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Hi folks, a couple of days ago my friend started to build his own distro with LFS, and as he plened it he said to me that he could sell ...
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  1. #1
    IM
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    Own Linux Distro - GPL = ???


    Hi folks,

    a couple of days ago my friend started to build his own distro with LFS, and as he plened it he said to me that he could sell it like Microsoft sells their Windows OS - with no GPL license, no sharing. He said it's because he made the system by himself, and he can decide how to use and sell it. Well I told him yes he can build the system by himself, but still he has to use the Linux Kernel, which is made by Linus... So who is right, can you make your own system and sell it wihout giving the community the right to exchange it free. Can you use software that is under the GPL license, change it a little bit and then sell it like any other without the GPL?

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    Linux User gassman's Avatar
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    no u cant do that

    http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html

    is a link to the GPL
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    IM
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    Allright that would solve the question "Get GPL prog., change and the sell", but what about a Linux distro. As far as I rememeber a couple of days ago some company did some major improvements to the Linux Kernel, but when a journalist asked if they would give the improvements back to the community he said "NO!"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by IM
    Allright that would solve the question "Get GPL prog., change and the sell", but what about a Linux distro. As far as I rememeber a couple of days ago some company did some major improvements to the Linux Kernel, but when a journalist asked if they would give the improvements back to the community he said "NO!"?
    I don't know if they could do this because Kernel is copyrighted by Linus Torvalds.
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    So how do the major players like SuSE sell their products?

    In patent law, you can't take an exisiting item and just use it to create your own product. If I recall, there has to be differences (at LEAST 10%) in order to clear that particular hurdle. Or, you obtain permission from the holder of the patent and you are then authorized to use it.

    Now. Having said that, I think the individual has delusions of grandeur. There are so many free distributions around, why would anyone purchase an unknown from an individual? You'd have to have some pretty serious horsepower behind you in order to market and sell this product successfully.
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    Linux Guru dylunio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by retired1af
    So how do the major players like SuSE sell their products?
    The GPL lets you sell the product at a price, but one has to let people see the source code etc.

    Origanly Linus Torvalds relesed Linux under a licence thath let people freely modify and distribute linux, but without alowing any money transfers. But the GPL which Linux is now under lets people buy,sell and make a profit from free software, but they may not restrict the right of others to distribute the software.

    The GPL also allows people to use and modify GPL software, and then distribute their version of the software. But if the software it was based on was covered by the GPL, the new software derived from it must also follow the GPL. This way no big company could take Linux, do a few modifications, and then release it under a restrictive license. So if any software derives from linux, it must be covered by the GPL.

    Going back to making money out of linux, if for instance you have baught a CD with GPL software on it, the people you baught it from can't stop you from copying the cd for free, or copying the CD and selling it on. Also the anyone that sells anything that is under the GPL must state that it is under the GPL, and also point anyone that asks to were they can get the source code for the software free of charge, this alows people to modify the software.

    I hope this helps you understand what restrictions Linux is under.

    So if you were to make Linux from scratch, you can bundle it and sell it, but you would have to stote that it is under the GPL and also provide the source code for free to anyone who asks for it.

    If you are wondering why e.g. mandrake only alow you to freely distribute the first three cd's of 10.1 it is because the other cd's contain software that is more restrctive than the GPL, and thus may need paying for, or you must agree to certain conditions about distributing it.

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    Linux User Krendoshazin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IM
    Allright that would solve the question "Get GPL prog., change and the sell", but what about a Linux distro. As far as I rememeber a couple of days ago some company did some major improvements to the Linux Kernel, but when a journalist asked if they would give the improvements back to the community he said "NO!"?
    people are allowed to modify the code as they wish as long as they give the original author credit and give the modifications back to the community, linux is bound by the GPL licence and therefore -any- modifications made are, as a requirement, to be given back to the community.

    the main misconception about red hat is that they sell linux, they don't, what you pay for is the support that comes with buying the os which is good for businesses. taking a distro, adding a few programs and adding little something here and there doesn't make the os 'yours', you can't just say, "oh i'm not going to abide by the GPL licence", you have no choice. the entire point of the GPL licence is to stop people like that taking the generosity and hard work of others and making profit from it.

    the licence also states that if you -do- make profit from it, in any form, then you must make the sourcecode available to the community, like red hat have their free version fedora, and mandrake gives you the option to download it for free

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    IM
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    Well what about Red HAt Enterprise Linux, I never saw this server distro on the web free for download? Red Hat doesn't offer it on it's web sites?

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    They must do it in some way, both whitebox and centos is based on RHEL...

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    Quote Originally Posted by IM
    Well what about Red HAt Enterprise Linux, I never saw this server distro on the web free for download? Red Hat doesn't offer it on it's web sites?
    Red Hat offer the source RPMS for "free".
    You can download them from their website.

    As far as the RHEL cd's go, you CAN copy them (if you have them) under GPL.
    They sell you support, not the cd's (except at cost-price).

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