License compliance?

I believe you are confusing providing the recipient of your product with notice/licence and vandalizing your product with notice/licence etc.
Your notice can be in many forms and the open source code can be made available in many valid forms.

You really should try and understand first.

For example, in your earlier posts you mentioned Android doesn't plaster your screen with license notices. Of course it doesn't. However it does provide a notice.
You just need to look in the
Settings -> About Device -> Legal Information -> Open Source Licenses


This very much is in contention, if you distribute code under a license like the GPL you are bound to follow the conditions of the GPL for those parts, and that includes the requirement to share any modifications to GPLd code, so if you distribute an OpenWrt based mod without at least a written offering to share the source, you are very much setting yourself up to loose in court. Even a cursory reading of the GPL will allow you to confirm this, how about you start with research before you give potentially costly advise on the internets? (Not that anybody should expect reliable legal advise from strangers on the internet, including me).

I believe this is a question you should discuss with a lawyer.

No you can not, for at least the kernel and lots of the applications are licensed under various GPL versions, like the kernel is licensed under GPL 2 ( and that reads:
" 3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you received the program in object code or executable form with such an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable. However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable.

If distribution of executable or object code is made by offering access to copy from a designated place, then offering equivalent access to copy the source code from the same place counts as distribution of the source code, even though third parties are not compelled to copy the source along with the object code."

Which pretty much rules out your recommended course of action. You are right that if your own modification is not a derivative work of any GPLd code you might not need to share your own code, but that does not relieve you from the requirement to distribute all GPL code, otherwise you loose the license to use that code in the first place.

As by your request: This, as stated by you above, is untrue.


You are mixing two different concepts: providing a service using GPL software, and distributing a product based on GPL software.

Please, read both GPL 2 and GPL 3 thoroughly.


Let me put this another way.

In the case of user who wants to distribute his own whitebox router product- we agree the underlying code is OpenWRT and GPL. There is no issue with distributing it nor any valid reason to not want to. Most of us don't even want the source. There are many many companies producing versions of OpenWRT, using things like QCA developer kit. You can get the code to QCA SDK, but it will cost you and it is under NDA. Therefore your work product is not GPL and you can't distribute this derivative code especially regarding any binary blobs. You can't even use the OpenWRT router on something like IPQ-4019 without one of kvalo binary blobs from QCA. You Do Not get the source. Period. So all this talk about GPL is irrelevant in this kind of case.

Nobody cares about whether the OpenWRT code is underneath the hood, in fact, it is assumed that the OpenWRT code is underneath the hood in almost all cases. There is no reason to conceal that the router is driven by OpenWRT. You log into a Ubiquiti device, it looks and smells like OpenWRT or some version or LEDE. You log into an Open-Mesh / Datto device, it is LEDE. I doubt very seriously that Google Wifi is more than OpenWRT with some custom 802.11s handiwork. The idea that this user needs to conceal the licenses is for his branding. I am trying to show how the industry openly handles this, and it can be done by some legal means, there is no need to put legalese roadblocks in front of his wishes.

Now, we can establish that his product is OpenWRT and that, as a compromise, he can make the OpenWRT distribution available, not that he needs to since it is all online. This request from the user is a misconception on his road to produce a whitebox product like OpenMesh. They have their own replacement for LUCI, something very nice that runs in their CloudTrax portal. They are not attributing LEDE anywhere that the eye can see. They have been in business since the very start of this. They are not distributing the source. Cisco is not giving out the source to the Meraki product, which I believe also ran on an early version of LEDE.

So, the user can produce his own binary blob or his own patches or anything he wants- they can run at boot and install before the system runs- it really doesn't matter what he does to get his product looking like he wants. The gory details of the GPL and attribution are completely irrelevant in practical terms so that this user can get what he wants. How?

Like OpenMesh, he does not need to give ssh access to the routers, especially if doing so allowed the users to change the firmware in a situation where the router was approved in some legal jurisdiction with that particular set of firmware. Who cares if the user gets the firmware or the source if it is illegal to install it?

He can also make his hardware such that new firmware cannot be installed, rendering all of this point moot, simply by having production solder a resistor to the TX pin of the USB Debug UART.

I am watching what the industry is doing, these are the facts. Nobody is suing QCA, nobody is suing Datto, and nobody is suing Google. They are inserting their own binary blobs, by whatever means and controlling the underlying GPL code with either proprietary web interface or openly using LUCI with QCA SDK code under NDA.

I doubt these big companies are leaving the barn door of legal exposure open to accomplish exactly what the user wants. This is supposed to be a forum to help people, why don't we help him get what he needs instead of blowing smoke that what he wants to do isn't possible?


Since you enjoy clarification, You're either a troll, can't read for comprehension, or perhaps it is simply that you don't have a clue about what is and what is not impacted by the various licenses.

