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Torvalds "Pretty Pleased" With Latest GPLv3 295

Posted by kdawson
from the with-sugar-on-top dept.
Novus Ordo Seclorum writes "According to CNet, Linus Torvalds is 'pretty pleased' with the current GPL v3 draft. He said, 'Unlike the earlier drafts, it at least seems to not sully the good name of the GPL any more.' After his earlier criticism, some had questioned whether such controversies would lead to rifts in the community, especially if the kernel ended up under a different license than the GNU tools. But with the latest revisions, Linus will entertain moving the kernel over to the GPL v3."
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Torvalds "Pretty Pleased" With Latest GPLv3

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  • by xENoLocO (773565) * on Thursday March 29, 2007 @10:30AM (#18528019) Homepage
    ...and this whole time I was losing sleep on whether linus would be pleased.

    Slow news day? :)
    • Re:Interesting.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by itsdapead (734413) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @11:30AM (#18528911)

      Slow news day? :)

      No, vitally important news for the future of the free/open source software movement day.

      The linux kernel is pretty important to (duh) most linux distributions. However, so is a load of Free Software Foundation-controlled stuff, not least the compilers, make tools, standard C libraries, and shedloads of userland utilities from the "ls" command through to EMACS... plus the GPL license itself. If the two factions fall out then it can only be bad for Linux and other FOSS.

      Slighty satirized and only approximately true capsule summary of the problem:

      The FSF wants - quite badly - to move to the GPLv3 to prevent "TiVOization" (using GPL code in a hardware device but with DRM-type tricks that stops users changing the code) and, more recently, to stop future Novell/Microsoft FUD campaigns.

      Linus and other linux kernel contributors want - quite badly - to keep the GPLv2 because:

      1. if it ain't broke, don't fix it;
      2. TiVO etc. may be irksome but isn't worth the risk of "fixing" the GPLv2 (as programmers they understand this!)
      3. Did we mention "If it aint broke, don't fix it"?
      4. Previous drafts of the GPLv3 contained scary-sounding clauses about patents and use of encryption that, whatever their intention or precise legal meaning, would have had commercial GPL users running for the long grass.
      5. Unlike FSF, "Linux" doesn't ask contributors to hand over copyright - so while FSF can change the license for the next version of gcc at the stroke of a pen, "Linux" can't change the license on the kernel without getting approval from hundreds of people, some of whom have inevitably emmigrated, died, gone to jail or, tragically, got jobs at Microsoft.
      6. "Look, I was up burning the midday oil the other week because I decided to 'just fix' some code that wasn't really that broken so, take it from me, if it ain't seriously broke don't fix it!"

      The pro-FSF lobby countered these concerns with:

      1. Trust us, we're lawyers and academics
      2. Feel free to comment on the detailed wording but we're not changing our mind about the principles
      3. If you're against GPLv3 you must be for software patents and TiVOization

      At which point ISTR Linus (or someone claiming to be he) said a Bad Word on Groklaw and PJ made him go and stand in the Naughty Corner until he had learned to control his potty mouth :-)

      Then when the new draft of the GPLv3 appears it turns out that although the FSF have stuck to their guns they have been listening and have done some substantial re-drafting.

      If Linus and the FSF are talking nicely again it can only be good news - even if Groklaw's swear box takings go down.

      • Re:Interesting.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by squiggleslash (241428) * on Thursday March 29, 2007 @12:00PM (#18529347) Homepage Journal

        That's a pretty slanted view of what happened.

        The FSF's issues concerned more than just TiVo, software patents were another major issue. Fundamentally though, the main issue is that there's a lot of licensing forking going on. The GPL is broken. If it wasn't, the MPL, CDDL, and custom licenses for projects like Apache, wouldn't exist.

        And the biggest problem with multiple copyleft licenses is that it undermines software freedom. If you can't mix code from one free software project in another, then how are they both "free"?

        Critics of the FSF countered that this was all the GPLs fault, because, erm, it's copyleft and the others are n... well, erm, the problem is copyleft, and the GPL invented that, and nobody else wante... oh wait, well, er, RMS is a dirty smelly hippy! Yeah!

        The FSF recognized there is an issue, and went forward and tried to create a set of licenses (it's important to note that both the GPL and LGPL are being modified here) that anyone who believes in free software could find common ground with.

