Updating Genode's license to AGPLv3 + open-source linking clause

Norman Feske norman.feske at ...1...
Sat Dec 17 13:10:18 CET 2016

Hello Jookia,

> How will proprietary Genode distributions
> use GPLv2 code from Linux or other copyleft projects, or do they just not?

under the commercial license, Genode is an ingredient of a proprietary
operating system, let's call it "Vendor OS". The Vendor OS comes with a
proprietary system library. The fact that this proprietary system
library is somehow based on Genode does not matter. The end user only
sees the Vendor OS, not Genode.

So your question can be more generally stated as "Can a proprietary
operating use GPL software?". The answer is obviously yes. E.g., before
the Linux kernel was born, GNU was primarily running on top of
proprietary Unix variants. Also, GPL software runs on top Windows OS or
other proprietary OSes.

When shipping a Vendor OS that includes GPL components, the Vendor needs
to comply with the GPL licenses of the used components. In particular,
the Vendor needs to provide the used GPL source code as well as all the
prerequisites that would be needed by the user to reproduce the binary.
(e.g., since Vendor OS is based on Genode, the most practical approach
for the Vendor to comply with the GPL would be to provide the Genode
source code that was used for building the binaries present in Vendor OS)

The interaction of GPL software with proprietary software in general is
well understood and documented by the FSF. All the established rules and
practices apply to Vendor OS. For example, whereas it would be fine to
use the Linux USB driver as a component on Vendor OS as it is a separate
program, it would not be possible for a proprietary component to
directly use the Linux TCP/IP stack because on Genode, the TCP/IP stack
is a library, not a separate program.

Does this explanation answer your question?


Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske
Genode Labs

http://www.genode-labs.com · http://genode.org

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

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