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    SubjectRe: Dual-Licensing Linux Kernel with GPL V2 and GPL V3

    On Thu, 14 Jun 2007, Alexandre Oliva wrote:
    > On Jun 14, 2007, Linus Torvalds <> wrote:
    > > - I chose the GPLv2, fully understanding that the Tivo kind of
    > > situation is ok.
    > Wow, do you remember the date when you first thought of this business
    > model?

    You know what? I'm intelligent. That's what you call people who see th
    consequences of their actions. I didn't see the *details* of what all the
    GPLv2 could result in, but yes, I claim that I knew what I was setting
    myself up for (in a license way) pretty much from the beginning.

    Did it take me by surprise how people actually ended up using Linux? It
    sure did. But has the GPLv2 itself ever surprised me? Not really. I read
    it back then, and yes, I understood what it meant.

    From the very beginning of Linux, even before I chose the GPLv2 as the
    license, the thing I cared about was that source code be freely available.
    That was the first license, but more importantly, it was why I started
    Linux in the first place - my frustrations with Minix, and my memories of
    how painful it was to find an OS that I wanted to use and work with.

    (That, btw, was not Minix-only: I actually originally was thinking about
    literally buying a commercial Unix for my PC too. The price factor kept me
    away from the commercial unixes, and in retrospect I'm obviously very

    So my first goal was "source must be available and it must be free (as
    in beer)". Which my first copyright license reflects very directly.

    What happened a few months into the thing was that some people actually
    wanted to make floppy images of Linux available to Linux users groups, but
    they didn't want to have to actually *fund* the floppies and their work
    themselves, so they wanted to sell them at cost (which the first license
    actually didn't allow!).

    And I realized that the money angle really wasn't what I ever really cared
    about. I cared about availability, but people sure could get paid for
    their effort in distributing the thing, as long as the source code
    remained open. I didn't want money, I didn't want hardware, I just wanted
    the improvements back.

    So given that background, which license do you _think_ I should have

    And given that background, do you see why the GPLv2 is _still_ better than
    the GPLv3? I don't care about the hardware. I'll use it, but it's not what
    Linux is all about. Linux is about something much bigger than any
    individual device.

    And yeah, maybe I'm just better at abstracting things. Maybe I prefer
    seeing the big picture, and that the individual devices don't matter. What
    matters is the improvement in the *software*, because while each physical
    device is a one-off thing, in the long term, it's the *development* that

    And the GPLv2 protects that.

    It's a bit like evolution: individual organisms matter to *themselves* and
    to their immediate neighborhood, but in the end, the individuals will be
    gone and forgotten, and what remains is the development.

    In those terms, I care about the DNA, and the *process* or recombination
    and the bigger picture. Any individual organism? Not so much. It's all
    part of a much bigger tapestry, and closed hardware is more like an eunuch
    (or a worker bee): it won't pass on its legacy, but it might help the
    people who do.

    So instead of thinking of Tivo as something "evil", I think of Tivo as the
    working bee who will never pass on its genes, but it actually ended up
    helping the people who *do* pass on their genes: the kernel (to a small
    degree - not so much because of the patches themselves, as the *mindshare*
    in the PVR space) and projects like MythTV (again, not so much because of
    any patches, but because it helped grow peoples understanding of the
    problem space!).

    Let's take another example: BitKeeper. The FSF follower people seem to
    view BitKeeper as something "evil". To me, BitKeeper was not just a great
    tool, but it also ended up being something that showed others how things
    *could* be done. And the world - including the open source world - is a
    better place for it!

    See? In the big picture, individual devices and even projects won't
    matter. In a hundred years, I'll be long dead, and nobody will care. But
    in a hundred years, I hope that the "live and let live" open source
    mentality will still flourish, and maybe "Linux" itself won't live on, but
    some of the memories and impact may. And *that* is what matters.

    A Tivo? It's just a toy. Who cares? It's not important. But source code
    that evolves? THAT can change the world!

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