GPL Issue and the linux kernel

Jerome Alet alet at
Tue Feb 25 09:03:28 UTC 2003

On Tue, Feb 25, 2003 at 10:37:36AM +0000, Alexander Popov wrote:
> I was wondering if anyone can give me some info on a questionable topic:
> I reasontly bought a Elitegroup (ECS) laptop distributed with Thiz Linux.
> The distro CDs did not contain the kernel source, so I requested it from 
> ECS.
> They refused to give me the code.
> This code is modified by them in order to fully support the hardware inside 
> the machine.
> Isn't it illeagal to refuse publishing a GPLed code?

If they distributed the binary of a GPLed software to you, then you 
can ask them for the source which they *must* give you (eventually for 
a fee to cover physical reproduction costs) to comply with the terms
of the GNU GPL. If they refuse then they must stop from distributing
the binary.

However IIRC Linus, in his great wisdom :-((, chose to allow 
proprietary "modules" in the Linux kernel, so if their modifications 
are not really linked to the kernel, but distributed as a module, 
then they can refuse to distribute the source to you. On the other 
hand if their modification are really part of the kernel (vmlinuz)
then they violate the GNU GPL.


Jerome Alet

More information about the Discussion mailing list