Linux - Copyright, Trademark, and Naming

Copyright, Trademark, and Naming

See also: SCO-Linux controversies

Linux and most GNU software are licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GPL requires that anyone who distributes Linux must make the source code (and any modifications) available to the recipient under the same terms. Other key components of a software system may use other licenses; many libraries use the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), a more permissive variant of the GPL, and the X.org implementation of the X Window System uses the MIT License.

Torvalds states that the Linux kernel will not move from version 2 of the GPL to version 3. He specifically dislikes some provisions in the new license which prohibit the use of the software in digital rights management, and it would also be impractical to obtain permission from all the copyright holders, who number in the thousands.

A 2001 study of Red Hat Linux 7.1 found that this distribution contained 30 million source lines of code. Using the Constructive Cost Model, the study estimated that this distribution required about eight thousand man-years of development time. According to the study, if all this software had been developed by conventional proprietary means, it would have cost about $1.46 billion (2012 US dollars) to develop in the United States.

Most of the code (71%) was written in the C programming language, but many other languages were used, including C++, Lisp, assembly language, Perl, Python, Fortran, and various shell scripting languages. Slightly over half of all lines of code were licensed under the GPL. The Linux kernel itself was 2.4 million lines of code, or 8% of the total.

In a later study, the same analysis was performed for Debian GNU/Linux version 4.0 (etch, which was released in 2007). This distribution contained close to 283 million source lines of code, and the study estimated that it would have required about seventy three thousand man-years and cost US$8.04 billion (in 2012 dollars) to develop by conventional means.

In the United States, the name Linux is a trademark registered to Linus Torvalds. Initially, nobody registered it, but on 15 August 1994, William R. Della Croce, Jr. filed for the trademark Linux, and then demanded royalties from Linux distributors. In 1996, Torvalds and some affected organizations sued him to have the trademark assigned to Torvalds, and in 1997 the case was settled. The licensing of the trademark has since been handled by the Linux Mark Institute. Torvalds has stated that he trademarked the name only to prevent someone else from using it. LMI originally charged a nominal sublicensing fee for use of the Linux name as part of trademarks, but later changed this in favor of offering a free, perpetual worldwide sublicense.

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Famous quotes containing the word naming:

    The night is itself sleep
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    John Ashbery (b. 1927)