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GPLv3…The death of Linux

Corey, I agree with you most definitely as I have just finished reading Kevin Carmony’s post as well concerning the GPLv3 and then went into the forums to read the follow up. I wish I wouldn’t have done so, but I did. WOW! The misinformation that goes around is mind boggling at times.

One of the posts in the forums stated that Linux has written its own death with the GPLv3. Umm, Linux the kernel didn’t for one write the GPLv3, the great people at the Free Software Foundation did (Join the FSF now!). One thing I could help but notice is how worried that Mr. Carmony seemed to be about the demise of the Linux desktop because he feels that the GPLv3 removes a users choice. Like Corey, it was this type of thinking by him that got me thinking he might be in the midst of cutting a deal with Microsoft so he can continue on making his money instead of trying to work with proprietary hardware manufacturers. If we continue to pollute Linux with non-free software, then in fact we are shrinking our sword to the point where we will have nothing more than a butter knife to try and fight for free hardware. If we instead push people to buy from hardware manufacturers who provide freeness, then maybe the proprietary people will listen.

Please don’t say “well AMD is creating new drivers for Linux.” AMD is providing you stripped and limited drivers for Linux, I don’t care who they hired or what they say. And I know I am going to hear the proverbial “well the free hardware sucks, Intel video blows…” Bullshit! I am happier with my Intel setup which isn’t top of the line, and everything was free out of the box. I can run Compiz or Beryl or whatever the hell they are calling it this week just fine. It might not run like it does on NVidia, but is that Intel’s fault or the developers of Compiz and Beryl? I just ran KWin with the bells and whistles for KDE 4 and I was super impressed, actually ran better than the composite stuff everyone is used to today.

There is a reason why some of us are against the restricted drivers and non-free software. If there were enough of us, and I am hoping eventually there will be, then we will have a solid leg to stand on and fight the non-free manufacturers one-on-one and let them know we are for real. But if we keep using their binary, non-free, garbage, then what reasons do they have to create free stuff? None whatsoever. I know choice is a big thing, and the one thing I didn’t see the GPLv3 doing was removing or limiting my choices, but providing me with new tools in order to remain free. I am not going to sit here either and tell you how evil you are for running that non-free stuff, or trying to persuade you not to use it, because then in fact I would be forcing you to choose something you may not want to do on your own. All I can try to do is educate, and I still need a lot of education myself. But it is wrong for people in positions in which they are looked up to, to sit here and tell us how bad the GPLv3 is in its DRAFT versions and how they won’t be able to do this or that. And then to say “…it would end up having to be just like Ubuntu…” Umm, last I checked Ubuntu was the winner…So, the next time one of you distros talk to the devil himself, Steve Ballmer, tell him I said to kiss my free arse!

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  • If you were confused by this post, don’t feel bad, I was too. I did a head>desk in the middle of it as I felt anger growing from within, but my darn fingers wouldn’t stop. Sorry for wasting space in your aggregator. Now I will go to bed…zzz.z.z.zzzZZZZz.z.z.zZZz.zZZz

  • Concerned

    by design GPL v2 and v3 are incompatible with each other for the simple reason that they are copyleft licenses. License incompatibility issue only happens if you link, combine, and merge two different programs into a single one. So, even if the Linux kernel remains on GPL v2 while the rest of GNU applications move to GPLv3, there is still no conflict to happen.

    The GPL v3 doesn’t say it forbids DRM. What it forbids is DRM that locks you up removing your freedom to remove it when you want to in your system.

  • GPLv3 maybe is far from perfect, but I have hard time to see how it deny users a choose to use DVD players, play mp3 from their iPods and play 3D games. GPLv3 has only TWO changes – patent clause are more corrected and even If I was rather hostile at the begining to it, I have grown to accept it – also due of Microsoft actions lately. I understand that we should draw a line in the sand. Software patents are harmful, period. And second, DRM clause is more justified because the way hardware vendors forbids to “mangle” with their stuff is wrong – they could easily provide “test” keys, if they use encryption style DRM for checking firmware images, to users who wants to put their own stuff on their irons. “Test” key therefore would indicate that this box has “mangled” firmware and have very limited support – or no support at all.

    Biggest issues what could arise is distribution of codecs and prioritary software with Linux system, but such deals usually don’t have patent coverage, do they?

  • Enny

    sigh, so much FUD, and no less from the CEO of a distro and his forum moderators. Much like the GPLv3 FUD in the media too.

    I am not surprised if Linspire has already signed a deal with MS, like Xandros went to Microsoft in November 2006 (and obstensibly modified the terms to exclude coupons after GPLv3 went after that). They did it before when they had a lock tight court case with Lindows, didn’t they?

