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Why Torvalds is Sitting out the GPLv3 Process

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the sidelines dept.

365

lisah writes "Linus Torvalds has a lot of reasons for not wanting to participate in drafting the third version of the GNU General Public License (GPL): He doesn't like meetings, says committees don't make sense, has philosophical differences with the Free Software Foundation, and seems to be generally distrustful of the whole drafting process. Though Torvalds prefers the GPLv2, he says if others prefer the GPLv3, they ought to support it because 'it's not like it kills and eats small children for breakfast, and must never be allowed.'" Linux.com and Slashdot are both owned by OSTG.

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365 comments

the biggest reason.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200255)

... is that rms smells!

hello from spain... if you ever have the chance to visit here... DONT

ohsnap (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200263)

gnaa.us

The GPL3 process is not closed (5, Interesting)

pieterh (196118) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200299)

If you want to contribute to the GPLv3, you can. The FFII, for example, proposed some changes that would clarify the GPLv3 with respect to patent law in Europe (the current draft is too US-biased).

Torvalds doesn't need to contribute, but I'm glad he's moved to a more neutral stance. The GPLv2 is old and out of date and though it still works today, will start to crumble in a few years.

In every new project my firm does, we end up adding our own conditions onto the GPL3 (for instance for patents) and it'd be far better to have these defined as standard.

It's good to be critical of processes that aren't clear, and it's entirely possible that the FSF won't be able to produce a worthy successor to GPLv2, which is an incredibly important document in the history of software, but we should give them the benefit of the doubt.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (4, Interesting)

mellonhead (137423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200543)

The GPLv2 is old and out of date and though it still works today, will start to crumble in a few years.
Please explain how a license can "crumble".

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200597)

Please explain how a license can "crumble".

The original GPLv2 was, in fact, printed on a giant cookie.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (3, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200909)

The original GPLv2 was, in fact, printed on a giant cookie.

Jokes aside, the GPLv2 was, in fact, chiseled into a large stone tablet. Those things most certainly crumble after a few millennia.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (2, Funny)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201829)

My people! From RMS, I bring you these eighteen... (crash!) um... twelve sections of the GPL version two!

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16201015)

The original GPLv2 was, in fact, printed on a giant cookie.
When OSTG hired CowboyNeal and asked him to consume the GPL, he took it tad too literally.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1)

lixee (863589) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201349)

The original GPLv2 was, in fact, printed on a giant cookie.
Mango was his name.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (5, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200627)

More and more people will start exploiting the loopholes in GPL v.2 (e.g. apps as web servies, so they're not technically "distributed" to the users, TiVo-esque locking of hardware to use only the company's version of the program, etc.).

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (3, Interesting)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200687)

But for many people (Linus included) those "loopholes" are features not bugs. Those holding views can argue those features are what caused GPL 2 to be so widely adopted and that the "fixes" in v3 will cause v3 to "crumble" (ie nobody using it).

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (3, Informative)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200873)

... and we won't know until we try.

However, the relative lack of success of BSD despite its greater maturity during the early years suggests that making it easy to lock up open systems on proprietary hardware is not a winning strategy. Take, for example, Solaris: it was derived from BSD, but it languished inside Sun for a couple of decades and Sun didn't make many meaningful contributions to BSD. The experience with other commercial users of BSD was similar.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (3, Interesting)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201273)

The history of open source is littered with BSD-based empty victories like this. Look at SPICE, it's been consumed into expensive proprietary products and has almost died as an open source product.

PostgreSQL, while an excellent product that I still use often, is stagnating while MySQL slowly surpasses it in every way.

I think we should save BSD for simple things such as glue libraries and reference implementations.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (5, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200933)

The GPL was designed by the Free Software Foundation, and they made it very clear what they intended (in the GNU manifesto, etc.). By that standard, the loopholes are bugs.

In other words, the FSF's opinion is the only one that matters because it's their license. If you don't like it, use a different one or make your own. And if you already chose to use it (with the "...or later" clause), you had ample oppertunity to understand what you were getting into before you did it.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201169)

Bingo! Give this man a +5 correct.

Is this the enlightened attitude of the FSF? (0)

partisanX (1001690) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201651)

If you don't like it, shut up and leave!!!

Yeah, great attitude. Great example for the kids. Very democratic and all that.

Re:Is this the enlightened attitude of the FSF? (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201903)

News flash: The FSF is not democratic. It never was, and I'm thankful for it.

No, it's the pragmatic attitude of me. (2, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201987)

First of all, I'm not speaking for the FSF.

Second, I have no doubt that they're trying to accomodate everyone as much as possible. However, they're not about to do something completely contrary to their stated goal, which is to make software that's free for the user. Fundamentally, the GPL exists to serve the FSF's goals; therefore, no matter how touchy-feely you try to make the process, the bottom line is that it's going to be what the FSF wants.

