GNU License for Hardware
dredd at megacity.org
Fri Oct 15 13:51:09 UTC 1999
At 05:02 AM 10/15/99 -0600, Richard Stallman wrote:
>The GNU GPL does not make any legal requirements about what name you
>can call your system if you include a GNU program in it. I think it
>would be wrong to try to impose such a requirement by legal force.
It is good that you recognize such.
>Therefore, people have a legal right to take the whole GNU system,
>replace one component such as the kernel (or even make no change at
>all), and call it some other name which does not include "GNU". The
>FSF and other copyright holders of GNU programs cannot sue you for
Nor should they even desire to, if they truly believe in Freedom.
One thing to keep in mind though, is that, if Linus were a dick, he could
have a field day with the FSF for attempting to dilute the Linux trademark
he owns. We all know that Linus is NOT a dick though, so this is not even
close to happening.
>But while that conduct is legal, that does not make it right and good.
>Part of the respect that people normally give to the developers of a
>software package is using the name they gave it. If you make a
>variant of the GNU system, you don't legally have to call it "GNU",
>but it is rather unfriendly if you don't.
Linux never tries to be a variant of the GNU system. You insist on calling
it that, but in many ways Linux simply tries to be a "best of breed"
system. In many cases that is GNU software, in others it isn't. One variant
of Linux (Debian) actively tries to be a GNU system, and they call
themselves that - that is their choice. They could take Linux and call it
something else if they wanted to, really. But the core developers of Linux
do not try to make it a GNU system, and for you to attempt to impose that
name upon them is regretful.
>Since the BSD advertising requirement has been mentioned, I should
>point out that it too makes no legal requirement about what name you
>can call your system if you include some BSD software. As regards
>this particular issue, the old BSD license is no different from the
But it would at least force people to give your ego the massaging it needs
by leaving your (theoretical) GNU Advertising Clause in there.
>(I've called the BSD advertising requirement "obnoxious", but I don't
>call it evil. I have asked people to avoid it because of practical
>problems it causes. See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/bsd.html.)
But if the GPL had it, then any GNU software would have to be recognized as
such somewhere. That would suit your desires just fine, it would seem.
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