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Re: What's the status of sourceless live linux distros?

From: Martin Dickopp
Subject: Re: What's the status of sourceless live linux distros?
Date: Tue, 05 Oct 2004 21:37:20 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) Emacs/21.3 (gnu/linux) (Martin Guy) writes:

>    I'd like to ask what people think/what we can do about a new kind
> of GPL breach.
>    I keep running into bootable Linux CD and floppy distros where the
> creators have simply taken a load of binaries, sometimes from all over
> the place, cobbled together a bootable Unix filesystem, made an ISO
> image (or floppy) out of it, and then annouced it as a free software
> distro.
> [...]
> Is there anything we can do about these pervertions of free software? 
> I have had only silence or (ultimately) deathwishes from the distro
> authors that I have contacted about this problem.  Would someone from
> FSF or GNU like to comment?

First of all, I'm not from the FSF or GNU project, but only speaking for

Only the copyright holder can pursue license violations, so if you think
a license has been violated, tell it to the copyright holder, not to the
suspected violator. It might even be the case that the copyright holder
has licensed the program to the suspected violator under a different
license and he has indeed the right to distribute it without source
code. He would then rightfully be upset if you accuse him.

If the copyright holder is the FSF, follow the instructions at

I once talked to the FSF about Knoppix, a GNU/Linux distribution that
runs entirely from CD, but does not include the source code for various
GNU programs. It invokes Section 3b of the GPL, and the required
"written offer" is contained in a file on the CD itself. As I was told,
the FSF considers this to comply with Section 3b. You might want to take
that into account when you double-check if a distribution really
violates the GPL for a program for which the copyright holder is the


   ,--.                                          ,= ,-_-. =.
  / ,- )    Martin Dickopp, Dresden, Germany    ((_/)o o(\_))
  \ `-'        `-'(. .)`-'
   `-.                                               \_/

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