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Re: [rhn-users] The right to copy Redhat Enterprise Linux, was: Re: redhat enterpriselinux license conditions



Alois Treindl wrote:

> But Redhat has chosen itself to go into a business which is
> fundamentally based on the GPL. It cannot be allowed to bend the GPL, or
> circumnavigate the GPL.

We agree.

> This gives me the right to download the ISO files for this Linux
> release, and to install and run it on one system according to Redhat's
> license.

That's what the Red Hat Enterprise Linux license says.

> The software Redhat Enterprise Linux ES is a big, tightly interwoven
> software system. About 99% of it is subject to the GPL, Gnu Public
> License. Particularily the core parts, the kernel and most system
> libraries are under GPL.
> See: http://www.redhat.com/licenses/gpl.html

Definitely.

> A small fraction of "The Software" is subject to a proprietary license
> by Redhat.
> 
> The GPL allows me to copy software (source or binary) and use it on as
> many systems as I like. It even allows me to redistribute it to others,
> but that is not the issue here. I just want to run multiple copies on my
> own systems.

I don't see in the GPL where you get the right to copy binary software;
I just reread it, and it really looks like it's all about source code. 
All the rights seem to refer back to point (1), which is about source.

And Red Hat hasn't allowed binary copying even on their "generic"
distributions, for a few years now.  They allow you to copy the source,
and to compile the source, and market it as your own package, but they
don't allow you to make copies of the disks.

While they make exceptions for user-groups, commercial businesses must
recompile the whole package from source and take out all references to
Red Hat.  Or at least that's what Red Hat tells you.  For an example,
read about "Pink Tie Linux" at "http://www.cheapbytes.com/";.  The
package is compiled by a member of a local (to here) users group who
also produces JAMD Linux (http://www.boycottmicrosoft.net/jamd/).

> The GPL is also infectuous. It applies to the whole Redhat Enterprise
> Linux  because of the tightly interwoven nature of that OS.
> RHEL is not a 'separate application' like for example an Oracle DBMS,
> which runs on top of the OS. It is the OS itself.

I'm not a lawyer, but I tend to agree with you here.  I think if you
could get the source code for everything and compile it you'd be allowed
to use that on multiple systems under the license.  And while it doesn't
matter what I think, I think Red Hat has to be willing to give you the
source code for the entire distribution.

> Redhat would violate the GPL if it forbids me to create and run copies
> of the OS.

Do you want to run a system farm or fight a lawsuit?  It's quite
unfortunate that Red Hat and other Linux companies are going the routes
they are, but it was to be expected once they became commercial entities
beholden to stockholders.

To see the various solutions I propose for resolving the
"one-year-of-support" issue for the "generic" Red Hat distributions, see
my previous post today.

Jeff
-- 
Jeff Lasman, nobaloney.net, P. O. Box 52672, Riverside, CA  92517 US
Internet & Unix/Linux/Sun/Cobalt Consulting +1 909 778-9980
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