Genode Userland Licensing

Norman Feske norman.feske at ...1...
Wed Jan 29 20:37:25 CET 2014

Hi Nick,

> then the own custom software components need not be licensed under GPL
> and need not make their code available; even if the underlying operating
> system used is licensed under the GPL, applications running on it are
> not considered derivative works.'
> So in our case, we don't have an issue with GPL. Phew! :)

Your conclusion does actually not apply to Genode. The Linux kernel has
an explicit clause at the top of its COPYING file that exempts
user-level programs on top of Linux from being considered "derived work":

Genode has no such exemption clause. Such a clause would actually not
make much sense because in Genode, most traditional in-kernel
functionalities are separate programs. If we defined a license boundary
around each program (as the Linux kernel does), this would correspond to
defining a license boundary around each Linux kernel module. This would
obviously undermine the spirit of the GPL.

The Genode framework is, for the most part, a collection of libraries,
against which programs are linked when running on the platform. Because
those libraries and interfaces are GPL software, programs using those
libraries have to comply with the terms of the GPL. Put simply: Genode
is Free Software. Software that is based on Genode should be Free
Software, too.

If you intend to facilitate Genode to build a non-free software stack,
commercial licensing should be investigated. This way, proprietary
software built on top of Genode helps indirectly to bring Free Software
forward by funding its development.

Best regards

Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske
Genode Labs ·

Genode Labs GmbH · Amtsgericht Dresden · HRB 28424 · Sitz Dresden
Geschäftsführer: Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske, Christian Helmuth

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