        Whereupon Torvalds threw a fit, because he'd fucked up. Seriously fucked up. Early on in Linux development, he settled on the GPLv2, but didn't like one commonly included licensing mechanism, the ability to use future versions of the GPL. By itself, that's fine, trusting a third party to always put out fair licenses is a massive mistake, but where Torvalds screwed up was in not replacing it. He just took it out. It's like seeing:

        i = int_add_function(i, 1);

        in some code, and deciding that it sucks, and it's hideous, and it's really going to have side effects and stuff that are unpredictable, and God knows why someone would put it in, and deciding to remove the damned line instead of replacing it with "i++;"

        Essentially Torvalds replaced a clause allowing for future upgrades with nothing whatsoever, which means that it's going to be very, very, very hard indeed to ever upgrade the license of the Linux kernel, no matter how necessary.

        So he made up some spurious complaints about the draft. They were nonsense. In some cases his complaints were even that it was somehow a violation of the spirit of the GPL to outlaw ways of making it illegal to modify software (such as use of the DMCA.) The FSF has had to seriously water down one important clause, and rewrite another so it's obvious even to a anti-FSF zealot that Torvalds was full of shit.

        After the revision, even Linus has realized that he's going to be laughed at if he makes the same complaints, so now he's trying to look magnanimous while simultaneously dissing it. Yes, contrary to the headline, he's saying he still doesn't like it.

        Meanwhile, the rest of the free software (and open source) communities look on with amazement and sadness. Looks like there's less chance than ever of us settling on common hard-copyleft and soft-copyleft licenses for software we feel should be copylefted. Instead it's more likely that GPLv3 will just add to the mess of licenses that aren't compatible with other licenses.

        And if Torvalds had just said from the start, "Hey guys, great idea and everything, but just to let you know, I fucked up with the Linux kernel licensing so it's not going to happen with my project", the project itself may, instead of being compromised by the FSF jumping through hoops to satisfy one egomaniac with no great interest in the free software movement to begin with, be the universal set of licenses we wanted to begin with.

        • by Ngarrang (1023425)
          From what I have read about Stallman, his ego is just as maniac as Linus. Both are just trying to stand up for their ideals. It is the ability of such people compromise that makes the world a better place. Leaving the world in the hands of fanatical extremes is a Bad Thing(tm).

          This all sounds moot, though. If the Linux Kernel is licensed as GPLv2 (with no additional wording), and there is provision for changing it, then Linus' opinion wasn't even needed? Or am I missing something?
          • by init100 (915886)

            This all sounds moot, though. If the Linux Kernel is licensed as GPLv2 (with no additional wording), and there is provision for changing it, then Linus' opinion wasn't even needed? Or am I missing something?

            No, it is moot. Some people just continue to insist that Linus has to give his stamp of approval if this license is to take off. If he won't, they mean that the FSF should just throw it away and forget about it. And this despite the fact that Linus can hardly move the kernel to GPLv3 even if he wanted to.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by doti (966971)

            Both are just trying to stand up for their ideals.
            Stallman is standing up for his ideals. Linus has no ideals whatsoever, he just want things to work, and doesn't give a rat ass about the so called ideals.

            In other words, Stallman is a visionary. Linus is just a great engineer.
            • Stallman vs Linus (Score:3, Interesting)

              by dmoen (88623)

              Stallman is standing up for his ideals. Linus has no ideals whatsoever, he just want things to work, and doesn't give a rat ass about the so called ideals.

              That's right.

              In other words, Stallman is a visionary. Linus is just a great engineer.

              It's true that Stallman is a visionary, but Linus is not a great engineer.
              The early versions of Linux, that contained a lot of Linus's code, were absolute crap.
              Sure, Linus can write code, but he can't engineer his way out of a wet paper bag.
              But he's a great manager, and Linux succeeded due to Linus's leadership abilities,
              not due to his engineering abilities.

