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GPLv3 arrives with little fanfare

Jun 29, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

The FSF (Free Software Foundation) today released GPLv3 (GNU General Public License version 3), the third generation of the world's most popular free software license. However, only about twenty open source projects have adopted the new license so far, notes Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, over at Linux-Watch.

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Vaughan-Nichols calls the paucity of GPLv3 takers “telling,” in light of “years of discussion” prior to today's release.

One high-profile project that will move to GPLv3 is the Samba Project, which makes open source networking software built around reverse-engineered Microsoft Windows networking protocols. The license shift could have interesting ramifications for Microsoft, because Microsoft distributes coupons (if not the actual code) for SUSE Linux, as part of a joint marketing and distribution pact with Novell. Such distribution could suffice to activate a “poison pill” clause in GPLv3 that would prevent Microsoft, as a distributor of GPLv3 software, from attacking other GPL-licensed software on patent grounds. Perhaps uncoincidentally, Microsoft recently sponsored a survey concluding that developers don't want the GPLv3.

Also onboard with GPLv3 are about 15 GNU-sponsored projects, including the seminal gcc (GNU compiler collection) project. Interestingly, while the GPLv3 is generally more compatible with other open source licenses (like Apache, for one), it is incompatible with GPLv2, suggesting that gcc will remain available under the GPLv2 as well, or face a fork along license version boundaries.

Linux, meanwhile, has “no chance on earth” of adopting GPLv3, Vaughan-Nichols writes, adding, “And, if Linux isn't going to adopt it, I really doubt any other major free software project will be adopting it.”

Find out more about the GPLv3 launch here. Vaughan-Nichols' comments can be found here.

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