Kernel developers' position on GPLv3

Yavor Doganov yavor at
Sat Sep 23 12:12:33 UTC 2006

Shane M. Coughlan wrote:
> I believe Ben made a good point; the Linux kernel developers have
> done a lot of good work to bring Free Software to more people.  Some
> of them do this using the term 'open source' rather than Free
> Software.  Perhaps we can generalise and say that some people
> referring to 'open source' are worried that the term Free Software
> is too strong.

While what Ben said is true, the goals of our Movement are not
entirely technical and I'd say that the technical aspects are
secondary.  In the beginning of the 80's, RMS thought that everyone
would choose to use Free Software, if there was a way to escape from
non-free software.  That assumption proved to be wrong: people
generally don't value their freedom and prefer not to pay much

I must admit with regret that while the proponents of the Open Source
campaign are contributing a lot in technical form, they make our job
much harder and spreading their "philosophy" is against our goals.  A
disturbing tendency is that nearly everyone that joins the community
(as a user or contributor, or both) shares their views.  I fear that
the Free Software Movement is being absorbed by the utilitary thinking
of these people, and part of the reasons is that that's what they aim
-- some of them hope that our philosophy will be forgotten.

> It's important to remember that we are all traveling along the same
> road.

It's important to remember that there is a deep abyss between us and
them -- we want to change the society and they want technical
excellence.  It is useless to drive faster if we can't stay on the
road -- and our road is the Freedom Road, not the Not-so-free
Open-sourced Highway.

> Ben suggested that we discuss why the new GPL license is a good
> idea.

The purpose of the GPLv3 conferences was specifically this -- to
explain to the people that have doubts why the next version will do
its job better, that is, will protect users' freedom better.  By
reading that article I conclude that none of its authors listened to
the speeches or read the transcripts.

> Why don't we devote a little time to that?  

It is pointless to do that, I'm afraid.  These people can't be
persuaded in our cause and it's just a waste of time and efforts to
even attempt to do that -- it will be ignored.  Their moto, inspired
by their leader, is "Ideology sucks".

I see two major drawbacks that result from their decision not to
switch to GPLv3:

  * It is a loss for everyone in the community.  The Linux kernel
    won't be protected by the additional clauses in the new version of
    the license.

  * Since the Linux kernel project is influential in the community,
    the FUD they spread will reach other projects and developers, and
    many of them will adopt their "conclusions".

What we can do is to apply Ben's idea to other projects that intend to
follow Linus Torvalds' views in this respect.  The situation with the
Linux kernel is hopeless, IMHO.

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