Uruguay violates GPL by deleting root on OLPCs

Jacob Haddon thaesa at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 7 18:16:40 EDT 2010

forgive an honest question that may spark a philosophical debate:

Since the Linux kernel and Fedora are both licensed under GPL.2, how would this 
violate an unrelated license? (which reading, it may or may not...)


Message: 4
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 2010 16:23:55 -0400
From: Martin Langhoff <martin.langhoff at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Uruguay violates GPL by deleting root on OLPCs
To: John Gilmore <gnu at toad.com>
Cc: OLPC Devel <devel at lists.laptop.org>,    Sugar Devel
    <sugar-devel at lists.sugarlabs.org>,    Bernie Innocenti
    <bernie at codewiz.org>, moglen at softwarefreedom.org
    <AANLkTilDUwmZykcr2B8t2fsYp4HsH_halFS11Qrg-BSI at mail.gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1

On Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 3:42 PM, John Gilmore <gnu at toad.com> wrote:
> The laptops refuse to boot a "developer's version of Linux". ?They
> require a signed kernel and initrd. ?Some people call this DRM;
> it's definitely "TiVoization" (check Wikipedia if you don't know the term).

I think it is a very well understood concept around here.

And it is also well understood that not all developers complain about
TiVo. Major projects are holding to GPLv2.

> As Eben explained, the GPLv3 doesn't require root, it just requires
> that you be provided all the info you need to install modified
> software of your choice, in the environment in which the binaries were
> shipped. ?"su" is fine, if documented, and it is.

And I think PATH="~/bin/:$PATH" is fine too :-)

> PS: Get a clue, folks. ?This is bigger than OLPC.

I understand and value that 'macro' fight, but OLPC, and OLPC
deployments are not the enemy.

You also need to know that OLPC is about a lot more than just
software. We are a very big tent, and we work in some very hard
places. Think of explaining this to teachers, or to the parents of

I can only suggest getting closer to a large real life deployment (not
just Uruguay) to get a sense of the challenges we face on the ground
in the work we do... and to get a sense of what our who our users
actually are.

> locks down the hardware to disallow freedom,

Let's leave hyperbole for another day.

It is a very practical concern -- across the varied world of our
deployments *theft* is a very real concern.

My personal experience in a very cottoned middle-class environment in
latam is that by age 15 everyone in my age group had had something
stolen in one way or another -- mostly in relatively low-key muggings.

I will be optimistic and hope that 1% of the kids needs root at some point.

Most places I go to in latam is about the same -- with of course some
exceptions in both directions.


martin.langhoff at gmail.com
martin at laptop.org -- School Server Architect
- ask interesting questions
- don't get distracted with shiny stuff  - working code first
- http://wiki.laptop.org/go/User:Martinlanghoff

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