Why are ebuilds licensed GPL v2 only (no later version)?

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Why are ebuilds licensed GPL v2 only (no later version)?

Ulrich Mueller-2
Apparently licensing of the Gentoo repository was changed from GPL-2+
to GPL-2 (only) in 2002, see for example [1] and [2]. I cannot find
any announcement or discussion about this.

Who was around in 2002 and still remembers what was the rationale?

Ulrich

[1] https://gitweb.gentoo.org/repo/gentoo/historical.git/commit/skel.ebuild?id=e67af11c176e4dca33846e65c2649aa456de3099
[2] https://gitweb.gentoo.org/repo/gentoo/historical.git/commit/header.txt?id=dc4dfe8aa903fb467e648da80f8bc3178411a77a

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Re: Why are ebuilds licensed GPL v2 only (no later version)?

Duncan-42
Ulrich Mueller posted on Fri, 26 Jan 2018 10:36:49 +0100 as excerpted:

> Apparently licensing of the Gentoo repository was changed from GPL-2+
> to GPL-2 (only) in 2002, see for example [1] and [2]. I cannot find any
> announcement or discussion about this.
>
> Who was around in 2002 and still remembers what was the rationale?
>
> Ulrich
>
> [1]
> https://gitweb.gentoo.org/repo/gentoo/historical.git/commit/skel.ebuild?
id=e67af11c176e4dca33846e65c2649aa456de3099
> [2]
> https://gitweb.gentoo.org/repo/gentoo/historical.git/commit/header.txt?
id=dc4dfe8aa903fb467e648da80f8bc3178411a77a

I wasn't around in 2002, but I was researching it by late 2003 and began
installing in early 2004, by which point Gentoo was suffering the
aftermath of the bitter split with Zynot and DRobbins was pretty much out
after having set up the Gentoo Foundation and (what became the) Council.

The Zynot side was focused on embedding and trying to take things
commercial, while accusing DRobbins of trying to do effectively the same
thing but with a(n IIRC) gaming focus.

That war has long since been fought and history has played out with
Gentoo still around and Zynot... not, so I'll try to avoid inserting
opinion /too/ much (tho I'm sure more recent events played out how they
did in part due to that history, people around then simply weren't
interested in what must have sounded rather similar), but...

The switch to GPLv2-only would have been made in the fight for its life
that was the Gentoo/Zynot fork, and almost certainly had to do with
trying to ensure that the gentoo/x86 tree could not be taken private
without community recourse, in an era before GPLv3 existed and there was
some uncertainty about what its legal terms were going to be, while those
of the GPLv2 were known, it had broad community support, and was at
least /somewhat/ legally tested.

Of course as we know it's possible for an entity owning copyright on a
GPLed work to also sell the rights to use it commercially, with the GPL
preventing others from doing the same, and that's what both sides were
accusing the other of trying to do, but as we've seen play out in other
contexts, the one thing the GPL /does/ do is provide a guarantee that the
code as-is will remain free, and community improvements to it without a
CLA letting the entity trying to take it proprietary are then disallowed
from being used to further that entity's plots.  With the uncertainty
surrounding the still coming GPLv3 at that point, I believe the intent
was to ensure that continued.  OTOH, those on the Zynot side would surely
argue that the intent was to ensure that Zynot couldn't take it private,
while Gentoo/DRobbins could, especially since at the time copyright was
assigned to Gentoo.  Of course now we have the advantage of looking back
it it in history and can see how things turned out, but back then, it was
far less clear how things would turn out.

--
Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman


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Re: Why are ebuilds licensed GPL v2 only (no later version)?

Luigi Mantellini

On Fri, Jan 26, 2018 at 3:47 PM, Duncan <[hidden email]> wrote:
Ulrich Mueller posted on Fri, 26 Jan 2018 10:36:49 +0100 as excerpted:

