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Red Hat and the GPL

Red Hat and the GPL

Posted Mar 10, 2011 23:46 UTC (Thu) by branden (guest, #7029)
In reply to: Red Hat and the GPL by pbonzini
Parent article: Red Hat and the GPL

"Nobody disputes here that the monolithic kernel SRPM is making things harder."

Please be more precise. What is being made harder?

"You'd like the RHEL kernel to be distributed in your preferred form "for modification of something else", and that's not a right that the GPL grants you."

RHEL's kernel is not an independent work from the Linux kernel, be it the latest drop of the 2.6.32 kernel or some other variant. If it were, Red Hat Software, Inc. could just slap their copyright notice on the whole thing and tell everyone else to get lost.

Both of the things you are talking about are the Linux kernel, copyright 1991-2011 Linus Torvalds et al.

The Linux kernel is "the Work" under the terms of the GNU GPL.

The Linux kernel is not a "something else" when compared to the Linux kernel.


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Red Hat and the GPL

Posted Mar 11, 2011 8:32 UTC (Fri) by pbonzini (subscriber, #60935) [Link]

> "Nobody disputes here that the monolithic kernel SRPM is making things harder."
>
> Please be more precise. What is being made harder?

Identifying RHEL patches that are not in 2.6.32-stable and applying them to 2.6.32-stable. Red Hat engineers do try to Cc stable@kernel.org on their patches, but it's possible that: a) they sometimes forget; b) they cherry-pick patches by authors who didn't Cc stable@kernel.org. Attems is trying to get into stable those RHEL patches which "fell through the cracks", and the monolithic SRPM makes the job harder. But he's not trying to modify the RHEL kernel itself (read on).

> Both of the things you are talking about are the Linux kernel, copyright 1991-2011 Linus Torvalds et al.
>
> The Linux kernel is "the Work" under the terms of the GNU GPL.
>
> The Linux kernel is not a "something else" when compared to the Linux kernel.

The 2.6.32 kernel as released by Linus is a Work. The 2.6.32-stable kernel is another Work that is a derivative of the 2.6.32 kernel as released by Linus. So is the RHEL kernel. Each is distributed separately and modifications to each should be considered separately. Cross-pollination of the RHEL kernel into the Linux-stable tree is modification of _only one_ of these three works---and not the one that Red Hat distributes. In this sense you're modifying "something else".

The GPL does not force whoever distributes modifications to make backports of those modifications easy. For example, renaming variables is an example of a possibly-hostile action that is not prohibited by the GPL.

But we're wondering dangerously into IANAL area, so I'm unlikely to comment further on this topic.


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