Issues with how the GNU GPL is used for Linux (the kernel)

Sam Liddicott sam at
Wed Feb 1 17:51:15 UTC 2006

Alfred M. Szmidt wrote:

>   No, the Authors clearly stated that only v2 applies for the kernel
>   as a whole, again single files may be under a different license
>   (GPL compatible), and so, some of them may be under a GPL version
>   that allow them to be used with the future GPLv3 license.
>If the GPLv2 applies to the whole kernel, then it applies to all
>files, single files cannot get special treatment.  See section 2(b) of
>the GPL.

Single files can get special treatment individually when not part of the 
whole collection.

2(b) does not prevent the offering alternative licenses. Where such 
alternatives conflict with GPL2 (as GPL3 does) those files cannot be 
distributed under license of GPL3 with the GPL2 files.

What might stop them being individually distributed is that they may be 
derivative works of some of the GPL2 only files, so although what you 
say is not absolutely true it is probably true for the kernel where most 
files are partial derivative works of another file and the kernel is not 
a linked aggregation of seperate units.


More information about the Discussion mailing list