[LinuxBIOS] License clarification, round 1

Uwe Hermann uwe at hermann-uwe.de
Tue Aug 29 12:16:01 CEST 2006

Hi all,

this will probably make me very unpopular around here, but oh well... ;)

I've started looking at _all_ files in svn and checking their respective
license to see if it's GPL'd or at least has another Free Software license.
Also, all such licenses must be GPL compatible, too, AFAIK (but I'm no

This is important for a) the Debian package, which must meet the DSFG
(Debian Free Software Guidelines), see
and b) for the legal status of the LinuxBIOS project itself, as
any non-free-software/non-gpl-compatible code in the repository would
probably be illegal to distribute (depending on the exact license
terms), may cause all kinds of other legal hassle and just simply
compromise the whole idea of the project - to have a _free_ implementation.

So here I am, reading through all files, taking notes which of them
are not GPL'd. Please check the list and clarify the exact license
status of the files, e.g. by adding a GPL header similar to this one below:

 * Copyright (C) 200x Author Name <email at example.com>
 * This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
 * it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
 * the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
 * (at your option) any later version.
 * This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
 * but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
 * GNU General Public License for more details.
 * You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
 * along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
 * Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA  02110-1301 USA

(or at least a tiny note saying "this file is copyright 200x John Doe and
is licensed under the GPL)...

I'm happy to provide patches which add the above license header to all files,
but someone has to tell me who wrote the code, when, and which license applies
(if that's not obvious from the code).

I noticed that many files do not have any license header at all (some don't
even say who the author is); such files have an unclear status and must be
considered non-free usually, so in cases where that's just an oversight,
please add a respective license note. If the file was taken from another
project, please add a note saying so, and mention the license of that project
in the file.

Assumption: All *.lb config files are GPL'd even though they don't have
the lengthy GPL header in them. Correct? I don't think it's necessary for
those files. The same is probably true for ChangeLog, NEWS, and
documentation/ChangeLog.cvsimport, etc.

The biggest problems I notices so far is the code from IBM and AMD, which says
things like "Copyright 2005 ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. All Rights Reserved"
or stuff like:
  US Government Users Restricted Rights - Use, duplication or
  disclosure restricted by GSA ADP Schedule Contract with
  IBM Corp. 

That alone (which no additional "this is GPL'd" text would make the code non-free and
GPL-incompatible, I guess. I hope this can be resolved or clarified somehow.

I also found some licenses which I simply don't know and cannot tell
right now if they're fine or not - that has to be checked at some point.

Anyways, here's the list of issues I noticed so far (haven't checked all the code, yet):

