Licensing questions

Ralf Corsepius corsepiu at
Tue Aug 19 04:40:10 UTC 2003

On Tue, 2003-08-19 at 03:49, Michael Kelly wrote:
> Joel,
> Thanks for the response.  I think understand the idea
> of the two licenses, but which one governs when?
None governs none. It's not a matter of "governing" nor "choosing".

Each file in RTEMS has its own license. Some are BSD-licensed (primarily
because they are derived from some *BSD code), most are "GPL with
exceptions" (Esp. original OAR-RTEMS code), very few have other

All in all, all code in RTEMS is supposed to be freely usable in closed
source applications.

>   In
> the example of a BSP, if I write all the target specific
> init code and the drivers are they GPL or LGPL or
> mine?  
The license you put your code under, rsp.the license the code contains,
your code is derived from.

Example: You "wrote a driver for a NIC"

* If you had ported a BSD NIC driver to RTEMS, this driver will have to
apply the BSD-driver's license/copyright. In general, a BSD-style
license allows you to use this code in closed source applications, as
well it permits integration of your work into the official RTEMS source
=> BSD-derived work in general is compatible to the RTEMS licensing

* If you had ported a Linux NIC-driver to RTEMS, this driver applies the
corresponding Linux-license. In general, this will be a GPL-license,
which will automatically put your derived code under the GPL. You will
have to obey the restrictions of the GPL, which basically will put all
of your product's SW under the GPL, and will require you to ship the
source code on demand. 
Such code will not be acceptable for inclusion into the RTEMS source
tree, because it would put RTEMS as a whole under the GPL and therefore
would render RTEMS inapplicable for closed source applications.

=> GPL-derived work in general is not compatible to the RTEMS licensing
policy. However, such code theoretically could be distributed as
add-on-packages to the source tree.

* If your driver is "100% your genuine original work", you can put your
code under any license you want. If you want too see your code included
into the official source tree, you'd have to choose a licensing allowing
closed source usage. For such cases, choosing a BSD or X11 style license
instead of inventing your own is a convenient solution to avoid

> At some point it will make a lot of sense to contribute
> drivers especially since almost all of the boards we 
> will be porting to are SoC devices with a multitude of
> on chip peripherals.  That said, we also need to eat 
> and would like to recoup some of the initial porting 
> costs in the form of RTEMS kits.  These could range 
> from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.  I want
> to be sure I have the right to do so, and to a slightly 
> lesser degree, the permission of the larger RTEMS 
> community to do so.  After say six months, we could 
> put a BSP into the RTEMS project where they can be 
> maintained and the pieces parts used on other projects
> based on the same chips.
Let me put it this way: Nothing in RTEMS licensing prevents you from
following the policy you described above ;) [1] However, if you want to
share the "benefits of open software", you'd better be off sharing your
code with others.


[1] To me as a developer, not having access to all the source code used
by an embedded board is a criterion for not considering such kind of

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