              Stallman, on the other hand, is a great engineer.
              Emacs and GCC are testiments to this fact.
              But Stallman is a lousy manager, based on what

        • by Kjella (173770)
          While we're talking about slant... what would you expect Torvalds to replace it with? "Also, you sign over the right to relicense the code any way I, Linus Torvalds, feel like it". Yeah sure, that'd fly like a brick. Assuming for one moment that Linux still progressed the same, today Linus could be sitting around selling closed source kernels to Macs, Solaris, AIX, Tivo or even Windows. And thanks to the "no additional restrictions" clause there wouldn't be a damn thing anyone could do about it without ditc
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            You don't seem to understand how the GPL2 "or, at your option, a later version" clause works. If Linus were to have licensed the kernel under a "GPL2 or, at your option, the yet to be created Linus Public Licenses to be created by Linus Torvalds", then the second Linus started selling copies of Linux under his LPL v1--which allows companies to not distributing source--*anyone* could fork the current code base under the GPL2 *only* and take away Linus' "dictatorship" over the kernel. Would this be a large
          • Re:Interesting.. (Score:4, Informative)

            by try_anything (880404) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @07:10PM (#18536833)

            the Trusted Computing Group is busy making every PC into a Tivo

            Aha! Thank you for making this connection for me. I was having trouble giving a damn about this whole issue, but now I see it makes a huge difference not just for consumer electronics but for the PC hardware I'm going to (be forced to) buy in the next five years. Companies that make hardware impossible to use from open software should not be allowed to leech off GPL'ed code to do so.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          And the biggest problem with multiple copyleft licenses is that it undermines software freedom. If you can't mix code from one free software project in another, then how are they both "free"?
          Critics of the FSF countered that this was all the GPLs fault, because, erm, it's copyleft and the others are n... well, erm, the problem is copyleft, and the GPL invented that, and nobody else wante... oh wait, well, er, RMS is a dirty smelly hippy! Yeah!

          Are you seriously suggesting that all objections to the GPL are g

        • by g2devi (898503) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @01:11PM (#18530349)
          > Essentially Torvalds replaced a clause allowing for future upgrades with nothing whatsoever,
          > which means that it's going to be very, very, very hard indeed to ever upgrade the license
          > of the Linux kernel, no matter how necessary.

          Not necessarily. It all depends on how code in the kernel is licensed. There are several files in the kernel that are "GPL 2 or above" and several that are MIT/BSD licensed and several that are LGPL.

          Currently, the kernel is "GPL 2 only" because mixing a single "GPL 2 only" file with any of the other licenses mentioned above makes the whole kernel "GPL 2 only".

          The key question is: What percentage of the code is GPL 2 only? (I believe LWN.net did an analysis a few months back, but unfortunately I can't find a reference. Does anyone have one?)

          If the percentage of GPL 2 only code is small (say 5%) and it's in a noncritical area or can be rewritten quickly or relicensed by the original authors (i.e. they're still around like Linus is) or replaced with other sources like the FreeBSD code or the Solaris kernel (when it goes GPLv3), then changing over to GPL v3 (or at least GPL 2 or above) should be fast.

          But even if this were the case, I wouldn't expect any immediate changes. The GPL v3 needs to be out in the field and kernel developers need to feel comfortable with it and see advantages for it (e.g. Solaris-Linux code sharing) before they'd even consider a switch. That could take a few years.
        • by rubycodez (864176)
          no screw up, he made the license absolute with the removal of the "later version" clause, and didn't foul it with any equally vague and open-ended replacement. Developers and corporations loved the existing license and made Linux the most successful open source project on the planet. Whether the new GPL3 (which doesn't exist yet at any rate) will solve problems or introduce some legally fatal bug remains to be seen. Linus doesn't have to be in any hurry to adopt it, why should he be the first guinea pig?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by raddan (519638)
        The question is, if the FSF decides to take a hard stance on this and move their entire toolchain, utilities, and apps to the GPLv3, will their developer base follow them? I personally wouldn't see a reason to, and if I had a FSF-owned project, I would most certainly fork it.
        • out of interest... why? From a private developer's perspective, I really don't see the difference, unless you are trying to submarine patents in OS code (unlikely)

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)


            I think parent's question is why the FSF assumes that everybody who has written a GNU utility and assigned it to the FSF necessarily agrees with the FSF on everything including the revised GPLv3.

            I suspect at least a few utility developers agree with Linus that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it - and especially don't fix it in braindead ways".

