On Mon, 3 May 2004, Gavin McCullagh wrote:
> You cannot legally use the RHEL distro without paying (per seat
Course you can. The GPL grants the right to redistribute in either
source or binary form (with requirement to make source available in
latter case, see clause 3).
If I have RHEL I can give copies of it, sans the few non-GPL RedHat
specific packages (and these are enumerated in the RHEL Support
Agreement, there's about two three of them, the anaconda-images RPM
and another, and probably redhat-release too, ie anything containing
trademarked RedHat images - redhat were even good enough to split
these into seperate packages to make it easy) to anyone I wish. I
can not call it RHEL though, so while technically the CDs wouldnt be
RHEL they'd be identical bar a couple of 'branding' RPMs.
Now, whether this 'new' distro, call it My Enterprise Linux, MYEL,
would be close enough to RHEL to violate my support agreement with
RedHat is a different question, that'd be hard to say. However, it's
a _support_ agreement, *NOT* a licence. A support agreement that
includes a requirement to accurately report the installed number of
RHEL, grants RedHat auditing rights and with remedial and penalty
clauses for non-compliance. It is _not_ a licence for the software,
the RHEL Support Agreement is _specific_ about this, specific that
the agreement does not restrict or try to change the licences of each
component work and indeed grants one a GPL licence to the collective
work of RHEL. See Niall's post on the subject.
A 3rd party to whom I distribute MYEL would not be bound by anything
other than the GPL. They presumably have no agreement with RedHat for
RHEL Support or other, they have no installed-base reporting
Ie, RHEL is not a "licenced" linux, it is only the RHEL subscriber
who is under contract to RedHat, the RHEL subscribers's rights with
respect to redistribution are _not_ affected by the RHEL Support
Agreement (other than that it does not grant you the right to copy
the RH trademark containing packages).
> This is an example of a Linux which is not free of charge.
Linux has never been free of charge. The GPL is not about ensuring
software stays "free of charge".
> However similar, Whitebox Linux is not RHEL, by definition.
This is an interesting angle. If Whitebox Linux is not RHEL, is MYEL?
Ie, if you're an RHEL subscriber, can you subscribe for one copy,
create new MYEL CDs and install MYEL without affecting the installed
numbers of RHEL for the purpose of the RHEL Support Agreement (and
hence avoid the penalty clauses). The only difference is that one was
compiled from SRPM, the other would be comprised of binary RPMs taken
from MYEL (which is fine - you're allowed redistribute them). Is RHEL
defined by the presence of the RH proprietary packages?
> RHEL could easily (not sure if they actually do it) add
> non-redistributable things. These could not be placed in Whitebox
> Linux and the products would clearly be different.
Yes, it's amazing that RedHat in their infinitely evil ways havn't
thought of that.
> The fact remains that any Linux (distro) is not necessarily
> There is no license requirement which says it must be either. If
> this were not so then Redhat's recent change of business model
> would be meaningless.
The GPL however does undermine any business model premised upon the
sale of software alone. RedHat's business model is support, not
licensing/sale of software.
> This is going to be a hair-splitting discussion. You could argue I
> guess that in the above cases you're paying for the service and the
> non-distributable stuff. But if you define RHEL as a Linux, it is
> one which is not free. Some componenets of it are free-of-charge,
> but RHEL isn't.
The components which are not are mostly trademarked logos, there is
no non-free software. The cost of RHEL is in the annual support fee.
1. Though, probably more because their lawyers deemed it better to
not ship trademarked images with otherwise GPL licenced packages.
Paul Jakma paul at clubi.iepaul at jakma.org Key ID: 64A2FF6A
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