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Linus, GPL 3.0 and sharks with lasers on their heads

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Citing some James Bond analogies, Linus Torvalds has defended his objections to GPL 3.0, while holding out an olive branch to the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

Torvalds has reportedly called the first draft of the FSF's General Public License (GPL) 3.0 "unacceptable" because it limits uses for software covered by the license. Tovalds said he might shift his position on GPL 3.0, though, if the FSF makes changes to the proposed license.

In an interview with Forbes, Torvalds said what bothers him is the fact the GPL 3.0 draft moves towards "software freedom" goals. Confused?

Here's where the creator of the world's fastest growing operating system segues into James Bond territory.

"If you're a mad scientist, you can use GPLv2'd software for your evil plans to take over the world ("Sharks with lasers on their heads!!"), and the GPLv2 just says that you have to give source code back. And that's OK by me. I like sharks with lasers. I just want the mad scientists of the world to pay me back in kind."

In case you didn't know, the Linux kernel is licensed under GPL 2.0. The problem with GPL 3.0?

"You still have to give source code back, but it crimps the style of mad scientists everywhere by also putting restrictions on the use of the source code. You cannot install it on your hardware (laser-equipped shark or otherwise) without also making sure that others can install another version," according to Torvalds.

Torvalds restated his objections, aired on a Linux mailing list in January, to the FSF's concerns over digital rights management. Put simply, FSF wants to discourage use of GPL to help further DRM by vendors and end-users.

For Torvalds' though, it's a subtle difference between DRM and security systems that help protect peoples' personal information when digitzed. In other words, Torvalds is pro "software freedom of choice rather" not "software freedom." "DRM really is just technology, and like most everything else, the badness comes not from the technology, but from what you use it for," Torvalds said. [Oversimplify much? - Ed]

The DRM issue surfaced in Torvald's Janary email posting. Torvalds resisted moving the Linux kernel to GPL 3.0, saying it was 'insane" that those contributing code to the kernel would be forced to make available their private signing keys.®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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