  • Enny

    You can still put DRM in GPLv3…perhaps RMS was too imprecise with his DRM speeches. The real “DRM” he’s referring to is the kind in which Tivo doesn’t give you all the code required to build an executable that runs on their hardware, which IMO and Bruce Perens’ opinion even GPLv2 requires but RMS has chosen instead to use GPLv3 than to litigate against TiVO and look like a ‘bad guy’, so the FSF has been MORE than kind to these people. With WIPO implemented in US, EU, AUS, soon to be Canada, this is a very real concern in which the free market cannot help free software developers.

    “Clearing up anti-GPL3 FUD”

    Ways to put DRM in a GPLv3 OS: hardware, coprocessor, userspace app, kernel under kernel.

  • smt

    linspire, Apple, ATI, IBM, Microsoft, nVidia, Sony? who cares? if they do not provide me the freedom i require, i will not provide them my money and find alternatives, no matters how sharp their technology is.
    2 free asses to kiss


    @smt: hahaha! woohoo, one more free arse!

    @Enny: thanks for that link, good reading!

  • bonbon

    Don’t start splitting the hair with the definitions. The text you are referring to was written for a specific target audience, and those points are irrelevant in the context.

    The point in the article was actually pretty valid in the sense the GPL *is* a very limiting (“freedom revoking”) license if compared to for instance the BSD licenses. What GPL does is that in a very American way it tends to the symptoms instead of the reasons and bullies towards external conformity. What the more mature licences do is educating and growing a fruitful symbiosis while at the same time promoting donations via commercial interests. Compared to that the GPL license really deserves to be hated by the non-fanboys.

  • Jim Campbell

    and the one thing I didn’t see the GPLv3 doing was removing or limiting my choices, but providing me with new tools in order to remain free.

    right on, nixternal.

  • Jim Campbell

    per the listing above that says i’m XP . . . let me just say, “I’m at work and I have no choice about what OS I use here.”

    there, thanks. 🙂

  • Eddie M.

    Rich, I really enjoyed this post.

  • Freddy Martinez

    The point in the article was actually pretty valid in the sense the GPL *is* a very limiting (”freedom revoking”) license if compared to for instance the BSD licenses.
    Are you JOKING? With a BSD license, you are so free with your license that you can make it non-free. Are you missing the logical facile in there? The best thing about the GPL is that it requires derivatives to be released under the GPL, preserving freedom.

  • Freddy, ditto. You can’t tell me BSD is free’er 🙂

    Here, I write an amazing application that the world loves, and I publish it under the BSD license. Well one day comes along and I can’t do any more development on the application some other developer(s) come in and take it over, and low and behold it is now proprietary software. So, BSD being so free just happened to allow someone else to eliminate my choice of freedom. So how people can say that the GPL is a very limiting “freedom revoking” license is beyond me, the BSD license allows a developer to remove freedoms. ODD!

  • bono

    You still got the old version, feel free to hack with it. You didn’t really lose anything that you actually had. Killing proprietary software is to kill investments and back-commits, and does revoke freedoms from ISVs. Thus, it is proven that GPL does revoke freedoms.

    The only party actually benefiting from GPL is the elitistic (GPL slightly IS that, inconvenient but true…) developers. Developers shouldn’t matter that much, all they are is code monkeys – irreplaceable and they are not the actual dreamers and innovators behind the scenes anyways. When the rewards are given using faulty metrics and logics all it can lead into is the demise of GPL’d software. And yeah, Linux.

  • If you want to code proprietary software for investments and back-commits, go ahead, but what does that have to do with the GPL? It is funny, for 15 years the GPL has been the top license in the free software world, yet you state it benefits only the elitists among us. I totally disagree. Elitists don’t make a copyright or copyleft license the most popular and the most recommended license. I am glad you think the people who have spent a lot of their lives coding are nothing more than code monkeys, shows your level of respect for free software in the first place. If developers are nothing more than code monkeys, then Windows users are nothing more than seriously deranged lunatics, and Vista users, I won’t even go there.

  • Freddy Martinez

    Killing proprietary software is to kill investments and back-commits, and does revoke freedoms from ISVs.
    Sorry but not true. Look at RedHat, they have built an empire around Free Software, most of it under the GPL. They realized that they can support Free Software (both by paying developers AND offereing support services to fix machines) and make a very handsome dollar.
    Thus, it is proven that GPL does revoke freedoms.
    Money != Freedom

  • bono

    Don’t mix niche with success. Of the 1% market share the Linux has RedHat has 2/3, which made them only 280 millions in revenue in 2006. That’s 280 millions, out of what… A few hundred billions? Give me a break. Top dog, of the other open source perhaps, but let’s get back to that in a few lines.

