Kernel developers' position on GPLv3

Ben Finney ben at
Fri Sep 22 23:10:36 UTC 2006

On 22-Sep-2006, Stefano Spinucci wrote:
> Today LWN published an article expressing the position of some Kernel
> developers on GPLv3 (

As expected, it's full of revisionist history. The GNU operating
system is referred to as the "Linux operating system", and the GNU
project merely contributes some parts; indeed, no single GNU project
is referred to, but rather the individual tools from the GNU operating
system are discussed as separate entities with their own disparate

While this may be understandable self-centric thinking, it frames the
entire document. What is expedient to the Linux developers is seen as
the most important thing; so, if there's no problem with the GPLv2 for
the Linux developers, there's "no substantial and identified problem
with GPLv2" and therefore GPLv3 is a waste of effort.

I agree with Alfred that this thinking should not hamper the GPLv3
efforts; clearly, when one views software freedom as more important
than open-source expedience, the rationales for the GPLv3 (openly
documented online) are sufficient to necessitate the effort.

Probably a response is needed, but it should not be adversarial. The
Linux developers have allowed the GNU operating system, and all free
software, to succeed vastly beyond the possibilities that existed at
the time Linux was created, and the cause of software freedom
continues to be aided by these friends to our cause.

We need to reaffirm solidarity with our friends who drive free
software forward but choose to talk about open source, while making
clear the free-software purposes that drive the GPLv3 efforts. A
factual and friendly response, drawing on the documented rationales
for the need for a new GPL, should be made soon. Who wants to

 \           "I was in a bar the other night, hopping from barstool to |
  `\     barstool, trying to get lucky, but there wasn't any gum under |
_o__)                                    any of them."  -- Emo Philips |
Ben Finney <ben at>
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