HOWTO/EPIA-M-howto: No license note.
documentation/Makefile: No license note.
documentation/RFC/*: No license note.
  * Is that stuff used at all?
documentation/*.eps: No license note.
  * I assume this is GPL'd as LinuxBIOS-AMD64.tex is GPL'd. Correct?
  * Says among other things
    "Copyright 2005 ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. All Rights Reserved."
    which is bad as it means it's NOT GPL'd and you cannot use it for anything,
    really. No explicit permissions means you have no rights according to
    international copyright laws, AFAIK (but I'm no lawyer).
src/arch/i386/boot/boot.c: No license note.
src/arch/i386/boot/linuxbios_table.*: No license note.
src/arch/i386/boot/pirq_routing.c: No license note.
 * Says: 2006.1 yhlu add mptable cross 0x467 processing
         2003-07 by SONE Takeshi
         Ported from Etherboot to LinuxBIOS 2005-08 by Steve Magnani
   Etherboot is GPL'd (mostly, some parts are BSD), so this is GPL'd, right?
src/arch/i386/include/*.h: No license note.
 * Now this is totally confusing.
   * written by Stefan Reinauer <stepan at openbios.org> (GPL'd?)
   * (C) 2004 SUSE LINUX AG (license?)
   * The ACPI table structs are based on the Linux kernel sources. (GPL'd!)
   * ACPI FADT & FACS added by Nick Barker <nick.barker9 at btinternet.com>
     those parts (C) 2004 Nick Barker (license?)
   * ACPI SRAT support added in 2005.9 by yhlu (license?)
   * Copyright 2005 ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. All Rights Reserved.
     ---> Baaad...
  * Not sure what to make of this... It's not the GPL, it's not the BSD
    license (or the MIT license), either. ((2))
    Is this GPL compatible?
      /* This software and ancillary information (herein called SOFTWARE )
      called LinuxBIOS          is made available under the terms described
      here.  The SOFTWARE has been approved for release with associated
      LA-CC Number 00-34   .  Unless otherwise indicated, this SOFTWARE has
      been authored by an employee or employees of the University of
      California, operator of the Los Alamos National Laboratory under
      Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 with the U.S. Department of Energy.  The
      U.S. Government has rights to use, reproduce, and distribute this
      SOFTWARE.  The public may copy, distribute, prepare derivative works
      and publicly display this SOFTWARE without charge, provided that this
      Notice and any statement of authorship are reproduced on all copies.
      Neither the Government nor the University makes any warranty, express
      or implied, or assumes any liability or responsibility for the use of
      this SOFTWARE.  If SOFTWARE is modified to produce derivative works,
      such modified SOFTWARE should be clearly marked, so as not to confuse
      it with the version available from LANL.  */
      /* Copyright 2000, Ron Minnich, Advanced Computing Lab, LANL
       * rminnich at lanl.gov */
src/arch/i386/include/arch/*.h (except for the above ones): No license note.
src/arch/i386/include/arch/boot/boot.h: No license note.
src/arch/i386/include/arch/smp/*.h: No license note.
 * Says: Copyright (c) 1999 by Net Insight AB. All Rights Reserved.
   Not good...
 * Copyright (C) 1991, 1992  Linus Torvalds
   No explicit license note, but it's quite surely GPL ((1)).
src/arch/i386/lib/*: No license note.
src/arch/i386/llshell/readme.linuxbios: No license note.
 * Probably GPL'd, as the file it documents (llshell.inc) is GPL'd.
src/arch/i386/smp/*: No license note.
src/arch/ppc/boot/*: No license note.
 * Strange non-standard header, not sure what to make of it.
     This source code has been made available to you by IBM on an AS-IS
     basis.  Anyone receiving this source is licensed under IBM
     copyrights to use it in any way he or she deems fit, including
     copying it, modifying it, compiling it, and redistributing it either
     with or without modifications.  No license under IBM patents or
     patent applications is to be implied by the copyright license.
     Any user of this software should understand that IBM cannot provide
     technical support for this software and will not be responsible for
     any consequences resulting from the use of this software.
     Any person who transfers this source code or any derivative work
     must include the IBM copyright notice, this paragraph, and the
     preceding two paragraphs in the transferred software.
  US Government Users Restricted Rights - Use, duplication or
  disclosure restricted by GSA ADP Schedule Contract with
  IBM Corp.
src/arch/ppc/include/*.* (except for the above ones): No license note.
src/arch/ppc/include/arch/*.h: No license note.
src/arch/ppc/include/arch/boot/*.h: No license note.
 * No license, but some authors:
     Written by Johan Rydberg, based on work by Daniel Kahlin.
     Rewritten by Eric Biederman
     Re-rewritten by Greg Watson for PPC
 * No license, but an author:
     Copyright (C) 2003 by Greg Watson, Los Alamos National Laboratory
     gwatson at lanl.gov
src/arch/ppc/lib/cpu.c: No license note.
src/arch/ppc/lib/pci_dev.c: No license note.
src/arch/ppc/lib/pci_ppc_conf1_ops.c: No license note.
src/boot/hardwaremain.c: Same as ((2)).
src/config/LinuxBIOSDoc.config: No license note (GPL?).
src/config/doxyscript.base: No license note (GPL?).
 * Copyright (c) 1999 by Net Insight AB. All Rights Reserved.
   --> Bad.
src/console/btext_console.c: No license note, but some authors:
 * Benjamin Herrenschmidt <benh at kernel.crashing.org>
   move to LinuxBIOS by LYH yhlu at tyan.com
src/console/font-8x16.c: Same as ((1)).
src/console/printk.c: Same as ((1)).
src/console/vga_console.c: No license note, but an author:
 * modified from original freebios code
   by Steve M. Gehlbach <steve at kesa.com>
src/console/vsprintf.c: Same as ((1)).
src/console/vtxprintf.c: Same as ((1)).

targets/buildtarget: No license note. The rest of target/ has no license, too,
but should be fine (mostly config files).

HTH, Uwe.
Uwe Hermann 
http://www.it-services-uh.de  | http://www.crazy-hacks.org 
http://www.holsham-traders.de | http://www.unmaintained-free-software.org
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: Digital signature
URL: <http://www.coreboot.org/pipermail/coreboot/attachments/20060829/a45e7213/attachment.sig>

More information about the coreboot mailing list