Tuesday, July 03, 2007


What can I say? Have you heard that the Free Software Foundation has released the newest incarnation of the GNU GPL version 3? If you don't know what this is, skip this entry. And if you do know, what do you think?

Me, I think its a mistake. I really do.

Version 2 of the license is about the software, encouraging success through sharing. Take from the source but give back your changes for the common good of all. Crazy talk perhaps in the late 80's and a hard sell even in the late 90's - but for more than a few companies and people now, this model not only works but excels. I am a big fan of GNU GPL version 2 - the successes of which are too many even to highlight.

Then comes GNU GPL version 3 and I get nervous.

You see, I come from the corporate world and really want to see GNU/Linux dominate this market. This version of the GPL is about the individual - freedom if it does not infringe on you as a person. What it does do is take, in my opinion, freedom away from businesses.

Companies as well as individuals co-existed nicely under version 2 - we have widespread adoption of GNU software on a huge number of domains. Under version 3, I fear it too restrictive (ie, less 'free') for companies to adopt.

What do you care - you are just 1 person right? Well, your newest gadget vendor may no longer use Linux when version 3 becomes more widespread. Large companies that use version 2 but can not use version 3 will migrate to a different choice. Folks, these companies are the major contributers to our favourite kernel and supporting applications! Remove their freedom and we remove their contributions - which reduces your choice and, subsequently, your freedom.

Is it too late? Perhaps. Stay with GNU GPL version 2, encourage your favourite upstream developers to stay with version 2, or move to one of the Open Source licenses.

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