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Re: Interest from the FreeBSD camp

To: linux-xfs@xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: Interest from the FreeBSD camp
From: "Marcelo E. Magallon" <marcelo.magallon@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 09:58:08 +0200
In-reply-to: <3B28152A.9FC9E865@xxxxxxxxxxx>
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>> Russell Cattelan <cattelan@xxxxxxxxxxx> writes:

 > What you are saying all of the non  GPL'ed linux kernel modules are in
 > violation of  the GPL?!

 One of the main copyright holders has said that it is ok to "link" the
 GPLed code with code under a license that conflicts with the GPL.
 Other copyright holders have not said they are against this, but any of
 them can say so.  With the Linux kernel everyone is acting in good
 faith.

 > Guess somebody better stick some lawyers  on Nvidia.

 As an individual, you can't distribute NVIDIA's drivers in any form
 (unless they have changed the license drastically lately, but I'm sure
 they haven't).  Once you get NVIDIA's permission to do so, you can
 distribute the drivers.  NVIDIA provides source to some parts of the
 kernel module because it's easier for them that way, not because they
 have to.  As an individual, you can you do whatever you want on the
 privacy of your own computer.  If people bothered to read the GPL (or
 any other license for that matter) they would notice it's a
 *distribution* license, not a use license.  You can modify a GPLed
 program as much as you want, you can use pieces of it in your own code,
 you can link it with whatever you want, and it's all ok as long as it
 doesn't leave your computer (and *please* let's not enter a discussion
 regarding what "leaving the computer" means, this is off topic enough
 already)
 
 > Ohh and explain this problem to Linus also.

 Linus has given his own interpretation of what the user can and can't
 do (distribution wise).  He is free to do so as copyright holder (in
 the same way SGI is free to "clarify" what the GPL means according to
 their lawyers -- everyone here knows that SGI has provided an
 interpretation regarding a couple of points of the GPL, right?).  This
 doesn't mean he is right wrt what the GPL allows you to do or not.

 > > Sun Solaris was just an example.  The number of "threats" to SGI's
 > > IP would be a lot greater than you think if they released XFS as BSD
 > > licensed.
 > 
 > Ohh?! like how...

 Is that a serious question?  By providing the XFS code under a license
 not as loose as the BSD one, SGI is ensuring they keep some degree of
 control regarding what the competition can and can't do.  HP can take
 the Linux kernel, include the XFS patches and distribute it with the
 shiny Itanium servers, and it's all ok (funny, this sounds a lot like
 what SGI wants to do, too).  Along the same line of thought, Sun can
 take the XFS code, patch it to get it to run with Solaris (probably
 modifying Solaris a bit at the same time) and distribute that (not as
 part of the Solaris kernel, but as a loadable module).  This is
 probably not ok according to the GPL (this is not the same as a GPLed
 program linked with the vendor's libc, this is linking GPLed code
 inside kernel space) and it probably requires permission from SGI to
 distribute.  At any rate, iff SGI is ok with this, and say, Sun finds a
 way to make XFS run ten times as fast, they *have* to give the source
 to the people that get the binary module, and SGI can get the
 modifications back.

 Honestly, it can't get simpler than that.  In the context of large
 projects with a large interested audience, the BSD license is business
 wonderland for the people *getting* the code, not for the people
 writing it.  I would have thought that people doing consulting work
 would understand this without further explanation.

 But yes, "threats" is a bit off the scale.

-- 
Marcelo

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