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Linux guru backs new GNU licence

Open source guru Alan Cox has voiced his support for the controversial version 3.0 of the GNU General Public Licence in an exclusive podcast interview with Computer Weekly.

Cox was once regarded as the Linux number two behind Linus Torvalds because of his work maintaining the Linux kernel, and he is still a major force in the open source community. But whereas Torvalds has openly criticised GPL 3.0, and said he will not be signing up to the new licence, Cox is fully behind it.

"There are still a couple of problems with the current draft, but it is getting very close to being a good licence," said Cox.

Devised by the Free Software Foundation, the licence will govern how open source code is distributed and what happens if it is modified. GPL 3.0 states that anyone who has developed open source software must grant a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free patent licence.

Cox highlighted an area in the draft which specifically covers last year's Novell/Microsoft agreement. He said it meant that users of Novell's SuSE Linux could not be sued for patent infringement should any of the code in SuSE be covered by a Microsoft patent. GPL 3.0 discourages such indemnification, describing such agreements as "de facto proprietisation of software".

Listen to the Alan Cox interview >>

Latest version of the GNU General Public Licence available >>

More on the GNU General Public Licence >>

Comment on this article: computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk





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