Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Fri Jul 18 20:41:56 UTC 2008

Antonio Olivares wrote:
> Thank you for the link, a friend of mine has one in his classroom and it has 1969 as the birth of Unix, and in 1991/1992 the birth of Linux.  Linux the kernel and combined with the GNU utilities started the Linux distribution.  Another friend of mine also told me that many programs that are now in Linux, were either copied over from BSD/Solaris or ported to linux and were allowed to be shared across without restrictions :)  However, we now now that there are GPL police out there and enforcing the GPL on people who modify the freely available code out there, but do not share their modifications :(  
> Is Novell the owner of Unix?

Maybe.. They bought the rights in the mid-90's from the company spun off 
from AT&T to own it.  It was called unixware at that point but was 
basically SysVr4.2.

> Is it SCO

Then they sold it to SCO, although it was a different company then - 
subsequently portions were acquired by Caldera (who also bought DRDOS 
and sued Microsoft over it) which later renamed itself to SCO.  The 
original SCO also had some other unix-related flavors but they were 
mostly obsolete by then (the only advantage earlier was some esoteric 
ISA-era PC device and print drivers).

What was actually sold is under dispute. SCO claims it owns the 
copyright and associated licensing.  Novell claims it was just a 
licensing/resale arrangement - and this is still in appeals courts. The 
first decision went to Novell, but that's been thrown out.  I'm not sure 
if anyone has gotten around to wondering how this affects OpenSolaris 
parts of which Sun licensed from SCO and believes they have the right to 

> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCO_Group ?
> Does the GPL protect Linux users across the globe against malicious lawsuits claiming ownership of programs that are used?

No, since if there is prior copyright ownership, the GPL license can't 
apply.  But it is unlikely that anyone would attempt to recover any 
damages from a small end user - or succeed if they tried.  And so far 
none of SCO's claims of copied code have been upheld and there isn't 
much reason to expect that they will.

> These are other questions that affect the status quo and what is done to correct issues. 
> I also wonder if the GPL is a true open source model?  Some posts here are pointing that it is not :(, I am still confused because of too much jargon present.  
> http://www.opensource.org/

You can't take these arguments too seriously.  The whole term 'Open 
Source' was developed in reaction to the overzealous GPL and the 
problems it poses when mixing with commercial/proprietary components - 
or even less restricted open code.

> According to the definition of Open Source, 
> http://www.opensource.org/docs/osd
> The GPL then violates #9 in the definition
> <quote>
> 9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software
>  The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.
> </quote>
> or does it really violate it?  

 From the GPL perspective, it doesn't place restrictions on the other 
software, only on the covered parts.  That is, it can't stop you from 
redistributing the other components but you can't include a GPL'd part 
if the combination makes a 'work as a whole' that can't be completely 
GPL'd.  In practice, the effect is the same on a potential recipient, 
but technically they can claim they aren't restricting the other parts.

The GPL would be more clear if it simply stated that you cannot 
redistribute at all except under strictly limited conditions.

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesell at gmail.com

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