GPL version 2 only for BusyBox 1.3.0. Rob Landley rob at landley.net Thu Sep 14 06:43:08 UTC 2006 Erik Andersen wrote: > On Wed Sep 13, 2006 at 11:07:51PM -0400, Rob Landley wrote: > > I'm planning to simplify the BusyBox license to GPLv2 only tomorrow, so > > that BusyBox 1.3.0 will be GPLv2 only when it ships. > > > > Are you ok with that? > > Sure, works for me. So, I confirmed that Erik has objection to simplifying the BusyBox license to GPL version 2 only, dropping the "or later". I also asked the Software Freedom Law Center, and on Monday they confirmed they're still happy to represent us as a GPL version 2 project. And I've brought it up several times on this list over the past few months and nobody's come up with a compelling argument against it. So I'm going to do it. Obviously the license on the already released versions isn't changing, and in fact the 1.2.2 release I'm in the process of putting together will be "GPLv2 or later". Probably the last version that is. If somebody really wants to do a GPLv3 fork based on that, I honestly don't care. (Auditing whether or not you can actually use various bits of it under GPLv3 is your problem, not mine.) But BusyBox 1.3.0 and so on will be under the same license as the Linux kernel: GPL version 2. This lets us merge the diethotplug code, and ntpclient, and not have to audit our codebase for things like the fact that our fsck_minix.c was written by Linus Torvalds (and although the permission statement he put on it back in 1992 is a bit unclear -- "usable under the terms of the GNU Copyleft" -- he made it very clear back in 2000 that his code has always been GPLv2 only). It also means we can stop arguing about it. :) I'll update the boilerplate on the individual files as I get around to them. Rob -- Never bet against the cheap plastic solution.
GPL version 2 only for BusyBox 1.3.0. Glenn L McGrath bug1 at ihug.co.nz Thu Sep 14 08:08:53 UTC 2006 This is pretty disappointing to me... I had hoped you would have taken a more conservative approach. The politics of Free Software is important for me, and the FSF champion the cause more than any other organisation, as such i think i owe them my support. When GPLv3 comes out i expect i will stop releasing code under GPLv2. I havent contributed any patches for a long time so im sure you will get along fine without me. Best of luck Glenn
GPL version 2 only for BusyBox 1.3.0. Erik Andersen andersen at codepoet.org Thu Sep 14 17:28:00 UTC 2006 On Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 08:08:53PM +1200, Glenn L McGrath wrote: > This is pretty disappointing to me... I had hoped you would > have taken a more conservative approach. This is the conservative approach... The non-conservative approach, which is implicit assumption behind the current 'GPLv2 or later' is that any later iteration of the GPL is going to be more acceptable than the GPLv2. I have some concerns with the current GPLv3 drafts (which are well beyond the scope of this mailing list). For all I know, Richard Stallman may decide he is tired of being poor and altruistic and at EvilSoft's request may in his old age draft up a GPLv4 which states "This code now belongs to EvilSoft". Unlikely? Sure? But it is within the realm of possibility. Until such time as a final GPLv3 is actually released upon an unsuspecting world, it is premature to pass final judgement. The problem implicit in the "or later" clause is that there is no a priori way to pass judgement on all possible future license iterations and thus requires that everybody accept them sight unseen. I don't really like that idea. > When GPLv3 comes out i expect i will stop releasing code under GPLv2. When the GPLv3 comes out, it will be time for many many organizations (including BusyBox) to evaluate the merits of the GPLv3, and it may well be time for BusyBox to switch over to GPLv3. Or not. Regardless, such a change should be just as feasible then as it is now. -Erik -- Erik B. Andersen http://codepoet-consulting.com/
GPL version 2 only for BusyBox 1.3.0. Rob Landley rob at landley.net Thu Sep 14 18:53:23 UTC 2006 On Thursday 14 September 2006 1:28 pm, Erik Andersen wrote: > When the GPLv3 comes out, it will be time for many many > organizations (including BusyBox) to evaluate the merits of the > GPLv3, and it may well be time for BusyBox to switch over to > GPLv3. Or not. Regardless, such a change should be just as > feasible then as it is now. We do have the source control history and know which patches are going in since the switch, and it's not like we haven't cleaned out code we weren't sure of the license of before. (Speaking of which I still plan to replace the "with advertising clause" BSD code that's currently in the tree, although that's partly because a fresh implementation could significantly improve upon it.) But just the quick check of the BusyBox codebase I did came up with instances of GPLv2-only code, some of the code I'd like to add today is GPLv2 only, and I really don't want to try to police this issue much more than I already have. I really like having one license, and that license being the same one that's on the Linux kernel. But yeah, if the Linux kernel switched to GPLv3, I'd put in the effort to follow suit. Rob -- Never bet against the cheap plastic solution.
