The GNU GPL is popular open source license created by Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation. This license is used by many popular free software projects including the Linux kernel.
The key points of the GNU GPL are as follows:
- All source code must be made available for a nominal packaging and transport cost to all people to whom the binary application is distributed.
- People who have the source code have the right to use, modify and distribute the source code as they see fit as long as they credit the original authors and they provide no further restrictions on all works made from the source code.
This license means that you may get and modify the source to say, a Linux kernel, for free. It also means that you must provide the source code that includes your modifications. You can find the full license text on the Free Software Foundation's webpage.
GamePark Holdings' violation
GamePark Holdings (GPH) decided to use Linux on the GP2X without properly understanding the consequences of the GNU GPL. In order to meet their deadline for releasing the console, they placed proprietary information into the kernel rather than using a binary kernel module. When users requested a copy of the source for the kernel, U-boot, MPlayer and any other open source software contained in the GP2X, GPH declined and violated the GNU GPL.
GPH subcontracted with DignSys, a company that did the actual Linux port.
A small, dedicated group of users began to gently inform GPH of their responsibilities with regard to the GNU GPL.
- On December 1, 2005, after much negotiation, GPH made the first release of their Linux kernel source code. Although this does not bring them into full compliance, they have said that they will release all source code soon. This source code is now part of the Open2X project.
- On January 11, 2006, the issue was mentioned as a story on the popular website SlashDot.
- Around February 17, 2006, the kernel source code for the 1.4.0 firmware was released at svn.gp2x.com.
- GPH is now fully complying with the GPL.