Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Les Mikesell lesmikesell at gmail.com
Sun Jul 20 22:47:33 UTC 2008

Rahul Sundaram wrote:

> Les Mikesell wrote:

I don't see how you can claim - or even think - what you've written here 
  if you followed any of what I've posted or any of the linked material, 
but this thread is a mess so I'll start over.  This time please don't 
delete stuff just because it disproves what you want to say.

This particular conversation started with you asking for a reference to 
back up my long-held understanding that Linus did not intend for modules 
to be derivative works of the kernel and I did with this 1995 Linus posting:

http://groups.google.com/group/gnu.misc.discuss/msg/d5af1cc0012c3bec and 

>> I don't see how anyone can forget that he plainly wrote that demanding 
>> that modules be GPL'd is both legally and morally wrong.  Or have any 
>> question about the meaning of this portion of the Linux license:
> Again, he said no such thing. In fact, he argued explicitly that even if 
> it legally correct, it is morally wrong.

How can you say that after reading from the link:

   "After all, the driver wasn't actually derived from linux
    itself: it's a real driver in its own right, so I don't
    feel that I have the moral right to force him to switch copyrights.

How much clearer can you be that it would be morally wrong to pretend 
that a module is a derived work or to force a copyright change???

>>   "NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use
>>    kernel services by normal system calls - this is merely considered
>>    normal use of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading
>>    of "derived work".
> This is clearly talking about syscall interface and unrelated to the 
> kernel modules interface.

And you conveniently deleted the context that disproves this.  From that 
same link above quoting Linus directly:

   "...just see module loading as "use" of the kernel, rather than
    as linking against it."

Again, there is no room for misinterpretation.  He clearly used this 
description specifically to relate to the well known Linux license. 
This wording was repeated in magazine interviews and was well understood 
at the time.

>>> "Well, there really is no exception.
>> So his own quote, and the FSF legal counsel's understanding of the 
>> terms as he stated them were both wrong?
> The portion I quote is from a mail from Linus.  He clearly says there is 
> no exception

I'm repeating what he said, and what he clearly meant in 1995 when I 
(and many others) decided that Linux was going to become a viable 
entity.  If he hasn't stuck to his word since then, I can't help that. 
There was plenty of time back when Linux still badly needed additional 
driver support that he could have made different statements - but he didn't.

> Read again,
> http://www.win.tue.nl/~aeb/linux/lk/COPYING-modules.txt
> http://web.archive.org/web/20060202062935/people.redhat.com/arjanv/COPYING.modules 
> FSF didn't give a direct interpretation of his quote and that cannot be 
> held more authoritative than the original copyright holders anyway. 

Again, you removed my link to the interview in which Eben Moglen gives 
his understanding slightly after the time in question.
It is a big pdf, so I'll quote the short and sweet relevant portion:

  "I asked two prominent representatives of the Free Software
   Foundation – Eben Moglen, general counsel, and Richard
   Stallman, founder – to clarify thorny issues of linkage
   to GPL code, and came up with two divergent opinions on
   derivative works in specific contexts.  Their responses
   (to the question of whether or not they would consider
   the following derivative works) are recorded below:

   A driver loaded as a module into the Linux kernel?
   Moglen:  No"

That seems pretty direct to me.  And the only interpretation possible 
knowing Linus was publicly quoted as saying modules 'use' the kernel 

    Les Mikesell
     lesmikesell at gmail.com

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