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Re: What GPL requirements are implied by publishing an ISO with GRUB bin

From: SevenBits Tech
Subject: Re: What GPL requirements are implied by publishing an ISO with GRUB binaries ?
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2017 20:02:49 -0400

While I don't have specific quotes from the GPL to share in regards to this 
situation, it is my understanding that, yes, you are required to provide the 
source code used to build the compiled binary. This is because every person who 
receives the software has the right to the source used to build it.

I believe there is an exception for commonly used libraries and tools needed to 
build the code (e.g., if GCC is needed to build the code, you do not need to 
include the source to GCC as it is a common package). However, this most 
assuredly does not apply in this circumstance.

Where are you distributing your ISO? Perhaps you could just put the code on a 
public FTP site, and include its link in the Readme. Or, I believe you could 
charge a small fee to mail the software to the user on a disc, but no more than 
is absolutely necessary to comply with the source distribution requirement.

Hope this helps.

> On Sep 10, 2017, at 3:01 PM, Thomas Schmitt <address@hidden> wrote:
> Hi,
> i read on
> a cumbersome interpretation of GRUB's GPL for the case of publishing an ISO
> with GRUB boot equipment. (See quote below.)
> Is it really necessary to keep and publish the source package of the
> binary distro package if the ISO contains such distro binaries ?
> Is it really necessary to make and publish a GRUB release if binaries
> stem from source versions from git repo ?
> Is there no easier way to comply to GPL by giving a sufficient id string
> of the used GRUB version ?
> (Can GRUB binaries inside the ISO tell their exact git version ?
> Would the GRUB project consider GPLv3 fulfilled for an unmodified version
> from git by just pointing to the newest (thus better) git version ?)
> If a publisher of grub-mkrescue made ISOs needs to actively fulfill GPL
> demands, then this should be mentioned well visibly in
> Quote from
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
> Warning:
> [...]
> The GPL requires you publish the source code corresponding to the bootloader.
> You need to get the exact source package corresponding to the GRUB package
> you have installed from your distribution, at the time grub-mkrescue is
> invoked (as distro packages are occasionally updated). You then need to
> publish that source code along with your ISO to satisfy the GPL.
> Alternative, you can build GRUB from source code yourself. Clone the latest
> GRUB git from savannah (do not use their last release from 2012, it's
> severely out of date). Run, ./configure and make dist. [...]
> ensure its grub-mkrescue program is used to produce your iso. Then publish
> the GRUB tarball of your own making [...].
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
> End of quote.
> In general i'd be interested in correction proposals. Some statements
> are obviously outdated or wrong, like the one about the youngest release.
> Something more future-proof should be stated instead.
> Have a nice day :)
> Thomas
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> Grub-devel mailing list
> address@hidden

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