GPL version 2 only for BusyBox 1.3.0. Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com Thu Sep 14 21:18:31 UTC 2006 Rob Landley wrote: > So I'm going to do it. > Oh thanks tremendously much for not even waiting for a reply to your email before making this decision. It does feel spiteful from here. Bruce
GPL version 2 only for BusyBox 1.3.0. Rob Landley rob at landley.net Fri Sep 15 07:06:34 UTC 2006 On Thursday 14 September 2006 5:18 pm, Bruce Perens wrote: > Rob Landley wrote: > > So I'm going to do it. > > > Oh thanks tremendously much for not even waiting for a reply to your > email before making this decision. It does feel spiteful from here. We've been talking about this topic on and off for almost NINE MONTHS: http://busybox.net/lists/busybox/2006-January/018001.html We've had lots of discussions about here in lots of threads since then, to the point that I think most of the people in this list are outright _SICK_ of the topic. You showed up at the last minute, after I already _made_ my decision, and all but announced it earlier that same day (eight and a half hours before you posted to the list), and I quote: http://busybox.net/lists/busybox/2006-September/024397.html > P.S. The SFLC says they have no problem doing license enforcement for a > GPLv2 only project, Larry Doolittle's ntpclient (which I'm looking at as a > candidate for inclusion although that's not the same as actually deciding > to add it) is GPLv2 only, and so is the version of BBSH I'm currently > working on. That last one might just be a hint how I'm likely to resolve > this... Notice the end there, "The new code I am writing is GPLv2 only, and I'm going to add it to the tree." What exactly do you think that means? This was after doing lots of research and checking with lots of people and posting and reading an awful lot of messages on the list. Why was the above not yet an official announcement? Because I had one (and only one) step left: confirming that Erik was ok with it. I had bounced the idea off him before, but wanted his explicit approval before making a formal announcement. Then you showed up and asked us to hold everything for you after we hadn't heard a thing out of you in seven years. From here, that felt amazingly arogant. Despite that, I carefully read your message, thought about each point you made in case you had something new that nobody had brought up before (you hadn't) or in case I could think of something I'd overlooked (I did, and it supported my decision), and replied to your message. I stopped what I was doing and re-evaluated the whole darn mess again, just to be _darn_ sure. I spent hours writing a reply (which involved research), saved it in the drafts folder rather than sending it immediately, took the bus home, fired up my laptop and read it _again_ (and toned bits of it down to be more polite and conciliatory than the first draft), and then sent it. Then I sent an email to Erik to get his final confirmation, pointing out in the message that you were arguing with me about it in case that made a difference. He did not object, so I went through with it. There are a number of things I haven't been impoliticly explicit about, and was trying to _avoid_ bringing up. To be honest, I don't trust the Free Software Foundation after they gratuitously picked a fight with Mepis. Mepis had an official partnership with Ubuntu that involved press releases which quoted Ubuntu's founder stating his support for the partnership, yet Mepis couldn't then rely on Ubuntu's repository to distribute software Mepis was using unmodified from Ubuntu? That struck me as INSANE. The FSF attacked someone who hadn't done anything wrong, trying to make an example out of them for no good reason I could see except possibly to draw attention to itself as custodian of the GPL, and possibly trying to make people view GPLv2 as dangerous. (Instead I viewed the FSF as dangerous.) You're asked me to trust these people to change the terms of the GPL. Not likely. And lest this seem like a snap judgement based on an isolated incident, I have a long history with the FSF. I first started studying the GPL when it was the license on EMX, a port of GCC to OS/2 which I used (and even wrote documentation for: http://www.os2bbs.com/Download/gnu.html) back in the early 90's. An email exchange I had with RMS in 1998 seems to have precipitated his big "call it GNU/Linux dammit" campaign, which I apologized for to the Linux-kernel mailing list: http://www.kernel-traffic.org/kernel-traffic/kt20020805_178.html#1 (And yes I know he was already calling stuff GNU/Linux. I