23

As I know, Linux intentionally avoids the switch from GPLv2 to GPLv3. It has the unfortunate side-effect, that it doesn't take part in the defense of the opensource world from the most recent danger, the patent manipulation by different "patent broker" companies or large software producers.

What was the reason behind that? Was it Linus' decision?

-2

"Tivoization".

Because money matters. And while officially Linux is not owned by Google, de facto Google ownes it and dictates what license it going to use.

Linux is used to run Android. Milliards of phones are sold with Android/Linux and Linux part is affected by GPL.

GPLv3 would be great for that customers and very costly for Google because instead of buying new phone with increased version of Linux kernel, or upgradable "official" phone which costs 10x more, people would be able to demand that their software does not comply with license, and hence is illegal.

It is also illegal to deny consumer rights to control, meaning locked programs inside phones etc. That is what GPLv3 stands for in first place. Denying of basic consumer rights is "legal weaponry" used by Google to kick out small players out of market share, and all of that while using free software in which people invested their time and passion during 1990s.

  • 10
    This reads more like a rant against Google than a true answer... perhaps you could edit your answer to be a little more impartial and give an overview of the true situation? – ArtOfCode Mar 20 '16 at 23:35
  • 1
    @ArtOfCode Why? Many monopolies use various kinds of "legal weaponry". That is when government should interfere and poke their dirty hands (before that criminals could destroy basics of economics and life). There was such thing as USSR and now it's dead, because government there was too scaried to put away criminals. Ofc nothing is proved, simply because I am no congressman nor President of US to force such investigation. – sanaris Mar 20 '16 at 23:40
  • 4
    It appears you have a small vendetta against Google...not just from this post, but from others around the network. – ArtOfCode Mar 21 '16 at 17:28
  • 3
    @peterh, Google is certainly not the "owner" of Linux in any way. They are massive users of the code, and do so respecting the license rigorously. They do contribute a lot, but their contributions aren't by any means overwhelming (see e.g. LWN's development statistics for Linux 4.5, where Google shows up in place 14 with 1.3% of changes). Many, many other users enjoy Linux under the same license, and also contribute back. – vonbrand Mar 22 '16 at 0:31
  • 7
    Google is an owner, and can veto the change to GPLv3. But so can Microsoft (!) and they have far more interest to hurt Android/Linux/Google. This is a nonsense argument. – MSalters Mar 22 '16 at 11:56
45

Two things.

First, Linux does not require contributors to assign copyright to some central person. Copyright on it is spread out among many, many people (including some who are dead, in which case much effort would be required to figure out who inherited the copyright). Any of them could stop a license switch, unless someone goes through and removes all parts of their work from the kernel. Because GPL v2 and v3 are incompatible, it is illegal to release Linux under v3 with any contributions licensed under v2 only.

Second, Torvalds personally does not like GPL v3. He particularly dislikes certain provisions (like anti-tivoization), which are not restrictions he wants to impose on users of his software. As he won't release his stuff under v3, the whole kernel can't be released under v3 by anyone without prohibitive effort. But he is not the only person who could singlehandedly make it impractical to release the kernel under v3.

  • 7
    I don't disagree with any of this, but it would help if you could support these two points with some references. – curiousdannii Sep 6 '15 at 7:19
  • 7
    The first is obvious (based on how copyright law works), since GPL does not allow sub-licensing. As for the second Linus has made this clear on several occasions and quite a few kernel developers agree with him. – cyphar Sep 6 '15 at 10:34
  • 4
    There is a nice essay from Catherine Olanich Raymond - the wife of Eric Raymond: catb.org/~esr/Licensing-HOWTO.html that explains that you wold only need the permission from the at max 50 most active people in the project if you like to change the license. This is for the US. For Europe, there is a similar law: minor contributors cannot influence the way of marking but only get a matching percentage of the revenues. – schily Sep 14 '15 at 13:33
  • 1
    For me it's simple: I'm glad that Tesla is using Linux for it's control software, and I do NOT want them to have to publish their software download code so that someone can download their own version of control software into my car. If GPLv3 carved out exceptions for security and other innovations which have nothing to do with the base open source software it might be more palatable. – Jon Spencer Feb 15 '17 at 17:33
  • 2
    @JonSpencer Nonsense. If a hacker had access to your Tesla in such a way that he could flash new firmware, you have way bigger problems. Besides that, custom firmware can also be created without having the original source code. And if the firmware was open source you could actually check if it was truly secure or if Tesla had an agreement with the FBI to implement a backdoor into the firmware. Or to put it in different words: If it was open source, there wouldn't be such a backdoor. The way it currently is there might be one and any good hacker could use it. – Forivin May 8 '18 at 8:11
11

Here is a video of Linus Torvalds where he explains his opinion on GPLv3. Some excerpts from his speech:

Here we give your version 3 and then we try to sneak in these new rules and try to force everybody to upgrade. That was the part I disliked. And the FSF did some really sneaky stuff. Downright immoral in my opinion.

[...]

I am thinking tivoization isn't necessarily something that you should strive for. But in my world view it's your decision if you make hardware that blocks down the software. That's your decision as a hardware maker. That has no impact on my a decision as a software maker to give you the software.

  • 2
    A couple more key points: Torvalds saw an earlier (never published) version of GPL v3 five years before it went public and it was after seeing those versions that he changed Linux from being "GPLv2 or later" to just "GPLv2". He also said he thinks GPLv3 is a great license, he just doesn't think it's a good successor to version 2 - the fundamental goals of v3 are are different to v2 as far as he is concerned. – Abhi Beckert Sep 9 '15 at 1:40
  • 2
    @AbhiBeckert I think the fundamental goal of both licenses are to protect the common knowledge of the humanity. GPLv3 does this better, accomodated to the changed situation (patent manipulation challenge). Thus... :-( – peterh Sep 10 '15 at 20:31
  • 3
    @peterh GPLv3 "does it better" by adding restrictions that GPLv2 didn't have. I think there's a reasonable argument to make that they shouldn't have done that. But personally I don't really care too much what the FSF does – I won't use any license they create or contribute to any project under one of their licenses. – Abhi Beckert Sep 11 '15 at 4:25
  • 3
    @AbhiBeckert, as I remember it, Linus was always wary of the GPL covered by "or later" could be radically different, and was comfortable with GPLv2. – vonbrand Mar 21 '16 at 0:25
  • 5
    @AbhiBeckert, GPLv3 dates from 2007, first (public) discussions started in 2005. By then, Linux was 14 years old, and at least 13 under GPLv2 only. – vonbrand Mar 22 '16 at 1:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.