It’s easy to understand why open-source and free-software advocates are up in arms. Members of these communities have worked for decades to build robust, free alternatives to proprietary, big-business software products. And Linux, one of the most successful free operating systems available, has openly challenged Microsoft’s hegemony in countless ways.Linux isn’t just a good technological alternative to Windows. It’s a symbol. This upstart, community-built operating system creates choice in a market where big players dominate. Plus, everything about Linux is transparent, open, and customizable. You can do whatever you want to your Linux operating system — rewrite the code, turn it into another piece of software, copy it a zillion times for your family and friends. There’s only one rule: don’t break the GPL. So if you turn Linux into something else, that something else must also be licensed under the GPL.
Read Annalee Newitz’ Microsoft Linux from Alternet and How GPL fits in with the future of antitrust regulation from C|Net’s Eric Sinrod. Also on topic: Dana Blankenhorn’s The hybrid model in open source and Open-source group wants educational patent reversed, both from ZDNet.