Mark Mitchell announced the availability of GCC 4.2.2 saying, "GCC 4.2.2 is a bug-fix release, containing fixes for regressions in GCC 4.2.1 relative to previous GCC releases." He adds, "the compilers in this release are covered by GNU General Public License version 3," making GCC 4.2.2 the first released under the GPLv3.
Mark Mitchell announced the availability of GCC 4.2.1 saying, "GCC 4.2.1 is a bug-fix release, containing fixes for regressions in GCC 4.2.0 relative to previous GCC releases." He went on to note that future versions of GCC will be released under a new license, "GCC 4.2.1 will be the last release of GCC covered by version 2 of the GNU General Public License. All future releases will be released under GPL version 3."
A lengthy debate that began with a suggestion to dual license the Linux kernel under the GPLv2 and the GPLv3 [story] continues on the Linux Kernel Mailing List. Throughout the ongoing thread Linux creator Linus Torvalds has spoken out on the GPLv2, the upcoming GPLv3, the BSD license, Tivo, the Free Software Foundation, and much more. During the discussion, he was asked we he chose the GPLv2 over the BSD license when he's obviously not a big fan of the FSF. Linus explained:
"Because I think the GPLv2 is a great license. And I don't like the FSF's radical world-view, but I am able to separate the license (the GPLv2) from the author and source of the license (rms and the FSF). Why do people always confuse the two? The GPLv2 stands on its own. The fact that I disagree with the FSF on how to act has _zero_ relevance for my choice of license.
"[...] But for a project I actually care about, I would never choose the BSD license. The license doesn't encode my fundamental beliefs of 'fairness'. I think the BSD license encourages a 'everybody for himself' mentality, and doesn't encourage people to work together, and to merge."
"I was impressed in the sense that it was a hell of a lot better than the disaster that were the earlier drafts," Linus Torvalds explained in reply to a comment suggesting that he was impressed with the final draft of the GPLv3. He went on to add, "I still think GPLv2 is simply the better license." The discussion began with a suggestion that the Linux kernel be dual-licensed GPLv2 and GPLv3. Linus noted, "I consider dual-licensing unlikely (and technically quite hard), but at least _possible_ in theory. I have yet to see any actual *reasons* for licensing under the GPLv3, though. All I've heard are shrill voices about 'tivoization' (which I expressly think is ok) and panicked worries about Novell-MS (which seems way overblown, and quite frankly, the argument seems to not so much be about the Novell deal, as about an excuse to push the GPLv3)." In a followup email, Linus added:
"Btw, if Sun really _is_ going to release OpenSolaris under GPLv3, that _may_ be a good reason. I don't think the GPLv3 is as good a license as v2, but on the other hand, I'm pragmatic, and if we can avoid having two kernels with two different licenses and the friction that causes, I at least see the _reason_ for GPLv3. As it is, I don't really see a reason at all."
The following editorial was contributed by Ciarán O'Riordan of FSFE. Working for FSFE since April 2005, Ciarán has been raising public awareness and participating in public discussion on GPLv3 since the launch in January 2006 and contributes heavily to FSFE's GPLv3 project.
Discussion draft 3 of GPLv3 is due in early November, approximately. Before that is finalised, I'd like to review the debate over DRM and the Linux kernel developers. Discussion draft 3 may be the final discussion draft, so I'd like to encourage discussion of this issue so that people can make comments now (via gplv3.fsf.org) which can be taken into account for draft 3.
GNU GPL version 2 is a great licence. It's an amazing licence when we remember that Richard Stallman wrote it pretty much on his own with some legal counsel. This year, the community's input is solicited and four teams comprising 130 people have been formed to research each issue raised by the community. With fifteen years of hindsight, and will brains from around the World, I think we can write an even better licence.
