FreeBSD Boss: GPLv3 is Driving Linux Users to BSD

Sep 03, 2007

The FreeBSD Community should leverage GPLv3 to convince Linux users to use FreeBSD. It is a good time to push FreeBSD, says Justin Gibbs, founder and Vice President of the FreeBSD-Foundation.

In the FreeBSD Foundation's official August newsletter Justin Gibbs writes: "the GPLv3 is a critical concern for many current commercial users of OpenSource software." quoting legal restrictions that result from version 3 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv3). What GPLv3 intends to do is to rule out conflict with Digital Rights Management (DRM), the Tivo digital video recorder and patented software. According to the FreeBSD boss, these are exactly the things that are causing problems: "Some use models that were possible under "loopholes" in GPLv2 are now explicitly forbidden in GPLv3." says Gibbs. This leads to higher support costs for application vendors, and makes it more or less impossible to access specifications.

Gibbs sees this as the perfect time for the FreeBSD Community to put some facts straight, starting with the common misconception that Open Source and the GPL are more or less identical. He sees a considerable difference between the license philosophies promoted by the BSD Community and the FSF. "A GPL proponent might argue that a license for free software must be upgraded periodically since we cannot anticipate what new use models for free software might be developed that restrict freedom.", he writes, pointing to statements by GNU founder Richard Stallman. The BSD license in contrast to this: "The BSD license is as permissive as possible exactly because we cannot predict the future or to what beneficial purpose (commercial or otherwise) our software will be used."

Linspire boss Kevin Carmony used similar arguments to Gibbs when warning of possible GPLv3 side effects in an open letter. In line with this, Freespire was released with proprietary components by Carmony's successor.

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