On Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 6:49 AM, Michael Reichenbach
<[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> I want to create a distro (inherited the term from linux distro) based
> on FreeDOS. The first release may be an Free emulator (Bochs) fully
> preinstalled, preconfigured and portable for windows (maybe later follow
> other Free emulators in the same package like qemu). Both is Free
> Software. (no changes the any source code are planed for those)
I'll start by advising I am not a lawyer, but I think I can answer
your questions for you:
> First question. Are I am forced to offer a download for the source of
> those two software packages? Or is it ok simply to redirect to the
> original projects because the source can be downloaded there which would
> have more point anyway?
Let's first look at the licenses under which QEMU and Bochs are distributed:
"# QEMU as a whole is released under the GNU General Public License"
.. and the COPYING file in QEMU 0.9.1 is GNU GPL 2
The license for Bochs is GNU Library or Lesser General Public License (LGPL)
.. and the license included in Bochs 2.3.7 is LGPL 2.1
Copies of these licenses may also be found online at:
In the case of QEMU (or any other program distributed under the GNU
GPL, such as most of the FreeDOS distribution) the part you need to
read is section 3 of the GNU GPL:
3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:
a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,
b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
customarily used for software interchange; or,
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.)
And 3c doesn't really apply here, since you are the distributor - as I
understand it, 3c only applies if you received this through, say, a
CDROM included with a book or magazine. So if you distribute QEMU as
part of your FreeDOS distro, you must meet either 3a (include the
source code) or 3b (provide a written guarantee to provide source
code.) You cannot provide a binary-only version, available from your
web site, and include a link to some other web site for users to
download the source code. Not allowed. If you distribute the binary,
you must make the source code available at the same site.
You can opt to make the source code available as a separate download -
that's why we have both "binary only" and "binary with source"
versions of the FreeDOS 1.0 distribution available for download. Both
are available from the same site, and you (the user) can choose if you
want to grab the source code or not.
In the case of Bochs (or any program distributed under the GNU LGPL)
the important part is in section 4 of the GNU LGPL:
4. You may copy and distribute the Library (or a portion or
derivative of it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form
under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you accompany
it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which
must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a
medium customarily used for software interchange.
If distribution of object code is made by offering access to copy
from a designated place, then offering equivalent access to copy the
source code from the same place satisfies the requirement to
distribute the source code, even though third parties are not
compelled to copy the source along with the object code.
So it's important to distribute source code, as well, under the GNU
LGPL. It must be available at the same place you make available the
binary-only version - but can be a separate download on the same
server. Just as in the GNU GPL, you cannot provide a binary-only
version, available from your web site, and include a link to some
other web site for users to download the source code. Not allowed. If
you distribute the binary, you must make the source code available at
the same site.
> Second question. Can FreeDOS be mixed up with freeware (non-Free
> Software). There is some freeware without source code but it's still
> useful software and allowed to use them for private and commercial use
> and redistributing. Can the GPL software FreeDOS be mixed with free ware?
> No? How could you include Viaudio into FreeDOS 1.0? It's a non-Free
> driver from via.
The GNU GPL doesn't care about programs that are not under the GNU
GPL. So if you want to include programs in your distro that are
covered under a different license, AND THE OTHER LICENSE ALLOWS
REDISTRIBUTION, then go ahead. Just make sure to read and understand
the licenses of the software you are distributing, or you may get into
For example, in the FreeDOS distribution, we include programs that are
covered under other free licenses. Some of these are the BSD license,
some are the Artistic license, OpenWatcom license, public domain, etc.
I used to include software that was distributed under a license that
was "Free for personal use" or "Free to noncommercial users" or some
similar terms. I removed these from the Software List long ago because
they aren't really "free" licenses, and FreeDOS is about making a free
DOS that anyone can use. By restricting the software so that only home
users can use it, or that you can only use it if you aren't in a
business setting, whatever, means that the distro cannot be fully used
and enjoyed by everyone. I choose not to distribute that software,
even if the license allows me to share it with others.
If you want to include software that has a not-entirely-free license,
that's your choice. But if I may make a recommendation: make it very
clear to your users which software cannot be used by particular
classes of individuals. One way to do this is by putting these
software packages in a separate install group, perhaps called
"non-free", with a README that clearly describes what is installed in
the "non-free" install group.
Other links you may find helpful:
I hope that helps!
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