One of the most widely used and most popular free and open source software licences is the General Public License. I want to know in simple terms: what are the differences between GPL Version 2 and Version 3?

Further I found latest Linux-Kernel licensed under GPL V2 not GPL V3 till. What are reasons?


1 Answer 1


This question was already asked on Stackoverflow in 2008 (but closed as off-topic there). This is a copy of the answer by Will M:

Here is a short list of some the major differences:

  • internationalization: they used new terminology, rather than using language tied to US legal concepts

  • patents: they specifically address patents (including the Microsoft/Novell issue noted in another answer)

  • “Tivo-ization”: they address the restrictions (like Tivo’s) in consumer products that take away, though hardware, the ability to modify the software

  • DRM: they address digital rights management (which they call digital restrictions management)

  • compatibility: they addressed compatibility with some other open source licenses

  • termination: they addressed specifically what happens if the license is violated and the cure of violations

I agree with the comment about consulting a lawyer (one who knows about software license issues, though). In doing these things (and more), they more than doubled the length of the GPL. GPL 3 is many things, and one of them is that it is a very complex, technical legal document.

Regarding why the Linux kernel does not adopt version 3, here is a video of Linus Torvalds where he explains his opinion. 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.

  • How exactly does the scenario work where he looses his code under GPLv3?
    – Ini
    Sep 2, 2018 at 13:36
  • Is ther eno difference between loosing your code and not loosing your code? He asks for differences and Linus mentions that in his answer...
    – Ini
    Sep 4, 2018 at 22:40

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