June 29, 2007 10:43 AM PDT

Free Software Foundation releases GPL 3

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The foundation said that 15 GNU software components will be released under GPL 3 on Friday, and the rest of the GNU software will follow in coming months. But some are being more cautious.

The primary consideration in moving the MySQL database software to GPL 3 is whether the new version will be adopted, said Kaj Arnö, vice president of community for the company.

"We're happy about many changes in text," Arnö said. "What still remains to be seen is the adoption. GPL 3 is still something people are asking questions about. Our logic is that we don't want to be those that answer those very first questions."

Sun Microsystems, which selected GPL 2 to govern Java and, more unusually, the UltraSparc T1 processor design, is still evaluating the license, said Chief Open Source Officer Simon Phipps. He did call GPL 3 "a strong and market-changing document," however.

Those who create software have some digesting to do, but for those who just use open-source software, GPL 3 will soon become routine, said James Harvey, an intellectual property attorney for Hunton & Willams and legal adviser to what he described as some of the largest companies using Linux today. "Once end users spend time with this license, they will get more and more comfortable with it, and it will become another primary license in their open-source rotation," he said.

Lowered barriers
In many cases, GPL software has been explicitly licensed under GPL version 2 or later, in which case a programmer's software may be used in a project governed by both. But in cases where software is governed only by one or the other, there's a risk that software can't be moved back and forth, leaving code on separate islands.

One area that's a risk is with Linux and Solaris, Sun's version of Unix that's now becoming an open-source project under a different license, the Community Development and Distribution License. Sun Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz said in May that he hopes GPL 3 could let Sun "converge on a uniform license."

And there might be room for compromise: Torvalds said that a GPL 3 Solaris could coax him toward a GPL 3 Linux kernel. "I don't think the GPL 3 is as good a license as (GPL) 2, 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 GPL 3," he said earlier this month.

"The license has gotten much easier for lawyers to deal with and probably not as easy for engineers to deal with."
--James Harvey, attorney, Hunton & Willams

The license barrier is less of an issue when, as is commonly the case, separate projects are in different domains and source code isn't tightly linked, as for example is the case with MySQL running atop Linux.

The new GPL also lowers barriers. For example, it's now compatible with the Apache License, a feature that pleases Jeremy Allison, one of the lead programmers behind Samba, a widely used file-server software project that's governed by the GPL. "Nothing is perfect," he said, but added, "I hope to see wide adoption of the GPLv3."

Broader GPL compatibility in GPL 3 will make life easier for MySQL if the company moves to the new license, Arnö said. The MySQL database itself is under GPL, but so is "client" software that's used in other software that access the database. That's been a thorny issue because PHP, a project under a different open-source license, often is used in conjunction with MySQL databases and uses that client software.

The license initially was written by a programmer, but it's become decidedly more lawyer-oriented. For example, the provision regarding the Novell-Microsoft pact reads in part, "You may not convey a covered work if you are a party to an arrangement with a third party that is in the business of distributing software, under which you make payment to the third party based on the extent of your activity of conveying the work, and under which the third party grants, to any of the parties who would receive the covered work from you, a discriminatory patent license (a) in connection with copies of the covered work conveyed by you (or copies made from those copies), or (b) primarily for and in connection with specific products or compilations that contain the covered work, unless you entered into that arrangement, or that patent license was granted, prior to 28 March 2007."

"The license has gotten much easier for lawyers to deal with and probably not as easy for engineers to deal with," Harvey said.

But the legalese isn't entirely inappropriate, because lawyers at multibillion-dollar corporations now routinely deal with it. The GPL has moved into the mainstream.

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Patent Granting
FTA: "The new license carries several new provisions, though: (...) an explicit patent grant"

This isn't a new provision of GPL v3. It was already present in GPL v2, look:

"7. (. . .) if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program."

What the new GPL does is only to explain in MUCH more details, and in a lot of legalese, this exact same patent granting mechanism. No matter how longer the new text is, its meaning hasn't changed at all.
Posted by alexgieg (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
>>>"free- (as in free beer and the fresh air...
... that we breathe) and open-source programming"<<<... Who pays for the design, development and deployment of "free software"? Just how do the bills get paid for the food, housing, clothing, gas, entertainment, vacations.... Come and work for/with us for free!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's easy.
Most open source programmers, you'll find, have started projects they've felt would help them in their field of work or current job while others have done it for the sake of doing it and have jobs totally unrelated to what they do in their own time.

It's a bit unfair to ask "how do you pay the bills." It's really none of your business, to say the least.

As a developer of in-house applications using open source, I can honestly say that I appreciate the generosity of all open source programmers (and yes, even the pesky bad attitude ones) because without their expertise in development, I wouldn't be able to do my job.

I'm fairly sure that they all have jobs that pay adequately and if they don't, I'm more than confident that they will have no problem in obtaining one given their level of skill.

