Linus Torvalds Gives GPL Credit for Linux’s Success

Open SourceSoftware

On the 25th anniversary of Linux, its creator details Linux’s history to date and why he credits the GPL for the operating system’s success

“I don’t have much code in new kernels that I can be proud of, but I’m proud when the release process works and we get things done,” Torvalds said.

In terms of lowlights over the last 25 years, Torvalds said the worst moments were likely 15 years ago when the Linux development process didn’t work as well as it does today.

In particular, there were many process issues during the Linux 2.4 development cycle. Today he’s mostly happy with the process, though he admits Linux kernel developers don’t always get along.

“We still have arguments, we’re not all happy people, and we don’t all love each other,” Torvalds said. “But I get the feeling that there is lots of respect on the technical side.”

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Linux mascot penguinTorvalds also talked at LinuxCon about the risk of fragmentation of Linux, which is something that happened to Unix two decades ago.

With Unix, multiple vendors made very different choices and took that operating system in disparate paths. For Torvalds, the choice of the GPL created by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) was and still remains the answer to prevent fragmentation.

“I love the GPL and see it as a defining factor in the success of Linux,” Torvalds said.

GPL is what is known as a reciprocal license and requires any code adjustments to be contributed back to the community and made freely available. Torvalds said that the GPL enforces the need to give back, which makes fragmentation less likely.

Torvalds also commented about new operating systems, including Google’s Fuscia, which is now being built to enable internet of things (IoT) devices. Fuscia is not being made available under the GPL, and as such Torvalds doesn’t think it will grow a community like Linux’s.

“The GPL says a company may be big, but no one will take advantage of your code. It will always be free, and that can’t be taken away from you,” Torvalds said.

Originally published on eWeek

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