The decision for whether the Linux kernel will relicense to GPLv3 can really be made when the official GPLv3 is published in early 2007. Relicensing Linux will not be simple, due to it's hundreds or thousands of copyright holders, but it can be done if there is a will. (I previously wrote about how this works in "Can the Linux Kernel Relicense?") Right now is the time for debating what the licence can do, should do, and what options it should leave open. In this article, I'll focus on DRM.
Linux creator Linus Torvalds posted an email titled, "An Ode to GPLv2" examining why he feels the GPLv2 is such a great license as an alternative way to look at the GPLv3 debate [story]. "This post is kind of another way to look at the whole GPLv3 issues," Linus explains, "not caring so much about why the GPLv3 is worse, but a much more positive 'Why the GPLv2 is _better_'." Following a lengthy preamble to explain his stance, Linus includes a comment originally posted to a Groklaw article titled GPL Upheld in Germany Against D-Link.
His Groklaw comment is in reply to a number of concerns including that the GPLv2 doesn't get specific, doesn't provide patent protection, and ignores DRM. "That's why the GPLv2 is so great," Linus replies, "exactly because it doesn't bother or talk about anything else than the very generic issue of 'tit-for-tat'." Linus explains that when he replaced his original license with the GPLv2 [story], he did it because he was looking for something that was fair. "And that's what the GPLv2 is. It's 'fair'. It asks everybody - regardless of circumstance - for the same thing. It asks for the effort that was put into improving the software to be given back to the common good. You can use the end result any way you want (and if you want to use it for 'bad' things, be my guest), but we ask the same exact thing of everybody - give your modifications back."
James Bottomley posted an article to the lkml titled, "The Dangers and Problems with GPLv3" authored by ten of the most active Linux kernel developers. The paper begins by examining the GPLv2's role in the success of the Linux kernel, then goes on to point out some potential flaws in the upcoming GPLv3. Specific issues are raised with the DRM clauses in the license, "while we find the use of DRM by media companies in their attempts to reach into user owned devices to control content deeply disturbing, our belief in the essential freedoms of section 3 forbids us from ever accepting any licence which contains end use restrictions", the additional restrictions clause, "the additional restrictions section in the current draft makes GPLv3 a pick and choose soup of possible restrictions which is going to be a nightmare for our distributions to sort out legally and get right", and the patents provisions, "as drafted, this currently looks like it would potentially jeopardise the entire patent portfolio of a company simply by the act of placing a GPLv3 licensed programme on their website." The document concludes, "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."
The resulting discussion included a number of clarifications from Linux creator Linus Torvalds. When it was suggested that he should have specifically retained the right to modify the licensing of the entire kernel he pointed out that things work better as they are with nobody firmly in charge, "remember: the perfect is the enemy of the good. Asking for things that are perfect 'in theory' usually just results in things that are horrible 'in practice'. So not having anybody in charge could _in_theory_ cause problems. But _in_practice_ it's a hell of a lot better than somebody that people need to worry about." He also stressed that the Linux kernel is not a Free Software Foundation project, "I personally have always been very clear about this: Linux is 'Open Source'. It was never a FSF project, and it was always about giving source code back and keeping it open, not about anything else." He further clarified, "the whole 'Open Source' renaming was done largely _exactly_ because people wanted to distance themselves from the FSF. The fact that the FSF and it's followers refused to accept the name 'Open Source', and continued to call Linux 'Free Software' is not _our_ fault."
Richard Stallman founded the GNU Project in 1984, and the Free Software Foundation in 1985. He also originally authored a number of well known and highly used development tools, including the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), the GNU symbolic debugger (GDB) and GNU Emacs.
To better understand Richard Stallman and the GNU project, I recommend you begin by reviewing their philosophy page. On it you will find a wealth of information.
We began this interview via email, but later had to finish by telephone after Richard Stallman fell and broke his arm. He was kind enough to speak with me at length, discussing his first contact with computers, his time in the AI lab, the current state of the GNU Hurd, his current role in the Free Software Foundation, the problems with non-free software, and much more. The following words offer much insight into how we got here, and what challenges we still face.