Thursday, December 14, 2006

His name is Linus. He fights for the Users.

Ok, so, admittedly, I don't normally agree with Linus Torvalds. But, this time, he's got it right.

In brief: the issue at hand is whether to disallow non-GPL'd modules to be loaded into the Linux kernel. Apparently, a majority of the kernel developers said that that should be the case (it isn't now), and that it would start Jan 1, 2008. I think that this is a bad idea, because it restricts users' freedom, most specifically the freedom to modify their software to do what they want it to.

Now, don't get me wrong, these guys are also working for users' freedom. Specifically, they want to ensure the freedom of the users to modify modules that are used on their systems. But the method they've chosen is a step in the wrong direction. They are choosing to restrict the freedoms of their own software in order to pressure others to open the freedoms of the others' software (something that the FSF is often accused of doing, and berated for it, even if they don't actually do that). One of the quotes I saw was to the effect of, "in order to protect your freedoms, we have to make some restrictions on them...", which is wrong! This way leads to ever further restrictions. Think "Those who would give up their liberty to protect their liberty, um, will lose it, duh!" (This is why Nozick always slips into the State...)

Anyway, Linus has refused to add the patch to his source tree without broad consensus from major Linux distributions (which will never happen).

Again, I'm all in favor of a completely GPL'd kernel, with all modules that are needed (for anyone!) GPL'd, too. But not when it's forced on me.

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