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SubjectRe: embedded linux products && GPL && non-GPL'ed stuff
>>>>> "Bjorn" == Bjorn Wesen <> writes:

Bjorn> Scenario:

Bjorn> Joe manufactures and sells a product, lets say a firewall,
Bjorn> around an x86 CPU or whatever, and a flash-rom disk containing
Bjorn> software. The software consists of the linux-kernel (maybe with
Bjorn> some changes), some kernel modules containing drivers for
Bjorn> hardware in the box, some applications he got from the net
Bjorn> under GPL, and some of his own applications (not based on
Bjorn> anything else).

Bjorn> Joe obviously makes his kernel changes public, and any changes
Bjorn> in GPL'ed applications he has used.

Bjorn> However that leaves ambiguity regarding the modules, and his
Bjorn> own applications.

There is nothing ambigous about this as long as Joe does not copy a
single line of GPL'ed code into his driver modules and his own

Bjorn> Lets say that he really cannot make OSS of one of his own
Bjorn> applications because he got it for use in his product under a
Bjorn> restrictive license. And he cannot make OSS out of one of the
Bjorn> kernel modules because he got the driver under a weird license
Bjorn> from the guys he bought one of the HW interfaces from, and
Bjorn> added some linux wrapping code around it. This is unfortunately
Bjorn> a realistic scenario, speaking from own experience.

In this case you just make sure your wrapper code is not covered by
the GPL.

Bjorn> Is Joe in trouble ? I can't see any real reason for him not to
Bjorn> being able to keep his application "secret", since the kernel
Bjorn> GPL explicitely doesn't affect applications running on top, and
Bjorn> the other GPL'ed applications can't contaminate because they
Bjorn> are a "mere aggregation" (just a collection of programs doing
Bjorn> what they are intended to do).

There is no problem here as far as I can tell. The important bit is to
make sure no GPL'ed code was copy-pasted into the proprietary code.

Bjorn> As for the driver module, I know that Linus has expressed (with
Bjorn> some reluctancy) that drivers that can be considered
Bjorn> sufficiently stand-alone works (like Joe's driver) can be
Bjorn> released in a binary fashion. HOWEVER, in this case it's not a
Bjorn> case of just releasing the driver, Joe is actually shipping it
Bjorn> in a product that runs out of the box with it. What is your
Bjorn> interpretation of this ?

I don't see the problem, people are also shipping pre-installed PC's
with proprietary software added, nobody's complaining about those as
long as the license of the GPL'ed parts of the product is respected
(and other licenses).


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