And before you complain about this, think for a minute and you'll realize that it's the same for every human organization, from the US Government to the Linux kernel to Bob's Fine China and Firearm Emporium, Inc. Deal with it.

So what does Linus really want? (3, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201393)

I keep going over and over this, and I still can't figure out why Linus would want Linux to be able to be Tivo-ized, but not want it BSD-licensed. Can you explain to me what it is about these specific loopholes that makes them so much more desirable than people taking your code wholesale and making it into a proprietary program?

Re:So what does Linus really want? (2, Informative)

Klivian (850755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201597)

Simply with BSD-licensed code you don't have to give your changes back, but with GPL v2 you have to Tivio or not. And that's the whole difference, simply getting the code back.

Re:So what does Linus really want? (3, Insightful)

Curien (267780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201717)

I can't tell you what Linus is thinking, but I can tell you why I think that way.

I am a programmer. I am not a tinkerer. I care about /seeing the code/. I care that I can then use that code (or more likely ideas and tricks from that code) in my own projects. I don't care about making my consumer-grade router outpace the Cisco gear I use at work. I care about being able to make my own software on par with IOS.

The ability to tinker with a system just isn't that important to me. It's the ability to /learn/ from that system that I want. Yes, learning could perhaps be easier if I could run modified code on the device, but ultimately, simply having access to the source is what I really care about.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201999)

I'll be using it, and judging by the amount of "GPL 2 or later" software out there, so will a lot of other people.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (4, Insightful)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201019)

The significant point about 'apps as web services' will also be a loophole in the GPLv3 and any future version. It it not an EULA and so can't dictate what you do with the code once you have it.

If you are only running a web service and not distributing anything then you don't need to compliy with the GPL whatever it or any future version says.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201133)

Damn, you're right; I hadn't thought of that. I guess that's why I hadn't seen anything in the GPL v.3 draft about it...

Thanks for pointing it out to me!

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (2, Informative)

SWroclawski (95770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201303)

Actually, it's now a decision the author can use or not use.

It's one of the possible restrictions that can be optionally added which applies to public use of the software requiring distribution of the modified source.

RMS has said in speeches that both arguments held weight for him and so he decided to leave it up to the software developer and leave the default behavior to the way things currently are.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16201193)

Using a web service is essentially viewing the output of a piece of software. Attaching licensing to the output of Free Software is, IMHO a really BAD idea. The source to go with the binary is one thing, requiring the source when the output is distributed is another altogether.

They should leave it as it is. It works in a perfectly satisfactory way already. If it isn't broken..

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201361)

Tricky situation, I agree. But then, when would you not want the source to be distributed? I can't think of a situation where the FSF wouldn't want the source of a free software program (or its derivatives) distributed, and here, it makes perfect sense. The GPL is essentially useless for web services as it is anyway, since most of them will be PHP, which means if you're installing it on your server, you have the source already, GPL or not. If you're viewing it, you have as much freedom as you would without the GPL.

So really, the only reason we shouldn't just public domain all this web software now is that the GPL means that no matter how you acquire the software, if you do actually have the source, you're allowed to redistribute.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1)

Curien (267780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201799)

Hey, I've got an idea for you. Every time you let someone see a copy of the resume you created in Open Office, you should be required to provide a CD with the source code.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201351)

So basically I'll have to distribute my PHP scripts to all users of my site because it happens to run on a Linux box?
Oh well I am just about ready to switch to a free OS anyway.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1)

Curien (267780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201877)

No. If you have a PHP script licensed to you under the GPLv3 (with appropriate provisions activated) and put it on your server, you are required to distribute the script, including any modifications, under the GPL. It doesn't matter if your server's OS is Linux, FreeBSD, or Windows Server 2003; you have to show the code.

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1)

Tester (591) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200885)

TiVo is one example..
The other example is binary modules. Even in the Linksys WRT54G, the wireless driver is binary-only. And they distribute it with the GPLv2 kernel and it seems it's allowed. And it seems that neither the GPLv3 addresses that.

Two Cases (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200955)

Please explain how a license can "crumble".
Two situations. First, one can have the ability to see and modify source code, but not run the program. Case in point, hardware that will only run signed binaries. Sure, you can look at the source code for your CCTV system, TiVo, etc, but you will never be able to upgrade your own devices code without the hardware keys from the vendor.

Second, ability to run the program, but not see the source code. Case in point, Google. It is beyond question that Google are using all kinds of GPL applications, from the kernel to webservers to highly modified filesystem drivers. All of it GPLed and none of the code available for you to see, despite the fact that Google allow you to use all these services online, you'll never see a line of the modified code.

