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GPLv3 Comes to the Rescue of GPL Violators

Red Hat is working with major tech companies, including Facebook, Google, and IBM, to make it easier for GPL violators to cure violations. The companies are adopting the cure provisions of GNU GPLv3 to help companies fix violations.

One of the biggest concerns when using open source components in commercial products is licence compliance. Multiple efforts are made by organizations like the Linux Foundation to help companies consume open source software without worrying about compliance. However, in some cases, like VMware, organizations such as the Software Freedom Conservancy take aggressive routes that end up hurting collaboration and open source projects in question. Such legal actions also send a shock wave that touching open source can be dangerous.

Companies don't violate licenses on purpose. "Most GPL violations occur by mistake, without ill will. Copyleft enforcement should assist these distributors to become helpful participants in the free software projects on which they rely," said Joshua Gay of the Free Software Foundation.

However, these companies must have ways to fix the violations. GPLv2, one of the most prominent copyleft licenses, permanently terminates permissions at the moment of violations. This heavy-handed approach discourages cooperation and collaboration and leads to more hostile resolutions like legal actions, in which no one, besides lawyers, has any interest. Linus Torvalds once said that "we lose" the moment we get lawyers involved.

With GPLv3, the Free Software Foundation has created an opportunity for users to address violations. It is a fix for the heavy-handed approach that GPLv2 adopted for violations. GPLv3 provides an opportunity to first time violators to restore all rights automatically once the violations are fixed. It was designed to attract more collaboration and amicable resolutions to violations instead of hostile actions.

Red Hat, Facebook, Google, and IBM are committed to extending the GPLv3 approach to license compliance errors to the software code that each licenses under GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 and v2.

With the adoption of this balanced approach, companies will feel more comfortable using open source components in their products without the fear of prosecution for any mistaken violation.

"We felt strongly that the large ecosystems of projects using GPLv2 and LGPLv2.x would benefit from adoption of this more balanced approach to termination derived from GPLv3," said Red Hat in a blog post.

This step by Red Hat is a move in the right direction.

Linux Kernel 4.14 Released

Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, announced the release of Linux kernel 4.14 on November 12, 2017. The release was due earlier but was delayed because of an AppArmor patch that caused regression. Torvalds lashed out at a Canonical developer who found the AppArmor regression but said that it was not a big deal.

Torvalds responded and said, "As far as the kernel is concerned, a regression is THE KERNEL NOT GIVING THE SAME END RESULT WITH THE SAME USER SPACE. The regression was in the kernel. You trying to shift the regressions somewhere else is bogus SHIT. And seriously, it's the kind of garbage that makes me think your opinion and your code cannot be relied on. If you are not willing to admit that your commit 651e28c5537a ("apparmor: add base infrastructure for socket mediation") caused a regression, then honestly, I don't want to get commits from you."

Torvalds chose to delay the release instead of letting the regression go through.

Linux kernel 4.14 is expected to be the next LTS version. Greg Kroah-Hartman, the maintainer of the stable branch of the Linux kernel said, "So, here it is officially, 4.14 should be the next LTS kernel that I'll be supporting with stable kernel patch backports for at least two years, unless it really is a horrid release and has major problems. If so, I reserve the right to pick a different kernel, but odds are, given just how well our development cycle has been going, that shouldn't be a problem (although I guess I just doomed it now …)."

Some of the major highlights of the release include built-in HDMI CEC support for Raspberry Pi that allows users to control their Pi-powered devices from a single controller, as well as significant performance improvements in KVM, Xen, and Hyper-V. The release also improves EFI support, making it more secure and reliable.

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