Linux contributors face new rules

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 new system won't help answer questions about code already included in Linux. But it will help with future releases, said Stuart Cohen, the open-source group's chief executive. "Obviously, it's only on code submitted today going forward. But you can expect it will have a major effect on the 2.7 release (of the Linux kernel) coming out next." That release is "probably a year away," Cohen said.

News source: C|Net News.com

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