Issues embedded in the GPL …
This is a very good article that begins to explore some of the new issues that are arising out of Linux and the GPL. I want to be clear that I have nothing against Linux or the GPL … and I am actively following both of these due to interests in sociological impacts of both of these.
I love to see the innovation and progress being created by the Linux movement. At the same time, I am curious about the impacts of the GPL on the adoption of Linux for various applications. Besides the fact that the SCO lawsuit might impact Linux, it seems from this article – and other research that I have done – that the GPL can now begin to impact Linux.
My specific area of interest is “Where is the line drawn between Linux and the applications written for Linux?” In the case of this article, Cisco – via it’s Linksys acquisition – is being attacked by the FSF to release intellectual property and drivers that it has created on top of an embedded Linux offering. It seems that since they are shipping a hardware solution – an 802.11g Access Point and Router – that contains a Linux kernel, some other applications, and their own intellectual property, they must now release all of this into the Open Source? I am not actually sure about the exact details of what the FSF is asking for … since they are not releasing the details of their attacks and discussions into the public record. I have to guess, however, that they must be asking for something that they feel Cisco *must* give away due to using GPL software in their embedded product.
I am certain that this is going to be an interesting conversation between the many parties … and it is going to make a lot of other hardware and solution vendors reconsider using Linux. Someone, at some point, will begin to specifically outline the “fine line” of where software – that touches GPL’d software – must also be GPL’d. When this is well defined, I don’t think that many commercial entities are going to embrace Linux the way that they thought.
Unless they then embed their IP in silicon below the OS?