GPLv3 to launch with 15 projects on Friday

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GPLv3 to launch with 15 projects on Friday

Core Linux compents to fall under new licence.

The Free Software Foundation plans to release the final version of the General Public Licence version 3 (GPLv3) on Friday 29 June.

On the day of release, a group of more than 15 open source projects will release their software under the new licence, Brett Smith, a licensing compliance engineer with the FSF told

The projects are part of the GNU operating system and include GNU sed, a text filtering utility or streams editor, and the Tar compression technology. Other projects include the inetutils set of internet utilities and the Texinfo documentation system.

The remaining so-called GNU programs will switch to the new licence in the next few months, Smith said. These include key components of Linux such as GLibC, the fundamental library that every program depends upon and GNU Coreutils, a package that contains many basic tools that are needed for Unix-like operating systems.

GNU is a free operating system that predates Linux by 8 years. The project is headed up by the Free Software Foundation, which drafted the GPLv3 together with the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC).

The term Linux refers only to the kernel of the operating system as well as device drivers. Linux distributions rely heavily on system utilities and libraries from the GNU project. The licence switch of GNU tools will subject all future Linux versions to the GPLv3.

The new licence introduces two fundamental changes over the previous version. Most notably, it will ban exclusive patent licensing deals. A company providing a patent license to a single GPLv3 user will by default provide that pledge to all users and developers.

Secondly, the terms impose a ban on closed digital rights management technologies, instead ensuring that users have the ability to strip any DRM technology and still use the software or device on which it ran originally.

Some of the changes in the document have been inspired by last year's Microsoft-Novell partnership. Microsoft uses a loophole in GPLv2 to provide end users with patent protection without having to extend its pledge to the general population of GPL users and developers. While GPLv3 will prevent similar deals in the future, the FSF and SFLC will allow the Novell partnership because they believe that it will subject Microsoft to GPLv3.

The new licence been the subject of fierce debate. Linux founder Linus Torvalds has said that the sees no benefits to adopting the new licence for the Linux kernel, although he might change his mind if it would allow Linux to adopt the ZFS file system that Sun Microsystems has developed.

Sun has openly said that it supports the licence and might adopt it for its Solaris operating system. But the server maker also has cautioned that it won't make a decision until is has studied the final GPLv3 release.
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