Why Linux Community Is

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-03-27 Print this article Print

Resisting the Draft"> "The draft has evolved over time, but GPLv3 is still clearly designed to build unscalable walls between open-source and proprietary software. The rest of the world is designed on making software more interoperable, but [FSF executive director] Richard Stallman and the FSF is still clearly focused on ideology rather than practical concerns of consumers," ACT executive director Morgan Reed told eWEEK.

"The drafting process has been very secretive up to now. Its our prediction that the draft will target specific companies and business models that do not live up to Richard Stallmans four freedoms," Reed said. "We expect that Novell, Microsoft, TiVo and all the phone manufacturers who use Symbian will all find that this new draft makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to work with the GPLv3."
In the case of Novell and Microsoft, ACT expects the new draft will prevent open-source software distributors from giving their customers the certainty they are clamoring for over intellectual property issues.
"The new provision in this regard is designed to prevent software patent holders from providing a partners customers with IP indemnification by forcing them to indemnify all downstream users," Reed said. To read more about how some top Linux developers have warned that GPLv3 could kill open source, click here. But what Reed thinks is most telling is the fact that the Linux community and leadership has rebelled against this latest draft. "Linux products have really pioneered cooperation between proprietary companies and the open-source community. Their comments on this draft will be most telling," he said. For his part, Perens defends GPLv3, saying that much of the talk about whether it goes too far to be acceptable to businesses, or whether the Linux kernel developers will ever switch to it, is based on a poor understanding of the GPL3 terms. In a recently published article, Perens argues that "confused objectors to GPLv3 state that it wont allow the Linux kernel to be used on a system that implements DRM, and that GPL3 will compel manufacturers to give away their keys. If Linus Torvalds and the kernel developers still believe this, theyre wrong," he said. To read more about how the FSF moved to clarify inaccurate information about GPLv3, click here. The intent of GPLv3, and most other free software licenses, was to give users the right to modify the covered software. "GPL version 3 takes more trouble than other licenses to make sure that this right actually works with embedded systems. It essentially trades the makers of those systems the right to base their devices on our great GPL software, in exchange for the consumers right to make that hardware run new and innovative programs that werent envisioned by its manufacturer," Perens said. Linus Torvalds has said no to GPLv3 for Linux. Click here to read more. GPLv3 also does not prohibit DRM, and does not require that the DRM be insecure or unreliable, he said, adding that what it does require is that the DRM must not break the GPL software or lock it down, and must continue to work to play media if the GPL software is modified. As for the argument that the current GPLv2 is good enough, Perens said that the renaissance of microprocessors, software, the Web and digital media has resulted in many changes to copyright, patents, the nature of consent, contracts, tear-open licenses and copyright permissions. "And there have been many trials over those years that added interpretation to laws that GPL 2 depends upon. As the law changes, the GPL must change to keep up with it, or it will become increasingly unenforcable," Perens said. Regarding whether the Linux kernel team is likely to move to GPLv3, Perens remains optimistic. "Going by history, I think that we could wait one or two years to see the kernel team see fit to switch to GPL3. Even if they dont, so many other important projects will switch to GPL3 that it is sure to be an important factor in our future lives," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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