For Approval: German Free Software License

Chuck Swiger chuck at
Mon Nov 29 17:52:58 UTC 2004

On Nov 29, 2004, at 12:40 PM, Thorsten Glaser wrote:
>>> No, since upon entering the Linux kernel it's automatically GPL'd.
>> This is obviously wrong.
> Just wrongly worded:
> After entering the Linux kernel, a work becomes automatically GPL'd
> if the original author / copyright owner distributes a Linux kernel
> binary with said work integrated (happens...), or if the licence of
> said work explicitly states this (LGPL does, D-FSL does).

What prevents the original author of a BSD-licensed work which was 
released with a Linux kernel binary from releasing that exact same 
BSD-licensed work to a BSD project under the BSD license?

>> optional part of their operating systems as part of a compilation; 
>> they are not
>> willing to adopt GPL'ed code into the kernel if such code would be 
>> required by
>> the kernel to function.
> OpenBSD/i386 still comes with a GPL'd floating point emulator
> for the 80386 and 80486SX processors contained within the
> kernel binaries provided.

And, as the stated in the OpenBSD link I provided:

The GNU Public License and licenses modeled on it impose the 
restriction that source code must be distributed or made available for 
all works that are derivatives of the GNU copyrighted code.

While this may be a noble strategy in terms of software sharing, it is 
a condition that is typically unacceptable for commercial use of 
software. As a consequence, software bound by the GPL terms can not be 
included in the kernel or "runtime" of OpenBSD, though software subject 
to GPL terms may be included as development tools or as part of the 
system that are "optional" as long as such use does not result in 
OpenBSD as a whole becoming subject to the GPL terms.

As an example, some ports include GNU Floating Point Emulation - this 
is optional and the system can be built without it or with an 
alternative emulation package. Another example is the use of GCC and 
other GNU tools in the OpenBSD tool chain - it is quite possible to 
distribute a system for many applications without a tool chain, or the 
distributor can choose to include a tool chain as an optional bundle 
which conforms to the GPL terms.


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