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Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

Andrew Haley wrote:

It's not free the way the GPL redefines the word to mean restricted,
but it doesn't interfere with your freedom to distribute your
changes as patches, leaving it clear that it is something different
from the original author's work that he supports.

I think my meaning was clear.  It's not free because you can't
distribute modified versions.

It means you've defined free to mean what GPL advocates pretend it means.

And no matter how much you try to
define it away, this basic fact will not change.  Yes, you can supply
it with a bunch of patches, but you can't do the obvious thing and
check it in to a public source code control system and work on it
there, since that would mean sharing a modified version.

You can't generalize and say that can't be done, because the copyright owner may grant such permission - or do the generally better thing and coordinate the modifications himself. But note that you _can_ generalize and say that this is always impossible with any GPL covered material when the modification you want to make involves adding something that isn't GPL'd.

You can't
distribute a modified version as part of, for example, a Linux distro.

And you can't modify a Linux disto, for example, by adding zfs to the kernel and distribute it.

It's not free in any sense, except free-as-in-beer.

And GPL-encumbered material isn't free in any sense except for the rare dual-licensed things that cleverly avoid its entrapment. You are just ignoring the restrictions.

but it is only in odd circumstances that it even matters or that
there is any effective difference.  Even in GPL circles I think most
people agree that the best process is to coordinate modifications
into a single revision tree instead of forking wildly.

Sure, but that's a matter of free choice.  That's what freedom means:
you can either fork the software yourself, or you can contribute to
the trunk.  The choice is up to *you*.  And anyone to whom you give
the software has that same choice, and you can't take that freedom
away from them.

Sorry, but freedom does _not_ mean being restricted from using components together and forcing everyone else to follow that same restriction.

There is the argument that if the author/maintainer stops
updating, the package can die.
Quite.  And, indeed, that's the inevitable consequence.
It's not at all inevitable since the copyright holder can transfer
control at any time or might already be a foundation that will outlast
any possible use for the product.

Sure, or they might not choose to do so.

So don't claim it is inevitable one way or another. Those choices are what freedom is about.

But, in technology everyone is better
off when an old package does die and is replaced by something new and
improved, and the harm of the GPL is that it's 'work as a whole'
requirement makes it difficult or impossible for these replacements to
happen at the component level when the currently best component isn't
encumbered by the GPL.

Eh?  This makes no sense.  It's certainly not justified by this
example, anyway.

If it takes a current concrete example to make sense, swapping out reiserfs with zfs in the Linux kernel seems like a good idea. But we can't do that because the kernel is too free.

  Les Mikesell
   lesmikesell gmail com

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