Linux

Linux contributors get new rules

Open Source Development Labs, the group that employs Linus Torvalds, puts in place a system designed to better track and document changes to the Linux kernel.
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By Mike Ricciuti
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Open Source Development Labs, which promotes adoption of Linux, said Monday it is putting in place a new system to better track and document changes to the operating system's kernel.

The group, which employs Linux creator Linus Torvalds, said the new system will require that contributions to the Linux kernel only be made by developers who agree to submit code under "appropriate" open-source licenses.

The system puts in place an agreement called the Developer's Certificate of Origin, or DCO. The DCO will ensure that acknowledgement is given to developers for contributions and derivative works, and to those contributors who "receive submissions and pass them, unchanged, up the kernel tree," according to the open-source group.

The DCO is intended to eliminate questions and legal battles over the origin of Linux code contributions. Last year, the SCO Group, which owns a disputed amount of Unix intellectual property, sued IBM, alleging that the company violated its Unix contract by moving Unix technology to Linux that it should have kept secret.

The case has since ballooned into a far-ranging attack on Linux, attracting legal attention from Linux companies Novell and Red Hat and the ire of Linux supporters worldwide. SCO has also brought suit against several big companies that use Linux.

The Open Source Development Labs' new system put in place could help eliminate future battles over Linux code origin. The group said that under the DCO, all contributors to a particular submission are called upon to "sign off" on it before it may be considered for inclusion in the kernel.

Andrew Morton, who, along with Torvalds, maintains the current Linux 2.6 kernel, endorsed the new system after gaining support for it from other key Linux contributors, the open-source group said.

"We've always had transparency, peer review, pride and personal responsibility behind our open-source development method. With the DCO, we're trying to document the process. We want to make it simpler to link submitted code to its contributors. It's like signing your own work," Torvalds said in a statement.

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