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Linus Torvalds: "The Linux Kernel Is Under the GPLv2. Not Anything Else"

"And quite frankly, I don't see that changing," adds Father of Linux

"The Linux kernel is under the GPL version 2. Not anything else." That was the crystal clear statement this week by Linus Torvalds on the Linux Kernel mailing list. He added, in characteristically frank fashion: "Some individual files are licenceable under v3, but not the kernel in general. And quite frankly, I don't see that changing."

Torvalds explained, in reply to a posting to the list from Chase Venters, that anyone can accept any later versions of the GPL, by simply stating so in their source code. But, he pointed out, "The Linux kernel has never stated that in general."

In typical Linus Torvalds fashion he then spelled it out again, for the avoidance of doubt: 

"In other words: the _default_ license strategy is always just the particular version of the GPL that accompanies a project. If you want to license a program under _any_ later version of the GPL, you have to state so explicitly. Linux never did."
"Some individual files are licenceable under v3, but not the kernel in general," he reiterated, adding: "And quite frankly, I don't see that changing."

What's the back story, here? If Torvalds has no problem with people using the kernel for whatever purpose they like, something he has said explicitly time and again, then what's his gripe with the GPLv3, the upcoming revision of GPLv2 being championed this month by Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation?

The answer to that can be found in this same LMKG.org posting:

"I think it's insane to require people to make their private signing keys available, for example."
In other words, what he dislikes is anything that imposes restrictions on what modifications or contributions can be made. As Linux developer Chris Tovall expresses it:
"The idealist (RMS) and the engineer (Linus) are definitely at a point of contention on this issue..."
Tovall adds: "It'll be interesting to see what happens."

More Stories By Linux News Desk

SYS-CON's Linux News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the Linux world and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for IT/IS managers and other business decision-makers.

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