    And yes, it does revoke freedom. It revokes the freedom to make it proprietary. That is what you are yourself proving all over and over again in your comments. And, BSD doesn’t do that. Thus the comparison is factually correct.

    I don’t know how to measure “being top license” either… What I know is that argumentum ad populum is a mistake however. The fact that 900 billion flies like eating shit doesn’t really make it tasty and good, or does it? Have a bite :o) Now, when you get into the qualitative comparisons, you would need something more than just a fanatic mantra.

  • 280 million in revenue is good money, and money that the proprietary assholes aren’t making. You know what, if the GPL provokes my freedom to make my application proprietary, well that is what I like. I don’t want my applications becoming some proprietary closed source solution. GPL also provides you the freedom of NOT USING IT IF YOU DON”T WANT TO! So you can go use that BSD license or that MIT license and let the goons of the proprietary world have at it. Even then, a simple license doesn’t prevent the evils from doing as they wish.

    GPL is without a doubt the #1 license in use in the free software communtiy. OH, here is a quote from Wikimedia/pedia that states exactly what I did:

    By some measures, the GPL is the single most popular license for free and open source software. As of January 2006, the GPL accounted for nearly 66% of the 41,962 free software projects listed on Freshmeat,[1] and as of January 2006, about 68% of the projects listed on[2] Similarly, a 2001 survey of Red Hat Linux 7.1 found that 50% of the source code was licensed under the GPL[3] and a 1997 survey of MetaLab, then the largest free-software archive, showed that the GPL accounted for about half of the licenses used.

    So, Top License? I think so. And whoever said flies eat shit because of the way it tastes? And please don’t try to say my opinions are some “fanatic mantra” either, becuase obviously yours are (probably a BSD fanatic mantra), and whatever flies have to do with it, wikipedia has a lot of great information, and so does the GPL history and the GNU and FSF websites.

  • NixaFF4

    Developers shouldn’t matter that much, all they are is code monkeys – irreplaceable and they are not the actual dreamers and innovators behind the scenes anyways.

    That was what Atari said in 1981. The result? All their high level innovative developers leaving for greener pastures, and ultimately a trip to chapter 11.

    Actually, MOST innovation in the tech industry starts at the developer level. Developers invented the UNIX framework. Developers designed the C and C++ languages that are used on most programs nowadays. Developers started fooling around with drawing graphics, which eventually led to developers creating the first GUI programs. Most of the innovation in UNIX happened not in USL’s rotting codebase, but among the hobbyists working on BSD. In fact, it was found in 1993 that USL had been picking code out of BSD and putting it back into the original UNIX, then trying to claim they’d invented it themselves!

    Sure the BSD licence is “free”. It’s so free it allows large corporations like Microsoft and Apple to steal your work without compensation. I suspect that you, “bono”, are a middle manager of a company, a position where the assumption is made that the ones at the bottom are braindead morons who can’t handle simple tasks and it is in fact at the top that most “innovation” occurs. In reality, very little really happens at the top, because the top is interested only in the bottom line. In their eyes, “innovation” is a way of making more money.

    But why waste my time arguing? You’ve already handed control of your data and your computer over to Microsoft. Have fun in the Borg collective.

  • bono

    That’s the problem. Say you got a Yugo and you give it to me. I take a welding torch, sledge hammer and other tools and craft a beautiful convertible out of it. Then when I’m driving on a road you stop me and demand that I give the convertible to you? It’s not sane as you have your infinite supply of free Yugos – build your own convertible damnit. You’d be obviously entitled to get back what you gave me though. I’d use the sledge hammer again and give you back your Yugo damnit 🙂

    Why I wouldn’t clone you the convertibles is that I’d expect to get something back for my design and work efforts. You know, it COULD be at some point just the fame and all that philosophic stuff.

    I am not very surprised if a marginal service by niche market people has a poll or makes statistic about the licenses. It’s just like the way Microsoft has done them as well. Skewed sample, and there’s no real logical link in the bigger picture. And it’s still argumentum ad populum. GNU and FSF being mostly argumentum ad verecundiam. 🙂

    I’m not BSD fanatic. I just believe in maturity, doing the right things for right reasons instead of doing the right things for wrong reasons (being forced to). You can get people to contribute to open source and to doing correct things by educating them and using the silky gloves. Then they’ll do the correct things even in the situations not covered by licenses and such. Yes, even proprietary licenses can be good in that sense and also the proprietary companies! I also believe in fixing the reasons behind the fact things instead of the symptoms. For similar reasons.

