April 1, 2004

Linus ends free lunch

Author: David 'cdlu' Graham

Following in the footsteps of the XFree86 and Apache projects, Linux founder and leader Linus Torvalds has announced licensing and development changes for the Linux kernel.

Effective with the 2.7 development series, anyone using or installing Linux will be required to pay a royalty of $1 per CPU to Linus Torvalds and $.25 per CPU to each programmer responsible for any driver that person uses. Linus says the new fees will greatly improve the development process of the Linux kernel by providing financial incentive for people to contribute drivers to the kernel code base.

In a long email to the Linux kernel mailing list, Linus explains: "Linux contains the intellectual property of many people, and I believe it is fair to ask that those using our intellectual property pay for that right."

The average cost of a Linux Intellectual Property License from Linus would be no more than $5, Linus points out, still a bargain compared to other intellectual property and proprietary software licenses. Unlike most software, music, and movie ownership licenses, the entire amount would go directly to the people doing the work -- in this case, writing the code.

Reaction from all quarters has been swift.

SCO spokesman Blake Stowell was among the first to speak out against Linus' move. "How can Mr. Torvalds claim to license our intellectual property?" he asked pointedly. "We are examining his right to do this and we may sue him or a member of his family."

Eric S. Raymond for his part believes Linus is making a good decision. "The community is behind you, whatever you need," he says, addressed to Linus. "You have made a lot of new friends." Jumping on the bandwagon, Raymond's Open Source Initiative site now requires a $2.50 payment to Eric S. Raymond to reprint any of his material on the site in any form.

Richard Stallman issued a terse press release insisting that the project must now unequivocally be called "Linux," not "GNU/Linux."

If you are
using kernel 2.7 or later, you will be able to register your official Linux Intellectual Property License by sending the licensing fee by PayPal to an address at osdl.org, along with the number of CPUs used, the kernel version used, and all the drivers being used.

"We are making progress," claims Linus. "With a pay scheme for Linux, people who believe the only good software you can get is software you pay for will be happy, Linux developers will have money in their pockets, and no one will get gouged."

Note the publication date. This story is a joke. Do not take it seriously - NewsForge Editors


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