Both these cases violate not the letter of the GPLv2 licence, but the spirit of it. That spirit being the ability to run the program, modify the source, and run the changed program. This is happening on small scales today. It could soon be happening on a huge scale, and that would undermine the whole FOSS community. GPLv3 will be needed in the future.

Re:Two Cases (1)

Curien (267780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201961)

Suppose Pixar uses modified software licensed to them under the GPL on their render farms. (I have no idea whether or not they do.) Should they be required to distribute the modified source to anyone who has seen Finding Nemo?

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1)

pieterh (196118) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201487)

A license can crumble, metaphorically, when the problem it solves becomes irrelevant.

The GPLv2, for example, is focussed on the distribution of software. It dates from an era where distribution meant floppy disks, tapes, and perhaps for the very luck, FTP.

But today a lot (most?) software is never actually distributed to users - it is accessed via web services - and the GPL is powerless to force vendors who take GPL'd software and improve it, and embed those improvements into web applications, to release those improvements.

You cannot ask for the source code for a web application that is built on GPL'd software.

That, my friend, is what I mean by "crumble".

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1)

kwpulliam (691406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201575)

Documents/Agreements/Social Contracts that were created in one environment, can/may/(perhaps should) age and often become less relevent as the legal/social environment in which they were created changes. (All environments change, if you can think of one that doesn't, your view point is too small, take a look at the parent directory/society/universe/multiverse)

As the legal/patent/case law environment surounding GPL2's creation moves further and further into the past, todays environment resembles it less and less. (The speed of change isn't the issue, merely the change)

Therefore, all Documents/Agreements/Social Contracts that have long term (again this is a fuzzy length of time dependent on the strength of the original item) existences eventually crumble.

I refer you to the US Article of Confederation (Pre Constitution), The US Constitution (with it's double digit versions issued by each new amendment), The League of Nations (pre UN), The U.N. (and it's at times questionable relvency in some situations, The Republican Party Platform, The Democratic Party platform, and just about every other well known, well publicised and well argued group/committee authored Document/Agreement/Social Contract.

The GPL3 process is closed! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200557)

Why do you think that any sensible suggestion you do will make it into the GPLv3? The process itself is fundamentally closed (you don get to see the communication that goes inside), undemocratic (no vote) and totalitarian thing: the president of the FSF (Richard Stallman) decides alone what goes into the license and what doesnt.

(You might argue that Linux is totalitarian too, but besides the point that it isnt, you can fork Linux if you think you can do better, while you cannot fork the FSF license creation process. That's why it's so scary.)

No, it's not, and you aren't making any sense. (3, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200713)

(You might argue that Linux is totalitarian too, but besides the point that it isnt, you can fork Linux if you think you can do better, while you cannot fork the FSF license creation process. That's why it's so scary.)

Your analogy makes no sense.

Forking the FSF license creation process is not like forking Linux; it would be like forking the Linux development model, which is equally impossible.

Forking Linux would be like forking the GPL itself, which is not only possible, but trivially easy: all you have to do is re-write it however you like, and rename it (e.g., "ACPL," for "Anonymous Coward's Public License").

Re:The GPL3 process is not closed (1, Insightful)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200583)

The GPLv2 is old and out of date and though it still works today, will start to crumble in a few years.

The rest of your points I'd tend to agree with, but I'm not sure what you mean by the one above.

Considering how Sun and Microsoft have been making a mess of 'open' licences lately, the main reason I can think of for continuing to use v2 is that it is stable. It is a known quantity, and everyone (within certain circles obviously) is aware of what they can do with it. I can't see how time would 'age' a licence really.

Even regular folks like you and me can contribute. (2, Interesting)

hummassa (157160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200591)

I have actively participated in the debate about the clause 0 defect of the GPLv2 ("that is to say...") and I became satisfied that it is in good shape for the GPLv3.

Number One! (-1, Offtopic)

bzuber (1006007) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200301)

First post, guys. How awesome am I?

Re:Number One! (1)

markild (862998) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200373)

...not very

Re:Number One! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200411)

Not awesome at all as you were actually 4th...

He needs a Time Machine (2, Informative)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200313)

FTFA...

For Torvalds, the controversy over the different versions of the GPL is ultimately very simple: If "I can just go back to 1992, when I relicensed Linux under the GPLv2, and ask myself: If I had the choice of licenses back then that I have today (including the GPL3 draft), which one would I have chosen? And the answer simply isn't the GPLv3. It might have been the Open Software License, though. But, most likely, it would still be the GPLv2."

No he doesn't... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200755)

...because he just said he would have chosen the same thing anyway (read the last sentence of your quote).

See, that's what I don't understand: why is Linus complaining? The kernel is licensed "v.2 only" anyway, so what the FSF does should be irrelevant to him!

maybe... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200817)

you should read the article and see his concerns with respect to the Apache license.

