GPL: implications for FreeBSD-on-hardware for sale?

Matthew Seaman m.seaman at
Sat Apr 10 01:46:37 PDT 2004

On Sat, Apr 10, 2004 at 05:15:15PM +0930, Paul A. Hoadley wrote:

> For a certain niche market, I am considering selling a software
> application by pre-installing it on a small machine running FreeBSD,
> and then selling the whole thing.  Are there any implications arising
> from the GPL (or other more-restrictive-than-BSD licensed) code in the
> tree?  Would it be arguable that I was, in fact, selling only the
> hardware and my own software application, and giving away the (GPL-
> and BSD-licensed) open source software for free?  I presume that the
> GPL would require me to at least make the source code of the
> GPL-covered parts of FreeBSD available on request (Section 3(b)),
> given that I would not be including the FreeBSD source code (it simply
> wouldn't be required) in the installation.
> This bridge must have been crossed before.  Does anyone have any
> experience here?

There's no problem with selling GPL'd programs for money.  As the cant
goes "Free speech, not free beer".  All you have to do to comply with
the GPL is make available the sources to the software you're using to
your customers, or let them know how they can retrieve them from a
third party.  In this case, probably just pointing them in the
direction of the FreeBSD servers would be sufficient.

If you're dead against redistributing GPL'd stuff, you'll find it
difficult to produce a completely GPL-free setup: removing things like
the C compiler and gdb and texinfo is easy enough, but such things as
readline and the regex libraries are harder to deal with.



Dr Matthew J Seaman MA, D.Phil.                       26 The Paddocks
                                                      Savill Way
PGP:         Marlow
Tel: +44 1628 476614                                  Bucks., SL7 1TH UK
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