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RE: Source code for binaries offered at ?

As long as the *complete* binary contents can be extracted then I would
essentially agree
that Thininstall is fundamentally no different than an ordinary zip
archive. No one has implied
to my knowledge - especially me - that you were *actually* "selling"
unix_tools - but that there certainly
would be issues if one ever contemplated selling a binary of any kind that
contained GPL'd
software - even if the GPL'd software was used only to install a separate
package and did
not constitute the functionality actually being "sold". And while being
able to put unix_tools on a floppy is a cool thing,
from a legal standpoint, anyone who permanently passes that floppy or makes
a copy for others
to use is in fact "distributing" GPL'd software and must also have the
exact source *readily*
available - i.e., on the floppy or archived within the Thininstall created
binary (or "archive"
if one so pleases) itself. Of course anyone who creates their own floppy
for their own use is exempted.

Brian Kelly

"Jonathan Clark" <> on 07/29/2003 12:47:59 PM

Sent by:

cc:     (bcc: Brian Kelly/WTC1/Empire)

Subject:    RE: Source code for binaries offered at http:
       // ?

I will write up some documentation soon about the GPL issue, but a quick

1. Some emails have mentioned unix_tools as being commercial and that I
customers who "purchased" it.  unix_tools is free (as in beer), always has
been, always will be - it is something I made to be a handy tool and to
off the power of Thinstall and make freely available at no charge.  I've
found a lot of people find it is a handy utility to have on hand,
since it is runnable from a floppy.   I realize the fact that unix_tools is
free does not change any GPL issues, but just wanted to point this out.

2.  Thinstall does not modify the binary structure (i.e. bytes) of files it
"links" together other than to provide compression.  In this manner it's no
different from zip or tar.  All files can be copied from the compressed
system to hard drive with their exact original contents.  This is easily
demonstrated by running the bash example and typing the command "cp -R *
/cygdrive/c".  The term "link" is used in documentation to illustrate the
point that the files may be used without extracting to disk - however in
fact, there is no link between any files except that they are all located
the same archive.  "compile", "link", etc are used as marketing terms to
illustrate this is new technology - not a self-extracting ZIP where files
must first be copied outside the archive - but Thinstall in no way
a compiler or linker at the implementation level.

The Thinstall OS is able to run EXEs and load DLLs both inside and outside
of the archive.  Simply running an GPLed EXE located on in a compressed
filesystem can not invoke GPL on the loading OS or most operating systems
would fall under this umbrella.  Likewise, having an OS located in the same
archive as GPL software would not somehow require it to be GPLed or we
open source Windows tomorrow because I do this all the time with VMWare. :)
Thinstall works with all EXEs, DLLs, and files, and has no direct tie or
dependency on any GPL software or components.

More user-info related to this discussion: (The OS) (Loading external
EXEs) (Loading
external DLLs)

Best Regards,

Jonathan Clark

-----Original Message-----
From: Williams, Gerald S (Jerry) []
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2003 4:58 AM
Subject: RE: Source code for binaries offered at ?

Brian Kelly wrote:
> Please, seek out and consult with an experienced software and
> intellectual property rights attorney at your earliest possible
> opportunity. You've got a very nifty little utility, but then
> again, so did Napster.
[ ... ]
> I know enough to see that there are lot of legal issues you
> have not investigated in depth - and I STRONGLY advise that you
> do so with the assistance of an experienced counselor.


I don't want to tie up our mailing lists with this, and
I'm sure the GPL licensing lists address it better, but
please listen to him if you haven't already done so.

Your online help indicates that Thinstall *links* target
libraries, executables, and such. That certainly sounds
like it would trigger the GPL (i.e., everything else you
link into that executable would have to fall within the
GPL guidelines). Personally, I'd get something in writing
from the FSF or RMS or somebody saying that this doesn't
trigger the GPL, refer to that fact liberally throughout
the help file, *and* change the wording to make it read
more like creating a self-extracting archive (even though
it may be linking the files underneath).


P.S. It really does look like a neat program you've got.

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