Subject: Re: softdep
To: Bill Studenmund <>
From: Matthew Orgass <>
List: current-users
Date: 11/18/1999 21:26:46
On Thu, 18 Nov 1999, Bill Studenmund wrote:

> The entire kernel doesn't become GPL'd, but the inclusion of that one file
> restricts your ability to distribute that kernel - you have to distribute
> it under terms as free as the GPL (though not necessarily GPL'd).  Chunks
> of code currently in our kernel source has other restrictions, such as
> advertizing clauses. These clauses are more restrictive than the freeness
> of GPL. Thus they can't mix..

  Actually, if it was really the GPL it would.  Any program distributed
with any GPLed code *must* be entirely GPLed.  If it is not possible to do
that, then no GPL code may be used.  As soon as the GPLed code is removed,
you could revert the rest of the code back to the former copyright.

GPL version 2 section 2b:
  You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or
  in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to
  be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms
  of this License. 

  So it would actually be illegal to distribute a BSD kernel that contains
any GPLed code, even if it is not enabled by default.  Hmmm... FreeBSD
seems to do this with some ext2fs code....

  In the softdep case, it is not actually GPLed and only requires that the
software that uses it be freely distributed "under reasonable conditions."

> If however we made lkm's to bind against a GPL'd kernel (like a Linux
> one), that LKM could arguably be covered under the GPL.

  It certainly would be.  From section 3: "For an executable work,
complete source code means all the source code for all modules it
contains..."  And since a LKM does not work without the kernel, it would
be considered a derivative work.  Same principle as shared libraries: even
if you do not distribute the program with the shared library, if it
requires a GPLed library it must be GPLed.  This is why the LGPL was

Matthew Orgass