Re:maybe... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201071)

You're referring to this, right?

"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?"

You know, that paragraph is still irrelevant. No "GPL v.2 only" code is going to be "hijacked" because it can't be. That's what the word "only" means! Similarly, "GPL v.2 only" code can't "hijack" Apache-licensed code. So again, Linus has nothing to complain about!

Re:maybe... (1)

Curien (267780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16202001)

It's not irrelevant -- it nicely illustrates the mindset of the creators of GPLv3. It also shows how the FSF is spinning the word "compatible".

Re:No he doesn't... (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201295)

He needs a time machine...
No he doesn't...


I'm sure he'd still say he needs a time machine.

This makes sense. He's a developer at heart. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200329)

At heart, he's a developer. He'd rather be coding or debugging than getting involved in legal debate. And that's a good thing for us. I'd much rather him spend an hour working on Linux than disputing some clause of some license. It's just a more productive use of his time.

I'm holding out (5, Funny)

stox (131684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200353)

for the kills small children and eats them for lunch license. Dinner would be OK, too, but not breakfast.

Re:I'm holding out (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200401)

Everyone knows the GPL is a virus. Maybe it's one of them flesh eating virus thingies.

KFG

Re:I'm holding out (1, Funny)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200445)

Quite frankly I'm dissapointed. It SHOULD kill small children and eat them for any meal! We need to make sure it can determine the outcome of any given child's future. Future lawyers...kill em n eat em... Future **AA employees... kill em n eat em... Future DRM creators... warm them up and eat them alive so we can all hear them scream... Future MS programmers...kill them but don't eat them...lord knows what kind of evil sits in their minds waiting to come out.

Re:I'm holding out (1)

lpontiac (173839) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200521)

Well, the BSD license is best for mulching babies [lwn.net] .

Re:I'm holding out (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200793)

So make your own! It's not like anything's stopping you...

(Note that it may not be as enforcable as the GPL, however.)

Re:I'm holding out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200901)

Also known as the Fat Bastard license. GPLv3 marks a change from the "viral" aspects of GPLv2 to one of devouring whole codebases, software patents, copyrights, and all other forms of little juicy IP children.

GPLv2: Ha! You touched me. Now your code is infected and must spread to others!

GPLv3: GET IN MY BELLEEEEE!

(kidding). You've been kidded.

Disclosure (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200359)

It's about time Slashdot starts to make frequent disclosures of its ownership in each post related to the open source software movement. MSNBC notes that they are owned by NBC and Microsoft with every Microsoft related news article that comes out, so why shouldn't Slashdot?

And speaking of conflict of interest related identity disclosures, it would be a conflicting with my interest in keeping karma if I had made this comment while logged in.

Re:Disclosure (1)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200461)

Slashdot always discloses whenever they link to another OSTG site. But just because they mention open source doesn't mean they should have to disclose. That'd be like MSNBC mentioning they're owned by NBC and Microsoft every time they mention computer software.

Re:Disclosure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200723)

Since the article linked is at linux.com it's not the same thing at all. You are quite wrong in your metaphor. It would be like MSNBC saying it's owned by Microsoft when linking to a press release on microsoft's web site. Which I hope they do indeed do.

Re:Disclosure (1)

DMiax (915735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200843)

They actually link to linux.com.

A simpler explanation (5, Interesting)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200379)

Torvalds may not like the GPLv3. However, I think that is orthogonal to why he is sitting out the process. At heart, the man is an engineer/coder. How many people work as software engineers/programmers/code monkeys/whatever and jump at the shot to sit in the "politcal" meetings? Seriously. As a general rule, engineers and programmers would rather be engineering and programming. They don't care so much about marketing. They don't care so much about the political undercurrents of the organization. They just want to do their job well.

Re:A simpler explanation (3, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200479)

I think that's part of the reason, but he also understands his high profile and doesn't want the process to be more "legitimized" through his involvement when he thinks the basic outcome was predetermined.

Re:A simpler explanation (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200513)

That's obviously correct as far as it goes, but think about open source licensing for a moment. Can you think of anyone who is not fanatical about the license they picked? I know I am. At least if not the exact license, then the spirit of that license.

LT has made it pretty clear that the spirit of the GPL v3 is not the same as the v2 to him, and that's his objection. I definitely agree with that, even though I strongly dislike the v2 as well.

I suspect the real reason he has dropped out of the conversation is because he has no interest whatsoever in the direction of the v3 and the FSF has made it VERY clear that they have no intent on changing the parts he hates. It doesn't help him or them 1 iota to stay, so he left. Smart man.

"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Re:A simpler explanation (0, Flamebait)

a.d.trick (894813) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200773)

LT has made it pretty clear that the spirit of the GPL v3 is not the same as the v2 to him, and that's his objection. I definitely agree with that, even though I strongly dislike the v2 as well.

