Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Linus again disses GPLv3

In an e-mail interview published Monday by Information Week, Linus Torvalds again expresses his preference for GPLv2 over GPLv3. He lists a number of reasons:

First off, I don’t even know what the GPLv3 will look like. I would be totally crazy to accept a license for my code sight unseen. I think people who just say “version 2 or any later version” on their code probably don’t care about the license of their code enough. Before I say that “yes, you can use my code under license X,” I’d better know *what* that license is.
He lists other points. He thinks the v3 drafts so far are worse than v2, including “glaring technical problems.” But then he gets to the rub:

Finally, the real basic issue is that I think the Free Software Foundation simply doesn’t have goals that I can personally sign up to. For example, the FSF considers proprietary software to be something evil and immoral.

Me, I just don’t care about proprietary software. It’s not “evil” or “immoral,” it just doesn’t matter. I think that Open Source can do better, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is by working on Open Source, but it’s not a crusade — it’s just a superior way of working together and generating code.
He also notes that the GPLv2 is about enabling collaboration, whereas the changes in the GPLv3 emphasize what can’t be done (e.g., DRM support).

If the most popular GPL software isn’t going to adopt GPLv3, then it perhaps it is dead on arrival. This is also consistent with the hilarious (albeit understated) rivalry scene with Torvalds and Richard Stallman in the documentary Revolution OS.

Hat tip: Matt Asay and his Open Sources blog.

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