            Since the FSF seems to want to cripple one of the five major Linux distros (SUSE) to "punish" Novell for making a pointless and irrelevant deal with Microsoft (which is
      • Re:Interesting.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay@gmai l . c om> on Thursday March 29, 2007 @12:49PM (#18530057) Homepage Journal

        "The pro-FSF lobby countered these concerns with:

        1. Trust us, we're lawyers and academics
        2. Feel free to comment on the detailed wording but we're not changing our mind about the principles
        3. If you're against GPLv3 you must be for software patents and TiVOization"

        Let's not forget the FSF style concern 0:

        0. It IS broken.

      • by Bogtha (906264)

        If the two factions fall out then it can only be bad for Linux and other FOSS.

        Why? Linux isn't a derivative work of GNU and GNU isn't a derivative work of Linux. They can use different licenses without a problem. You can use GNU code on Windows legally. You can use proprietary software on Linux legally. The case where they are both using similar licenses (GPL2 vs GPL3) is no different.

        Even if you are talking about culture and not law, there still isn't a problem. People use the LGPLed GNOME o

    • by ozbird (127571)
      Slow news day? :)

      Reverse psychology? "Torvalds 'Outraged' With Latest GPLv3" wouldn't be interesting.
    • Obligatory... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by VGPowerlord (621254)

      Slow news day? :)

      You must be new here. :P
      (Every day is a slow news day to certain /. editors)
  • Move over? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JanneM (7445) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @10:36AM (#18528103) Homepage
    Nobody's requested transfer of copyright to any code in the kernel. For the kernel, in practical terms it has never mattered what Torvalds' thoughts on the GPL is, since they'd need individual permission from every contributor to do so (or rewrite the parts that get no permission or where the contributor or their estate recipients can no longer be found). It'd be the mess of mozilla licensing all over again, but even worse.

    • Bullshit. It's a GOOD thing that the whole Open Source community agrees in the GPLv3. Remember that the GPLv3 will automatically relicense most of the GPLv2 software out there (IMO, the FSF shouldn't have made the GPLv3 an update, but a completely different license that people can choose to use) and that there was rumours that people could fork important projects like libc or GCC due to GPLv2 vs v3 issues.
      • by init100 (915886)

        Remember that the GPLv3 will automatically relicense most of the GPLv2 software out there

        No, it won't. For the main distribution of a certain package to become GPLv3, the maintainer has to explicitly change the license. The difference from those projects that are "GPLv2 only", is that "GPLv2 or later" can be relicensed by other people than the copyright holder. If you give me a piece of software licensed under the "GPLv2 or later", I can redistribute under "GPLv3 or later" even if you hold the copyright to the software.

    • Re:Move over? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Thursday March 29, 2007 @10:44AM (#18528209)
      Parts of the kernel are licensed "GPL version 2 or later" (which can roll over automatically), and a lot of the lines of code are owned by a few large companies [infoworld.com]. So you can get a large percentage of the code just by getting Red Hat, IBM, Intel, Novell, etc. on board. That's not all the code, but it would represent a substantial amount of the code without having to go "door to door" with the contributors.
      • Surely if *any* fraction of the kernel code is licensed under the GPLv3, this would prevent a manufacturer building the kernel into a device which they do not permit users to modify. The device would include a mixture of GPLv2 and GPLv3-licensed code, so they'd be legally obliged to conform to the terms of both licences and allow users to hack. Obviously, if only a few kernel components were under the GPLv3, they could build around them, but if this were 10%, they'd be forced to use older kernel releases. I
        • The kernel is currently distributed under GPL v2. Some terms allow for it to be "v2 or later", meaning someone can use the code in a GPLv3 kernel. Software companies could also go to dual-licensing and offer it under v2 or v3. Then you could use that code in either a GPLv2 kernel or a GPLv3 kernel. You can't have a part-v3, part-v2 kernel because of license incompatibilities. Thus a kernel would be offered as either pure v2 or pure v3.
          • by tjwhaynes (114792)

            The kernel is currently distributed under GPL v2. Some terms allow for it to be "v2 or later", meaning someone can use the code in a GPLv3 kernel. Software companies could also go to dual-licensing and offer it under v2 or v3. Then you could use that code in either a GPLv2 kernel or a GPLv3 kernel. You can't have a part-v3, part-v2 kernel because of license incompatibilities. Thus a kernel would be offered as either pure v2 or pure v3.

            No - the kernel is currently distributed under GPL v2 BUT it is not entirely comprised of GPL v2 only code. 40% of the Linux kernel has the "or later versions" message intact and can be trivially relicensed.

