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Red Hat and the GPL

Red Hat and the GPL

Posted Mar 9, 2011 12:58 UTC (Wed) by gevaerts (subscriber, #21521)
In reply to: Red Hat and the GPL by paulj
Parent article: Red Hat and the GPL

It has changed, yes, and I agree that patches are nicer for other people to look at what's changed, and it is indeed possible to edit patches if you really want to, but I still claim that most (if not all) of the actual modifications were done on a fully patched tree. That there were (or possibly still are) separate processes to split out those patches is interesting from a maintenance and documentation point of view, but I really don't see how that makes the patches the preferred form for modifications.

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Red Hat and the GPL

Posted Mar 9, 2011 13:17 UTC (Wed) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

Evidence for base+patches being the preferred form:

1. RedHat used this form for maintaining (in the sense of humans doing the work) the source of their kernel RPMs

2. RedHat *still* have, at least, processes using this form, if not humans

3. Other corporates *also* have preferred this form (e.g. Sun)

It'd be interesting to know whether or not RedHat still internally are using the base+patches src RPM form for doing maintenance work. Your comment seems to suggest this is a possibility. In which case, RedHat really ought to be releasing the base+patches. It's really hard to argue the base+patches are NOT the preferred form if that's what you're using internally to maintain & build the distributed binary RPMs..

Red Hat and the GPL

Posted Mar 9, 2011 13:35 UTC (Wed) by gevaerts (subscriber, #21521) [Link]

I think talking about "the preferred form" is misleading, because there is not one single preferred form.

I can think of the "preferred form for making modifications", the "preferred form for long-term maintaining the code", and the "preferred form to understand the history of the code".

In my opinion these are rather different.

You seem to be talking about the last two, but the GPL explicitely talks about the first.

Red Hat and the GPL

Posted Mar 9, 2011 13:59 UTC (Wed) by paulj (subscriber, #341) [Link]

Talking about the "preferred form of the work for making modifications to it" is not misleading, it's the crux of the matter - this is the actual text of the GPL! Maintaining a work requires making modifications. Indeed, affording end-users the ability to maintain the software on their devices, even if the vendor has lost interest, was a prime motivation in formulating the GPL.

Red Hat and the GPL

Posted Mar 9, 2011 20:43 UTC (Wed) by sepreece (guest, #19270) [Link]

Yes, but *whose* preferred form for making modifications? What matters, in the context of the intent of the license, is what would be preferred by a downstream modifier, NOT the preference of the entity distributing the source code.

Doesn't seem, to me, to be a question that has a single answer.

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