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-   -   Are BSD distros actually GPL ? (

HalfMadDad 11-03-2012 10:29 AM

Are BSD distros actually GPL ?

So I know the BSD kernels are licensed under BSD but once they are rolled into a full distribution will they now contain GPL code ?

For instance I believe that most BSDs run KDE and QT is GPL only unless you pay for another license.

I am just curious about this. I am considering switching to BSD in order to get a better feel of BSD licensed libraries

Thanks for reading

rocket357 11-03-2012 04:32 PM

The BSDs aren't the same as Linux. Linux has a core dev team that develops the kernel, then a separately-developed GNU userland that bolts on top.

The BSDs are developed as a whole system (kernel + yes, each BSD project has it's own kernel (albeit from a common source some ~15-20 years ago)) and typically do not have GPL code in base (aside from the toolchain, typically), though they can (and do) run GPL code in ports or packages. I know OpenBSD is pretty strict on GPL code not being in the kernel, but I can't speak for Net/Free/Dragonfly/etc...

Edit - it's worth mentioning that there has been a common push in the BSD communities to get away from the GNU toolchain (well, to move *TO* a BSD-licensed toolchain, more accurately), but nothing solid has come of that yet.

HalfMadDad 11-03-2012 06:03 PM

Hi rocket357

Thanks for answering my post. I certainly see where you are coming from. Now I wish I asked a different question, "where does the traditional BSD codebase stop and a project like FreeBSD start.

let me explain myself....

Based on what you have shown me, if we load the Linux Kernel we have nothing. Once we start adding in binaries like cp, ls, pwd .. we are building up a userland. If we have a command line only Debian distro we have a userland. However once we add in gnome, KDE, XFCE etc, are we adding in something on top of the userland? or is there a proper name for the "outer layer" of the userland?

With BSD it sounds like the command line userland is already hardwired in, however once FreeBSD runs KDE, where are we now? Once we are at the KDE level we are running GPL code now right?

If I just stick to the command line userland in BSD, it sounds like I will be learning BSD licensed libraries, right?

Thanks again-Patrick

ottavio 11-05-2012 02:35 PM

The BSD and GPL licences are mutually compatible. One can have in theory a software project with fragments of code contributed by various individuals with different open source licences. In practice this is a bit of a mess. This should clarify the matter better:

HalfMadDad 11-05-2012 10:45 PM

Hi Ottavio

Thanks. I have seen this FSF page and do understand the compatibility of the two. It's just that when someone talks about BSD licensed software, it kind of implies that BSD distros are purely licensed as BSD and maybe there are not ?

TobiSGD 11-06-2012 06:30 AM

The BSD developers can only license the software they have written themselves. For all other software they have of course to use the licenses the developers of that software have chosen to use. So integrating KDE into a BSD does not automatically change its license to BSD, in the same way that integrating Firefox in your Linux distro does not automatically change its license to GPL.

HalfMadDad 11-06-2012 08:31 AM

Thanks TobiSGD

Okay, one last question, sorry if I am bugging anyone....

What is the proper technical term for the line between the BSD part and the other licensed part? Is KDE, outer userland or something like this ?

TobiSGD 11-06-2012 10:12 AM

Generally, all that is not part of the kernel, regardless if it is the ls command, a DE like Gnome or KDE, or a GUI application like LibreOffice, is part of the userland. There is no such thing as inner or outer userland, only userland (or userspace) and kernelspace.

jtsn 11-06-2012 02:55 PM


Originally Posted by HalfMadDad (Post 4823340)
What is the proper technical term for the line between the BSD part and the other licensed part? Is KDE, outer userland or something like this ?

The BSD is the so-called base system (aka operating system), while KDE is a collection of applications (usually installed into /usr/local or /usr/pkg), which you run on this operating system.

The base system is self-contained, it doesn't depend on any third party software, to work on its own and support all core functions of the OS.

Your confusion results from the fact, that this technical boundary doesn't exist in most Linux distributions. They are just a kernel with a bunch of packages and a dependency hell between them.

bigearsbilly 11-30-2012 05:31 AM

You are reading a lot more into this than there is.

When you install FreeBSD (I assume the others are the same)
you get the kernel and the shells, and system daemons, and command line programs, like grep,
and the C standard library. So this would be described as the base system.
grep, I see for instance is GNU grep. grep (GNU grep) 2.5.1-FreeBSD

Stuff you add on top may or may not have a BSD license.
If KDE decide tomorrow to have a BSD license then nothing much changes.

ottavio 11-30-2012 08:57 AM

(warning for nerds: irony here)

So it should be called GNU/Bsd?

bigearsbilly 11-30-2012 11:15 AM

<nostalgia xmlns="back in my day" style="when I were a lad">

I remember when people used to put interesting stuff like explanations of data structures and maintenance tips at the top of their C files

> puffs on pipe <

instead of these long boring licenses!

Knightron 12-01-2012 06:43 AM


Originally Posted by ottavio (Post 4840171)
(warning for nerds: irony here)

So it should be called GNU/Bsd?

No because The BSDs don't include the GNU applications.

TobiSGD 12-01-2012 07:06 AM


Originally Posted by Knightron (Post 4840671)
No because The BSDs don't include the GNU applications.

Not long ago I have said the same. I am currently playing with NetBSD and it comes with GNU grep and GNU groff by default. There are more GNU applications, I would think, I am just to lazy to explicitly search for them. I am surprised by that myself.

Knightron 12-01-2012 08:05 AM

Oh, well i withdraw my statement then. Thanks for sharing Toby. Configuring my mobile broadband under any of the BSDs is rather difficult and because of this i have not properly explored them. Thanks for clearing that up. This is what i get for repeating the dribble i've been fed.

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