Linus Torvalds says GPL was defining factor in Linux's success – CIO


August 29, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Uncategorized


Linus Torvalds and Dirk Hohndel, vice president and chief of open source at VMware, discussed the role that GNU GPL played in the success of Linux during a keynote conversation this week at LinuxCon NA in Toronto. Here is an edited version of the conversation.

Hohndel, who has been involved with the kernel for a very long time, said that during the past 25 years there have been many challenges, and one of the biggest challenges was the possibility of fragmentation. “How do we keep one single kernel?” he asked.

“I used to be worried about fragmentation, and I used to think that it was inevitable at some point,” said Torvalds. “Everyone was looking at the history of Linux and comparing it with UNIX. People would say that it’s going to fail because it’s going to fragment. That’s what happened before, so why even bother?”

What made the difference was the license. “FSF [Free Software Foundation] and I don’t have a loving relationship, but I love GPL v2,” said Torvalds. “I really think the license has been one of the defining factors in the success of Linux because it enforced that you have to give back, which meant that the fragmentation has never been something that has been viable from a technical standpoint.”

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