the authors that any new licences are a good idea"

    Partly. Most programs under the GPL retain the GPL v.2 or later options, meaning redistributors and authors of derivative works can update the license to the newer version at their discretion. This is by design, so that the FSF can update the GPL, should loopholes appear or technology change the situation and allow code to be updated to more recent versions, _even when authors are out of touch or dead or otherwise_.

    The Linux kernel version of the GPL, however, does not retain that clause, rendering it stuck permanently in v2 land; and as the kernel, unlike FSF driven projects, doesnt require copyright reassignment, it would be more or less impossible to accomplish a change.

    Which means that a) the linux kernel is vulnerable to changes in law and technology that may render the v2 GPL ineffective and b) what Torvalds thinks is really has little bearing on the issue.

    "look at the new draft licence turns up some problems"

    I see no problems. The new version closes several holes; to get affected by them you'd have to have been willfully abusing those loopholes, violating the intent and spirit of the GPL. It's not as if the FSF's views are a well kept secret, so any due diligence would have made it obvious that such loopholes would be closed down.
  • by joto (134244) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @05:09AM (#15854626)

    Hurd is a failure because Linux exists. Without Linux, the same developers working on it would be working on Hurd (or a fork of hurd).

    I seriously doubt that. Hurd development was slow before linux existed, and it remains slow after linux came to life. Now it's 15 years since linux was first created, and linux is at this stage the centerpiece of an entire industry of software products and services. Meanwhile, lots of other operating systems have been written from scratch, and I can probably list dozens that are (a) more usable than hurd, (b) younger than both hurd and linux, and (c) still written by volunteers.

    Hurd development is not slow because of a lack of developers, it is slow because of bad architectural decisions, a severe case of second system effect, mach instability, failure to follow a "worse is better"-philosophy, and so on. Adding more developers to this kind of project can in many cases slow it down even further (read: "the mythical man-month").

    Torvolds was in the right place at the right time, and did a competent job of capitalizing on it.

    His name is Torvalds, not Torvolds. His place was minix enthusiasts, and yes, it probably was the correct place to find developers for a new free unix kernel. I'm quite sure I would disagree that he did a competent job of capitalizing on it, Torvalds remained a poor student for a pretty long time.

    In this respect he is like Bill Gates, with people saying how if it hadn't been for Microsoft we'd still be using DOS.

    Uh, Microsoft was the company that brought us DOS in the first place (although they didn't write it, they bought the right to it, and sold it to us consumers). And no, Torvalds is not filthy rich, like Bill Gates.

    I think this kind of argument, that it could never have turned out as well without <insert person here>, is pretty absurd.

    Maybe you find it absurd, but sometimes it's just the truth. The right man in the right place can and do make an important difference at times. You can argue that without Linus, someone else would soon have written a free 386 unix-clone. And you would probably be right, but what happened afterwards, the unique community, and so on, is largely a result of Linus being who he is, it would happened differently with another person at the center.

  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice&gmail,com> on Sunday August 06, 2006 @05:16AM (#15854631)
    I can replace all the GNU utilities in a Linux system with functionally similair tools from other projects - however, the GNU kernel is practically unusable. Its simply a matter of convenience that the GNU tools are used, but I guess that should be acknowledged as well.
  • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @05:22AM (#15854634)

    All the elegance, stability, security and network-savviness of the work computer now available at home. Very nice. And the GNU tools made that possible, yes. But the free kernel was the keystone to that arch, I think. Linux could have squeaked by with few less GNU tools (albeit not without GCC), but I think all the GNU tools would have remained curiosities without the free kernel.

    The GNU project was trying to create a free version of Unix - the GNU system - and was going about it in a systematic fashion, one tool at the time. The kernel was left until last, and Linux simply happened to come at the right moment, when most of the system was already up and running but the kernel wasn't.

    As it happens, the GNU project does have a working kernel of their own, HURD. HURD never really took off, mainly because Linux got the snowball effect going - it got some users, some of whom began co-developing it, making it better, which in turn gained it more users and more developers and so on. Linux has almost all the developers, so HURD has almost none.

    But thinking that Linux is the true success story and the GNU project just a less important side path is absurd. It's the GNU project that made Linux possible, not the other way around.

    What I'm saying is that I think the future belongs more to people like Linus -- that they will have more lasting influence -- because, as the OP said, they seems more focussed on getting stuff out the door, and the FSF (and RMS in particular) seem more focussed on making sure it's the right stuff, built with the right moral philosophy, isn't going to exploit the masses or give you karma, et cetera.

