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From: Robert Millan <rmh <at> gnu.org>
Subject: ZFS imported into GRUB
Newsgroups: gmane.comp.boot-loaders.grub.devel
Date: Thursday 2nd December 2010 11:24:48 UTC (over 7 years ago)

Following our new strategy with regard to Oracle code, we (GRUB
maintainers) have decided to grant an exception to our usual policy and
import ZFS code from grub-extras into official GRUB.

Our usual policy is to require copyright assignment for all new code, so
that FSF can use it to defend users' freedom in court.  If that's not
possible, at least a disclaimer asserting authorship (i.e. that no
copyright infringement has been committed).  The purpose of this, as
always, is ensuring that GRUB is a legally safe codebase.

The ZFS code that has been imported into GRUB derives from the
OpenSolaris version of GRUB Legacy.  On one hand, this code was released
to the public under the terms of the GNU GPL.  On the other, binary
releases of Solaris included this modified GRUB, and as a result
Oracle/Sun is bound by the GPL.

We believe that these two factors give us very strong reassurance that:

a) Oracle owns the copyright to this code
b) Oracle is licensing it under GPL

and therefore it is completely safe to use this in GRUB.

We're looking forward to this code import will foster collaboration on
ZFS support for GRUB.  Our understanding is that next version of
Solaris will ship with GRUB 2, and so we expect the whole OpenSolaris
ecosystem to do this move as well.  We encourage downstream distributors
to anticipate this by preparing their transition from the old, legacy
version of GRUB (0.97) which is no longer supported by GRUB developers.

Finally, a word about patents.  Software patents are terribly harmful to
free software, and to IT in general.  We believe they should be
abolished.  However, until that happens, we need to take measures to
protect our users.  We recognize it is practically impossible for end
users to archieve a situation where they're completely safe from patent
infringement (even if they pay so-called "patent taxes" to specific

However, we encourage our users to make careful choices when importing
technology that is designed in an in-door development model (rather
than in the community), because it's prone to be heavily patented.

This is the reason why, when we (the GNU project) developed the GPL, we
included certain provisions in it to ensure a patent holder can't
benefit from the freedoms we gave them and at the same time use patents
to undermine these freedoms for others.

Thanks to this, and due to the fact that Oracle is bound to the terms
of the GNU GPL when it comes to GRUB, we believe this renders patents
covering ZFS basically harmless to GRUB users.  If the patents
covering GRUB are held by Oracle, they can't use them against GRUB
users, and if they're held by other parties, the GPL provisions will
prevent Oracle from paying a tax only for themselves, so if they will
fight alongside the community instead of betraying it.

Let this serve as yet another example on why so-called "permissive"
licenses aren't always a guarantee that the code covered by them can be
used freely.  If you intend for your code to be free for all users,
always use the latest version of the GPL.

Robert Millan
CD: 398ms