HP's Martin Fink arguing for copyleft licenses

Fabian Keil freebsd-listen at fabiankeil.de
Mon Nov 2 12:57:47 UTC 2015

Hugo Roy <hugo at fsfe.org> wrote:

> ↪ 2015-11-01 Sun 12:20, Fabian Keil <freebsd-listen at fabiankeil.de>:
> > Mr. Fink also seems to knowingly conflate the Linux kernel with the free
> > software community in general, for example when he spreads the FUD about
> > DTrace and ZFS which according to him can't be used by "the community".  
> In that case, it's not far fetched considering the licenses for ZFS
> was apparently designed with the intention to make it incompatible
> with major existing licenses used in large shares by the free software
> community. (That's what I have heard repeatedly anyway.)

While I've heard that story repeatedly as well, another version is:

| The CDDL license, a file-level "copyleft" that allows open
| source code to reside alongside proprietary code, was devised
| by Sun in order to allow community development of the Solaris
| kernel without having to negotiate the minefield of acquiring
| rights to open-source code the company had licensed from
| others, including IBM and NCR. In theory, any file with the
| CDDL header in it is fair game for developers to build from.

> Free software licenses should reduce friction to allow greater flow of
> code, instead of deliberately increasing it.
> That, and without forgetting that there are (were?) patents on ZFS
> stuff, which you cannot completely ignore (even outside the Linux
> kernel community).

The CDDL contains a patent grant so at least the patent claims
from code contributors shouldn't be a big risk (assuming the
patents are valid in the fist place).

AFAIK, the patent violations alleged by NetApp were never proven
to be justified (and doubted by many). Unfortunately the details
of the settlement haven't been leaked yet and the people involved
seem to prefer not to talk about it in public.

While I agree that patents are a problem for free software in
general, it's not obvious to me that using ZFS is more risky
than using the Linux kernel or any other large code base.

In fact, I'd expect the Linux kernel to "violate" more patent
claims than ZFS as its code base is quite a bit larger.

> > While the fact that they are licensed under the CDDL might be inconvenient
> > for GNU/Linux distributions, for various other operating systems it's not
> > a big deal and (from their point of view) even preferably to a more
> > restrictive license like the GPL.  
> The fact that there are more permissive licenses than the GPL doesn't
> mean it's not a big deal to make a GPL incompatible license.

I never said that. My point is that other parts of the free software
community are happily using ZFS and DTrace right now. Thus Mr. Fink's
claim that the "the community" can't use them due to their license is

It's like claiming that "the community" can't use gcc versions after 4.2
because parts of the community have a policy to tolerate GPLv2 code in
the base system but reject GPLv3 code due to the perceived risks for
downstream consumers.

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