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GPL3 Better Garlic, Scares Away Microsoft Vampire

Date/Time Permalink: 07/06/07 10:37:00 am
Category: General

The link in the title goes to Groklaw's coverage of the story that the Linux community will be buzzing about all week: Microsoft doesn't like the GPL3.

So far, I've been non-committal on GPL3. GPL2, I have said, is just about as good, isn't it? But if this reaction is the omen of the future, I might begin to think that GPL3 really will be our salvation, after all.

The one thing stopping us right now is inertia. For instance, I decided to dump a GPL2 in with the little Flash SWFTools examples I've posted recently. That was partly a shrug - they're just demos, not important for anything - but also the practical consideration that SWFTools itself is GPL2.

Now I look up the chain of command, so to speak, and I see where inertia may slow the adoption of GPL3. SWFTools might have some dependency on a GPL2 library, the GPL2 library can point to Linus Torvalds and go, "Well, the kernel is staying GPL2!" and so on. The thing I want to nail down is:

Is GPL3 completely compatible with GPL2?

If all the experts out there agree that it is, then adoption will happen faster. Individual projects can take it upon themselves, without all being deadlocked waiting for each other to make the first move.

This is a practical consideration. Look how long after Firefox 2.0 came out it took before more than a handful of Linux distros started installing it by default. For that matter, look how long it took my fave distro Slackware to adopt the 2.6 kernel! Change is a slow, ponderous thing in software, and geeks tend to get a little fuzzy-headed when dealing with legal intricacies.

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