Question Regarding the Applicability of the GNU General Public License / GNU Library General Public License

Matthew Seaman m.seaman at
Tue May 11 06:06:33 PDT 2004

On Mon, May 10, 2004 at 01:04:06PM -0500, Hatteberg, David J  non Unisys wrote:

> I just went to the FreeBSD website (, and went to the "The FreeBSD Copyright and Legal Information" section.  I see that two of the possible links are to the GNU General Public License and the GNU Library Public License ("GPLs").  Yet, there is no reference to the GPLs in any of the other links (e.g., "The FreeBSD Copyright" pages, the "FreeBSD Ports redistribution restrictions" pages, etc.).  In sum, there is nothing that says why the GPL's are included as links or how they are applicable to the FreeBSD software at all.  
> Please advise why these are provided at the FreeBSD website and when, if ever, they would apply to any use of the FreeBSD software.

Some of the software supplied as part of the FreeBSD base system is
licensed under the GPL -- examples are gcc(1), groff(1), tar(1), and
many other utilities and shlibs.  Sources for the GPL'd stuff can be
found within /usr/src/gnu/ -- see:

If you wish to create a GPL-free system using FreeBSD as a base, that
is just about possible but you will have to take care to delete those
GPL'd applications and provide BSD licensed alternatives.
Unfortunately you really do need gcc(1) in some form to compile the
system.  Work is ongoing to make the system compilable with Intel's C
compiler, but as far as I am aware it doesn't actually work yet.
Simply compiling software under gcc does not force you to license it
under the GPL, despite the inclusion of some GNU startup code (crt.o,
etc) in any binaries.



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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