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Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- linux-watch: "GPLv3 arrives, but nobody se

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- linux-watch: "GPLv3 arrives, but nobody seems to care"
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 14:49:25 +0200

GPLv3 arrives, but nobody seems to care 

Jun. 29, 2007

I've been following the evolution of this latest version of the seminal
open-source license since it was a twinkle in Richard M. Stallman's eye.
I have no no doubt that a lot of hard work by some incredibly bright
people has gone into making this the best possible software license.

Now that the GPLv3 (GNU General Public License Version 3) has finally
been released, however, there's one wee problem. 

Tell me, is anyone of significance -- besides the Samba Group for its
CIFS (Common Internet File System) Windows-compatible file and print
server program, and the license's creators, the FSF (Free Software
Foundation) -- going to adopt the GPLv3 (GNU General Public License
Version 3)?

It is just me, or have things gotten really quiet?

Oh, certainly Sun keeps teasing us with the possibility of placing
OpenSolaris under the GPLv3. Sometimes Sun says yes and sometimes it
says no. I don't think Sun has really decided at all. Seriously now,
other than Samba and the FSF's gcc development tool family, you'll be
hard pressed to find any other first-rung programs making the switch to
the GPLv3.

I think it's telling that after years of discussion, fewer than twenty
programs were covered by the GPLv3 on June 29 when the new license was
finally released. There are, after all, tens of thousands of open-source

In particular, there is no way on earth that the top-top open-source
software program, Linux, is going to move to the GPLv3. Torvalds has
said no. The other core developers have said no. Put a fork in the
GPLv3, it's done as far as Linux is concerned. 

And, if Linux isn't going to adopt it, I really doubt any other major
free software project will be adopting it. Deep in its people's hearts,
I suspect the FSF knows this. 

Actually, I can't think of any other reason why the group felt the need
to grab some headlines this week by sneering at Apple's iPhone.
Specifically, Peter Brown, the FSF's executive director, said that "On
June 29, Steve Jobs and Apple will release a product crippled with
proprietary software and digital restrictions: crippled, because a
device that isn't under the control of its owner works against the
interests of its owner." He continued, "We know that Apple has built its
operating system, OS X, and its Web browser, Safari, using GPL-covered
work. It will be interesting to see to what extent the iPhone uses GPL'd

We do? I don't. OS X is built on open source. There's no question about
that. Its bones are built on software covered by the BSD license
however, not the GPL. 

Is there GPL code in there somewhere? It wouldn't surprise me a bit, but
so what? It's GPLv2 code. The FSF doesn't like GPLv2 code hidden inside
user appliances, aka TiVoization, but that's why they came up with the
GPLv3. What Apple is doing may be quite legal.

You know what this particular outburst from the FSF reminds me of? It
reminds me of the same kind of patent claims Microsoft makes every year
or so about Linux. 

If the FSF has proof that there's GPL code in the iPhone, let's see it.

If this is what the FSF thinks the GPLv3 needs to do to get popular,
they had better rethink what it is they're trying to do. They need to
work more on representing the needs of the majority of open source
developers, not in following their own agenda and launching noisy
pointless attacks on the iPhone. 

I'm not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The GPLv3 does have
many excellent points. It deserves to be considered for more projects.
The way things have been going, though, it's going to be its
predecessor, the GPLv2, that will continue to be the most important free
software license, not the GPLv3. 

-- Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

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