Friday, March 10, 2006

Linus Torvalds Talks to Forbes about GPLv3

In this interview with Forbes on March 9, 2006, Linus describes his current issues with the latest version of the GPL; however, the GPLv3 is still a draft, and Linus is not making any firm judgments until the final version is released. Here are a few snippets from the interview:

Forbes: Where do you stand on the GPLv3?

Torvalds: Well, the thing is, there currently is no final GPLv3, there's just a first draft. That first draft is unacceptable to me, but that doesn't mean we can't come to some agreement. …

So you are leaving the door open?

Hey, I'm flexible. Some people call it being indecisive, but personally, I think it's a sign of intelligence when a person is able to change his mind when circumstances change. …

What changes would have to be made for you to adopt GPLv3?

Just to explain the fundamental issue: To me, the GPL really boils down to "I give out code, I want you to do the same." The thing that makes me not want to use the GPLv3 in its current form is that it really tries to move more toward the "software freedom" goals. For example, the GPLv2 in no way limits your use of the software.

This is where the GPLv3 diverges. It limits how you can use the software. … And that's my gripe. From where I'm standing, [the GPLv3] says that you suddenly can't use the software in certain "evil ways" (where evil is defined by the FSF--it doesn't actually cover the James Bond kind of evil, but if you can see Richard Stallman as a less dashing James Bond, it would be that kind of evil) (Forbes).

I encourage people to read this interview. Linus has quite a bit of insight, and he delivers it in an engaging and humorous manner. If the GPLv3 is not your cup of tea, Forbes also interviewed Linus to get his views on Tivo.

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