Linux official lines up with Microsoft against GPLv3

The new GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3 is not a fit for Linux because switching would require permission from the kernel's thousands of de-facto owners, a maintainer of the SCSI portion of the kernel said on Thursday.

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The new GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3 is not a fit for Linux because switching would require permission from the kernel's thousands of de-facto owners, a maintainer of the SCSI portion of the kernel said on Thursday.

At the same time Microsoft released a statement that the company has no obligations under GPLv3.

The GPLv2 license has been used with Linux, but GPLv3, released by the Free Software Foundation on 29 June, presents problems, according to James Bottomley, gatekeeper of the Linux Kernel SCSI Maintainership, which governs disk storage access in the kernel.

The Linux kernel is not owned by any one person; it is owned by all the people who submit patches to it, Bottomley said. This means the kernel is now owned by anywhere from 3,500 to 10,000 people, he said.

"In order to change the kernel, we'd have to get everybody who owns the kernel to sign off on the re-licensing," said Bottomley, who also is CTO of SteelEye Technology and a member of the Linux Foundation board of directors. This would be required under copyright law, he said.

This presents obvious practical problems should the keepers of the kernel decide they want to move to GPL v3. "We'd have to find all of the owners, first of all," Bottomley said.

The lack of a compelling advantage to GPLv3 "means we're not going to bother," Bottomley said.

A plebiscite could be announced to decide the issue, but a code contributor still could object to any switch, said Bottomley. "The choice at that point would be to rewrite their code or abandon the process," he said.

The GPLv2 and v3 licenses are incompatible, he said. The Linux kernel will stick with GPLv2 for the foreseeable future, Bottomley said.

Previously, Linux kernel developer Linus Torvalds has objected to GPLv3 because of concerns that digital rights management stipulations in the new license would be burdensome.

The Free Software Foundation did not provide a response to Bottomley's claims on 5 July. The founder and president of the foundation, Richard Stallman, has advocated migrations to the new GPLv3 license for free software, emphasizing improvements in such areas as digital rights management and patent protection.

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