[lkml]   [1999]   [Sep]   [20]   [last100]   RSS Feed
Views: [wrap][no wrap]   [headers]  [forward] 
Messages in this thread
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).


To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to
Please read the FAQ at

 \ /
  Last update: 2005-03-22 13:54    [from the cache]
©2003-2014 Jasper Spaans. hosted at Digital Ocean