Linus Torvalds still sticking with GPL 2

The Linux creator says that while version 3 could become useful, GPL 2 more closely matches what he wants from a license

Linux creator Linus Torvalds, in an interview being made public by the Linux Foundation Tuesday, stressed that version 2 of the GPL (GNU General Public License) still makes the most sense for the Linux kernel over the newer GPL version 3.

GPL 3, which was released last year by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), reflects the FSF''s goals while GPL 2 closely matches what Torvalds thinks a license should do, Torvalds said.

"I want to pick the license that makes the most sense for what I want to do. And at this point in time, Version 2 matches what I think we want to do much, much better than Version 3," said Torvalds, who is now a fellow at the foundation. He was interviewed in late-October by Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin.

Among GPL 3 highlights are protections against patent infringement lawsuits and provisions for license compatibility. Torvalds acknowledged he had spoken out against GPL 3 before it was released. He had opposed digital rights management provisions in early-2006, calling them burdensome.

There could be a change in his stance, though, Torvalds said. GPL 2 basically has acted as a single license covering a huge bulk of source code. Version 3 splits this base with some projects covered by version 2 and others by version 3 or later, he said. Version 3 might be useful if "there ends up being tons of external code that we feel is really important and worthwhile that is under the version 3 license," said Torvalds.

He added he cannot change the license on his own anymore. "I mean, because I have accepted code over the last 15 years by people who kind of accepted my original choice of the GPL Version 2, I'm not just, I think, ethically bound by those people's choices, I am also actually legally bound," Torvalds said.

Torvalds also was asked about the Linux development process being centered in North America and Europe despite Linux's now-global reach. Developers, Torvalds said, tend to come from countries with a high density of Internet access. While China and India have a lot of people, they have issues with Internet access, he said.

Language and cultural barriers also present an issue. While some Asian countries have huge Internet use and a great deal of education, they do not contribute a lot to the kernel or other open-source projects, said Torvalds. South Americans, meanwhile, may not necessarily speak English but culturally, they are closer to Europe and the U.S., which makes it easier to enter the fray, according to Torvalds.Â

Asked why the kernel does not have a stable device driver ABI, Torvalds said one reason is that people ask for one but do not want to merge their source code into the stable kernel or the standard kernel.

"And that, in turn, means that all the people who actually do all the kernel work and maintain the kernel are basically unable to work with that piece of hardware and that vendor because if there are any bugs whatsoever, we can't fix them," said Torvalds.

Commercial vendors have moved away from wanting anything to do with binary drivers because they are not maintainable, he said.

Torvalds said Linux started out as a hobby of his, but he has now been working on it full-time for the last four years.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Krill

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Taking cybersecurity to the highest level and order now for a special discount on the world’s most awarded and trusted cybersecurity. Be aware without a care!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?