    You think that Linux - a single operating system kernel - is going to have more lasting influence than the whole free software movement, of which the Linux kernel is just a part of ? Especially when what allowed Linux to grow in the first place was the development model made possible by the GPL ?

    I beg to differ.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @05:24AM (#15854636) Journal
    But the free kernel was the keystone to that arch, I think. Linux could have squeaked by with few less GNU tools (albeit not without GCC), but I think all the GNU tools would have remained curiosities without the free kernel

    There already was a free kernel. It was called BSD, and it ran on VAX and a few other things. Due to an SCO-like lawsuit, the first x86 port was delayed by a few months, and it wasn't really ready until 1992. By this time, you could build a complete Free Software system on x86 without Linux.

    These days, there are at least three Free direct descendants of the BSD kernel in active development. One is even supported by the Debian project; you can swap out the Linux kernel and install a FreeBSD kernel under Debian, and not notice the difference. Even Linux binaries work, since it has a system call translation layer (with a negligible performance hit.

    The GNU project created more than just a compiler, a shell, and a few bits of userspace. I would not be at all surprised if you are running an order of magnitude (or more) more GNU code than Linux. If you're running GNOME, then you certainly are (you know what the G stands for, I presume).

    Trying to build a Free Software system without Linux is trivial; I have three machines that I use regularly without a single line of proprietary code on them, and none of them runs Linux. Trying to build Free Software system without any GNU code is almost impossible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @05:31AM (#15854640)
    Sorry, but Linus is simply late to the game, and therefore misses the point of what the FSF is all about.

    The FSF starts based on the premises that if you have a problem (something does not work the way you want it to) you have the right to fix it yourself, not rely on some third party to 'fix' it or not, as they choose.

    If you buy a bit of hardware that uses GPL code, but will not allow you to 'fix' a problem yourself (because your fix will not run on the hardware they have restricted to run only their own version of GPL code), then you have lost the right to 'fix' your own problems.

    Destroys the whole point of it using GPL code, doesn't it? At least for the end user - but it is sort of nice for those that then profit from GPL code used this way.

    The FSF has this one right - just as RMS was right when he wanted to fix a print driver and was not allowed to - and so started the whole GPL/GNU Copyleft thing.

    This is as simple as the FSF fights the war, so others can actually produce code that will be of actual open use to all.

    Linus produces some of that code - he should be a bit grateful.

    As I am grateful to Linus for writing his bit and releasing it under the GPL - making it possible for me to use.

    I just value the freedom RMS and crew have created for me - and protected for me, and that they continue to protect for me. Including the code Linus (and so many others) wrote and released under the GPL.

    Locking GPL code into hardware, never to be changed is a Bad Thing.

    BTW, I don't expect anyone to have to agree with me - it's just a post of my strongly held opinions - no more no less.

    This is only A/C because I used some mod points in this thread, and this is the only way to post without undoing those - and I have no more mod points so it's not gaming the system so I can mod this up (I doubt it will be anyway).

    NewToNix.

  • First a minor point which keeps getting overlooked. With DRM hardware, you cannot verify GPL compliance. The only way to verify that a set of source code purporting to represent the binary that is running, is really the binary that is running, is to compile from that source and run the new binary. Any hardware that requires signed binaries prevents this unless signature capability is given to anyone who wants it. Thus without GPLv3, there cannot be public verification that any vendor of supposedly-GPL software for "trusted" hardware really is complying with the GPL. So another way to characterize the anti-DRM provision would be to call it verifiability.

    Now, DrJimbo in parent post:

    "Without the DRM provisions in the GPLv3 that Linus is complaining about, we could eventually face a situation where it is literally impossible to develop FOSS for the latest generation of computers. Worse, those computers could be running the GPLv2 software we wrote even though we have lost all of our rights to further modify it and we've lost the right to even choose what software we run on our own computers."

    Right, exactly - And this is what Torvalds consistently refuses to address. He snipes at GPLv3 with invective and complaints about the process (and if he really was the poster in the Groklaw thread, about the definition of source code), etc.. But on the hardware issue he just flippiantly declares that if you don't like the inability to run modified GPL code on the same device, get some other device.

    This obviously ignores the "trusted computing" initiative that is intended to make all PCs slave devices, and is progressing like an onrushing freight train while DRM apologists quibble on the tracks and say "let's wait and see what it really turns out to be" or "how it is used" - then of course it will be too late.

