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I want to know how the FreeBSD-based operating systems like FuryBSD, PCBSD, and GhostBSD are made. Can I create my own project by just doing these steps?

  1. Add some packages to default ones on base OS
  2. Renamed the whole operating system, add my custom logo (ex: bsdinstall, release)
  3. And finally, make it public?

Are we allowed to change the name and logo of a BSD licensed operating system by just adding a single package that is different from what base OS provides us and call it "AnthingWeLikeOS"? Also can we change the original license to something like GPL?

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  • Note that we can not provide legal advice. I would suggest that you contact the FreeBSD team.
    – Kusalananda
    Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 9:18

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Are we allowed to change the name and logo of a BSD licensed operating system?

Yes. For example, see Sony PlayStation. It’s FreeBSD 9.

Also can we change the original license to something like GPL?

For this you need explicit permission from FreeBSD:

The import of new software licensed under any licenses other than the BSD license and BSD-Like Licenses (as defined below) requires the prior approval of the FreeBSD Core Team.

Do I need to license FreeBSD to use it in custom hardware or software without being required to reveal the source code?

No. That is the wonderful part of the BSD license. You are explicitly permitted to use the software, to sell it, to modify it.

Sony's use of FreeBSD in the Playstation 4 (and presumably in 5 also) is a perfect example of how this is beneficial. The Playstation uses an AMD eight-core APU. The source for the APU used in the Playstation is not public. There are no other BSD drivers for that hardware and at the time the Linux drivers were not mature. Should Sony have based the Playstation on Linux, they would need to release a GPL version of the driver.

What other proprietary hardware uses FreeBSD?

Juniper Networks Junos 18.1, Dell Compellent, NetApp filers, McAfee SecurOS, Nintendo Switch games, Panasonic Viera TV receivers, Netflix Open Connect appliances, and many more.

So why do I not need to get existing copyright owners permission?

Software licensed under BSD must only reproduce the copyright notice, a list of conditions and the a disclaimer. In many things this is buried in an About section, printed in a tiny font with paperwork, or some other location.

What about the "All Rights Reserved" language?

The Buenos Aires Convention of 1910 required that on all works. It was removed by the Berne Convention in 2000. FreeBSD updated the copyright template in 2018 to remove it.

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