To GPL 3 or Not to GPL 3: That Is the Linux Question

Although Torvalds is against it, debate continues within and without the Linux developer community on whether Linux should be placed under GPL 3.

Linus Torvalds made it clear on Jan. 25 in a message to the Linux Kernel Mailing List that, as far as he was concerned, the Linux operating system is going to stay under General Public License 2 and not migrate to GPL 3. Discussion of the matter, however, has not come to an end.

Richard M. Stallman, primary author of the GPL and founder of the Free Software Foundation, isnt interested in fighting with Torvalds over the matter.

"I dont want to have an argument with him about this," Stallman said.

Instead, Stallman simply said, "The Linux developers can decide whether to allow use of Linux under GPL Version 3. This wont directly affect other parts of the system."

As for code signing, an issue that Torvalds takes exception to, Stallmans not quite clear on what it is that Torvalds doesnt like.

"If you mean keys that developers use for signing source releases, GPL v3 says nothing about them," said Stallman.

He explained, "The only kind of signing keys that GPL v3 has rules about are keys for signing a binary so that a machine will execute it. GPL v3 would require the maker of a TiVo-like device that you bought to give you the key, so you can sign your modified versions and make them run. They would not have to publish this key, but they would have to give it to you."

While Stallman is content to let the Linux development community decide what to do, there is dissent within that community about what to do about GPL 3.

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