Why Torvalds is sitting out the GPLv3 process
September 30, 2006 Leave a comment
A follow up to this post, Linus recently commented further on the GPLv3 issue. From the article:
At the same time, he suggests that his opposition may have been distorted or exaggerated. “GPLv3 is not 'evil,'” he says. “It just doesn't stand up to the great licenses out there, like the GPLv2.”
The current version of the GPL (GPLv2), Torvalds says, is “something where the open source people can meet with the free software people in perfect harmony. People from all over, regardless of their background, belief systems, or whether they are rabid about it or not, can happily agree about the GPLv2, and that's one of the reasons it's been so successful.”
By contrast, Torvalds says, “I think the GPLv3 is expressly designed to not allow that meeting. Exactly because the FSF considers us open source people 'heretics.'”
Once the GPLv3 goes from draft mode to live, it will be interesting to see if other GPL licensed projects simply move to the new version (remember the stock v2 GPL has the “or (at your option) any later version” clause, or do something similar to the Linux kernel and specify v2 only. I'd guess it depends heavily on what the final v3 ends up looking like. Also in the article was a comment from Linus about the supposed increased compatibility that GPLv3 has with other Open Source license, such as the Apache license:
In fact, Torvalds worries that one of the goals of GPL3 is to absorb part of the open source communities. For example, he notes that “one of the stated goals of the FSF with the GPLv3 was to expressly design the new license to be compatible with the Apache license. That sounds like a great thing, doesn't it? It sounds nice. 'Compatible' is such a nice word. Let's just all sing songs about it around the camp-fire.
“But if you actually look behind all the nice words, it's just a polite way of saying, 'We want to hijack the code of those projects that use the Apache license, too, and turn that code into GPLv3. Because the definition of 'compatible with the GPLv3' is strictly one-way compatibility. You can convert Apache-licensed projects into the GPLv3, but not the other way. Doesn't sound quite as much as a “Kumbaya” moment any more when you put it that way, now, does it?”
Speaking for himself and the Linux kernel, Torvalds says, “I don't need to try to hijack somebody else's project. I did my own. It stays GPLv2.”
Fairly harsh words. While there is certainly no love lost between Linus and RMS, hopefully this won't turn into a situation that further fractures the Open Source community. We already have enough of those situations.
Open Source, Linus, GPL, GPLv3, FSF, RMS, Linux