    This makes me wonder of a darker possibility which I do not like to think of ,but it fits the facts: Has Linus sold out? This is suggested by another poster below and in this post at the Newsforge thread: [newsforge.com]

    "You need to understand why Torvalds opposes this. Torvalds sits behind a wall of IBM/HP (and other companies) lawyers. They pay his wages and defend him from the SCOs of the world. In return, he spouts their views... and in this case, these technology companies want this hardware in every PC very very badly. To get the level of control over the user that they want, they must be able to use a "trusted" kernel (the kernel/bios/boot loader are critical components in a trusted system).
    "Basically, Torvalds has turned into a mouthpiece for technology companies. "

    Otherwise why does Linus fail to address the real and appropriate concerns about TC hardware becoming exclusively available?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @05:48AM (#15854656)
    Care to explain how this scenario is actually supposed to play out?

    Easy: TCM is coming, unstoppably.

    And once TCM is on everyone's PC, your *effective* freedom to change the code on your own computer goes out the window, because if you change it then your box will be flagged as untrusted and your downloads from many sites and playbacks of media will begin to fail.

    So, manufacturers will be benefitting from GPL'd code, and providing sources, and you will still be able to modify anything you like, but to no avail because as soon as you do so, your computer will start to act "broken".

    And that's why we need GPLv3. GPLv2 is fairly adequate at this point in time, except where DRM undermines it like in the case of the TiVO, but the way things are going that will become the norm everywhere, and will make a total mockery of the intentions of the GPL. Being able to recompile the sources but not use them is obviously a travesty.

    If you still don't understand the issue then God help you.
  • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @05:54AM (#15854663) Journal
    Actually, I think it's good to have this debate, maybe even healthy. You're right, if someone's mind is made up, there's little chance that an argument of slashdot will change it. But not everyone has made up their mind, nor is everyone clear on the issues. The "article" itself is not a real help: it's really more of an editorial from one of the opposing camps.

    There is a danger, however. How great this danger is is anyone's guess. It might be fairly minor. Here's how I see it:

    If the OSS development community really does get divided by this, we're going to see a lot of forking going on, if members of any project disagree on changing to GPLv3. If someone who has written some code wants to keep his code under GPLv2, those that want to move to GPLv3 can remove his code and rewrite it. He can get together with other GPLv2 hold outs, pool their code and rewrite the missing bits. If this comes to pass, I see an exponential rise in the amount of duplicated effort.

    It's a possible scenario. I don't know for certain whether it will be widespread or even if it's really a bad thing. Another thing I am not clear on: people are saying that GPLv3 and GPLv2 are "compatible". How will a v2 and a v3 fork be able to merge at a later date? Can the v2 fork take the v3 code and keep the v2 license?
  • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @06:23AM (#15854694) Journal
    If Linux was never started then the HURD would certainly be much better by now.

    The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not dead.
    The Dead Collector: 'Ere, he says he's not dead.
    Large Man with Dead Body: Yes he is.
    The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not.
    The Dead Collector: He isn't.
    Large Man with Dead Body: Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
    The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm getting better.
  • by ishmalius (153450) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @06:34AM (#15854716)
    I personally have no concern about what one weird guy or the other thinks. I will use whichever license fits into my intentions for my code. I personally almost like the idea of anti-DRM. Why? If I am generous enough to let you use my code, then it would be unfair for you to use my code to be selfish to others. Simple as that. But beyond that, I really don't care. All I really want is the basic tenet of GPL: if I give it to you and you use it, then you should be willing to do the same for others.

    Remember, GPL does not take rights away. It starts with the premise that you have no right at all to use my code. It then gives you generous rights under easy conditions. Not bad, really. If a person thinks that GPL is too onerous, then he does not need to use it. Remember, it's my code.

  • The situation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mendy (468439) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @07:17AM (#15854767)
    ...that I can see justifying the extra clauses in V3 is one where all the major computer manufacturers decide that their computers will only run those operating systems that are certified with them. Businesses might not object to this (if it was sold as having "security benefits") and so there wouldn't be enough of a market for people who wanted to run their own versions to justify a new "GPL Friendly" hardware company, at least not with the resources that Intel/AMD have at their disposal. The problem with attempting to use the GPL to rememdy this problem is that if the hardware manufactuer is building a check into the hardware but shipping the hardware without the software then the GPL probably doesn't apply to them. It might apply to any OEM shipping Linux with the hardware but I'm sure they'd get round the legal problems by making a click-through that put the responsibility for the combining of the two on to the end user.