told him if he wanted to position Hurd as a successor to Linux then he needed to attach the GNU name to Linux and then position GNU Hurd as an upgrade to GNU Linux. He mentioned that he'd been calling it GNU/Linux and promised to use that phrase more. Sigh. At least he stopped complaining about people using the word "Linux" at all, which he _was_ doing at the time. I'd point you to the cached copy of the gnu.org web page from 1998 and their "why you shouldn't call it Linux" page, but the wayback machine appears to be down again.) Later when I drove up to Boston to interview him once (in 2000 I think), he borrowed my car and left it unlocked when he parked it, and I still have the sweatshirt that someone gave him which he immediately gave away because it had the word "snow" written on it over a little snowflake. (He apparently refuses to wear anything that has writing on it, and yes I asked: even the FSF's own shirts.) Why bring this up? Because I have firsthand experience that even in little things, he seems to think in absolutes to the point of being brittle. After that friends of mine hosted Richard Stallman at a barbecue in Austin Texas (while I was out of town) but they told me he hit on the hostess's 14 year old daughter, insulted the people who had prepared the food, and basically got everybody there unwilling to ever speak to him again. I sometimes hang out with Eric Raymond who occasionally wonders what happened to the friend he met at a science fiction convention in the 1970's; apparently he wasn't always like this. (My friend Stu Green in Austin knew Richard back at MIT too. He's one of the people Richard pissed off at the barbecue.) Mepis is by no means the first time Richard has attacked his allies. I remember when Richard accused Tim O'Reilley of being a parasite for producing good books, and the rant he wrote justifying his this is still part of the official FSF literature: http://www.gnu.org/software/gsl/manual/html_node/Free-Software-Needs-Free-Documentation.html And you wonder why I trust the judgement of Linus Torvalds and the people around him more than I trust the judgement of Richard Stallman and the people around _him_? Can the FSF put out a license that fails to gain traction? How about the GNU Free Documentation License which isn't nearly as widely used as Creative Commons? The FSF keeps insisting that nobody but them ever thought about freedom, yet Project Gutenberg was founded by Michael Hart in 1971, a dozen years before the FSF. As for implying I owe the FSF any sort of alleigance: There _was_ no proprietary software industry to speak of before the Apple vs Franklin decision in 1983 extended copyright to cover binary ROM images; before that you had to distribute source code to get copyright protection. (Go get a copy of "Legal battles that shaped the computer industry" by Lawrence Graham, it has a chapter on this. A young Bill Gates whined about this very topic in a 1980 interview here: http://www.thesync.com/geeks/gates1980.html -- note that he was already lobbying congress to change the law, but didn't have any clout to speak of back then.) And the setup for Apple vs Franklin was the rise of the microcomputer. The PDP-8 FAQ says: > By late 1973, the PDP-8 family was the best selling computer in the world, > and it is likely that it was only displaced from this honor by the Apple II > (which was displaced by the IBM PC). The same FAQ puts the PDP-8's entire production run at 50,000 machines total. According to the Innovator's Dilemma, the Apple II sold 43,000 machines in its first two years (1977-1978), and in 1982 the IBM PC sold out its 250,000 machine initial production run in three months. Before about 1980, the industry couldn't support a proprietary software industry at anything other than the Mom 'n pop level. Micro-soft survived on contracts from MITS, Radio Shack, and then IBM for its first five years, despite being a tiny hole in the wall enterprise. The FSF tries to take credit for the idea of free software but before Gates' 1976 "letter to hobbyists" there wasn't even the _idea_ of anything else, and the Univac shipped in 1950. The FSF was never a grand visionary anything, it was a conservative reactionary movement founded to return to the glory days of the 1970s, and it started by cloning existing Unix technology and Unix culture to do it. This was a good thing, but it was not remotely innovative. The FSF rose to prominence in the 1980's because MIT gave it a high-bandwidth FTP site on athena.ai.mit.edu. Before the dismantling of the NSFNet's Acceptable Use Policy (which started to