Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Sun Jul 20 20:04:53 UTC 2008

Alexandre Oliva wrote:
>> If I add some bsd code into a gpl'd work, could I then distribute the
>> resulting binary and only the previously gpl'd code?
> No, you have to provide the whole with the permissions and the
> conditions set forth in the GPL, which the modified BSD license
> permits you to do.
>> Instead, I believe it becomes encumbered with the gpl restrictions -
>> and could not be used otherwise.
> When part of the whole, yes.

Which was and is exactly my point.  The GPL must cover the work as a 
whole and thus is only compatible with licenses that permit their own 
terms to be replaced with those of the GPL.

> When took in isolation, it's still under
> the modified BSD license,

Nothing can be taken in isolation when it is part of work containing any 
GPL-covered content because of that work-as-a-whole restriction.

>> No, I understand that restrictions are not freedom.
> So, let's see, just because you're prohibited from using software for
> stealing money from others' bank accounts, and you could decide to
> change any piece of software to do just that, then no software
> whatsoever can be free, because it's under a restriction?

That's not, and shouldn't be, a restriction applied to the software itself.

> Just because you're prohibited from removing the copyright notice and
> the license from code under one of the various permissive licenses,
> it's not free, because it's under a restriction?

If there was some use that this requirement prevented, then I'd say it 
would make the code not free - but I can't think of any such use and 
thus consider it free.

> You seem to have a very odd understanding of what freedom is about.
> You appear to disregard the fact that one's freedom doesn't invade
> someone else's freedom.

How so?  There are specific regulations for that, none of which involve 
combining software components that you otherwise have the right to use 
and redistribute.

> If you were the only person in the universe,
> and you could change physical laws to suit your wishes, then you might
> be able to equate freedom to 'no restrictions'.  Once others enter the
> picture, what you claim as freedom, if claimed by the others, would
> turn into power usable against you: threats to *your* actual
> *freedom*.  I don't think that's an outcome you'd be interested in,
> and you wouldn't be so selfish as to wanting that kind of power only
> to you, so there's some inconsistency in your stance.

None of which has anything to do with the outcomes that we can observe 
for less restricted software - the original TCP/IP code being a fine 
example.  I want more of that kind of outcome and I don't understand why 
anyone would want it to have been prevented.

   Les Mikesell
    lesmikesel at gmail.com

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