If a Linux Distribution is under GPL, and I would redistribute it, is it correct that I only need to be able to give the sources? For example, say I build a 4-in-1 multi distribution DVD (I got sick of burning 4 separate discs so I made it multi-bootable). Could I distribute it for others to use without facing a lawsuit?

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    The GPL affects redistribution: Yes, you could distribute the GPL'd components if you provide the source code, or a means for users to request the source code. And in turn, so could others re-distribute the GPL'd components you provided in the same way. – muru Feb 15 '16 at 19:18
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    (But you'll have to be careful with components which are not under GPL, or under a free license at all, such as proprietary drivers.) – muru Feb 15 '16 at 19:19
  • Actually if you are just distributing say a Debian, or a Ubuntu, do you need to redistribute all the source that is already available everywhere, or just the source of the modifications you made (for instance an util for making new graphical interface?) I could swear it is the latter situation. – Rui F Ribeiro Feb 15 '16 at 19:27
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    @RuiFRibeiro The page that the answer links to says: "For instance, when you host object code on a web or FTP server, you can simply provide instructions that tell visitors how to get the source from a third-party server. Thanks to this new option, fulfilling this requirement should be easier for many small distributors who only make a few changes to large bodies of source." Seems to me, the latter (note: third party). You see this in action in some Debian package source repositories, where the upstream code is not kept but only patches and packaging code. – muru Feb 15 '16 at 21:06
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    While we've traditionally tolerated questions about licensing, there is now a site Open Source which would be far more appropriate for this question. Do not repost there. If you want, moderators can migrate your question; use the “flag” button and “in need of moderator intervention” to request that. – Gilles Feb 15 '16 at 22:31

I read http://www.gnu.org/licenses/quick-guide-gplv3.html and interpret it as clearly saying that you need to include the sources:

 Both versions of the GPL require you to provide all the source necessary to build the software, including supporting libraries, compilation scripts, and so on.

The same page also summarises the exceptions, i.e. cases in which you do not have to include sources.

Thus: if the distribution is under a current GPL version then you should include the sources when redistributing it and/or modifying it.

  • I believe however that the exact wording is "on request". I can choose to mail it to you on CD or whatever. Just has to be in a useful, machine readable format. – ivanivan Mar 16 '17 at 2:06

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