            How much of the Linux kernel is GPLv2? [blogspot.com]

            GPL v2 and GPL v3 code can be compiled into a single entity without issue. What you can't do is take some GPL v2 code, rewrite part of it and call it GPL v3. Aggregation of code has never been an issue.

            Cheers,
            Toby Haynes

        • by Kjella (173770)
          Surely if *any* fraction of the kernel code is licensed under the GPLv3, this would prevent a manufacturer building the kernel into a device which they do not permit users to modify. The device would include a mixture of GPLv2 and GPLv3-licensed code (...)

          If it is *exclusively* licensed under GPLv3 (well, or higher) then yes. If all the current kernel code said "GPLv2 and higher", they could do that. However, since a lot of code is licensed under GPLv2 only, the GPLv3 code is incompatible with the GPLv2's l
      • Parts of the kernel are licensed "GPL version 2 or later" (which can roll over automatically)...

        The "or later" part is an option for those using the code, not the authors. If it's v2 or later, you, as a user, have the option to use v2 or v3 at your discretion. If it were changed to v3, then you no longer have the option to use v2. Hence, code that's "v2 or later" doesn't automatically become v3 and the authors can't just change it to v3 without every contributors' permission.

        • Code licensed "version 2 or later" can be moved effortlessly into a GPLv3 kernel. It would still allow for people to use it in a v2 kernel, but it would at least be includable in a GPLv3 kernel, which is what I mean by "can roll over automatically" into a GPLv3-based kernel.
          • Code licensed "version 2 or later" can be moved effortlessly into a GPLv3 kernel.

            So long as either the files or portions of code that were originally marked as being "under v2 or later" are still so marked, then yes you can include them in code that contains files or portions under v3; but the "v2 or later" parts stay "v2 or later": they don't automatically become v3.

      • Imagine this scenario:
        Everybody but Novell gives the go-ahead for GPL v3 in the Linux kernel:
        -Novell says no: They have to re-write/back port everything new in the Kernel for SUSE
        -Novell says yes: Novell must reneg on the "Deal with the Devil" and get sued by MS
              or
        -Novell says yes: Novell get sued by the FSF for not reneging on the "Deal with the Devil".

        Either way it's loose, loose, loose for Novell.
        • There are scenarios under which Novell could get an arrangement in the GPLv3 prohibiting new deals but not blocking existing deals. This would make Novell the only company able to have such an MS deal.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by fucksl4shd0t (630000)

          Either way it's loose, loose, loose for Novell.

          They could just buy a wrench and tighten that fucker up.

  • Misleading summary? (Score:4, Informative)

    by penp (1072374) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @10:41AM (#18528177)
    If you actually read the article, he specifies:

    "Whether it's actually a better license than the GPLv2, I'm still a bit skeptical, but at least it's now 'I'm skeptical' rather than 'Hell no!'"
    I just think the summary of this article is a bit misleading. It makes it sound like he's completely for switching to the GPLv3, when after reading the article I found he's still a bit skeptical.

    Torvalds was noncommittal about whether he might try to move the Linux kernel to GPL 3--a change that would require the permission not just of Torvalds but also of all other Linux kernel copyright holders. But he didn't rule it out. "The current draft makes me think it's at least a possibility in theory, but whether it's practical and worth it is a totally different thing," he said. "Practically speaking, it would involve a lot of work to make sure everything relevant is GPLv3-compatible even if we decided that the GPL 3 is OK."
    • by kripkenstein (913150) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @11:37AM (#18529009) Homepage
      How is it misleading? The summary says "But with the latest revisions, Linus will entertain moving the kernel over to the GPL v3" - which means pretty much what the quote of Linus you gave says, "The current draft makes me think it's at least a possibility in theory, but whether it's practical and worth it is a totally different thing."

      How are these significantly different?
    • by vux984 (928602)
      It makes it sound like he's completely for switching to the GPLv3, when after reading the article I found he's still a bit skeptical.

      I think it would MUCH easier, and just as useful to switch from "GPLv2" to simply "GPLv2 or later". This would require less permissions (as chunks are already 'gplv2 or later') and would offend far fewer people.

