Scyld and GPL

Jim Phillips jim at ks.uiuc.edu
Wed Aug 22 14:10:31 EDT 2001


Hi,

On Wed, 22 Aug 2001, Eric T. Miller wrote:

> Since Scyld is built on top of Red Hat, isn't it subject to the GPL just
> like any other Linux distribution?  It is my understanding that if any
> previous code is used to develop a new distribution, then it is clearly a
> product of the GPL and should be made freely (and easily) available.  Please
> correct and educate me if I am wrong!

The GPL requires you to provide source code for your modifications, and to
make it reasonably available.  This is in ftp://ftp.scyld.com/pub/beowulf/
but there is no link to it from the Scyld web site (which is bad).  The
GPL does not require you to release binaries, much less a complete Linux
distribution containing your modifications, and it certainly doesn't
require you to allow the world to FTP CD-ROM images from your web server.
The low-cost edition is really a good approach to this, since you get a
real distribution for basically media and handling costs.

> If this is the case, however, will we see the download links given equal
> billing with the commercial (pay) links on Scyld's homepage?  This seems to
> be the status quo with all other major Linux distros.  I think many
> potential clustering enthusiasts are put off at first by the "fog" that
> surrounds getting your hands on the Scyld software.  This is not indicative
> of the sense of community fostered by the whole of the Linux family.

Since Scyld isn't required to do a low cost CD, I can't complain much
about the placement.  There's nothing to stop you from building your own
CD-ROM using the GPL source code and distributing it yourself.  (I'm
pretty sure that you can't just pirate the original Scyld CD image.) 
Personally, however, I like seeing open source developers get paid.

-Jim


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