The GPLv3 Is Here…

Yes folks, the much talked about, much debated GPLv3 is out. The GNU Public License is the legal stuff that protects Linux kernel, and many more open source software. And it just got its new version. GPLv2 was written way back about 15 years ago, and the OSS community felt the need to update it. However, it has caused much controversy indeed. Released on Friday, this bit of news did get drowned out in the hoopla over the iPhone. But believe me, this is far more far-reaching than any other tech development in recent times.

GPLv3 puts restrictions like DRM, and precludes any patent deals like the Microsucks-Novell one. It’s not about that though – changes will take effect after months. What I wanted to talk about is other developments. After GPLv3, I see Microsucks getting ready for war. A blow to Linux as we know it. Recently, Microsucks tried to make similar deals with Red Hat, Mandriva, and Ubuntu – all Linux biggies. All refused. Which means, I don’t see anyone else of any consequence left. The only major player on MS’s side is Novell now. Linspire and Xandros went in because these distros are targeted towards the mass market, and know that something like GPLv3 will hurt them.

And hurt Linux Microsucks definitely wants to. Over recent times, Steve Ballmer has been going on rabidly about patent violations. Maybe it’s just a pressure tactic to get more people on-board, maybe it’s just FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Destruction). And I get this feeling that Microsucks wants to go in for the D of FUD. It’s Vista OS is out, demanding more system requirements. Of course, Linux is on the rise – with people switching over to less resource hungry Linux. Linux is still small, I agree, with a 0.7% market share according to some very good estimates, but Microsucks KNOWS Linux is on the rise. It’s percolating down…all this stuff on how good free software is.

I’m sure the Linux camp too has a patent arsenal – I guess they have stuff to counter-sue Microsoft. How much, is the question. Being closed source, their faults remain hidden; while MS has full access to Linux code. The reason why it could go in for a strike is that now is the time after 6 years, that it wants users to upgrade. And it’s seeing a lot of inertia. With the PC industry in cahoots with MS to sell costlier PCs that people don’t need to buy, Billy sees a direct threat to him not being the richest asshole anymore. A strike could accomplish this – create fear in the minds of people that they’ll be sued, and they’ll drop it like a hot potato. As for the snickering MS partners like Novell who THINK they’re safe, well, people will think Linux is bad, isn’t it? And chuck them too. MS can very sweetly dump them at its own free will then.

I’m all for interoperability, I’m all for collaboration. What worries me is that they tried to pin Red Hat and other majors down to the mat. I don’t care if Linspire goes in, it’s a small player and just one niche segment catering to mass market is something I’m ready to support; giving up a lot of freedom of Linux by having Red Hat and all join is something I’m against. Maybe I’m falling for nothing but FUD, falling for unfounded fears. But I know which side I’m on, I’m on Linux’s side. If it means supporting GPLv3 instead of interoperability, so be it. If interoperability does work out though, then I’m all for it, and for more collaboration deals.

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