GPL 3 Update: Stallman Expresses Concern About the Possible "Tivoization" of Linux

"If Torvalds Decides to Move to GPL v3, Future Linux Versions Won't Allow This Abuse," RMS Says

LinuxWorld News Desk

Jan. 30, 2006

Richard M. Stallman of the Free Software Foundation doesn't think there would be any significant practical/operational impact on the GNU/Linux system if the Linux kernel were to remain licensed under the GNU General Public License Version 2 (GPLv2) even after GPLv3, when it is fully baked, becomes widely adopted - a scenario that Linus Torvalds last week suggested is likely, since he has, he said, no plans to move the Linux kernel from the present version [ ] of the GPL to a newer one.

"The Linux kernel is under the GPLv2. Not anything else...And quite frankly, I don't see that changing," Torvalds declared.

Asked by LinuxWorld News Desk today what the consequences of this would be, Stallman insisted: "It won't directly cause any major problem."

"There have been programs in the GNU/Linux system with GPL-incompatible licenses ever since 1984," he explained in an e-mail to LinuxWorld.

"TeX was the first," he continued, adding - in reference to its impact on the GPLv2 -> GPLv3 move as a whole: "it is an inconvenience, but not a tragedy. Since GPL v3 will be compatible with the Apache license, compatibility will increase overall."

"The main significance would be that Linux would not enjoy protection against tivoization," Stallman added. "The Tivo includes a copy of Linux, and other free software--but if you install a modified version, it won't run. I don't think that's proper free software."

"If Torvalds decides to move to GPL v3," he concluded, "future Linux versions won't allow this abuse."

LinuxWorld has invited Linus Torvalds to comment on Stallman's observations about what he deems the perils of "tivoization."

Copyright 2006