Already have, if you had actually read the thread, you likely would have understood that the question was if a manufacturer of equipment had already violated the terms of license.

I believe you are the one that is blowing smoke


Helpful and informative, thank you for the responsive reply!

Whether a work is a derivative product is very much a legal question; drivers or firmwares for secondary specialized cores (say in wifi adapters) have a reasonably decent chance of being declared non-derivative by a court, pure modifications of existing GPLd source not so much. Plus, Qualcom has a dedicated legal department to assess the risk the company might take or not take, which typically is not true for posters in this forum (otherwise why as lay-folks when you have access to legal experts). The fact that you do not yet understand the differences makes me a bit cautious to trust the rest of your legal opinion.

??? Last time I looked Ubiquity (in the edgrouter series at least) used a fork of vyatta, which is a network-specialized Linux distribution, sure, but decidedly not OpenWrt.

The biggest problem is the last of his three questions, repeated above. I see no way the industry handles that short of risking a law suit.

Not that clear cut, for GPLd components he is on the hook of making the source available independent of his upstream. You can skimp on that but you risk being sued in case the upatream repositories disappear.

Your interpretation of the users request maybe...

Sure, as long as he does not distribute his work usage like that is covered by the GPL.

The GPL does and so do courts. Not honoring the provisions of the GPL can cost you the license to actually use the GPLd code in question, even if the user can not actually use the source to build her own working version, but I believe the FSF is trying to address such issues (like GPL3 tried to deal with software patents as a tool to restrict users of GPLd code).

The way the law works is, that this is irrelevant to the question whether you fulfill your part of the GPL to be allowed to use that code, you really have not looked too deeply into the GPL or the court cases that actually dealt with GPLd code, have you? So why do you keep digging a deeper hole for yourself?

I bet they have their legal teams check first whether they can argue with good faith that these blobs are not derived from GPLd code, but do you honestly believe the OP has the legal resources to assess this question and find his own trade-off in the risk-gain continuum?

They pretty much cover their bases in code they distribute (not always, some need to be convinced by courts to follow the respective license conditions).

He needs to contact a specialized lawyer for his country, no amount of arm-chair lawyering is goin to help him. But of all the opinions yours seems to be especially reckless and unhelpful, unless you want him to end up in court.


He's definitely is trolling or completely unclear about license compliance:

  • Often times - he switches discussion about:
    • an individual's own work,
    • proprietary work of a corporation (e.g. Google)
    • and work released under a libre license - all separate situations
  • He confuses affixing logos and copyright symbols, with actually complying with the software license
  • Reading the first 3 lines from the link in my post above would demonstrate his concept is completely flawed regarding "GPL'ed software"

From the page:

  • You must not read all the paperwork that comes with your device.
  • Your device must not have a "license" or "credits" menu option

Most consumer electronic devices I've owned like this have such a menu or included a paper listing this information - if it contains "GPL'ed software.

That's highly untrue. Your understanding of open/libre software licenses is obviously flawed - because you mentioned software from a company like Google.

It ain't true, if you plan to distribute your modification.

I do, and the license and law says I'm entitled to it.

Then your concept of what software is - seems to be flawed as well.


Even shorter answer:
That's not cool.


I think every jurisdiction knows the term good will.
Creating a software that is based on someone's work and not respecting its licensing terms by deleting references in your code is not a good will. Using this for your own benefit is a way out of scope of good will.

If you want to create a fork of code of any software, you will need to respect the licenses provided with the source code.

Yes it is a long path to study those, but it would be even longer to create the code from scratch.

In a few years the artificial intelligence will be able to convert the binary form of executables back to its source form.
It is not that long ago that CTRL +C and CTRL +V has been popular among the students to create a diploma work in a matter of days.
Now there are specialized programs to uncover the plagiarism. Journalists nowadays are using this to uncover the frauds among politicians.

Would you under these circumstances dare creating a software fork and sell it for your own profit? The time when it will be reverse engineered is not that far away.

I suggest the respect to other's work will pay back some day and you will see even a benefit not to create your diploma work using CTRL +C and CTRL +V.

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ok it has been one year, and I don't know what you guys are arguing:

  1. openwrt build system is GPL, that is, unless you did fundamental changes to the way openwrt builds(its makefiles, cross-compiler flags,etc), you will just like 99% of the users, use openwrt as-is.
  2. the packages are having their different licenses, it could be GPL or BSD or whatever, you can add your own package with your own license or just keep it proprietary if you write it from scratch.
  3. luci is Apache-licensed, which is, very different from GPL, and you don't need share your changes in source as GPL requires.

so, what are you guys arguing about?

Did you read the first post? That one where OP talks about distributing a modified version of OpenWrt?


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