I’m not clear on what has been left in the forum, so it might help if I
summarised the points made by those accounts that have been
removed, relating to disk images. (I’ll uses “fsfenforcer” for those
accounts, and “GPL” for GPLv2)
Where an image contains free software, there is a requirement to
publish full binary specific code along with it.
The GPL requires directly providing or linking to a full compilation of
binary specific source on the same webpage as the binaries.
The GPL requires publishing of binary specific source code used to
create an .iso binary image so that others are able to freely recreate
the same iso binary as published using the same exact source code used
to build the released image.
I think this is just wrong. Even if the images had been legally
distributed, I think it would be wrong. (Caveat - IANAL)
Fedora is distributed under the MIT license. So remixes of Fedora (like
Qubes) don’t need to provide source code for their images as they are
derived from Fedora.
Where programs included in the image are licensed under another license,
the terms of that license apply to those programs.
If you sell a laptop with Mint installed, (or some other distribution not endorsed
by the FSF), the GPL cannot require publication of all the source code used
to build that image. If this were the case, then there would not be any
distributions the FSF did not endorse.
Developers can pick and choose how much proprietary software they include
in their distribution: there is plenty of proprietary software available
The GPL is clear that it applies to “programs”, and the FAQ is clear
that mere aggregation doesn’t bring a program under the scope of the GPL.
For these reasons, I do not think the GPL can require publication of the
code used to generate a Fedora based image.
What the GPL does mandate is that source should be provided for GPL
programs - I think this is satisfied by the source being available using
the same mechanism used to provide binaries, but maybe not. If not, it
affects thousands of people who release disk images, virtualbox or
VMware images, Qubes templates, and so on. I don’t recall seeing this
discussed at the FSF, or a “hall of shame”, and frankly, it doesn’t seem
to me to be a fight worth having.
What about Qubes?
If you rewrite any part of the Qubes code for your own purposes,
(including for use in an organisation, however large), that’s fine. No
requirement to release program or publish updated source code.
If you adapt Qubes code, and distribute an updated binary, that will
fall within GPL - you have to provide source.
If you write a new program, say a new Qubes Manager, from scratch, then
(probably) no requirement to license under GPL and release source. This
would depend on how closely the new program was tied to Qubes data
structures: it would be arguable. If the new Manager just called existing
programs, almost certainly not within GPL. In this case you could release
the program, retain source, charge for it if you wanted, do what you want.
Those are your freedoms with your code.
Interesting issues, but time consuming.