Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Nov 2006 23:05 UTC, submitted by SEJeff
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Mark Shuttleworth is trying to entice OpenSUSE developers to join Ubuntu. "Novell's decision to go to great lengths to circumvent the patent framework clearly articulated in the GPL has sent shockwaves through the community. If you are an OpenSUSE developer who is concerned about the long term consequences of this pact, you may be interested in some of the events happening next week as part of the Ubuntu Open Week."
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Xaero_Vincent
Member since:
2006-08-18

No, it's a violation that only the user should decide to make. There is nothing cloudy about it. You cannot legally link GPL with non-GPL compatable code. This might have been different were the kernel licensed under LGPL, but the GPL specifically prohibits it.

There kernel developers seem more pragmatic about certain underlining issues, thus their decision to continue supporting the GPLv2. But the GPL clearly states its terms regarding library linking.

Edited 2006-11-25 00:21

Reply Parent Score: 3

Rocinante Member since:
2005-11-18

What if the drivers are in the package listing, and they're opt-in during the install? Who's to say that isn't what they might try to stay in terms?

Reply Parent Score: 1

Xaero_Vincent Member since:
2006-08-18

That might be acceptable if that were the case. But its not just display drivers that are in question. Ubuntu includes WiFi and probably other closed, proprietary modules that link with kernel.

Anyway, Mark Shuttleworth said proprietary graphics drivers will be included and desktop effects will be enabled by default. He did say that he'll encourage education on why closed drivers on Linux should be avoided.

Unfortuantly, attempting to be a good role model doesn't pan out nicely when you contridict yourself in practice.

Edited 2006-11-25 00:44

Reply Parent Score: 5

thebluesgnr Member since:
2005-11-14

Ubuntu already enables proprietary modules by default. For the next release, they'll enable proprietary ATI and nVidia modules by default.

Think of it this way: Ubuntu is going to ship an improved version of Linux (the kernel). The Linux they're shipping supports several hardware that the Linux from kernel.org doesn't support.

The GPL allows Ubuntu to distribute a modified (an improved) Linux, so it's great that they're doing it. But the GPL requires you to make all your improvements available to everyone also under the GPL, and Ubuntu is not doing that; some of their improvements are not being shipped with the source code, which is a clear violation of the GPL.

I know people are going to say that it's important to have hardware just work out of the box, and indeed it is. But respecting the license of the software made available to you is a lot more important than that. If Ubuntu is so concerned about having hardware working out of the box, it could fund projects like nouveau.

And by the way, Novell stopped shipping proprietary kernel modules (SUSE used to ship them) because they decided to respect the terms of the GPL was more important.

Reply Parent Score: 4

Mitarai Member since:
2005-07-28

Sorry but you are wrong, I program or driver that links to GPL code makes it GPL but a GPL program or driver linking none GPL code doesn't make it GPL by magic and is legal.

This is a violation of the GPL "Spirit" but not a violation of the GPL license and the spirit ain't nothing but a poor excuse to justify the holes of the GPL license.

Edited 2006-11-25 00:57

Reply Parent Score: 5

velko Member since:
2006-06-19

and the spirit ain't nothing but a poor excuse to justify the holes of the GPL license.

I disagree. The spirit of the GPL is contained in its preamble. Legal documents containing preamble does include it exactly for that reason: for clarifying how the document is supposed to be read if it contains "holes". So violating the spirit of the GPL violates the intention of the license.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Lambda Member since:
2006-07-28

Sorry but you are wrong, I program or driver that links to GPL code makes it GPL but a GPL program or driver linking none GPL code doesn't make it GPL by magic and is legal.

This is a violation of the GPL "Spirit" but not a violation of the GPL license and the spirit ain't nothing but a poor excuse to justify the holes of the GPL license.


This is exactly right and something many people don't get. The GPL license doesn't convert the license of modules of code into GPL. The GPL license makes the whole work as a whole, open under the terms of the GPL, for those modules/classes that have a compatible license, at distribution time.

Once you start thinking about it being more about distribution, rather than linking, you get a better understanding of the GPL. Of course the GPL FAQ covers much of this.

But dynamic linking is still a gray area in the GPL. For example, if I take a pure GPL library, statically link it to some code, and then distribute it, it's pretty clear that the whole work must be made "available" under the terms of the GPL. "Available" is the key word here. But as we see with the linux kernel and video and other drivers, things aren't so simple. I've still never seen any legal precedence to "derived works" under a dynamic linking situation. And although kernel developers disagree on who is violating what, the fact is that relevant copyright holders aren't willing to test it.

Reply Parent Score: 1

abraxas Member since:
2005-07-07

No, it's a violation that only the user should decide to make. There is nothing cloudy about it. You cannot legally link GPL with non-GPL compatable code. This might have been different were the kernel licensed under LGPL, but the GPL specifically prohibits it.

Actually the GPL does not prohibit linking to non GPL code. The GPL prohibits distributing it but nothing else. In fact the GPL explicity says that you can do anything you want to the code. The exceptions only come into play if you are distributing code. The GPL is a license to distribute, not a EULA. There is a gray area when it comes to what you consider derived works and whether or not binary blobs can be distributed if they are tied in some way to the kernel, but Nvidia gets around that because their binary is universal. If it was Linux-only a case could be made against it but kernel developers don't seem to be interested in those kinds of legal tangles anyway.

Reply Parent Score: 2