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Re: Use of Debian Linux as basis of commercially dsitributed appliance box

Renner, Clemens writes ("Use of Debian Linux as basis of commercially dsitributed appliance box"):
> --- 8< ---
> We like Debian and want to use it as the underlying OS for building an appliance box for our customers (one of the keywords seems to be "vertical market").
> Do we need to take special care to comply with the Licenses involved in the standard Debian distribution, i.e. Kernel and "main" (as in "not contrib, non-free") packages?"
> --- >8 ---

There are a number of other concerns which might be relevant.  Here is
a non-exhaustive list:

You should make sure that you are able to know exactly which source
code was used to make any specific binary, and identify that for the
users, so that the users are able to download the actual corresponding
source code for the binaries in the applicance.

You need to include your image build systems in the source code.

The above two principles mean that your builds should be automated and
reproducible, not some kind of ad-hoc thing thrown together from the
command line by your `build person'.

You should NOT take any measures to stop users from running modified
versions of the software on these applicances.  For example,
cryptographic signatures checked by the bootloader which prevent the
user from installing their own version.

You need to permit users to reverse-engineer the system.

If any of the above are problems for you, then you will need to avoid
some or all of the software in Debian; we don't check the licence for
suitability for activities which don't conform to these (and various
other) principles.

Also the exact scope of the applicability of these principles may
depend on the particular licence of the package; some or all of the
free software principles may apply to even some or all non-free parts
of your system.

I think you should perhaps consult some laywers.  I'm sure the
Software Freedom Law Centre will be able to recommend someone.

Note that contributors to Debian (which includes me, and the others
who have replied) do not intend to take responsibility for your use of
the software; we check the licences for our own purposes and to serve
our own principles.  If your business it at stake we won't be held
legally responsible for any mistakes or misunderstandings.


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