Then again, you're a proven idiot.
Posted by `WarpKat (275 comments )
Link Flag
Just How Dumb Are you to use Linux?
What REAL businessman would slavishly develop a new business process or patent and then give it away. A fool that's who. I just have to laugh at it all. It's a truly ludicrous policy. I will never understand socialists--never!!
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How about....
... some of those like "WarpKat" who feel that anyone who doesn't see things their way (and dare to be different) are idiots for commanding/demanding a fair compensation for their time and effort. Anyway, is it not written/to be found in Marxist Socialist theory that -- to each according to his ability; so then, are these present day dudes' policies worse that those earlier socialist ones or what! They want people to work for free and if they demand compensation for their next big thing then that is very idiotic. Wow!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
GPL/Open Source is not "socialist"
Using and sharing Open Source software is not socialist -- it is simply another way that free people, under the protection of property rights, can cooperate and exchange values to their benefit. I happen to think it is a very benevolent model -- people who contribute nothing are still able to benefit, and those who contribute do not begrudge those who don't.
Posted by baisa (126 comments )
Link Flag
reporter responds: giving patents away
Among some of the highly capitalistic companies that in one way or another have given their patents away to open-source projects are IBM, Nokia, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, Phillips and Sony. So evidently there's a little bit more to the equation that just "socialism."
Posted by Shankland (1858 comments )
Link Flag
One of the most stupid posters, who happens to be a MS paid shill is calling other people stupid and totally mischaracterizing the GPL.

What a shock.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
Oh, And Now I Know Why My Tivo Always Crashed!
It used the Linux operating system! I eventually just junked the damn thing and set up a Windows Media PC. It has worked liked a champ ever since.
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What does the underlying OS have to do with a custom software crashing? I highly doubt the OS crashed, since Linux doesn't work like that, unlike Windows. If the code was written for Windows and still crashed, would you blame Windows too?

BTW. I'm no Linux fanboy. I use and create software for Windows. But to blame an OS for an application that is unstable (assuming it is unstable) is silly. My Media Center 2005 box has had many quirks as well. I don't blame Windows XP for that problem.
Posted by nachurboy (114 comments )
Link Flag
Software for free and charge for service
IBM is a service company. Get all your software for free and pay more for service. Either way people have money and they can pay those companies.

Developement cost is lower since volunteers write the software. Those volunteers get satisfaction since they have the feel that they created something.

The TiVo porvision just creates a little more incompatibilty in the open source software, so people need more consultant to work it out.

Media companies also earns money since there is a good vs evil melodrama to cover.

Bottom line: This is actually a great and profitable business model, and it also give people good entertainment in writing software. This is a win-win situation.
Posted by fc11 (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not totally accurate
You might be surprised at the large number of people that get paid to write GPL code. IBM hires a lot of programmers to write open source code. So does Novell, Google, Sun, Red Hat, etc.

Many people make very good livings writing open source code.

The stereotype of people hacking code for GPL projects after hours is true, but not nearly as prevalent as it is today.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
The GPL is a Socialist Policy for a Socialist Movement
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And, Closed-Source, Illegal-monopolies are a Fascist Policy...

This has been proven, legally, socially, and historically... unlike your asininely-childish assertions about the "GPL", and "Open-Source".

But please, do explain exactly how, preventing consumers from being precluded from access to the inner-workings of the devices they buy... or, developers being prevented from -stealing- the work of others equates to "Socialism".

"Open Source" sounds EXACTLY like TRUE "Capitalism", to me.

"Open Source", means exactly that... you cant simply weld-the-hood SHUT (to the decided disadvantage of all consumers, and an entire -capitalistic- industry).

And, the GPL simply states that you, as a business-interest, cannot just abscond with "Intellectual Properties", created by others, for your own exclusive gain. The new provisions of the GPL are simply an attempt to detail, at a higher-resolution, the limits and expectations which are specifically-designed to protect that aim.

Making money is great. And, Capitalism is an effective means to achieve that end. But, Capitalism does not mean unbridled-greed, or absolute-control by a powerful-few (especially, when those "few" have, repeatedly, proven themselves to be wholly-corrupt, incompetent, and illegally-manipulative).

Heres a little tip... Neither Socialism, NOR Fascism actually works. The result is, inevitably, the same tragic-end for the vast majority of citizens. Our Founding-Fathers figured that out. And, they tried to create a balance between the two extremes. Unfortunately, the forces of greed, and lust for power, never do abate, or rest.

And then, there are always those that mindlessly defend any status-quo, no matter how flawed or destructive. So, I really wasnt expecting an intelligent perspective, or any actual support of TRUE "Capitalism", from you...

I guess Ill just go back to >making-money< by providing Linux-integration, and support, to those businesses that are completely sick-and-tired of the overwhelming problems inherent in the "Closed Source" marketplace.
Posted by Had_to_be_said (384 comments )
Link Flag
WJeansonne, You are a Communist!
This is a free society. I have the right to place restrictions on the way you reuse my code. If I write a word processor, I have the right to let you use the code, or not (It is my code!).

I can give you the right to let other people use the code, or not. If I let you give the code to others, I can require you to put the same restrictions on them as I have put on you.

If you are using other peoples property, you must follow the rules they give you. If you don't like this, you can write your code from scratch or move to China.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag

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