Kernel developers' position on GPLv3

Shane M. Coughlan shane at
Mon Sep 25 16:36:47 UTC 2006

Hash: SHA256

Ottavio Caruso wrote:
> I invite the guy who said this at the Greater London
> User the 22nd of April to confirm that himself here.
> What he said was: "In the Free Software movement there
> are lot of nutcases". We were discussing Free Software
> Evangelism.

Hi Ottavio

I believe you are talking about me and quoting me out of context.

First of all, I was speaking as an individual.  I spoke at the GLLUG
about the FSFE and the Free Software moment, explaining why I thought it
was really important for more people to get involved.  I did not speak
as a representative of the FSFE,  I made this clear at the beginning of
the talk.  I was speaking as someone who thought that Free Software was
such a good idea I became a fellow of the FSFE.

Secondly, I do not think the FSF is full of nutcases.  Quite the
opposite.  I think the FSF is the Foundation that started the Free
Software movement and has protected it to this day.

At GLLUG we were talking about perception.  We were discussing how we
could spread the word about Free Software when there are occasional
perceptions of the movement as unreasonable.  I pointed out two
important things:
(1) In all movements there are people who are extreme.
(2) Free Software is not an extreme movement.

Free Software is a really good idea.  Richard Stallman - who people
sometimes label as extreme - is a very lucid advocate of exactly why
Free Software is a good idea.  His book 'Free Software, Free Society' is
a work that explains why our movement is necessary in terms that can
only be called logical, well structured and easy to understand.  He is
blunt about why Free Software is important and perhaps this annoys some
people but his arguments are clear.

The problem - as I pointed out in London - is the 'slashdot' effect of
people yelling at each other.  We see it all over the technology field.
 Sometimes people yell at each other so much that the important message
is lost.

Examples include the 'slashdot' threads that appear on:
 - Free Software vs closed source software
 - Free Software vs Open Source software
 - Apple vs PC
 - BSD vs GPL

The job of advocates is to explain why XYZ is a good idea.  If they are
Free Software advocates their job is to explain why Free Software is a
really good idea.  Perhaps they can localise their talk to the audience;
what works in New York might not work as well in London.  Perhaps they
can rephrase things for their audience; what engineers want to hear
might be different from political students.  An advocates job is to
spread the good word.

I believe we need the Free Software Foundations to help provide a centre
for the Free Software movement.  They are great rallying points, sources
of information and arenas of positive action.  It's great that we have
different foundations (FSF, FSFE, FSF India etc) because this means it's
easy to have pro-active centres that are also able to engage with
maximum effectiveness in local issues.

Right now this conversational thread is quite extreme.  People are
yelling at each other again.  I don't think it's necessary.  Surely we
can discuss things without resorting to anger and tension.

Perhaps we can return to the core topic; that of the GPLv3 and the
kernel developers' opinions.  It might be a good idea to engage more
positively with their concerns.  For instance, perhaps a lot of the
uncertainty and doubt about the GPLv3 has already been addressed through
the official GPLv3 website (  Maybe if some time
was spent matching concerns with the review process it might lead to
more people feeling confident in the new license.

I guess one thing we can all agree on is that the GPLv3 is important.
Whether people like it or not this license process is a big deal.  We
really need to explore it carefully and ensure that misunderstandings
are minimized.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.2.2 (GNU/Linux)


More information about the Discussion mailing list