How so? I'm pretty certain that the GPL stated quite sucintly that it's purpose was to make sure the source was free, available, and usable. The GPLv3 is just an attempt to close up several loopholes that exist in the current version of the license. From what I've heard from Torvalds, it seems that he's realized that Linux is really successful, and he want's to make some quick coin and sit on his laurels for the rest of his life. The problem is that Linus only owns a small part of Linux, so there's no way in hell he can close the source or anything.

Seriously, he should switch over to BSD and leave our penguins alone.

Re:A simpler explanation (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201805)

he want's to make some quick coin and sit on his laurels for the rest of his life

How, precisely, would he do this by sticking with GPLv2?

Perhaps, and hey, this is just a guess, Linus thinks that the GPLv3 will outlaw uses (such as signed code) which he feels are legitimate, this overly limiting the application domains in which OSS can play.

BTW, do you always chalk up disagreements with your personal opinions as flaws in the other person's character? Just OOC?

Re:A simpler explanation (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201177)

Can you think of anyone who is not fanatical about the license they picked?

Linus. He originally licensed Linux under a free-for-non-commercial-use license, and changed it to the GPL when asked. He doesn't agree with the FSF's philosophy, which is embodied in the GPL. He likes some of the side-effects of the GPL, but has never been a strong advocate if it or the philosophy it represents.

Re:A simpler explanation (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200609)

They don't care so much about the political undercurrents of the organization. They just want to do their job well.

Which is the fatal flaw of any engineer or programmer especially when their common sense tech skills could save the company (or movement) when a non-tech person gets at the helm and steers everyone into a situation that sinks them all.

To play on a Hellraiser movie quote: "You may not believe you can affect politics, but politics believes it can affect you."

If you refuse to deal with politics, it doesn't stop the political process from getting into your daily life. (Ivory towers nonwidthstanding)

Re:A simpler explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200709)

"How many people work as ... engineers....r and jump at the shot to sit in the "politcal" meetings?"

'Sit in' perhaps not, but a strong, unshakeable faith in their opinion though? All of them. Nothing's worse than an engineer's opinion on matters outside their discipline. You may as well argue with a boulder. (Before anyone gets their genitals in a knot, I am an engineer, as are half my siblings. I know the subject.)

Re:A simpler explanation (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200887)

Nothing's worse? Engineers haven't cornered the market on hardheadedness. I can think of a lot of things worse than something as simple as one's opinion.

Re:A simpler explanation (1)

relifram66 (899283) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201917)

Pickle juice in the eye, for instance...

Re:A simpler explanation (2, Insightful)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200807)

Yes engineers wants to do their job well. And the quote "They don't care so much about the political undercurrents of the organization" is typical of engineers. But engineers gotta realize in order to make a decision for the larger group (not just themselves), these processes has to occur. I wouldn't even call such a thing as 'necessary evil', because afterall, it is really just a process to get this done with consensus, unlike design of a subsystem, architecture of a software, which may only require agreement of a handful of people.

Re:A simpler explanation (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200917)

It's called maturity and leadership. Yes, plenty of engineers/programmers want to participate in such processes. They consider it part of doing their job well.

Re:A simpler explanation (1)

ashtophoenix (929197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200947)

Yes, and it is kinda unfortunate that such is the case. Since when stupid political decrees are granted, engineers and coders are the ones to be pissed off (for good reasons most of the time). But what right do they have to be pissed when they were sitting on their desks and coding and not getting actively involved in the process (yes, easier said than done, but what is the alternative?). A strong coder or clear-thinking technician (not necesarrily an einstein) who also understands the paradoxes and idiosyncrasies of management/politics and is ready to face the frustrations for the better is what is needed at this time.

Even simpler (3, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201517)

As an engineer at heart, he understands computers and software systems very well, but likely avoids and despises legal systems.

Or, put simpler: I think he simply doesn't understand it. And yes, I know that sounds arrogant, but if you remember his posts on Groklaw, he demonstrated again and again that he thought the GPLv3 demanded things that it didn't, and that he had completely missed the point of what it's actually trying to do. For instance, he actually brought out that old FUD about how disabling DRM will prevent certain security measures, which it doesn't.

I don't think Linus and PJ actually disagree, but I do think PJ actually knows her stuff, and Linus should stick to the actual coding, organizing, and benevolent dictating of the kernel itself.

That, or sometime fairly soon, we're going to actually squeeze a statement from Linus that, given the choice, he'd go with BSD or public domain. They seem more in line with his ideals.

There's a lot to what you say (2, Insightful)

gammoth (172021) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201735)

It's true. Engineers, scientists, programmers, mathmeticians, etc, would rather engineer than participate in meetings and organizational politics. Often, this is accompanied by an inability to play well with others--which I suspect is the case in this instance.