    For the other lesser cases where there isn't such a barrier to entry I don't see that there's a problem. If someone makes a DVD player that is unmodifyable and publishes the source of it's operating system then if there's a market for a modfiyable one a competitor can simply take the published source and build a competing product. There can also be some legitimate reasons to prevent people from modifying software - "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." - sounds to me like it would be impossible to make a GPL'd game that did any kind of hacked client prevention.

    I think a likely outcome of all this is that any hardware manufacturer who would be likely to fall foul of these clauses will simply switch to using a non-GPL operating system, commercial or BSD and consequently Linux will miss out on contributions to infrastruture such as embedded cpu support that it might otherwise have recieved. The MPAA (or whoever it is who controls it) may also choose not to grant licences to hardware manufactuers who produce devices can run modified code that they fear could be used to circumvent their DRM.
  • by spuzzzzzzz (807185) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @07:19AM (#15854770) Homepage
    Here's the thing about the GPLv3. It's taking away more freedom from both the developer and the user. It will prevent the developer from developing for whatever hardware he wants

    Please explain to me how the existence of the GPLv3 will prevent developers from licensing their software under the GPLv2.
  • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @07:21AM (#15854774) Journal
    It did, did it? I guess IBM needn't have hired any lawyers, then. Looks like the just wasted money.

    The GPL didn't destroy SCO, although it certainly played a part in events and may still play a part. First and foremost, SCO destroyed itself, because (as many guessed and as it now seems clear) they never had a case to begin with. All they had was a scheme (or three).
  • by cortana (588495) <sam@robots.[ ].uk ['org' in gap]> on Sunday August 06, 2006 @07:57AM (#15854825) Homepage
    But you are ignoring a very real way in which it (or, at least general DRM) is being used to kill open source: Tivo's abuse of the works it builds upon and distributes which are licensed under the GPL.

    This is a moot argument anyway. In twenty years time, the web will have indeed reduced whatever OS we use into a poorly-debugged set of device drivers. Try applying the Four Freedoms to Google or other web applications that you use.
  • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Sunday August 06, 2006 @08:19AM (#15854871) Homepage

    Show it. Show us a completely usable system, running a Linux kernel and no GNU stuff. I don't think it can be done.

    On the other hand, Debian with a BSD kernel and Debian with a Hurd kernel are both available.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @08:34AM (#15854900)
    Like you say, Torvalds has the same right to snipe as anyone. But I don't see Linus demanding disproportionate consideration, I think it's us blowing Linus' comments out of proportion.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @08:58AM (#15854942)
    No, you can't. There is no "functionally similar tool" to GCC which is Free Software, other than GCC itself.
  • by g2devi (898503) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @09:03AM (#15854951)
    > He is not being practical, he is being very short sighted in a way that could come back and bite all of us in the hat someday.

    While I agree that it is short sighted, I think it's short sighted for different reasons.

    I don't think that GPL3 proponents in the Linux development community have any problem with the Linux kernel being licensed under GPL 2. The problem is that it's GPL 2 only, so it can never be changed in the future by future maintainers of Linux without a complete rewrite. If there's a serious problem with the GPL 2 or the rest of the world moves to GPL 3 and the Linux kernel can no longer share code with the rest of the world, Linux is SOL. Like it or not, Linux is now bigger than Linus.

    There is a simple solution that would immediately silence the debate. If individual files in the Linux kernel could be tagged as "GPL 2 or later" and have that license maintained (the same way the license of BSD files in the kernel are maintained), the Linux kernel would be GPL2, however, it would be possible to gradually move Linux completely to the "GPL 2 or later" as various portions of the Linux kernel get rewritten. People who currently want their modules to remain "GPL 2 only" could do so. People who wanted their modules to be "GPL 2 or later" could do so.

    If after 10 years, Linux is still 99% "GPL 2 only", the issue is pretty much dead. Developers want the GPL 2 only license and Linus is currently just defending the obvious. If however, 99% of the kernel is "GPL 2 or later" then Linus's current decision to have the kernel be "GPL2 only" is not with the Linux community.

    In either case, the conflict is artificial.
  • by D4C5CE (578304) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @09:08AM (#15854962)
    it's another thing entirely to actively cheer on the introduction of DRM, which Torvalds has been doing now for a couple of years. Doesn't Linus realize that with strict hardware controls enforcing what may and may not be run, one's freedom to tinker may disappear?
    Was he free to criticize platforms locked into Digital Restrictions Management while working for a company that helps build them (most recently FlexGo [transmeta.com] for Microsoft BTW) ?

