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SubjectRe: Flame Linus to a crisp!

On 24 Apr 2003, Arjan van de Ven wrote:
>
> The "hot" issue is partially this part of the GPL:
>
> For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code
> for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition
> files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of
> the executable.
>
> where it seems to say that if you need a script to be able to usefully
> install a self compiled kernel, that script is part of "the sourcecode".

Yes, that's the part that can be read pretty much any way depending on
your mood swings.

In particular, just how far does "installation" go? Clearly it doesn't
require that you give people ROM masks and soldering irons. Well, clearly
to _me_ anyway.

So you while you _logically_ may be able to take it to the absurd end
("you need to build me a fab, and make it under the GPL, so that I can
'install' the kernel on the chips"), I'm personally very much against that
kind of absurdity.

For example, I don't use the Makefile targets to physically install my
kernels - I end up doing that by hand, with a few "cp -f ..." things. Does
that mean that I'm in violation of the GPL when I give the end result out
to somebody? I'd say "clearly not".

Don't get me wrong - I don't particularly like magic hardware that only
boots signed kernels for some nefarious reasons. But I bet that pretty
much _every_ embedded Linux project will have special tools to do the
"final install", and I can't for the life of me take the logic that far.

That's _doubly_ true as many of the installs are quite benign, and I see a
lot of good reasons to sign kernel binaries with your own private key to
verify that nobody else has exchanged it with a kernel that is full of
trojans. One environment where you might want to do something like that is
open access machines at a university, for example. You bolt the machines
down, and you make sure that they don't have any trojans - and _clearly_
that has to be allowed by the license.

But such a "make the machines be something the _users_ can trust" is 100%
indistinguishable from a technical standpoint from something where you
"make the machine something that Disney Corp can trust". There is _zero_
technical difference. It's only a matter of intent - and even the intent
will be a matter of interpretation.

This is why I refuse to disallow even the "bad" kinds of uses - because
not allowing them would automatically also mean that "good" uses aren't
allowed.

Another way of saying it: I refuse to have some license amendment that
starts talking about "intent" and "user vs corporations" crap and "moral
rights" etc. I think the GPL is too politicised already, I'd rather have
it _less_ "crazy talk" than more.

Linus

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