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It's not unusual for one distro to be based on another. Often the fork has its own repositories but this isn't always so. For example, Bodhi Linux uses the Ubuntu ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Engineer hazel's Avatar
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    Distros and repos: how do forks work in practice?


    It's not unusual for one distro to be based on another. Often the fork has its own repositories but this isn't always so. For example, Bodhi Linux uses the Ubuntu repos. I wonder how they square this with Canonical. Do they pay them some sort of rent? Or do they just take the stuff, knowing that Canonical have no legal right to stop them?
    I know it's free software but what are the ethics of this kind of piggybacking, especially when it isn't a big company like Canonical but some small setup which is taking a good deal of trouble to keep their repos well maintained and up to date?
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    Linux Guru rokytnji's Avatar
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    Not sure myself Hazel seeing as I run AntiX with Debian Testing repos. I don't think Anti needed permission or pay rent to include debian repositories in /etc/apt/sources.list since repositories are on the net at debians site, just like ubuntu.
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  3. #3
    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
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    If I install Debian, then I use their repositories to install and update my software which is fine and dandy. Now Crunchbang is just a Debian install with a lot of the work done for you and some extras in their own repository. The same applies Simply Mepis and Antix, LMDE et al. I'm not sure there is any real difference in installing one of those and using the Debian repositories which they all do (or can). Additionally, there is nothing to stop me installing my own Debian base and adding (for example) the LMDE repositories and using those as well.

    I'm no lawyer but I don't think there is any legal issue with doing so.
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    Administrator MikeTbob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elija View Post
    I'm no lawyer but I don't think there is any legal issue with doing so.
    Agreed.
    I don't think repo maintainers, especially Ubuntu, really care who is using their repos. They know millions of users will be downloading from their repos. Sure it'd be nice if they could get a "kickback" for hosting the files but that is just one of the many reasons why they (Ubuntu and others) accept donations.
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    Linux Engineer MASONTX's Avatar
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    If it wasn't for the open source license, it would be unethical, if not illegal, but since open source licensing gives everyone the right to use, modify, etc. there is no limitation on using debian repository for a derivative distro.
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  6. #6
    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
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    I suppose there's also the bandwidth to consider. That is neither free to the distribution maintainers nor open source. So derivative distributions could be said to be leeching bandwidth. Again, I don't think it's a major issue as it isn't hugely expensive unless you are with a bad hosting company and many organisations donate bandwidth in the form of mirrors.

    Ultimately, I think it's down to the individual. If your conscience bothers you about, apply a slave by making a small regular donation to the project or by helping out in some other way if you have the time and required skills.
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