> Apparently licensing of the Gentoo repository was changed from GPL-2+
> to GPL-2 (only) in 2002, see for example [1] and [2]. I cannot find any
> announcement or discussion about this.
>
> Who was around in 2002 and still remembers what was the rationale?
>
> Ulrich
>
> [1]
> <a href="https://gitweb.gentoo.org/repo/gentoo/historical.git/commit/skel.ebuild? id=e67af11c176e4dca33846e65c2649aa456de3099" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">https://gitweb.gentoo.org/repo/gentoo/historical.git/commit/skel.ebuild?
id=e67af11c176e4dca33846e65c2649aa456de3099
> [2]
> <a href="https://gitweb.gentoo.org/repo/gentoo/historical.git/commit/header.txt? id=dc4dfe8aa903fb467e648da80f8bc3178411a77a" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">https://gitweb.gentoo.org/repo/gentoo/historical.git/commit/header.txt?
id=dc4dfe8aa903fb467e648da80f8bc3178411a77a

I wasn't around in 2002, but I was researching it by late 2003 and began
installing in early 2004, by which point Gentoo was suffering the
aftermath of the bitter split with Zynot and DRobbins was pretty much out
after having set up the Gentoo Foundation and (what became the) Council.

The Zynot side was focused on embedding and trying to take things
commercial, while accusing DRobbins of trying to do effectively the same
thing but with a(n IIRC) gaming focus.

That war has long since been fought and history has played out with
Gentoo still around and Zynot... not, so I'll try to avoid inserting
opinion /too/ much (tho I'm sure more recent events played out how they
did in part due to that history, people around then simply weren't
interested in what must have sounded rather similar), but...

The switch to GPLv2-only would have been made in the fight for its life
that was the Gentoo/Zynot fork, and almost certainly had to do with
trying to ensure that the gentoo/x86 tree could not be taken private
without community recourse, in an era before GPLv3 existed and there was
some uncertainty about what its legal terms were going to be, while those
of the GPLv2 were known, it had broad community support, and was at
least /somewhat/ legally tested.

Of course as we know it's possible for an entity owning copyright on a
GPLed work to also sell the rights to use it commercially, with the GPL
preventing others from doing the same, and that's what both sides were
accusing the other of trying to do, but as we've seen play out in other
contexts, the one thing the GPL /does/ do is provide a guarantee that the
code as-is will remain free, and community improvements to it without a
CLA letting the entity trying to take it proprietary are then disallowed
from being used to further that entity's plots.  With the uncertainty
surrounding the still coming GPLv3 at that point, I believe the intent
was to ensure that continued.  OTOH, those on the Zynot side would surely
argue that the intent was to ensure that Zynot couldn't take it private,
while Gentoo/DRobbins could, especially since at the time copyright was
assigned to Gentoo.  Of course now we have the advantage of looking back
it it in history and can see how things turned out, but back then, it was
far less clear how things would turn out.

--
Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman





--
Luigi 'Comio' Mantellini
R&D - Software
Industrie Dial Face S.p.A.
Via Canzo, 4
20068 Peschiera Borromeo (MI), Italy

Tel.: +39 02 5167 2813
Fax: +39 02 5167 2459
web: www.idf-hit.com
mail: [hidden email]
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Re: Why are ebuilds licensed GPL v2 only (no later version)?

Ulrich Mueller-2
In reply to this post by Duncan-42
>>>>> On Fri, 26 Jan 2018, Duncan  wrote:

> The switch to GPLv2-only would have been made in the fight for its life
> that was the Gentoo/Zynot fork, and almost certainly had to do with
> trying to ensure that the gentoo/x86 tree could not be taken private
> without community recourse, in an era before GPLv3 existed and there was
> some uncertainty about what its legal terms were going to be, while those
> of the GPLv2 were known, it had broad community support, and was at
> least /somewhat/ legally tested.

The timing isn't quite right, though. The license change for
skel.ebuild happened as early as 2002-05-07. According to [1], the
Zynot fork occured in 2003 (and zwelch got involved with Gentoo not
before June 2002). So maybe the Zynot fork reinforced the decision,
but it cannot be the original reason for the license change.

Ulrich

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20030707080226/http://www.zynot.org:80/info/fork.html

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Re: Why are ebuilds licensed GPL v2 only (no later version)?

Duncan-42
In reply to this post by Luigi Mantellini
Luigi Mantellini posted on Fri, 26 Jan 2018 16:02:39 +0100 as excerpted:

> can help?
>
> https://lwn.net/Articles/74055/

Thanks.  I'd forgotten the (long) post I made there, but while it doesn't
talk about the GPLv2-only stuff, it certainly reflects the zynot stuff in
far more detail than I remembered or would write it again here.

(I had more written but deleted it as OT.)

--
Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman