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Embrace GPLv3

asked 2014-09-26 00:56:49 +0200

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updated 2014-09-26 11:26:47 +0200

javispedro gravatar image

Jolla seems to have THE SCARE when it comes to using GPLv3 licensed products in the device. A glaring example is bash, of which we're stuck in an ancient 3.x version, because in the 4.x release Bash switched to the GPLv3.

There's lots of misconceptions about what are GPLv3's requirements. Personally I think it would be a major step if Jolla was one of the first companies that would show that it is possible to build a device that uses the GPLv3.

The GPLv3 is virtually the only legal protection left to ensure our devices remain open and "hackable".

Please vote this suggestion if you would like to see Jolla embrace GPLv3. Feel free to edit this post if you want, since I'm a poor marketer. Suggested "solutions" to this thread are e.g. repositories with the latest versions of all GPLv3 packages so that we can install them on our Jollas, or solutions to the potential legal problems/FUD.

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Could be discussed further as a topic for next SailfishOS community meeting?

pat_o ( 2014-09-26 13:28:22 +0200 )edit

You could try to explain the key points what are different with GPLv2 so it would be clearer why the need to move to GPLv3. like gather something from this:

Acce ( 2014-09-27 14:35:27 +0200 )edit

Downvoted. Imho GPLv2 is the much better license and I also prefer the rather pragmatic approach of Jolla, as free as possible is good enough (for me).

chappi ( 2014-09-28 10:19:29 +0200 )edit

Chappi, "as free as possible" is quite a reasonable and moderate stance, and in that sense I don't disagree. It's just that, as some of us are arguing, it seems possible for things to be freer!

keithzg ( 2014-09-28 14:43:43 +0200 )edit

For Jolla, there are a couple of ways one could enable GPLv3 packages while keeping certain things locked down. One could foresee a fixed path on the flash where you can install user-compiled GPLv3 S/W.

For applications, adding this location to the PATH environment variable as the first entry could add an override. For libraries, there's probably something to be done with

However, there will be things (like the shell) that will be harder to replace, since /bin/sh is used hardcoded in quite a few places and that's typically a soft-link to the actual shell. Being able to point the symlink elsewhere can be a bit of a challenge.

HIGHGuY ( 2014-09-28 23:42:04 +0200 )edit

6 Answers

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answered 2015-09-24 11:20:37 +0200

Working on it.

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Good to hear!

keithzg ( 2015-09-24 11:29:13 +0200 )edit

oh, great! :D

tad ( 2015-09-24 13:50:20 +0200 )edit

answered 2014-09-29 17:51:49 +0200

Nieldk gravatar image

I really agree on this. Voted up.

As for differences between GPL V2 and V3, this is a very descriptive page:

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answered 2015-01-22 02:34:56 +0200

Thaodan gravatar image

the problem is that they need patch old versions of bash etc.

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answered 2014-10-02 15:53:51 +0200

chappi gravatar image

updated 2015-09-23 21:08:29 +0200

Here is Linus' take on GPL v2 and v3 (Deb Conf 2014):

I'm not opposed that people can run GPLv3 software on Jolla. But if Jolla themself uses GPLv3 software I suppose the whole license 'philosophy' would change for them. And - personally - I'm happy they don't go that way!

I don't buy your argument 'The GPLv3 is virtually the only legal protection left to ensure our devices remain open and "hackable"'. Why is this so? And btw, Jolla is only partially open source now.

It seems to me that Jolla is that weak (small) that if they are not pragmatic and keep their options intact there might be no future devices at all. Do you know that they made a big loss last year? Do you think 'people are flocking towards jolla phones' right now? (I don't). Native apps (e.g. younited 'fiasko') don't seem to be coming in great numbers. Soon there will be Ubuntu phone competition which will put additional pressure on the company.

I think there's no need for FSF ideology (freedom but no devices left to loose is not what I want ;-)

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Well, in you opinion they are failing now - while using only GPLv2 or not releasing the source at all (putting aside if this fact might be related or not) - how does that at all relate to using GPLv3 in the future ?

MartinK ( 2014-10-02 16:00:37 +0200 )edit

"Do you know that they made a big loss last year?" I didn't, do you have a source?

nthn ( 2014-10-02 16:06:08 +0200 )edit

A summary of arguments from the video:

  1. The FSF abused the GPL2s "or any later version" clause to push a new, spiritually different license (the GPL3).
  2. The FSF offered him a GPLv3 without Tivoization clause (?)
  3. Users of GPLv3 without Tivoization clause won't be able to take back changes from full GPLv3 users (?)
  4. Allowing Tivoization is decision of the hardware maker and has no impact on software maker ("it's overreaching", I don't want to impose my world view to anyone else).
  5. There are real reasons for Tivoization. E.g. it maybe imposed by "wireless carriers" or legal reasons.
javispedro ( 2014-10-02 16:41:08 +0200 )edit

And now my response: In don't feel that the GPLv3 is spiritually different from the GPLv2. The FSF has always been about _user_ freedom, not developer freedom. It always has been about imposing a different world view into computer developers that benefits computer users (that is, an ideology). In that sense, it is painful for the users when they can't improve the devices they use because of Tivoization. Even if 100% of the software on your computer is free, you are not able to use most of the FSF's "freedoms" if your computer refuses to boot because any single bit has changed.

Thus I see the GPLv3 as the closing of a loophole that would have enabled a dystopic future even if most of the software was GPLv2. In this way, the license is not "spiritually different", and pushing it via the any later version clause is quite reasonable.

As for the "GPLv3 without tivoization" clauses I don't know what's he talking about. Maybe someone does.

javispedro ( 2014-10-02 16:49:10 +0200 )edit

I'd like to feed the opposite question back to the TS: Do you feel that adding GPLv3 would _add_ something for users? Or more concrete: do you feel that Jolla's phone is not open enough?

If I'm not mistaken, you can install pretty much anything you want on it. In other words, adding the tivoization language to the RFS adds absolutely no more freedom beyond what we have today. So why waste Jolla's precious developer time over something like this?

I'd rather see them fix Exchange interop than add GPLv3 for no good reason.

HIGHGuY ( 2014-10-02 20:01:26 +0200 )edit

answered 2015-09-27 11:58:24 +0200

Tuomy gravatar image

Reason for the fact f. Ex. Linux kernel is gplv2 still is the clause banning you from including "binary blobs" with gplv3 software.

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Binary blobs are also forbidden with v2:

Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things.

For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code.

The "Program", below, refers to any such program or work, and a "work based on the Program" means either the Program or any derivative work under copyright law: that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it, either verbatim or with modifications and/or translated into another language.

You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it.

For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable.

(Source: ) ... just because nobody cares about the binary blobs it doesn't make them legal. ;)

V10lator ( 2015-10-08 16:15:52 +0200 )edit

answered 2015-09-23 22:32:40 +0200

Tuomy gravatar image

Gplv3 forces you to give away all your rights to your code and software.

Thus with jolla planning on licensing their OS, it'd be quite counterproductive.

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do you even understand the differences between v2 and v3?

tad ( 2015-09-24 00:28:52 +0200 )edit

Ditto. GPL is poison for anybody who wants to earn a living from coding software. Richard Stallman has plenty of free time, but Jolla sailors need to earn a living somehow.

Giacomo Di Giacomo ( 2015-09-24 00:30:28 +0200 )edit

@Giacomo Di Giacomo

also to you some questions:

  • Do you know the difference between GPLv2 (such licensed software is being used by Jolla) and GPLv3?
  • Do you know the concept of dual licensing?
  • Do you know that the OP is talking mainly about software not written by Jolla sailors themselves?
tad ( 2015-09-24 00:47:31 +0200 )edit

@tad I have tried to read the differences but I don't have the time to read them in detail and what I have seen does not seem of relevance to this question. Jolla is using GPL software BUT IS NOT MODIFYING IT. If you want to base your software on GPL'd software, or GPL your software, you lose any power of getting money from it. GPL is by the Free Software Foundation, note the "Free". If this is not the case, please explain it to me, also because this could be interesting in my workplace, where we steer away from everything that is GPL'd, also due to the viral nature of this license (i. e. use any piece of GPL'd software and you must GPL all of your product). From what I understand, the question is about GPLing the whole SailfishOS, not using GPL'd apps (which constitutes no problem).

Giacomo Di Giacomo ( 2015-09-24 07:44:43 +0200 )edit

Hey Giacomo. You'd have a lot of studying to do, and you've unfortunately read into some maybe propagandish anti-opensource writings if I may do that assumption (I mean, using "poison" for making a living with GPL code... tell that to the billions made with Linux) but I try to summarize the misconceptions. The "Free" does not refer price, but freedoms given to the users of the code. You can still ask as much money as you want for the work you do for others, and to do both service and traditional "no service included" licensing money you could have eg that dual-licensing model successfully employed my for example Qt / The Qt Company. GPLv3 does not differ any way from GPLv2 in this regard, and Jolla is both using and modifying GPLv2 code in the current Jolla. The question was also not about GPLv3:ing the whole Sailfish, but allowing GPLv3 packages in Sailfish. Even if they'd go fully free software (where GPL would be actually the better option), they could still continue their licensing and services business via trademarks and the simple fact no-one else could compete with them in maintaining SaiilfishOS based products. But that's a bit far-fetched, it's also useful to control the UX closely.

The problem with GPLv3 is that some hardware providers are wary of it because it requires to give the freedoms of modifying software to the users, and hw companies tend to like lockdowns. So it's reasonable for Jolla to stay away from GPLv3 if they feel it could limit their hw partner options from the current situation.

Mirv ( 2015-09-24 08:40:36 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2014-09-26 00:56:49 +0200

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Last updated: Sep 27 '15