Why is Fedora not a Free GNU/Linux distributions?

Alexandre Oliva aoliva at redhat.com
Wed Jul 23 00:09:50 UTC 2008

On Jul 22, 2008, Antonio Olivares <olivares14031 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> The code is available for free from some places, is that a
> sufficient condition?

Not for GPLv2.  For GPLv3, it is, but the responsibility of ensuring
people who get the binaries can get the sources still lies with the
distributor of the binaries.

> Why do people have to tarnish products when they are doing good and
> those that are not accuse them of violating the GPL?

If they didn't mean to do wrong, they fix it and move on (GPLv3's
automatic restoration is a great improvement over GPLv2's automatic
termination in this regard).

If they did mean to do wrong, then they're not doing good.

Of course you'll find people who are too trigger-happy and will go for
the jugular of people who didn't mean to do wrong.  That's
unfortunate, but there are such poeple everywhere.  In general, a
friendly approach to inform the person that they're making a mistake
is the best to get problems fixed and to verify that no ill was meant.

> In the instance of Zenwalk, they posted it on their sites with the
> corresponding sources, for Mepis, you can get the sources provided
> that you pay and they will be sent to whoever asks for them.

Sounds like both are in compliance with GPLv2 at least in this regard.

>> > The restrictions or the viral part of the GPL is what bites many
>> > people and what turns them against it :(

> I do not know enough about it, I just quote what others say.

When you do that, you're helping them spread it.  Please challenge it,
help us expose the lie and the manipulation underway.

> All I question is why some programs yes and others no, while both
> are free and open source.

I don't understand what you're questioning here.  Could you please
rephrase or elaborate?

> I am not an enemy of the GPL, I only question why it tries to
> restrict things that are not licensed within itself?

If you can read Portuguese (from your name, perhaps you can), please
have a look at http://fsfla.org/svnwiki/blogs/lxo/pub/gplv3-novidades
and http://fsfla.org/svnwiki/blogs/lxo/pub/copyleft, it may help
understand the reasoning behind the conditions of the GPL, if its
preamble doesn't for you.

> It is/was an excellent license, but there are some things that it
> prohibits

Nope.  Copyright law prohibits.  The GPL prohibits nothing.  It
doesn't permit everything, though.  Whatever it doesn't permit that
copyright prohibits, in the absence of some other license you might
have, remains prohibited.

> *I do not know which ones*, that forces authors of software to use
> other licenses in which their work is more protected.

What do you mean by "protected"?

> For the others, the users that demand the source, it is available in
> the own binary that they download, the instructions are provided as
> to how the binary is generated and how it is built and how it works.

This all sounds good, I don't see any conflict with the GPL (or any
other Free Software license, for that matter) in this description.
But it's not the whole story.  You have to look at the licenses of all
pieces of software you've used and see how they play out together.  If
there are conflicts, you might be in infringement.  Even if you are,
if you're well-meaning, and if the copyright holders of the software
you've derived from are well-meaning, some arrangement can generally
be achieved, but you might have to get in touch with them.

> I only question if it is not a GPL offense?  

Distributing sources along with the binaries are not a GPL offense,
no.  Whether they're packaged in a single file or not is irrelevant.

> Thank you Alexandre for your kindness and taking the time to explain
> the GPL and other things.

You're welcome.  One is glad to be of service.

> I know that the vast majority of users do not appreciate the agenda
> that you push, but it is something that you have to push.

Stress on "have to" :-)

> and some quotes from comments section in Distrowatch.com weekly

> Take comment 37

> I'm not an expert at all, just an end-user, and like it when
> something "just works", as I find in Linux.

Sadly for this gnewbie, Linux doesn't just work.  It needs userland to
work, and that userland has GNU at its foundation.

> The people should decide in the end what they want to call it, is that fair?

That people can and should decide it, sure, by all means.  Whether or
not it's fair, that depends on how they decide.  It's between them and
their conscience.

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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