    GPL does a lot of damage, by aggravating opposite/negative reactions. It also doesn’t really fix the problem itself. That’s the reason behind my comments: I sincerely believe there are better and more mature alternatives.

  • That’s the problem. Say you got a Yugo and you give it to me. I take a welding torch, sledge hammer and other tools and craft a beautiful convertible out of it. Then when I’m driving on a road you stop me and demand that I give the convertible to you? It’s not sane as you have your infinite supply of free Yugos – build your own convertible damnit. You’d be obviously entitled to get back what you gave me though. I’d use the sledge hammer again and give you back your Yugo damnit

    You aren’t suggesting that the GPL forces you to to give back to the original creator or owner are you? If so, that is wrong, but I think what you are trying to say really is that the original owner can come back and say give me, just like he/she could do with BSD and MIT license. But really this analogy is wrong as well, because the original owner should at least be able to get the blueprints you used and the tools necessary (i.e. the source) in order to build their own like your or better. So bad analogy I feel.

    I don’t get this “GPL does a lot of damage, by aggravating opposite/negative reactions.” Is it the GPL or is it Richard M. Stallman who doing this? A lot of people don’t understand him or dislike him. Why? Because he truly fights for what he believes in. Very strong character and person to continually do so and never change his views. He may be a bit drastic at times I will admit.

    Could you just kind of brush what these “better and more mature alternatives” are? Thanks bono for keeping this interesting 🙂

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  • Your title scared me at first, but good post!

  • bono

    Blueprints? Give them? Eat less mushrooms they are bad for you…

  • Blue prints being source code, give them was a bad typo on my part. The blueprints and how you came about pimping out your Yugo (why anyone would do that is beyond me), should be free for not only the creator but for anyone who would like to take what you created and make it better. If you don’t provide this, the source, then it isn’t free software. The goal of the GPL is to maintain Free Software, where as BSD doesn’t. So I guess if your choice was to take Free Software and make it closed and proprietary, then you weren’t interested in free software in the first place. You do have a choice, and there are plenty of other licenses out there for you to choose. So saying that the GPL limits your choices because it doesn’t allow the software to become proprietary, OK, I will give that to you. Obviously it was the choice of the developers to make his software free to everyone and wants to keep it free and out of the hands of patent hungry morons. BSD does nothing more than the GPL than allowing this to occur.

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  • martin

    ssh gpl fanboys!
    It’s obvious that the gpl is less free than a revised BSD license in the short term. BSD is all about permissive licensing (everything goes) and gpl beeing a copyleft license is about promoting and ensuring the 4 Freedoms.
    so clearly the gpl is less permissive and does forbid a lot. Of cause this is *needed* to keep free software free in the general case.
    and gpl software is not a freebie in the sense that it’s a gift that anybody can build upon to make something they “own”. GPL is a donation with strings attached, so if you build some great car on that simple car you got from the community you have to give back, but that’s ok because if you didn’t like that term you should have started from scratch yourself and done all the work or bought the basework from someone commercially.
    Yes, the GPL is a political tool for free software, yes it might force you to give back more than you recieved in the first place: That’s free software.

    Talking about the original topic, i think the GPLv3 doesn’t really restrict what is possible on linux. Let’s look at the licenses. kernel: GPLv2 with userspace exception and no way to upgrade, gnu libc: GPLv3* with unrestricted use for gcc compiled software exception, X11: BSD like.
    So nothing in the minimal needed set will likely be any different. Most of the needed layers above that use LGPL and thus might be problematic, but hey, nobody has to do the grunt work for DRM ridden and sneaky patent license based companies. So i don’t see why it would be impossible for a HDDVD player to be made for linux, just don’t expect support from the OS vendor to hide the secrets for you….

    And i think the GPLv3 language doesn’t really forbid remote attestation, so that might be a big gaping hole for DRM enabled GPLv3 only operating systems.

    * copyright assignment to FSF, so it will upgrade soon.

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  • Freddy Martinez

    I swear this is the last time I will comment on this post.
    So BSD style is more free? The freedom to take away someone’s freedom is contradictory in nature. Richard is a “free” American as am I, but the government does not give me the freedom to but him in jail. That would take away his freedom.

    Lastly, if you are modding out a Yugo, you would have a much harder time if the car hood was welded shut, and you were unable to look into your car. But no, you can clearly see how things work and make your revisions. Someone purposely gives you that freedom to make edits as much as you want.

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  • Get real dude! Microsoft rules.

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