According to an ongoing debate over the GPL version 3, he does. How can this be, since Linus Torvalds, creator and chief architect of the Linux kernel, knows about software freedom and free software? He doesn't have a problem with what Richard Stallman refers to as "tivoization," which is the practice of using software available under the terms of a copyleft license but prevents the user/owner from modifying that code through the use of protections. Stallman believes that this is a blatant violation of your freedom. Linus disagrees.
One major danger that GPLv3 will block is tivoization. Tivoization means computers (called “appliances”) contain GPL-covered software that you can't change, because the appliance shuts down if it detects modified software. The usual motive for tivoization is that the software has features the manufacturer thinks lots of people won't like. The manufacturers of these computers take advantage of the freedom that free software provides, but they don't let you do likewise.
Some argue that competition between appliances in a free market should suffice to keep nasty features to a low level. Perhaps competition alone would avoid arbitrary, pointless misfeatures like “Must shut down between 1pm and 5pm every Tuesday”, but even so, a choice of masters isn't freedom. Freedom means you control what your software does, not merely that you can beg or threaten someone else who decides for you.
[Stallman] calls it "tivoization", but that's a word he has made up, and a term I find offensive, so I don't choose to use it. It's offensive because Tivo never did anything wrong, and the FSF even acknowledged that. The fact that they do their hardware and have some DRM issues with the content producers and thus want to protect the integrity of that hardware.
The kernel license covers the *kernel*. It does not cover boot loaders and hardware, and as far as I'm concerned, people who make their own hardware can design them any which way they want. Whether that means "booting only a specific kernel" or "sharks with lasers", I don't care.
Who's right? Well, I hate to say it but they both are. Stallman, however, is more correct.
Stallman is correct when he states that freedoms are restricted when someone uses code that is distributed under a copyleft license, such as the GPL. To me, and to him, this is wrong because you can't use code that is unrestricted and then restrict its use. That violates the license because under the GPL, you must be able to inspect and modify the code, if you choose to. Tivoized devices make this impossible.
Linus is correct when he says that manufacturers can design their devices any which way they want. Where he deviates from accuracy is when he says that the manufacturer can use Linux or any other code that's unrestricted and then restrict it. Manufacturers have choices with which to work that don't include GPL software. Minix, for example, uses a BSD license. A version of Windows or Mac OS would be two other good choices--except there are of course those nasty license fees one would have to pay.
It seems to me that manufacturers want the best of both worlds: They want to use something free but then want to turn around and violate the license by making it impossible for you to exercise that freedom. This is wrong. And I'm surprised that the FSF hasn't taken these manufacturers to task and to court over such practices.
What do you think--do you think that appliances like the TiVo violates the terms of the GPL? What do you think should be done about it?