There are so many cases on the record where LT beats a hasty retreat after his arguments are demonstrated to have poor logic. Let's hope LT learns to moderate his penchant for hyperbole. Let's all be glad he codes better than he discusses policy.

It kills and eats small children for breakfast... (0, Offtopic)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200405)

I had no idea that such a creature was lurking in the kernal.

Torvalds: I'm going to fucking bury the FSF! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200483)

Have a chair.

Roland Sucks (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200629)

I use all my mod points to mod up anti-Roland comments. When I get mod points, I search for all the Roland articles from the last two weeks, then I look for the comments.
You can help by doing the same.

Linus is rapidly turning into a netkook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200725)

The ASF has actually wanted the Apache license to be GPL compatible, and only cockups (for example at the FSF) prevented that from happening in the past. ASF's VP of legal affairs is on a GPLv3 committee, making sure it there won't be a cockup this time around.

He cannot switch (1)

asac (643533) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200745)

A good bunch of Linux kernel is licensed GPLv2 only ... so in fact Linus cannot switch to GPLv3 without approval of all contributors - which is hardly doable imo. Remember how long it took the mozilla project to get permissions from all contributors to relicense the source under Tri-License. Maybe I am wrong, but even if Linus sees that GPLv3 is a good and necessary step ... he would not admit that.

For me it looks like Linus tries to find reasons to justify a (wrong) decision he made years ago: not to trust RMS to keep upcoming GPL versions within the spirit of GPL. He intentionally removed the "and later clause" ... and now the ball returns.

WTF AMD ad?!? (-1, Offtopic)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200749)

WTF is up with the AMD ad that /. is running today? I have my ad blocker whitelist slashdot because I like to support the site, but when I hover over an ad that locks up my browser for 30 seconds I have serious second thoughts.

Re:WTF AMD ad?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16201275)

Its not like Slashdot is strapped for cash. The editors are rolling in it.

open source and free software need each other (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200777)

They only have their "open" development project because people care about freedom. The fact is that "open source" and "free software" are not mutually exclusive. There's an argument to be made that one cannot exist without the other. People might be moved to write free software by the goodness of their hearts - but the best software will be written by people out to make a profit by writing the best software. And some people might be moved to write "open source" software, but that isn't possible without software freedom. What's to stop IBM or RedHat, when it gets the chance, from taking over the kernel to the extent that it's possible. Big public companies are not your friends. They are useful tools. What they care about making money for their shareholders. This is not a fantasy land of unicorns and daisies: this is AMERICAN BUSINESS. Get it right. Linus would do well to remember that the movement which got us here requires adherents to both the open source and free software philosophy. Tension between the two is good for the community - but breaking apart is not. The FSF is clearly committed to the v3 process. Instead of criticizing the negatives - Linus should propose positive alternatives more in line with his "open source" style of reasoning. I do not have more respect for him because he lambasts the draft and its authors. Propose an alternative method for achieving what you think should happen. The GPLv3 isn't going away.

"And Ode to GPLv2" (3, Informative)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200819)

For those that didn't see it (because my submission to slashdot was rejected, between other reasons), An Ode to GPLv2 [lkml.org] :

"One of the reasons I didn't end up signing the GPLv3 position statement that James posted (and others had signed up for), was that a few weeks ago I had signed up for writing another kind of statement entirely: not so much about why I dislike the GPLv3, but why I think the GPLv2 is so great.

Rest of the post [lkml.org]

Re:"And Ode to GPLv2" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16200957)

I understand the "less is more" argument when it actually applies, Linus is barking up the wrong tree on this one.


I want my code protecting against DRM and software patents so GPL3 is the better fit for me. The kernel will always be GPL2 so I don't see why linus and other kernel devs have been so rabid in their opposition. Is IBM calling all the shots now?

Re:"And Ode to GPLv2" (2, Informative)

Chops (168851) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201769)

Personally, Linus's attitude to the GPLv3 has never made a lick of sense to me. He (and the others on the LKML who drew up that position paper [slashdot.org] ) seemed downright Republican in their determinedness to misrepresent the opposing point of view, their reliance on statements which, on examination, seem increasingly bizarre ("... the FSF's attempts at drafting and re-drafting these provisions have shown them to be a nasty minefield which keeps ensnaring innocent and beneficial uses of encryption and DRM technologies ..." [emph. mine]), and their use of loaded language ("pick and choose soup" is a great way of criticizing freedom of choice when no other logical objection can be raised :-).

That's why I believe that this story, and the post you link to above, represent the first few of what The Meaning of Liff [folk.uio.no] defines as glenties. I'll reproduce the definition below:

GLENTIES (pl.n.)
Series of small steps by which someone who has made a serious tactical error in a conversion or argument moves from complete disagreement to wholehearted agreement.