    Does he still have relevant ties to (t)his (former?) employer during/after "a leave-of-absense [theaimsgroup.com] [sic]" ?

    These are questions that any serious reporting on his stance needs to ask and answer - before questioning the merits of GPLv3 (that would make perfect sense for Linux anyway) just because the FSF cannot get Linus Torvalds to fully and openly agree with it (yet).

  • Re:Sure to happen (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Sunday August 06, 2006 @09:14AM (#15854973) Journal

    The ONLY thing that will prevent the proliferation of DRM is the consumer not buying it.

    As long as there is a demand for non-drm hardware, manufacturers WILL make it, because they can make money off it.

    Linus has stated that this is a 20-year battle, not something that can be resolved in a day. Its not going to change just because of the GPLv3 - that only affects software. The problem is hardware, not software. Vote with your wallet, and if a significant number of people do, then non-drm hardware remains available.

    You have only yourself to blame if you own an iPod, or pay to download drm'd music. You've already voted with your $$$, saying "I'll buy drm'd shite"

    Fucktards. You can't have it both ways. You can't go and say "oh, drm is BAD" and then get all weak-kneed and gooey-eyed because you want your drm'd music. All you iPod-toting freaks have whored yourselves out, and real cheap too ... 99 cents.

    Its like the guy who sees a pretty woman:

    Man: Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?
    Woman: Wow, sure!
    Man: How about for a buck?
    Woman: What kind of woman do you think I am?
    Man: We've already established that with the first question. Now we're just haggling over price.

    If its bad, boycott it at the consumer level. Vote with your wallet. THAT will fix the problem. (Hint: Ask Sony about how well their r00tkit program went).

    Same with Windows. Don't want vendor lockin at the OS level? Don't support Microsoft or Apple, because they're pushing for it. The hardware vendors don't give a damn one way or another ... they'll make anything the market wants.

    But don't go around throwing rocks at Linus for pointing out that all you iPod-toting Windows weenies are emperors without clothes, and that the GPLv3 doesn't get to the root of the problem, which is the choices that YOU as a consumer make.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @09:24AM (#15854990) Homepage

    How can someone who has never bought in sell out?

    The apparent belief that GPL3 will somehow prevent crippled hardware from becoming the only thing available is ludicrous. Linux is and will continue to be GPL2, and there's no compelling reason to open hardware to accomodate any other software. Moglen's nastygrams don't provide enough of a disincentive to just steal Free software, if it comes to that.

    As I see it, it's not Torvalds who needs to justify his position, it's you. You won't, of course, because you're so deep in cognitive dissonance that you can't acknowledge that the FSF is still drawing up battle plans when it's already lost the war. When the first beta of a Windows version that requires TC hardware is released, you may try to sue for peace, but by then it will be far too late.

  • by Rutulian (171771) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @10:09AM (#15855073)
    The way Linus sees it is from the "developer" viewpoint. The code is still free from this viewpoint, since all modifications are published. You can modify it and run it on a DRM-free machine.

    That's the short-sightedness of Linus' argument (the same short-sightedness that let him get trapped by the Bitkeeper fiasco). There are DRM-free machines now, but that doesn't mean there will be in the future. If the media companies have their way, every desktop computer will have a TPM chip in it, and if you want to view things like HD-content, it has to be enabled and running. So a company can take a project, like say mplayer, make a version that plays their video format, decrypting the stream via the TPM hardware, and then sign the binary and then sell it. Congratulations, a company has just saved themselves a couple of years of development time to make a video player to help sell their video files, and you can't modify it at all. If you modify it, it reverts to just plain old mplayer without the ability to use the code that was added. That defeats the purpose of the GPL. Linus really needs to wake up here. Yes, proprietary software has a right to exist, but pretending a company won't take advantage of free software to reduce their development costs (without giving anything back, if they can) is stupid. The GPL allows commercial use of free software as long as you give a fair share back to the community. It is not some fiendish scheme to force all software to be free as some people would say. The GPL as it is has worked fine for the last decade, but now it needs to change or it will no longer serve its purpose.
  • by Rutulian (171771) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @10:24AM (#15855110)
    But the vendor must still publish the source of any changes he makes to the code. So the vendor is giving back.

