Rob Flickenger, a sysadmin for O’Reilly who doesn’t make his living writing code, thought he caught Linksys shirking the GPL, except he didn’t:
As far as I can tell without having exhaustively looked at every piece of available code, Linksys appears to be trying to comply with the terms of the GPL (as I understand them anyway), and putting many customizations into BSD code, which doesn’t require source distribution.
This is really disappointing to Mr. Flickenger, because he so wanted to stomp one of them capitalist enterprises that was dumb enough to use GPL’ed code.
There’s an interesting remark from Brett Glass in the Flickenger’s comments section, to wit:
This whole affair demonstrates the true nature of the GPL. It’s designed to sabotage businesses. In particular, it’s intended to strip them of the ability to add unique value to their products — which, in turn, is an essential element of success. VA Linux had to drop out of the hardware business because they couldn’t get a competitive edge — which happened, in turn, because they embraced GPLed code. Linksys, if the GPL zealots have their way, will go the same route.
Linksys was foolish indeed to use GPLed code at all. Instead, they should have used BSD-licensed code, which is friendly to programmers and to the businesses which issue their paychecks. The BSD and MIT licenses, as well as other truly free licenses, promote innovation and allow programmers to be rewarded for innovating. The viral, spiteful, anti-business, anti-programmer GPL does the opposite.
Is GPL “viral and spiteful”? Clearly, there’s a lot of spite on Flickenger’s part, but that’s just a personal issue, not a legal one. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using GPL’ed code, as long as you don’t actually need to modify it. For everything important, there’s the BSD license.