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Re: GPL-ed code in a driver for a proprietary OS

From: Bradley Remedios
Subject: Re: GPL-ed code in a driver for a proprietary OS
Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2007 09:12:28 -0800
User-agent: G2/1.0

First off the contents of this email is based upon my thoughts and
opinions with regards to the GPL and LGPL.  In general I would suggest
not going down this route due to the fact that it can be a little bit
of a gray area and providing more risk.

On Nov 6, 8:13 pm, wrote:
> I'm wondering what the general consensus is on the legitimacy of using
> GPL-ed code in a driver for a proprietary operating system, in my
> particular case to generate a file system driver for Windows CE.

Myself, I choose to stay away as in my opinion its a gray area in the
best of cases.  In the past under Linux, I have written proprietary
Linux Drivers and the only way to go about that is to ensure that it
is loaded only as a module and that it doesn't make use of any GPL
code.  Of course, depending on what your driver does, you can't always
have it be loaded as a module, so only ever really worked for certain
types of drivers.

> however there is a clear
> exemption allowing a GPL-ed program to use libraries/ components that
> are a standard part of the operating system for which the program is
> designed without the OS components falling under the GPL.  I'm
> wondering whether this exemption could be considered to work in the
> other direction, allowing a GPL-ed driver/module/plugin to be used by
> a proprietary OS.

There are a few problems here, one being that the driver will have to
remain GPL and you would be required to provide source to the
customers for that GPL-ed driver.  I know that any code that is
"linked" in with the OS image will be a problem, and I do not know how
the file-system drivers work under Windows CE so I would not be able
to comment on this.

I would imagine that if the driver could be built and linked
separately from the whole Platform Builder image and still used that
it would be ok unless there is something inside the Microsoft License
that states otherwise.

My personal preference is always staying away from those issues, I
would be interested though in other peoples thoughts on this issue.

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