    No, it's not. The device driver code for an obscure chip on, say, a wireless router is completely useless if I can't run the code on said hardware. Think about the Linksys WRT54G. It was just running a linux kernel modified to run on the router with a set of minimal networking utilities. When the source was released, people were able to add all sorts of stuff: better firewalls, servers, ssh utilities, more efficient and capable routing.... They wouldn't have been able to do any of this stuff if Linksys had tossed in a TPM chip and made it so only their signed modified linux would run. The changes they made were also useless without the hardware (yay, so now we know how to run linux on a Linksys router, to bad we can't actually do it).

    So, yes, a consumer could just go buy a different wireless router, but that's not the point. The point is that Linksys would have been using GPL'd software to reduce their development costs without giving a useful share back to the community. Developers who don't mind that sort of thing use the BSD license. Developers who do use the GPL. For the GPL to continue to be relevant, it has to be modified to close loopholes that didn't exist 10 years ago.
  • by anothy (83176) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @11:07AM (#15855239) Homepage
    The GNU project was trying to create a free version of Unix - the GNU system - and was going about it in a systematic fashion, one tool at the time. The kernel was left until last, and Linux simply happened to come at the right moment, when most of the system was already up and running but the kernel wasn't.
    where's my "-1 Wrong" modifier? saying GNU was trying to create a free Unix is simply laughable. you know what it stands for, right? HURD was never intended to be unix, it was intended to be something else entirely. the GNU toolset was developed on Unix because that was the best development environment available, and happened to also be the most similar to GNU's vision for HURD. the fact that the GNU tools look vaguely unix-like (at best; --some-really-long-option, for example, is decidedly un-unixy) is almost more of a coincidence. they were explicitly not trying to create a free Unix.
    As it happens, the GNU project does have a working kernel of their own, HURD. HURD never really took off, mainly because Linux got the snowball effect going - it got some users, some of whom began co-developing it, making it better, which in turn gained it more users and more developers and so on. Linux has almost all the developers, so HURD has almost none.
    HURD never took off due to the lack of a clearly articulated vision, lack of leadership, and the fact that Linux filled most of the true goals of the contributors: "gimme something free i can use that mostly works". sure, Linux getting all the flash in the media and schools biases people towards working on that over other kernels, but HURD can't put all their failings on Linux's shoulders. the various BSD's - hell, even Plan 9 - manage to progress further and more quickly than HURD does, despite HURD being the pet project of GNU's nominal head.
    But thinking that Linux is the true success story and the GNU project just a less important side path is absurd. It's the GNU project that made Linux possible, not the other way around.
    really? can you document that? to me, it sounds like speculation. i disagree, and think it's the other way around: without a useful core, the tools would've remained just a curiosity. by contrast, by 1994 (at the latest; possibly as early as 1991), Linux could've just used the BSD user-land stuff (and, IMHO, we'd all have been better off). Linux didn't make GNU possible, that's true - but it made it relevant.
    You think that Linux - a single operating system kernel - is going to have more lasting influence than the whole free software movement, of which the Linux kernel is just a part of ?
    that's not what the parent said. he said the future belongs to people like Linus more than people like RMS. that's true. even within the GNU world there's these differences in outlook and the results become apparent.
    Especially when what allowed Linux to grow in the first place was the development model made possible by the GPL ?
    stop drinking GNU's cool-aid. what allowed Linux to grow initially was the open space for a free unix-like system on the most common cheap hardware. initially, the "development model" was Linus hacking on things. then it was a bunch of people hacking on things, and Linus putting the bits together. the development model was not new, and was not invented by GNU.
  • by labratuk (204918) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @11:11AM (#15855253)
    Good luck replacing gcc. Even the BSDs use gcc.

    And no, icc cannot reliably compile a runnable kernel.
  • by anothy (83176) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @11:16AM (#15855270) Homepage
    Trying to build Free Software system without any GNU code is almost impossible.
    that's only true depending on how you define "Free Software". given that you're using the capital F and S, you seem to imply GNU's definition of "Free", as embodied in the GPL. in which case, sure, you can't build a system which is based on GNU's philosophy without a good chunk of GNU's code. but is that surprising? it's practically a tautology.

    not everybody cares about GNU's philosophy, and they certainly didn't invent the idea of open source or free (little-f) software. using the broader definition of "free software", you can do exactly what you're asking with BSDs with not too much work at all, and there's plenty of free (even OSI-approved) systems out there which contain no GPL code at all (see Plan 9 for an example). you have a very narrow view of the world is all.
  • Re:Sure to happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @11:16AM (#15855271) Homepage Journal

    Right, because we're going to get a choice.