      For example, Linus himself. He doesn't have "switch" to GPLv3, he merely has to agree to give people the choice. "GPLv2 or later" means it still, and always will be, av
    • Linus!?!?!? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bruce Perens (3872) *
      Geez, pigs will fly! Or at least they will stop being pig-headed :-)

      I had to look twice to make sure this wasn't April first come early.

      Bruce

  • by dgr73 (1055610) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @10:42AM (#18528191)
    on how to get a Finn to see your point in negotiations. It's easy:

    1. Invite the Finn to a sauna that's been heated to a 120C

    2. Help him down a case of beer and 2 litres of vodka while enjoying the sauna for 4-5 hours

    If you are still able to make your case after this, you will find the Finn much more appreciative of your point of view.
    • by nuzak (959558)
      If the sauna temp is 120C, he won't be making much of a counterargument after being boiled alive for 4-5 hours.
      • by adavies42 (746183)
        I used to use a sauna on a regular basis that had a temperature of ~250F, at least up near the ceiling where the thermometer was. Since the locker room it was in was uninsulated and frequently had windows left open, I could get >200-degree temperature swings in the winter coming out of it.
      • If the sauna temp is 120C, he won't be making much of a counterargument after being boiled alive for 4-5 hours.

        Maybe you're thinking hot tub in which case that'd be true. I've regularly used a (dry) sauna and the ambient temperature gets over 100 celcius. The reason why you don't boil alive is because of a number of things. First, you sweat a lot and the evaporation of your sweat cools you down and necessitates drinking tons of water. Second, that's the temperature of the ambient air. If you wave your arms around in it, you're likely to get scalded a bit but if you keep still, the air immediately around the su

  • by starseeker (141897) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @10:46AM (#18528253) Homepage
    While Linus Torvalds is not the sole copyright holder of the Linux kernel, it cannot be denied that an "official" project to shift the kernel from GPLv2 to GPLv3 would open up some interesting possibilities.

    One immediate question I would have is whether he would leave in the "or any later version" clause this time or remove it again. If he does that we might have to go through this whole mess again in another 15 years, but maybe that's the idea.

    Linux as GPL3 only becomes of true importance if OpenSolaris also becomes GPL3. If that is the case, there could be an immediate and dramatic improvement seen in both projects as the code starts to flow both ways. OpenSolaris could start to take advantage of the driver code in Linux (or at least, use it to make the code Solaris would need) and Linux could start working on goodies like Dtrace support. Mutually beneficial, and everyone wins.

    Of course, there is no reason beyond speculation to think Solaris will use GPL3. The situation is potentially very exciting, but it would require both Solaris and Linux to move from their current license and neither decision will be made lightly.

    Fingers crossed...
    • by russotto (537200) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @10:54AM (#18528355) Journal

      One immediate question I would have is whether he would leave in the "or any later version" clause this time or remove it again. If he does that we might have to go through this whole mess again in another 15 years, but maybe that's the idea.
      IMO, it doesn't make sense to leave in the "or any later version" clause unless you either ARE the FSF, or you trust the FSF completely. Linus clearly doesn't fit either of those two criteria.
      • I've always wondered that who as a non-FSF entity would leave in the "or any later version" clause. That's just insane and I don't understand why a "good" organization like FSF, which also probably tries to educate people, even has such a potentially dangerous clause in their license.

        Maybe the clause is just that, a clever scheme to teach people to read carefully. I was once in a situation where an employment contract had a "or any later version" clause. The contract was contested and found to be in fact i

        • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @01:15PM (#18530419)
          That's just insane and I don't understand why a "good" organization like FSF, which also probably tries to educate people, even has such a potentially dangerous clause in their license.

          Why is it insane? There is nothing potentially dangerous about it.

          Your code doesn't become 'GPLv3 or later' when GPLv3 comes out, it STAYS 'GPLv2 or later', meaning it is now available to someone who wants to use it under either the v2 or v3 licenses.

          Thus there is no danger that at some point in the future someone won't be able to use your code with all the rights you assigned to it when you licensed it v2 or later.

          However, if someone down the road likes v5, and starts up a GPLv5 project and they want to use your code, they can. Because at that point your code will be available under v2, v3, v4, and v5.

          Thus the absolute WORST case of releasing your code as 'GPLv2 or later' is that one day the FSF will release a license you don't like, and people using it will still be allowed to use your code.

