Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Matthew Saltzman mjs at clemson.edu
Sun Jul 20 23:37:49 UTC 2008

On Sun, 2008-07-20 at 16:15 -0300, Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> On Jul 20, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell at gmail.com> 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.  When took in isolation, it's still under
> the modified BSD license, and its headers will say so, and there has
> to be a copy of the license distributed along with the code.
> >> You seem to not understand the difference between freedom and power,
> >> and insist in demanding power when what you deserve and have is
> >> freedom.
> > 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?

This sort of trolling is inimical to a rational discussion, and I wish
you'd stop.  (For the record, I find some of Les's remarks a bit over
the top as well.)

The FSF acknowledges that there are a variety of "free software"
licenses.  I can't imagine that they would use the term if they didn't
believe that all of these licenses effectively protected the "four
freedoms".  As Rahul pointed out, many of these are compatible with the
GPL.  But as he did not point out, many more are (for various reasons)
incompatible with the GPL.  For that, they are no less "free".

What I want to do is take a GPL work and a work licensed under one of
those other free licenses and combine them with code that I write and
release under some free license (not necessarily GPL, but still free)
and release the whole to the world.  As a scientist, my interest is in
building on knowledge created before to create new knowledge and solve
new problems, and in telling the world about my discoveries.  I have no
interest in "using software for stealing money from others' bank
accounts", and frankly, I resent the accusation.

If the free license of the second work or the free license that I would
choose for my own work is GPL-incompatible, my freedom to disseminate
the new knowledge I create is restricted by the requirement of the GPL
that the work as a whole be licensed under the GPL if any part is.

And to whoever said that the end user's freedom is what's being
protected, I'd point out that the end user's freedom to obtain my code
and reap the benefits of the knowledge I create is equally as

> 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?

I am in no way advocating any action to close up free code that I get
from somewhere else, or even to keep closed modifications that I make to
that code.  I'm only interested in what I'm permitted to do with *my*
code.  Many of the free licenses protect code I might want to
incorporate in my work without restricting what I'm allowed to do with
*my* code that *I* created (or other code that I might obtain from other
sources).  The LGPL is one such license.  There are many others.  As far
as I know, the GPL is the only "free" license that places restrictions
on code that is not part of the program being licensed.

> 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.  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.
                Matthew Saltzman

Clemson University Math Sciences
mjs AT clemson DOT edu

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