Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Rahul Sundaram sundaram at fedoraproject.org
Sat Jul 19 03:30:57 UTC 2008

Les Mikesell wrote:
> Rahul Sundaram wrote:
>>> On the other hand, Linus was once widely quoted as saying that 
>>> loadable binary driver modules were not derivative works of the 
>>> kernel - and I believe that the initial popularity of depended on 
>>> that interpretation just as much as the wide use of glibc depends on 
>>> it not claiming programs that use it as derivatives.  He has waffled 
>>> on that position more recently but there is no clear statement or 
>>> legal precedent.
>> You have made similar statements in the past while providing no 
>> references every single time in the discussion even when asked. If you 
>> truly believe in what you are saying, I would ask you (again) to 
>> provide a direct quote. If he was so widely quoted on this as you 
>> claim, this should be no problem at all. I very much doubt you will.
> Does this direct quote from 1995 help your memory problem?

Claiming that I have memory problems after you have been misstating the 
case for a long time without any references is quite rich. The below 
quote or mail nowhere has a blanket statement saying binary modules are 
not derivative works as you claim. He has expressed his opinions quite 
clearly in many many discussions. Here is a collection


In short: It depends on the specific details. Note that Linus is only 
one of the many copyright holders and other kernel developers intention 
matters too and they clearly don't agree with binary modules at all.


>    "Another way to look at this - using the legal rather than the
>     moral viewpoint - is to just see module loading as "use" of the
>     kernel, rather than as linking against it.  I prefer to explain
>     the rationale behind it using the _moral_ reason to do it, though."
> http://groups.google.com/group/gnu.misc.discuss/msg/d5af1cc0012c3bec
> Hence his exception to the GPL permitting use of the kernel interfaces. 

I have told you before that there is no such exception and I quote from 
the first link:

"Well, there really is no exception. However, copyright law obviously
hinges on the definition of "derived work", and as such anything can
always be argued on that point"

> And if you read his statement there on why it is OK to have a non-GPL 
> AFS module, you might perhaps understand why I am perplexed that it is 
> not OK to have a non-GPL zfs module (ignoring the practical issues of 
> connecting the code for the moment).

You were told about the problems earlier on too and you choose to ignore 
it. CDDL was deliberately designed to be incompatible with GPL


ZFS has patents and nobody wants to take the risk


ZFS (if and when someone ports it to Linux) might still be able to live 
a life like AFS does as a third party kernel module which would not get 
merged in the upstream kernel. Meanwhile, I would be betting on btrfs ( 
http://btrfs.wiki.kernel.org/index.php/Main_Page) to get mature and 
merged in as a alternative with similar features.


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