Subject: Re: How to meet the true intent of the GPL in an open-source operating system (was: sendmail licensing again)
To: None <>
From: Greg A. Woods <>
List: current-users
Date: 12/15/1998 13:13:31
[ On Tue, December 15, 1998 at 16:15:50 (+0000), Jaromir Dolecek wrote: ]
> Subject: Re: How to meet the true intent of the GPL in an open-source operating system (was: sendmail licensing again)
> Greg A. Woods wrote:
> > (That said I doubt it's currently possible for any *BSD to meet the true
> > intent of the GPL for code in the kernel, except perhaps for BSDI, with
> > some potential for OpenBSD and FreeBSD.)
> Huh - what's your definition of "the true intent of the GPL code
> in the kernel" ?

A vendor using an open-source O/S that included GPLed kernel code would
have to supply a kernel link kit with enough objects and stubs (such as
the way SunOS-4 was supplied) along with the GPLed portions of the
kernel so that the end user (or their agent) could modify any GPLed code
and re-build the kernel.

Some folks will try to argue that because the kernel is really just one
program, including GPLed code in the kernel will taint the entire thing,
and that would be true, if indeed that section of the GPL is enforcable,
but I doubt it is, at least not under the copyright law, and since
shrink-wrap licenses are illegal in most Western jurisdictions, there
isn't really any other way to enforce it.

> > BTW, the most "interesting" packages to upgrade have always been ones
> > that perturb both the kernel and user-land, such as IP-Filter.  I'm not
> > completely happy with the way it's integrated in to NetBSD, but imagine
> > the implications for binary vendors who wanted to use it if it were
> > under a copyright similar to Sendmail-9 or the GPL!
> The implications would be equal to "unusable".

Well it depends on what the vendor was considering to be "proprietary"
about their product.  For a vendor using the O/S as a platform for a
proprietary turn-key application the implications are that they would
have to either supply full kernel source, or a kernel link kit as I
mention above.

> While being here - how does GPL deal with LKMs ? I recall R.Stallman
> mentioning one of big Linus's mistake was "permission to load commercial,
> non-GNU code into running Linug/GNU kernel".

Well, that's a completely different problem!

Personally I find it extremely distasteful that anyone would attempt to
use a copyright license to rule over what a user does with a legitimate
and legally obtained copy of anything.  That goes for the GPL too!  In
fact I doubt such licenses are really enforcable, at least in some
jurisdictions, such as Canada and probably the USA too, at least for the
time being.  RMS would probably prefer that it be illegal to run GPL
code on the same computer as non-GPL code.   ;-)

							Greg A. Woods

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