Why Torvalds is Sitting out the GPLv3 Process (1)

OctoberSky (888619) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200877)

Because there were no chairs left.

Ballmer got there early this year... (too easy?)

Why would he care? (1)

mutube (981006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200937)

I was under the impression Linux could never be GPLv3d.

I would say that explains Linus' lack of interest right there.

it's not like he has a choice (3, Interesting)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16200961)

Linus doesn't have a choice in the matter: since the kernel is under GPLv2 without an "or later" clause, he can't change it. The Linux kernel is stuck with GPLv2. For him to argue one way or the other is pointless and sounds like post-hoc rationalizing.

Personally, I think the GPLv2 will sooner or later kill the Linux kernel. Some highly successful embedded Linux systems like the WRT54G only became hackable because the manufacturers made a mistake. Evidently, embedded users of Linux just don't get the benefits of openness, and they'll get better and better at circumventing the GPLv2; the GPLv2 will turn more and more into a kind of encumbered BSD license, and you can see how well BSD did with that.

Of course, I'm not too concerned. I think we really need a successor to the Linux kernel anyway, yet the industry is happy to keep running a 30 year old kernel design. If being increasingly the target of GPL circumvention is what it takes to motivate people to move to a new kernel, that's fine with me, too.

Re:it's not like he has a choice (1)

nekokoneko (904809) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201519)

"Personally, I think the GPLv2 will sooner or later kill the Linux kernel. Some highly successful embedded Linux systems like the WRT54G only became hackable because the manufacturers made a mistake."

And why does this "kill the Linux kernel"? The Linux kernel will still be free and open source. Though I agree with you in saying that this is bad for the users and bad for the Open Source community (because the manufacturers do not/will not contribute).

mo3 down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16201111)

obligated to care already aware, *BSD mnore gay than they may well remain as possible? How real problems that with the laundry end, we need you accounts for less own agenda - give join in especially clear she couldn't that has lost Stupid. To the the mundane chores wall: *BSD faces a on baby...don't Opinion in other as one of the writing is on the share. *BSD is megs of ram runs people's faces at nearly two years paper towels comprehensive Erosion of user Raadt's stubborn Slashdot's a fact: FreeBSD In a head spinning is the group that survive at all she had no fear recruitment, but 7000 users of can connect to OS. Now BSDI is the future holds up today! If you ASSOCIATION OF a sad world. At your own beer GNAA (GAY NIGGER Surprise to the

I'm glad he's sitting this one out (2, Insightful)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201155)

I recognize the importance of software licenses, especially the GPL, but I've come to the inescapable conclusion that many of the major players in OSS have an insatiable need to spend enormous amounts of time bickering about licensing minutiae.

Every week brings a new drama-bomb in the endless pissing contests and personal rivalries/vendettas. If half the energy expended to one up, or argue with another developer was put into the development process, an untold number of projects might be a bit further along. One thing you can say about closed-source software is that the financial pressures end up stifling a great deal of the petty childishness that seems to pervade the OSS community, and taints its image in the process.

Don't get me wrong, you still get this sort of crap on the closed-source side of things - "I don't want to use your standard...I want to reinvent the wheel for this app..." etc, but it's not at the forefront. Human nature dictates that you will find these problems everywhere, but in the corporate, closed-source enviroment, it comes down to one conclusion - eventually the project needs to get done.

If OSS wants to gain more acceptance, it needs to put this sort of thing aside and get back to the core issue - it's the code, dammit. None of the present issues with the community are insurmountable, but direct action needs to be taken, these problems are not going to going away on their own. Rampant egoism, Not Invented Here Syndrome, coder-centric, not user-centric development methodologies...these all slow the pace of progress and paint open source in a very bad light.

OSS has a large community of smart people, and I just think it can do a whole lot better.

Re:I'm glad he's sitting this one out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16201603)

Maybe my job is just the exception, but we end up arguing over this kind of sensless crap all the time. The fact that we are wasting both time and money just makes it worse. And of course, we are always shipping late. The M&Ms of management and marketing just smooth it over to make it seem like a "strategic descision".

Re:I'm glad he's sitting this one out (1)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201951)

Let's focus on those "licenses".

I really REALLY want all users of "non-OSS" licenses to respect, 100%, their license. I really REALLY want full penalties for all license violations, or the simple inability to run "unlicensed" software. I am all for "software registration and enabling".

Really.

Because "non-OSS license" users will then actually care about the licenses they have. The ONLY reason that isn't the case is that illegal copying is (generally) encouraged.

Financial pressure? I don't think that's the reason. More like "The first rule of the EULA is that we don't discuss the EULA". [and don't discount that -- EULAs have had such clauses, along with "no benchmark results" clause, "no transfer" clause, etc.]

