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Re: Can linux kernel claim it uses GPL v2?

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Can linux kernel claim it uses GPL v2?
Date: Sat, 07 Oct 2006 17:10:24 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Alexander Terekhov <> writes:

> David Kastrup wrote:
>> writes:
>> > Can linux kernel claim they distribute the kernel under conditions of
>> > GPL v2, while they use modified version of GPL v2
>> They did not modify GPLv2.
>> > (thanks to this modification glibc doesnt have to be GPL, but can be
>> > LGPL)?
>> Where do you get those ideas?
> Hey dak, glibc and FAQing "semantics of the communication (what kinds of 
> information are interchanged) ... if the semantics of the communication 
> are intimate enough" aside for a moment, according to GNU Reichsminister 
> für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, the linux kernel is under sorta 
> impure GPL, my dear GNUtian dak.
> -----
> LWN: A while back, you said something about getting an answer from
> Linus on the Linux kernel license. Since there is a COPYING file
> that makes it clear that the kernel is governed under the GPL,
> where's the uncertainty?
> Eben: If the kernel is pure GPL, then I think we would all agree
> that non-GPL, non-free loadable kernel modules represent GPL
> violations. Nonetheless, we all know that there are a large number
> of such modules and their existence is tolerated or even to some
> degree encouraged by the kernel maintainers, and I take that to
> mean that as an indication that there is some exception for those
> modules.


Note that the topic of the quote is _not_ the syscall interface, but
the _linking_ of kernel modules into the kernel.

_That's_ where it is not really clear how Linux developers _intend_ to
interpret the GPL, and that may mean that at some point of time, they
might not be _able_ to pursue a more strict interpretation because of
estoppel and/or doctrine of laches, not because it would not have been
possible to do so in the first place.

The syscall interface clarification Linus added to the front of the
GPLv2 COPYING file does nothing whatsoever to clear the kernel module

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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