Did Remix OS violate the GPL and Apache licenses?
Remix OS is an Android based desktop operating system. A recent post about Remix OS on the Linux Homefront Project blog charges that Remix OS has violated the GPL and Apache licenses.
Pavlo Rudyi reports for the Linux Homefront Project blog:
After the previous review of Remix OS I received a comment with interested information about Remix OS USB Tool. My small personal research found that Remix OS developers have a zero tolerance for the code licenses and work of other peoples.
Minimum differences with UNetbootin! Just new icons and micro changes in GUI interface. Need more information and do not trust to your eyes? Not a problem – just unpack remixos-usb-tool-B2016011102.exe.
Yes, it’s really rebrand UNetbootin that licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) Version 2 or above.
Remix OS USB Tool distributes without the source codes. No information about the modified files.
The report about Remix OS and possible license violations spawned a large thread on the Linux subreddit, and redditors there weren't shy about sharing their thoughts:
Timawesomeness: ”Remix OS has seemed bad ever since I first heard of it. This just confirms my feelings.”
K1: ”Glad this came out. Wasn't happy to see consoleos being crapped on while remix got a free pass for no reason. Also that did seem to be very close to unetbootin...”
Arahman81: ”Well, RemixOS did something, ConsoleOS just relabelled Android-x86 and then ask them to fix some issues so he could take all credit.”
Trish1975: ”I would much prefer that if a desktop based on Android ever was released, that all the local components are released under a FOSS license so the community would also gain something.”
Directhex: ”Ignoring the violations issue, using unetbootin for anything is a great sign of extremely questionable thought processes, and I'd not want to touch any project advocating its use”
11mariom: ”I didn't trust Remix OS at all from first news…”
Funknut: ”I was sitting here trying to figure out how this OS is licensed to determine the validity of the article, but you're right, the license comparability simply relies on how it might restrict its own source distribution, which might not even be defined in whatever license they're including, so certainly making contact with the author to clarify would be the only way to determine in the case that a license does not clarify.”
Shinjiryu: ”Sigh, why am I not surprised?”
Einsidiler: ”I've heard the GPL criticised a lot for being "viral", which really makes it impractical for libraries that you want more people to use. Though, that's why LGPL exists, and other licenses are even less restrictive. For a full application, like UNetbootin, it isn't really a problem unless you want to rebrand the application without saying that's what you're doing, which is a dick move and exactly what's happening here.”
EmanueleAina: ”...plenty of closed projects use GPL components: you can always call an external GPL program even from closed software. Many projects are under lesser strong forms of the GPL, like libc (which allows closed software to link to it), Java Classpath (which has a similar clause) or everything under the LGPL. All of them require you to share the source of the *GPL pieces you used, while non-copyleft licenses (eg. MIT or Apache) don't require it.
So yes, the GPL is "annoying" on purpose, as it really meant to make sure the freedom of the user to tinker with the software is not restricted.”