Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at redhat.com
Sun Jul 20 21:21:40 UTC 2008

On Jul 20, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.

Replacement is not a requirement, although sometimes that's explicitly
permitted.  Compatibility is simpler than that.

>> 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.

AFAICT this is one of the cases in which your mistaken notion of
alleged restrictions imposed gets you confused as to the consequences.

>>> 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.

But it limits what you can do with the software.  Per your theory, it
would conflict with freedom #0.  Fortunately for us all, including
yourself, freedom doesn't quite work just the way you claim you'd like
it to.

>> 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,

How about "Hey, I *want* to publish it without the copyright

Or "Hey, I want to combine it with code under a copyleft license that
explicitly permits all copyright notices to be removed."?

>> 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.

The regulations you allude to actually prohibit the combinations, uses
and redistribution.

The GPL goes as far as respecting your freedom to modify and
distribute the software, with or without modifications.  In a way that
respects your freedom, but not in a way that enables you to use that
software to exert power through it, disrespecting others' freedom.

> 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.

You want it?  Good!  If that's what you want, write the code and
publish it under such licenses.  You can use code from those who are
just as happy with the same outcomes.  You can even use code from
those who have different goals, but then you have to take their wishes
into account as well.  Your call.

Alexandre Oliva         http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
Free Software Evangelist  oliva@{lsd.ic.unicamp.br, gnu.org}
FSFLA Board Member       ¡Sé Libre! => http://www.fsfla.org/
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva@{redhat.com, gcc.gnu.org}

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