Thursday, August 09, 2007

Best Friends (possibly): DTrace, ZFS, and the GPL

This is a verbatim copy (with minor corrections) of something I posted on opensolaris-discuss earlier today re: DTrace, ZFS, and the possibility of ports to Linux:

Subject: Re: [osol-discuss] An Open Letter to the Solaris Community.

"Derek E. Lewis" wrote:

> If the text of the GPL was actually read, those concerned would understand
> that Linux could have ZFS and DTrace now, along with any other piece of
> code licensed under the CDDL. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be
> possible, given the majority of people that work with GPL'd license code
> seem to be set upon making the imagined 'linking clause' reality when, in
> fact, the text of the GPL contains no instances of the word 'link'. It
> seems to be the case the real GPL is the FSF FAQ. Some might go as far to
> say the 'the program' and 'derivative work' referred to in the GPL
> encompass linking; however, this is an ambiguity, and any lawyer worth the
> air he or she breathes could sufficiently dispute this in court, I think.
>
> From my research, a ZFS or DTrace Linux port would only require the
> sources be distributed separately. Binaries could still be shipped with a
> Linux distribution, as the GPL is strictly a source-level license if one
> assumes the imaginary 'linking clause' is, in fact, imaginary.
>
> With this said, I fail to see how adopting a license that contains such
> ambiguities could be beneficial towards OpenSolaris.
>
> Derek E. Lewis
> delewis@acm.org
> http://delewis.blogspot.com

I await the day the mentioned 'imaginary linking' clause is disputed in court successfully... More so, it amazes me how many people actually fail to read the text of the GPL without the seasoning added by the FSF, specifically from the FSF FAQ. The open source software community would be a far much more open place than it is currently if this were done.

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