    Like we did with DVDs. We can buy the DRM free hardware and DRM free DVDs of our favorite movies, or we can buy the DRM'd versions of both. Except we can't. Because in the vast majority of cases, the content we want is only available in a DRM'd form.

    With the greatest of respect, the argument that this can be dealt with by "consumers" is utter and complete crap. The choices that need to be available for consumers to deal with this issue are non-existant. In order for DRM to be dealt with, it has to be dealt with at every level. This means consumers avoiding it where possible. It means Free Software authors chosing licenses that ensure DRM proponents can't leverage the work of the Free Software community when building their content prisons. It means constant advocacy. It means lobbying politicians against DMCA like laws and in favour of liberalizations.

    No one single system is going to prevent DRM from taking hold. We already have one source of media, movies, now completely locked up by DRM schemes and where the only workarounds are illegal. This will spread. It will get worse. The laws are getting worse. Consumers are getting less choices. Companies like TiVo are benefiting from the same communities they're undermining, using GNU and Linux to create their products while simultaneously undermining the freedom of their users. For anyone to claim that this can be dealt with using one single simple solution "Duh, let market forces fix it! Consumers rulez, they are always informed enough to make the right choices and will always have the choices to begin with" is being desperately naive.

    And, personally, I cannot see how DRM is consistant with Free Software. The GPL is not the BSD license. It does take pro-active steps to ensure the software so-licensed remains Free. Allowing DRM would be a bug in the GPL, it's not something that can be allowed, because it amounts to a loophole. By all means, argue against these kinds of things being added to the BSD license, but there absolutely must be provisions against DRM in the GPL, otherwise the GPL ceases to have any meaning.

  • Freedom to choose (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ben Rigas (767) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @11:26AM (#15855319) Homepage Journal
    I can see this from both points of view, but ultimately Linus has the freedom to choose what he wants to do. If you don't like his choice, don't use Linux anymore! If you are really a developer/user who cares that much about GPL v3, then go work on HURD.

    Isn't it hypocritcal to advocate freedom, while at the same time attempting to take Linus' freedom to choose away from him? You are welcome to disagree with him, but you should respect his right to choose.
  • But does it help? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pnambic (3298) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @12:17PM (#15855522)
    As far as I can see it, DRM technology poses three distinct major threats to developers' and users' freedoms:

    1. locked digital media
    This is where the GPLv3 works, sort of. You cannot take a GPLv3ed media player, add some DRM component, and distribute the result while keeping the key that unlocks the media secret. That's fair. Unfortunately, there is a large range of non-GPLed media players available. In the end, FOSS users will still have to resort to hacks, but they're not worse off in that respect than they are now, and at least the code they worked on won't be used to prevent them from doing what they want.

    2. locked FOSS-using devices (the Tivo scenario)
    I think the FSF, and software developers advocating GPLv3, are seriously overstepping their bounds here. Basically, they're telling hardware developers that in order to use FOSS, not only do they need to give freely what they freely received (which is just reasonable), but they also have to make THEIR OWN product convertable to any use their customers see fit. This immediately excludes building devices that need to assure overall system integrity (from fair network gaming through to voting machines) and also excludes a number of fairly reasonable business models (hardware has a significantly non-zero duplication cost, unlike software, and the money has to come from somewhere). Alternatively, they can choose to make their machines physically tamper-proof (which defeats the intent of the license, makes the license unverifiable, and the product unrepairable in case of software problems). The net result will simply be that hardware developers will stop considering the use of FOSS, which will lead to them getting what they want anyway, FOSS code getting less exposure and less fixes, and end users receiving an arguably less technologically sound product at a higher price.

    3. locked general-purpose computers
    The GPLv3 can't do squat about thread 3. If such devices do indeed appear, they will simply not be running FOSS. Ever. Because even if a vendor would like to offer an OS based on some hypothetical GPLv3ed kernel, the license wouldn't allow it.

    So, looking at the above, I can't help but think that Linus is right here. I have the utmost respect for RMS and the members of the various committees, I'm even a paid-up and (CD-)card-carrying member of the FSF (#2342), but so far they have failed in providing a satisfactory solution to the problems ahead.

    Please prove me wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @01:53PM (#15855792)
    When has IBM objected to the GPL v3 in that way?

