Linux kernel developers unhappy with GPLv3

By Derek Sooman on September 25, 2006, 6:50 AM
Linux is currently distributed under the GNU General Public License, which is a widely used free software license, originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU project. Currently, GPL is in version 2, with version 3 being written by Richard Stallman, with legal counsel from Eben Moglen and the Software Freedom Law Center. Version 3 will contain many changes, included handling software patent issues, free software license compatibility and the definition of source code. GPLv3 is expected to be finished either in October 2006 or early 2007, meaning that it is coming very soon.

An informal survey conducted at the Linux kernel mailing list has found that a majority of Linux kernel developers are unhappy with GPLv3. Seemingly, these developers take the same stance as Linux founder Linus Torvalds - that GPLv3 expands the license provisions too far in the field of hardware. Indeed, no one who took part in this recent survey expressed any support for GPLv3.

The three key objections noted in section 5 are individually and collectively sufficient reason for us to reject the current licence proposal. However, we also note that the current draft with each of the unacceptable provisions stripped out completely represents at best marginal value over the tested and proven GPLv2. Therefore, as far as we are concerned (and insofar as we control subsystems of the kernel) we cannot foresee any drafts of GPLv3 coming out of the current drafting process that would prove acceptable to us as a licence to move the current Linux Kernel to.

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