vfs-module lincense

Jeremy Allison jra at samba.org
Wed Feb 27 09:54:47 GMT 2002

On Wed, Feb 27, 2002 at 11:30:12AM -0600, Esh, Andrew wrote:
> I believe this is a very unfortunate interpretation of the GPL. It makes it
> impossible for non-GPL file system access methods to be implemented, so
> encryption, accounting, or virtualization methods cannot, in many cases, be
> added.

Unfortunate for who ? Personlly I consider it very fortunate.
There is an error in your above statement. *Proprietary* encryption, accounting,
or virtualization methods cannot be added. Many of us consider this a
good thing.

If you want proprietary vfs modules that do such, go across the
process boundary and take the performance hit. You do have that
option. Yes this means the proprietary modules will be slower
than GPL ones that do the same thing. Again, this is not (IMHO)
a bad thing.

> Now that my confidence is shaken, maybe I should ask this: Does the storage
> of a Samba share on a non-GPL file system break the Samba license? Perhaps
> my interpretations are at fault, but I don't see how a non-GPL file systems
> could be used, without touching GPL code somewhere. The Linux kernel is GPL
> isn't it? That implies that all kernel modules must be GPL.

Linus gave an exemption for kernel modules. Otherwise, yes, all kernel
modules would have to be GPL. As for non-GPL filesystems and kernel,
see this part of the GPL :

"However, as a
special exception, the source code distributed need not include
anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary
form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the
operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component
itself accompanies the executable."

This exempts libc, filesystems, libcrypt, libnsl etc. etc.
All the UNIX vendors are happy with this, and ship Samba on
top of their proprietary UNIXes (I work for one of them) so
I think you're getting concerned over nothing here. Their
lawyers are happy with this. I've been in discussions with
many of them :-).

> This is exactly the sort of creeping and spreading application of the GPL
> that Microsoft points to when they try to scare us into thinking that GPL is
> bad.

No, it's been this way for many years, since the first dynamic linking
was invented on UNIX. You may be new to this part of the GPL, but
many of us are not.

> Maybe the solution to this is to implement some sort of socket interface.
> Would that de-couple Samba enough to allow non-GPL file system access
> methods to be used?

Yes, any IPC based mechanism de-couples.


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