have alternatives in 1991 and went away completely in 1994, see http://landley.net/history/mirror/nsfnetaup.txt), free FTP sites to host code on were almost impossible to come by, and thus people like Larry Wall were willing to sign over their code to the FSF and the GNU project in order to get hosting for it. When alternatives like metalab/sunsite/ibiblio and cdrom.com started showing up (heck, _geocities_), that advantage went away. These days with cable modems and sourceforge and OSL, most people don't even remember a time when hosting was painful to get. And yet despite having this huge advantage for years, the GNU project had already stalled without producing a bootable system by the time the Linux kernel was created in 1991 (or Linus would likely have used that instead of Minix). The FSF's slow slide to irrelevance may have started when its FTP site stopped being enough for it to dictate terms to contributors, but the fundamental problems are that it's no longer needed, it's not contributing anything useful, and it's actively undermining itself on a regular basis. Yes, once upon a time the FSF created a C compiler (something Fabrice Bellard did for the obfuscated C code project). And yes, the GPLv2 is quite nice, and what I consider to be the one truly vital contribution that Stallman made. I don't see it as quite the work of isolated genious some people do (he developed it in response to forks of Emacs that weren't giving code back, and between the Emacs license, GPLv2, and GPLv2 it took several tries to settle on the final form), but I do very much like GPLv2. I've praised it in the past, and been highly critical of BSD licensing: http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2001-05-10-002-20-PS The best thing I can say about the FSF these days is that they sometimes let go gracefully, such as when gcc forked away from the FSF, the new fork (egcs run by Cygnus) rendered the original irrelevant, and the FSF shut down their in-house project and handed over the name. A similar thing happened with glibc->glibc2. Sometimes, they're graceful enough to get out of the way of people doing real work. I also appreciate that I have the choice _not_ to buy in to their latest project. You're complaining that I am exercising that choice in what I choose to maintain. My first exposure to collaborative distributed software development wasn't Linux, it was the WWIV bulletin board. We didn't even have "patch", we had *.mod files that had instructions how to modify the source code. Instructions written in english. Applying these mod files to my friend's bulletin board (and debugging conflicts, and eventually coming up with new modifications and sending out my own files into the world) is how I learned C. (If you ever come across the "boxed color-coded onliners with bar graphs of comparative usage" mod for WWIV... I can only say I was young, and it seemed like a good idea at the time, I.E 1990.) Anyway, I realize you do not like the way I'm maintaining BusyBox. It's obvious from the way you're attempting to undermine me publicly on my own list. I'm sorry about that, but I'm the one making the decisions because I'm the one doing the _work_. If you would like to maintain a GPLv3 fork of BusyBox, feel free. If not, please go do something useful. > Bruce Rob P.S. In case it isn't clear by now, one of my other hobbies is computer historian. I like to be informed about the context in which decisions are made. What exasperates me about this exchange is that you're ignoring the context in the mailing list archive, expecting us to drop everything and reiterate it all for you, and that you're doing this solely because of who you are. Correction: because of who you were seven years ago. And in fact, when I DID stop and take your concerns seriously, ignoring the insulting title of your message and the general condescending tone, you're now throwing a hissy-fit that I still disagreed with you. That's uncool, and I'm three hours late for bed. P.P.S. Is this enough discussion for you, or would you like more? I haven't actually changed the license on any of the individual files yet, and the only people to commit to the tree since I made the announcement are me, Denis, and Bernhard. However, after reading this thread so far (I know you didn't read the previous threads but you are reading _this_ one, right?), do you really think your chances of convincing me to change my mind are very good? I DISAGREE WITH YOU. This happens. Deal with it. -- Never bet against the cheap plastic solution.
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