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SubjectRe: Linux GPL and binary module exception clause?
"Jason Kingsland" <Jason_Kingsland@hotmail.com> wrote:

> Modules are essentially dynamically linked extensions to the GPL
> kernel. In some cases they can be shown to be independent, prior
> works where GPL can reasonably be argued not to apply - which as
> Linus stated earlier on this thread was the original intention of
> allowing binary-only modules.
>
> But in most of the more recent cases the driver/module code is
> written specifically for Linux, so it seems more appropriate that
> they would be considered as derived works of the kernel. But those
> various comments from Linus are being taken out of context to
> somehow justify permission for the non-release of source code for
> binary loadable modules.

I would agree that a module/driver written specifically for Linux would
fall under the GPL. By extension however, any user program written
specifically for Linux that does *not* run anywhere else would also fall
under the GPL. Clearly there are not many programs that fit into this
category, as most are portable to other platforms. However there are
clear instances of code that is Linux specific such as the installers
used by distro vendors to install their version of Linux. By extension if
Linux specific modules must be GPL, so too must Linux specific
installation programs.

Which means all the proprietry installers done by many distro vendors
that are not GPL would be in violation.

> Linux is not pure GPL, it also has the Linus "user program"
> preamble in copying.txt - that preamble plus other LKML posts from
> Linus are commonly used as justifications for non-disclosure of
> source code to some classes of modules.

No, Linux is pure GPL. I always thought the same but Linus and others
have cleared this up in the last few days within this discussion. The pre-
amble at the top of the COPYING file is not legalese and not legally
binding. It is just Linus' interpretation of the GPL as it applies to
user programs, and as such is certainly not legally binding.

Regards,

---
Kendall Bennett
Chief Executive Officer
SciTech Software, Inc.
Phone: (530) 894 8400
http://www.scitechsoft.com
~ SciTech SNAP - The future of device driver technology! ~

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