[syslinux] SysLinux GPL license violation

H. Peter Anvin hpa at zytor.com
Mon Oct 20 19:56:53 PDT 2003

Gustavo Guillermo wrote:
> Hello:
> I'm currently working on embedded system Called Compunauta Micro Linux
> II, it uses like EasyRDP, lixux stuff included SysLinux.
> Which steps I need to follow to provide the sources for every program,
> because the Idea of this Linux version is the smallest space, on 200MB
> CD-ROMs, of course I can't put the sources on main distribution. The idea
> on this embedded system is to sale ROMs preconfigured with ISPs username
> and password, and put on the internet, the GPL one and standard.
> My actual version works about 1 hour, because an error on my scripts that
> drops ramdisk with squid logs, I'm not trying to put a demo of linux.
> Best regards for everyone, tips about syslinux distribution will
> be appreciated.
> If this is off topic I'm apologize circumstances. (English is not my
> native language).

The easiest way is to follow the terms of GPL section 3(b), which states:


   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:


     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,


In my opinion as copyright holder of SYSLINUX -- and I believe most GPL 
authors including the FSF would agree with me -- these days "a medium 
customarily used for software interchange" includes HTTP and FTP over 
the Internet.  Therefore, what you need to do is to:

a) Put the sources used to create *your* distribution (including any 
custom modifications -- they have to be capable of generating the 
binaries you ship) on an Internet server;

b) Include a written offer with your distribution, for example in the 
form of a text file called SOURCES pointing to the above-mentioned server;

c) Not remove these files for a minimum of 3 years after you have 
stopped selling your product, *even if you later release a newer 
version*.  The latter is important -- you can't just withdraw the 
sources to any particular version until a minimum of 3 years later.

All in all, an easy enough job.


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