Agreeing to licenses - WAS: Bye to Unbuntu

Gilles Gravier Gilles at
Sun Jan 7 08:22:46 UTC 2007


Having to agree to a license is not opposed to being free... in fact, 
the GPL license which covers most of the Linux code is far from giving 
free rights to you to do anything with it. You also have obligations, 
and quite strong ones in particular if you are a developer. For example, 
GPL *FORBIDS* you to develop code by taking from the source base of a 
GPL application and using that in a closed source proprietary 
application. This is an extremely constraining obligation / restriction 
that, as a developer, you NEED to be aware of, and agree to. As people 
from Linksys and a few other linux-based hardware boxes realized a bit 
late, they are forced by the license (which, if they had thorowly read 
and knowingly agreed to, might have led to different choice of platform) 
to give out the source of their product's firmware.

Whether it is a good thing for users... or for Linksys is a different 
argument... but nevertheless, there is a license that governs the use of 
Linux. And when you install and decide to use a Linux based distro, and 
other applications, you have to understand the licenses that apply to 
them and you have to agree to what they entitle you to do... but also 
what obligations you have.

I'm not opposed to having to agree to a license agreement... even in the 
context of free / open source software. The difference between that 
license and a proprietary license is what makes all the difference and 
it's important to know which differences you are actually agreeing to. 
And it should be an explicit agreement rather than an implicit...

Some stuff in your Linux distro are under GPL, some under LGPL, some 
under BSD, and even in some distros, some are under proprietary license. 
Do you know which is which? Do you really know what you are allowed to 
do with each piece of code on your Ubuntu (or other distro)?

Again, this is not extremely constraining if you are a user... but it 
might mean the difference between your company being prosperous, or 
dieing to a lawsuit if you are a developer.


Anthony M Simonelli wrote:
> On Sat, 2007-01-06 at 17:17 +0100, Knapp wrote:
>> Are you saying you're going to use OpenSuse instead of Ubuntu?   I
>> couldn't leave the Debian based distros.  If I were ever to leave
>> Ubuntu, it would be for Debian.  I just like running a current desktop
>> and current Gnome, which Ubuntu provides.
>> On Sat, 2007-01-06 at 10:19 -0500, Julian Alarcon wrote:
>>> JEJE, and I chose Ubuntu 3 Months ago upper Opensuse.. JEJEJE..
>> Saying goodbye to Ubuntu for some other distro is one thing but Suse?
>> Is that not a bit like getting on the titanic after it hits the
>> iceberg? Sure it is a nice ship with a good design but?
>> Douglas
> There are people who question Shuttleworth and Canonical's motive behind
> Ubuntu and the "corporate involvement" makes people suspicious, but
> openSuse?  I tried out 10.2 and I actually had to agree to a license
> agreement from Novell!  The only times I've had to do that was for
> Lin/Freespire (understandable), Fedora and openSuse.  This doesn't seem
> 'free' to me.  OpenSuse seems like one of those distros that assumes the
> user is clueless and tries to do everything for the user automagically
> and is heavily customized while Ubuntu seems to stay a hacker distro
> while being a convenient Debian.  Am I totally off or does anyone agree?

/*Gilles Gravier*/ *=* *Gilles at* <mailto:Gilles at> 
*=* **
ICQ : *77488526* 
<> * || *MSN 
Messenger : Gilles at <>*
*Skype : ggravier <callto://ggravier>* || *Y! : ggravier 
<> || AOL : gillesgravier 
PGP Key ID : *0x8DE6D026* 
"Chastity is its own punishment." (/Solomon Short/) [/David Gerrold/]
"De toutes les aberrations sexuelles, la chasteté est la plus 
aberrante." [Anatole France]

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: smime.p7s
Type: application/x-pkcs7-signature
Size: 3381 bytes
Desc: S/MIME Cryptographic Signature
URL: <>

More information about the ubuntu-users mailing list