We previously clarified, on numerous occasions even [1, 2, 3], that Novell will not be banned from selling Linux. The mistake made by a single journalist is starting to make some big waves. Take the following for instance:
Novell: ‘No One Can Stop Us From Selling Linux’
It was reported that those changes would preclude the inclusion of Linux in third party distribution deals such as the one Novell recently signed with Microsoft and “ban” Novell from selling future versions of Linux.
Is Novell losing Linux? No, it’s just bad reporting
Blame Jim Finkle at Reuters, I suppose. His story is the one that started this large dung-ball of misinformation rolling around the Internet. You know the one, about Novell losing the right to distribute Linux.
The FSF Can’t Ban Novell’s Linux Distribution Rights
Reuters posted a story on Saturday morning, of all times, titled “FSF says Novell could be banned from selling Linux” that sent the blogosphere and several media outlines into a frenzy of activity. While some folks didn’t bite, many places on the web just repeated the story verbatim. It’s a fetching headline, but a bit misleading since the Free Software Foundation doesn’t really have that authority over Linux.
Our Web site was even mentioned in this context by Linux Electrons and ComputerWorld.
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Many developers, most notably Linus Torvalds and many kernel maintainers, are perfectly happy with the current General Public License and for many projects, relicensing could be a painful or even impossible task – especially since it has been said that GPLv3 will be incompatible with GPLv2.
Can the Free Software Foundation be convinced to also work out an update to the GPLv2 that will include the Microvell-deal verbiage? Many have stated that they feel that FSF’s hesitancy to pursue Microvell under GPLv2 is because it has become the rallying cry for the upcoming v3, which was lacking popular support pre-Microvell.
If the GPLv2 is updated, both versions 2.1 and 3 would be available under the commonly implemented "or any later version" clause, or developers could continue to explicitly specifiy the version as others have opted to do. So, I ask, why not have a GPL 2.1 as well?
Isn’t the point to help protect developers from having their code hijacked and proprietized? Wouldn’t the cause of Free Software be better served by providing a patched version 2 as well? I am on the record as having seen the need for GPLv3, but I also see the need for GPLv2.1. I hope that Richard Stallman and Eben Moglen will agree.
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