Linux developer resolves GPL dispute

FSMLabs agrees to change the terms of its licence for RTLinux, ending the dispute with the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation says it has come to an agreement with FSMLabs resolving accusations that the software company was contravening the licence that governs the Linux kernel.

Yesterday, the FSF -- founded by Richard Stallman, who also developed the GNU Public Licence (GPL) -- condemned FSMLabs for its patent on elements of RTLinux, which it said could not be patented. The FSF also accused FSMLabs of breaking the GPL through the terms of FSMLabs' licence for RTLinux.

By mid-afternoon, however, the two groups said they had resolved the dispute, which was based on a "miscommunication".

"The FSF and FSMLabs have reached an agreement in principle on a fully GPL-compatible licence for RTLinux," said Eben Moglen, the FSF's general counsel.

FSMLabs said it would change the terms of its licence, making alterations it had already planned.

"There will be some minor changes to the licence. They are changes that we had basically agreed to last year, which somehow got lost in the shuffle," said FSMLabs president Victor Yodaiken.

The GPL governs the Linux kernel used in RTLinux, as well as other software elements of the GNU/Linux operating system. The terms of the licence require developers to make their contributions to any GPL software freely available to other developers.

The FSF holds copyrights on many elements of GNU/Linux, though not the kernel itself.

FSMLabs said it would remove a provision in the RTLinux licence that required GPL developers to provide FSMLabs with records regarding the use of the software on demand.

"Essentially, the notification stuff is not needed," Yodaiken said. "We never really got anything out of it -- it was essentially a paperwork overhead for us."

ZDNet sister publication LinuxDevices contributed to this report.

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