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GPL license is not so restrictive as one blames it. You can read about it more at wikipedia or whatever, but the cornerstone is that if you use GPL code then: all that your code must be GPL'ed. But if you write some code and licensed it under GPL then you can still relicense the code or mix it with your non-GPLed code as you want.
Try to ask more concrete questions. Licenses are a wide and complicated matter.
In any case, and even if you ask more concrete questions, most people (including myself) here will only be able to guide you some general guidance. For something more advanced you will need to speak to a lawyer that knows about software licenses.
The cornerstone for me lies in the concept of "derivative work". If you make a derivative work of something that's GPL'ed, then your work will automatically be GPL for all purposes. Otherwise you are breaking the license and in legal trouble. So, the real question is not what you can do or what you can't do, that's easy to see. The real question is what is considered a "derivative work".
Giving the GPL a read will hopefully teach you that.
However, nothing stops you from putting your closed applications on the same cd than you will put a custom linux distro, as long as your closed stuff doesn't derive from any GPL piece. Everything that you do that's a derivative of some GPL'ed software will also be GPL, and you will have to release the sources for that parts.
Our project team is considering Linux for one of the computers within our product system. We distribute the system to our end customers. I'm not clear what we have to do relative to the GPL license.
While your question is vague, it's about the same one I get from "the authorities". If yours are anything like mine, there's two key issues you need to know:
1) If you write software that runs on Linux, you don't need to give away your source code.
2) If you *extend* Linux - e.g. by updating the kernel to do something you want, like a different scheduling system, then you have to give the source code away to anyone you sell/give it to, and they would be able to do whatever they wanted with it, including give it away for free.
So, the long and the short of it is, if you just want to sell a system and part of that system runs on Linux, you don't have to give away your source, for any price. You'll be forced to give away the Linux source code any any patches you've used, but they're already freely available.
Well, at least that seems to be all that my overlords are interested in
If you sell a customer a computer with some Linux distribution pre-installed on that computer, then you need to check with the organization that provides the distribution to find out how they'd like you to proceed. Generally, all the GPL requires is that you accompany any binary distribution with an offer to provide the source code for any GPL software you include, and only charge a reasonable fee for installing the distribution. If you've loaded some standard distribution, the source code offer is usually satisfied by reference to the distribution's repositories.
Note, please, that the above is my personal interpretation of the legal requirements, and not to be construed as legal advice. (And, of course, I am not a lawyer, and, in any case, not your lawyer.)
As an aside, some distributions offer "long term" support versions, and may be more suitable for your proposed application, and others (e.g., Red Hat, SUSE, etc.) offer commercially supported distributions. A commercially supported distribution might be an option you should investigate, since the vendor(s) may be interested in working with you to put together a "package" your company could use.
Generally, all the GPL requires is that you accompany any binary distribution with an offer to provide the source code for any GPL software you include, and only charge a reasonable fee for installing the distribution.
On the contrary (about the price) - the GPL explicitly states you can sell GPL'd software at any cost. I could try and sell a copy of Debian for a million pounds if I wanted to, even though I'd then have to supply the source and my customer (stupid as they'd be...) could give it away for free.
P.S. Yes, probably worth mentioning that I'm not a legal expert either - but then, you shouldn't take legal advice from t'internet anyhow
I was purposefully vague because I wanted to hear your 'options' and opinions. And I appreciate that we have to check with our attorney's.... but sometimes we have to coach the attorney's and provide options to allow them to choose an appropriate level of risk.