Udo Schröter (Trionic Technologies) wrote:
[ ... ]
I have a question regarding the creation of a branded commercial
distribution based on FreeBSD.


Here is the thing: my company wants to offer a standard corporate Unix
desktop that is certified (guaranteed) to run our enterprise management
software well. We looked into Linux but, for various reasons, a solution
based on FreeBSD makes more sense for us. Basically we want to release a CD
to our customers which installs our own customized FreeBSD environment,
with our own brand name.

You're creating a "turnkey" system with a known and well-defined layout which includes all of the dependencies to run your proprietary software. Look into
"man release", which discusses how to customize a build and create CD images.

You should also consider managing your software and it's dependencies as a port, even though you might never submit the port of your software. On the other hand, some people like anti-virus vendors have their commercial products available as a port on a time-limited trial basis (security/vscan, , but that's up to you...

If we want to do this, it is clear that we
- must preserve the copyright notices
- should place a description like "based on the FreeBSD Project" on the package

Yes. Basicly, you should follow and include /COPYRIGHT and /usr/src/gnu/COPYING, depending on how much of the documentation and so forth you include or remove from your particular distribution.

- redistribute GPLed source if modified

Section 3 of the GPL requires you to redistribute GPLed source (or offer to make such source available when asked), even if you ship a binary of that GPLed program which has not been modified. However, if you configure your system so that section 3c applies, this becomes easier:

    c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
    to distribute corresponding source code.  (This alternative is
    allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
    received the program in object code or executable form with such
    an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

- swap out references to freebsd support list in the distro so our
customers don't spam the community

You should have your own top-level documentation which refers people to your support mechanisms, sure.

- honor the redistribution rules of the ports

Yes, you need to pay attention to the licenses of all dependencies.

- should make a donation to the project as profits allow

If you like; no doubt it would be appreciated.

Are there any FreeBSD references that MUST be taken out / MUST be left in?

What you see is what you get: the BSD license is very simple.

Are there any other legal or technical issues? How do people on FreeBSD
feel about commercial distributions generally? Are we going to get sued by
SCO? (just kidding, sort of)

There are lots of technical details-- while there is a fair amount of documentation available for building a release, and many steps are deterministic, it really is an iterative process that stops based on subjective criteria (yours).

You're welcome to use BSD software in a commercial distribution. Have fun. If you contribute useful things back, that's nice, but you don't even have to do that much.

IANAL: I'd worry more about falling in the shower and breaking my neck than I would worry about SCO.

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