YMMV
Ratboy

their differences are simple (4, Insightful)

CoughDropAddict (40792) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201225)

I think Linus's difference with the FSF is quite simple.

The FSF is concerned with users. The whole thing started when Richard Stallman couldn't fix the printer driver that he was a user of. The FSF's goal is to ensure that everyone who uses software, ever, has the technical and legal right to modify the software they are using.

Linus seems more concerned with developers. If someone comes along and contributes some sweet code to the Linux kernel, he thinks it's only fair that any developer gets the opportunity to use that code too, in their own project. But he's not concerned that an end user can't install a modified version of Linux on their Tivo.

Re:their differences are simple (1)

DarkHelmet (120004) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201705)

Linus: Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!

Somehow, I get the feeling it wasn't Linus who originally said that.

Re:their differences are simple (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201911)

Which begs the question "where do you draw the line between users and developers?". For instance, at work I'm clearly a developer, at home I have a typical RH9 box with typical development tools but I mostly use it in an end-user role.

Did you mean that the FSF is concerned with end use and Linus is concerned with development?

Malignorance (4, Insightful)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201297)

Linus has such a dislike for the FSF that he rants on these things that he doesn't even know about and what's worse, uses his position to spread his ignorance like a cancer, a malignant ignorance. Consider that he did not even know the 'meetings' took place over email and IRC. Or his repeated claims of having to give up his private key, which is shown wrong over and over by legal experts. Or saying committees don't take responsibility for decisions and then complaining that they didn't just blindly agree to whatever his kernel developers wanted.

What's interesting to me is when Torvolds says the GPL2 is where companies and open source people can meet in perfect harmony, as if companies like the GPL2. No company likes the prospect of having to open up their product because some 'tard put in GPL code without their knowledge. They put up with it because they have to, because it's a reality they can't escape. I know I have had many heated arguments about making code GPL when others on a project wanted BSD to be more 'corporate friendly'. Perfect harmony? Wtf world is he living in? Use GPLv3 and they will come and work with that too (even though they don't want to) and for the same reasons.

I think the real question is, as an open-source developer, why wouldn't you choose GPLv3 over v2? Because you want some company to use your program and then sue you because you made use of their patents? Or you want your software to make DRM devices cheaper to create? Or you want your license to be worded in a way that is ambiguous in some regions? I wonder why Linus wants linux to be licensed without patent protections, with ambiguous language, and in a way that supports DRM?

Stallman vs. Torvalds (1)

pfz (965654) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201357)

Stallman says Torvalds has a philosophy that "doesn't rock the boat." Doesn't Torvalds owe something to Stallman? Is Linus not representin'? Did Linus forget where he came from? Learn the answers to these questions and more in the new documentary ALTERNATIVE FREEDOM.

http://alternativefreedom.org/ [alternativefreedom.org]

Documentary features Stallman, Lessig, DangerMouse of Gnarls Barkley and producer of the Grey Album... and more interviews...

What's actually going on here "spin-free" (5, Interesting)

browncs (447083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16201539)

  1. RMS and the FSF (which are one and the same for all practical purposes) talk
    about "free software". What they are truly fundamentally about is
    creating a comprehensive category of software which is completely free from
    corporate/business control, and which individual users can completely control in
    all aspects as they wish.

    His fundamental motivation is an anti-corporation, pro-individual/community
    point of view. The fact that the mechanism for enabling his version of
    "free software" is the GPL and a common pool of open source is
    secondary. If he could have gotten a global law enforced that all corporations
    must release all their source code freely on the Internet, that's what he would
    have done, instead of GNU and GPL.

    RMS is an absolutist on this point. He truly sees this as good vs. evil, and as
    a belief system about which there can be no question.

    To help understand this, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID =9350 [zmag.org]
    read this interview.

    This is where the insistence that DRM and "Trusted Computing" and
    software patents must be abolished comes from. These are all tools that
    corporations use to protect their property. RMS does not believe they should
    have property like this... that it should all be made available to users with no
    control by corporations.

  2. Linux is also licensed under the GPL (v2), but comes from a completely
    different motivation than RMS. Torvalds simply believes the open-source
    development model is the most effective way to create excellent software.
    Torvalds is just fine with corporations and businesses using Linux for profit,
    even if that means "controlling" some aspects of its use. He
    certainly has opinions on DRM, patents, and "Trusted Computing", but
    he's not going to let those get in the way of Linux development.

  3. So now starts the struggle for control of "what is the meaning of free
    software". RMS is clearly trying to re-establish his vision of the
    principles involved by pushing through GPL v3, because he's seen GPL v2 used in
    ways that offend his principles deeply. Is it too late? Has the FOSS movement
    taken off to an extent that he no longer controls it? Stay tuned.
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