    That said, from what I've read that was officially from Torvalds, he seems to think that the hardware makers should be allowed to control what runs on the devices they sell. I totally, utterly and completely disagree with that. Once I buy it, it's mine, and I have no intention whatsoever of going along with any scheme that allows the device makers to pretend otherwise.
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @02:30PM (#15855902) Homepage Journal
    But thinking that Linux is the true success story and the GNU project just a less important side path is absurd. It's the GNU project that made Linux possible, not the other way around.

    GNU is what made Linux possible. Linux is what made GNU successful.

    They need each other. They're both necessary and important. Why quibble over which one is more necessary and important?

    LK
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 06, 2006 @03:16PM (#15856048)
    That's the short-sightedness of Linus' argument (the same short-sightedness that let him get trapped by the Bitkeeper fiasco).

    And you're demonstrating the blind spot that keeps idealists from understanding pragmatic people like Linus.

    Yes, Bitkeeper was a mess. However Linus has publically said, multiple times, that it was worth it. Specifically, his increased productivity while he used it more than paid for the time it took to migrate to something else. And his experience with it helped him understand what he really wanted that wasn't being provided by other tools out there.

    If this is the consequence of shortsightedness, then I wish more people were shortsighted like this!
  • by ghettoimp (876408) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @04:16PM (#15856226)
    "This immediately excludes building devices that need to assure overall system integrity (from fair network gaming through to voting machines)"

    I don't see why it would prevent you from developing voting machines based on GPL'd code. I mean, who cares if Joe Hacker can see and make their own versions of the voting software, as long as he can't install it on the voting machines on election day. This is a social problem of having safeguards and procedures, not a question of open or closed sources.
  • Re:Sure to happen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by packeteer (566398) <[moc.noisnemidbus] [ta] [reetekcap]> on Sunday August 06, 2006 @06:57PM (#15856641)
    I didn't say he WAS corrupted. I just wanted to remind everyone than nobody is immune from corruption, nobody. Look at the evidence however. I know its not a lot to work with but it seems like Linus is supporting things that many of us think are bad. That does not make him outright bad for linux or anything like that. I am just saying that we cant just assume he is perfect in every way and we can leave it in his hands.

    Someone disagrees with you, so they must be a troll? What the fuck is wrong with you?
  • by Requiem18th (742389) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @10:49PM (#15857237)
    I write free software because I want my users to be able change their software. If my users can't change my code how is it good for me? It is my personal choice not to subsidise DRM device producers. Do you have a problem with that?
  • by eliot1785 (987810) on Sunday August 06, 2006 @11:50PM (#15857381)
    They might have refuted Linus's criticism, but his criticism is still there. The reality is that this little feud between Linus and FSF matters less as a logical debate and more as a practical issue. If Linus is unhappy with GPLv3 and decides not to adopt it for the Linux kernel, that will be a major blow for GPLv3 no matter how you cut it, because it will have a domino effect in which it is not adopted as a new standard.

    It may be that the other GNU project tools like gcc are indispensible parts of the Linux operating system. I don't know enough to know for sure. But the Linux kernel is also an indispensible part, and if you start having the operating system split between GPLv2 and GPLv3, new projects will justified in following the Linux kernel's lead and sticking with GPLv2.

    Another issue here that may not be fully appreciated is that many people already think that GPLv2 already goes too far. By going even farther, GPLv3 is going to turn off even more people to the GPL project. It may be that the goals it establishes are justified. But if even Linus Torvalds is turned off by this, I wonder what corporate users of Linux will say...?

    Also - one theory I'd like to just throw out there is the possibility that while current replacements for many of the GNU tools may be lacking, if they adopt GPLv3 and corporate customers like Google and Sun don't like them because of restrictions on usage, they may spearhead the development of replacements.

    Likewise, any GPL version that places clear requirements on web applications developed using programs under that version (e.g. you must GPL those web applications) will never see adoption by Google etc. Assuming this is where FSF is going, the GPL will ultimately destroy itself by becoming too extreme.
  • by dodobh (65811) on Monday August 07, 2006 @05:53AM (#15857980) Homepage
    And in all these cases, the end user is losing out on being able to use the hardware/software as (s)he pleases. This is precisely what the FSF is trying to prevent.
  • by init100 (915886) on Monday August 07, 2006 @10:52AM (#15858932)

    Does that sound like a logical argument to you? Is this really about users' freedoms?

    You can't upgrade to your modified version, but they (the vendor) can't either. This is more equal that "they can, but you can't".

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