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fang0654 12-29-2003 02:48 PM

GNU Public License Question
 
I was looking at selling premade machines for specific purposes using a distro of linux as the base OS and a bunch of open source programs to do the functions I need..

I'm looking to sell this product, and make a profit off of it.. anyone know any of the technicalities of the public license in this regard?

I don't want this box to be configurable by the end user, except for various IP settings.. I want to keep root restricted, and not allow access to the 'insides' of the box.. (less headaches for me :) Do I need to provide the source code for all the programs I use along with the box? Do I need to credit the authors of the software used, or contact them about royalties since it'll be used in a commercial environment?

Joey.Dale 12-29-2003 03:02 PM

Why don't you just read the the GNU/GPL

fang0654 12-29-2003 03:16 PM

I did.. a couple of times :) There are a couple of things that confuse me though.. such as the router my company uses right now is obviously running on linux.. but I don't know what flavor, since it isn't stated anywhere.. since the kernel is under the GPL, according to what I read the company would have to provide me the means to retrieve the source code.

Then again, I can be totally wrong. That's why I wanted to check with some people with experience before I commit myself to anything.

twilli227 12-29-2003 03:34 PM

I don't know where you live, but I would check with a lawyer if you want to protect yourself.

quote:
I don't want this box to be configurable by the end user, except for various IP settings.. I want to keep root restricted, and not allow access to the 'insides' of the box.. (less headaches for me

Is this going to be proprietary? I sure wouldn't want someone else having root access to my system.

quote:
Do I need to provide the source code for all the programs I use along with the box? Do I need to credit the authors of the software used, or contact them about royalties since it'll be used in a commercial environment?

If you have all of these questions, then I would definitely check with a lawyer.

ezra143 12-29-2003 03:50 PM

Companies like Redhat and SuSe dont sell linux, they sell the service of bundling specific packages together and providing updates to those packages. You cannot sell opensource, you can sell services relating to it though. So, in your case, you'd be selling a) the hardware, b) the service of configuring it with an opensource OS to perform specific tasks, c) serivce on those systems. No where in a type of agreement such as this are you infact selling the software itself.

for example, you could not sell the kernel, but you could sell cd's containing the kernel, as a service. If you advertised selling the kernel itself, then youd have issues.

I dont see any legal reason why you could not do exactly what you described, as long as it is advertised as selling hardware and configuration, not the software.

But, then again, I'm not a lawyer. and for a clear state of mind, i would deifnatley consult with one.

Mara 12-29-2003 04:58 PM

As far as I know GPL... You can make money on this. That's the most important thing.
Do you plan to modify the software (source code, not settings)? If not, it's quite simple. You need to provide access for users to the source code used in yur product. The easiest solution would be to include a CD with all sources with the product. You don't need to contact the authors. But I'd be a good idea to provide a list of software used with credits (I'm not sure if it's required).
If you modify the source, you need to provide your modifications to the users (may be on the cd).
Note that you should check licence of every piece of software you include - you may have also other licences, not only GPL.
And, as other suggested, consult a lawyer. :)

trickykid 12-29-2003 05:27 PM

Things you would have to do if you use GPL'd software and redistribute it on hardware, etc.

1. Share the source if its GPL software, not even necessarily send them a cd but at least make it publicly available for your customers to view it.
2. You can sell machines with GPL software on them. But you cannot directly sell others code. You can charge a fee if you put it on a cd, or since its already preinstalled on the system as a bundling fees, etc. Don't go overboard though. Like I could burn the Linux kernel on cd's and sell them, but I can't say sell them for $100.00 each cause its not the software that I'm selling, its the cd, maybe the packaging I used and the fee for making the cd, etc which we all know didn't cost me $100.00 to make.
3. You can however charge for your own code that you made changes to, even if it is under the GPL, there is nothing stopping you from making profit from your own work.
4. You don't have to contact the makers of any software used if its under the GPL, just give them credit if you do use their software. If you modify their existing code, you don't even have to contact them, just leave their credits of their work and fully explain what you've changed, adding it to either the cd or site, etc where people who purchase this system can view it.

Sounds to me your making something like a small router or firewall box to make it easy for users to connect and use on their network with small config utility. If this is the case, well yeah, better follow the GPL if you use GPL software as right now, FSF I do believe has a ongoing lawsuit against Linksys as they believe they added Linux code to their routers and are not sharing it with anyone.. ;)

LinuxLala 12-30-2003 02:39 AM

Points on GPL

You can make money by using the GPL but you definetely have to provide the source code.
Also, if u pick up the code from a GPL software and incorporate it into ur own software, then u have to release ur software in GPL, ie, provide it's source.

vasudevadas 12-30-2003 03:10 AM

You can charge as much or as little as you like for GPL software. If it's unmodified, you merely have to let your customers know that the source code is available, and where they can obtain it. Or you can give them the source code yourself. If you have modified the source code, you must make your modifications available, either as full source or as a patch. The idea behind this is so that any modifications made to open-source software can be fed back into the open-source community, as opposed to the BSD licence, under which any third party can take BSD-licenced software, modify it and make it proprietary, so long as they don't pass it all off as their own work.


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