          IE, the worst case is that future users will have MORE rights to use your code than they have today, if the GPL were to become even less restrictive (e.g. became, say, a BSD-like license). After all if the GPL gets more restrictive people can ALWAYS use your code with ALL the rights of GPLv2.

          I think for nearly all of us, that is pretty much a non-issue. The odds the GPL will become less restrictive than v2 is practically zilch. And even if it did, no harm could come to people who want to use our code.
          • by russotto (537200) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @02:09PM (#18531321) Journal
            There's two dangers to the "any other version" clause

            1) An overly permissive future license allows other people to use and distribute your code in their product without providing source or with restrictions you find repugnant. Not very likely, but consider if the FSF got itself sued for software patent violations or something and Microsoft actually obtained control of it.

            2) A more restrictive future license allows other people to use and distribute your code in their product without allowing you to use their code without those new restrictions. This is much more likely.

            I don't think it's insane for the FSF to recommend the "and all future versions" clause; they trust themselves, after all. But I don't see why anyone else should.
      • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Thursday March 29, 2007 @11:16AM (#18528699) Homepage
        You don't have to trust the FSF completely, since even if they release a truly terrible new version of the GPL, the older ones can still be used. About the 'worst' thing the FSF could do would be to say that GPLv4 will be a permissive licence allowing anything.

        Unless you have strong feelings that the current version of the GPL is the only right one, it's an easier life for everyone to leave in the 'or any later version' language. I don't agree with everything the FSF does, and in particular I think that trying to retrospectively punish Novell for their patent deal with Microsoft is a bad idea, but in the wider interests of free software we should try to keep in step with the FSF and not have a proliferation of different GPL versions making code sharing awkward.
      • Now with this draft you can designate a proxy who can upgrade the license with a public statement. So contributors could say "GPLv3 or later versions approved by Linus". No wonder he likes this version.
    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Thursday March 29, 2007 @11:10AM (#18528587) Homepage Journal

      One immediate question I would have is whether he would leave in the "or any later version" clause this time or remove it again.
      The annotated diff between GPLv3 draft 1 and GPLv3 draft 2 [fsf.org], page 59, section 14, footnote 103, suggests a new method to handle this: "or any later version approved by Linus Torvalds".
      • by crt (44106)
        This is modded funny, but is actually true - there is a new method for assigning a proxy to decide at a later date if the code should be licensed under a later GPL version.
  • About time! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday March 29, 2007 @10:49AM (#18528295) Journal
    I still don't feel that Linus "gets it" about GPLv3. I'm still not entirely sure about GPLv3 myself, and I should probably go back and read a draft.

    But, at least now it's obvious he's reading and comprehending. He may still disagree with it, and I disagree with him, but it looks like they're talking now.

    Which is more than I can say about the last round of flamewars... Last time, he honestly sounded like a Slashdotter who hadn't bothered to RTFA, just repeating the same unfounded arguments, some of which were blatantly wrong to anyone who actually read the license...
    • I'm still not entirely sure about GPLv3 myself, and I should probably go back and read a draft.

      Last time, he honestly sounded like a Slashdotter who hadn't bothered to RTFA, just repeating the same unfounded arguments, some of which were blatantly wrong to anyone who actually read the license.

      How do you know they were "blatantly wrong" if you haven't read it?

      In any case, his DRM fears were most certainly reasonable given the early drafts. If you didn't bother to even read the summary, the FSF changed

  • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @10:50AM (#18528303)
    Torvalds may be "Pretty Pleased" with the current draft, but I won't be satisfied with it until Torvalds is "Pretty Pleased with a Cherry On Top."

    - RG>
  • And... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bnavarro (172692) on Thursday March 29, 2007 @10:51AM (#18528317)
    Watch how fast Sun becomes "displeased" with the latest GPL3 draft, and considers not open-sourcing Solaris under the GPL3 license.

    Seriously, this is not a troll. I am convinced that the only reason Sun was considering this is because the Linux project was not. There is no chance in hell they want to see any of their kernel code end up inside the Linux kernel.
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Thursday March 29, 2007 @11:25AM (#18528847) Homepage
    The lede and the story don't have quite the same spin. If you read the story it's clear that Linus is pretty pleased that they've gotten rid of the worst aspects in the previous draft. He's no longer puking all over this draft but he's by no means ready to switch.
  • I am very glad to see this positive step. When RMS and Linus are aligned, great things happen.

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