Hi everyone, as the topic says this is yet another linux thread, but i'd like to correct some misconceptions that both Line6 and Line6 customers seem to have.
First of all, about the licensing stuff:
The GPL covers the linux kernel (the core of the OS) and a bunch of the tools that make up a whole system (called GNU if you're curious) as well as various popular bits of software aimed at linux users. What the GPL says is quite simple - if you modify GPLed code and redistribute it then whoever you send the modified version to has a right to receive the source code so that they too can make changes. That's all.
What the GPL can not do because copyright law does not allow it is put restrictions on other software that runs on top of the linux kernel. You can sell software without source code that runs on linux just fine.
So onto the main point:
Where is the competive advantage in Line6's products? I'd say in the gear itself - I recently got myself an HD500 and I love it, but I hated having to boot up VirtualBox with WinXP just to update the firmware and it made me wonder about something - in what way would an open-source driver officially released by Line6 help their competitors at all?
Here's the basic functions of such a driver:
Upload and download patches
Send and receive audio streams
Upload firmware updates
None of that is particularly special such that the technical details being leaked to competitors could in any way harm Line6 as this specific information is only relevant in talking to Line6 gear, all it would allow is the ability to actually use Line6 devices to their full potential without compromising on choice of desktop OS. Having the details of how to send a Line6 HD500 a firmware update over USB gives you precisely nothing in terms of how to build your own effects processor. Being able to send and receive audio from a Line6 pod over USB likewise doesn't help you build one at all.
Even without source code though, it's possible to implement basic drivers for linux in userland using libusb or similar and if Line6 released such drivers the only effect on their business could be one of increasing potential sales from linux users and making life easier for existing customers.
Hell, if Line6 released the technical specifications of the USB protocol and the file format for customtone patches i'd implement drivers myself or help out improving the reverse-engineered tanzaband effort that i'm sure everyone is already familiar with.
The right engineer inside Line6 could do this work in a single afternoon if management gave the go-ahead - it's not hard at all to either write the drivers or release enough technical specs so that someone else can write them.
The 3 main computing platforms are Windows, Mac and Linux in roughly that order of popularity (and perversely, in inverse order of security and stability, but let's not get into an OS holy war) - if you support all 3 then your linux-using customers aren't left out or forced to choose between making the most of your products and their choice of OS.
I'm a big Line6 fan myself, but beyond that i'm also a Linux user with no desire to pay money to microsoft or apple just to use my Line6 gear to its full potential - if Line6 don't change this then frankly i'm unlikely to buy Line6 products in future despite how much I love my current gear (of which I own 2 variaxes, 2 Spider amps, a POD XT3 and a POD HD500 - and I was pondering the DT25).
Do any of Line 6's competitors support Linux? Honest question...
I suspect it's not just writing the drivers that's the issue. There's also the matter of supporting them. I suppose Line 6 just doesn't see that small segment of the market as something worth investing time and effort into.