In this video, Richard Stallman claimed that Linus Torvalds created Linux kernel as a proprietary software and then liberated it ('liberated' is the term Stallman used).

Assuming so, when was the Linux kernel made libre by Linus Torvalds?

The Linux article on English Wikipedia says as of now:

Torvalds initiated a switch from his original license, which prohibited commercial redistribution, to the GNU GPL.

but the source doesn't mention a specific year like 1992.

  • 8
    In what way is this question off-topic? – UncleBod Jun 3 '19 at 7:19
  • 2
    The title of this question was better before the edit: "libre" is not an English word, but "liberated" is. – Aaron F Jun 3 '19 at 14:38
  • 15
    @AaronF: "Libre" is a jargon term, just like "software". It is used as an alternative to "free", because "free" in English has two meanings, whereas Romance languages distinguish between "libre" and "gratuit" (ex. French). And since most of the world understands Spanish, French, or Italian, and "libre" is also understood by English speakers via words like "liberty" or indeed "liberate", it has stuck around as a language-neutral, universal way of referring to "Free Software" without the confusion about the meaning of "Free". – Jörg W Mittag Jun 3 '19 at 14:55
  • 11
    @AaronF That comment demonstrates precisely the misunderstanding while led to the term "libre software" being introduced: it is not "free because you don't have to pay for it"; it is free because you are free to use, modify, and distribute it. A common description is "free as in free speech, not free as in free beer". It has been "liberated" from the control of a single owner, and users have been granted "freedom" over what to do with it. Plenty of software is available without charge, but with restrictions on what you can legally do with it, so this is an important distinction. – IMSoP Jun 3 '19 at 16:04
  • 4
    "Free as in mattress, or free as in puppy?" – Russell Borogove Jun 3 '19 at 16:48

February 1992 it changed to GPL license.

Change to GPL is notified in 0.12 release, February 1992

First GPL release 0.99, December 1992

  • 1
    Your first link says "0.92", but your second says "0.12" – IMSoP Jun 3 '19 at 16:13
  • 2
    And this also means that at least the change at this time can't be interpreted as "liberating" (in the Stallman sense) Linux - removing the "you may not distribute it for money" condition clearly means it wasn't "proprietary" before. – dirkt Jun 3 '19 at 16:47
  • 1
    @Justme I'm not sure why you reverted it; it seemed a valid improvement to me. Either way, 0.12 is the correct version number, and the quote that was edited in is what Wikipedia cites as a source. ("When Torvalds released version 0.12 in February 1992, he adopted the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2) over his previous self-drafted license, which had not permitted commercial redistribution. cite") – IMSoP Jun 3 '19 at 18:01
  • 1
    @dirkt As far as Richard Stallman is concerned, software which you are not free to distribute for money is not Free Software. Consequently, removing that restriction "liberated" the software from that constraint. – IMSoP Jun 3 '19 at 18:03
  • 1
    @dirkt You or I might disagree, but that's how Richard Stallman and the FSF see the world: software is either "free" or it is "non-free". Calling a license that makes the source available but restricts its use "proprietary" may seem an exaggeration, but Stallman isn't particularly known for his subtlety or acceptance of grey areas. – IMSoP Jun 3 '19 at 20:17