GPLv3: Alive and Kicking!

Today at 12:00 noon (EDT), Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation unleashed the GNU Public License version 3 to the world.  This license, the first update to the GPL since version two was released over 15 years ago, represents 18 months of work and the  input of a multitude of individuals and organizations.  

The Process

Input came from four committees or constituents: Committee A: Industry Luminaries, B: Hight Tech companies (which Sun was a part of), C: Public/Private users and D: the general public.  This input would then be reviewed by Richard Stallman, a revision was drafted and a new version was released to the committees for review.  This loop was repeated three times with a little extra tweaking at the end.

Visualize Whirled Peas

The transparency of this process was visually rendered on the web by overlaying color to the verbiage in the actual contract.  Yellow represented areas that received relatively few comments and on the other end of the spectrum, red showed those areas where most people were adding input.  This was further detailed with roll-over annotations that provided the actual comments.


Comments on draft 2

Adoption

The GPLv3 process has been an impressive and inclusive one, intended on protecting the freedom of software by clarifying and updating the principles of Richard Stallman and the FSF.  What will now be fascinating to watch is who adopts  it, when and for what.  As Simon says, there is no doubt that Sun will use GPLv3, but the questions that we still need to answer are for what and when.  For those communities that Sun acts as the steward, such as Open JDK and OpenSolaris, the decision can not be rendered by fiat but must involve discussion by the communities themselves.  This will take time.

A toast

But for now a big congratulations to Richard Stallman, Eben Moglen, Peter Brown and to everyone else who participated in the process of birthing the GNU Public License version 3. A toast to community, transparency and Free as in Freedom.

 Pau for now...


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I look after Sun's relationships with the various GNU/Linux communities as well as our relationship with the FSF. Last year, my family and I emigrated from Silicon Valley to Austin, TX.

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