[Linux-aus] Dell and the GPL
a.nielsen at shikadi.net
Wed Dec 1 18:43:05 EST 2010
I'm new to Linux Australia, having just had this organisation pointed
out to me, so I hope this question is appropriate for this group of people.
At my workplace, we have just purchased a new Dell server. It includes
an "iDRAC 6" which is a tiny embedded system running Linux, used for
accessing the system remotely (e.g. to power cycle it, access the
As the device runs Linux - perhaps even GNU/Linux with all the other
included software - I would like to take advantage of the GPL and modify
some of the GPLv3-licensed software on the device.
While Dell have released the source code for the device firmware,
unfortunately that's all it is - source. There is no way to compile a
firmware image or otherwise get modified code transferred onto the device.
This means having access to the source is effectively useless - what
good is being able to change the code if I can't then compile and run my
changed version? Very clever tactic on Dell's part to appear compliant
with the license but prevent people from modifying their devices.
It is my understanding that the GPL (particularly v3) covers this
situation and that Dell should be releasing a full build environment so
a custom firmware can be built. I have tried contacting Dell about this
with limited success, and unofficially I have been told that unless it
will boost sales figures they're not interested.
Unfortunately I am not sure what to do next. I have approached the Free
Software Foundation but they are overloaded with cases so they are
unable to help.
Is there anything that can be done, or is it really possible for
companies to just ignore the requirements of the GPL if they don't like
Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
 http://opensource.dell.com (works in IE only, although I am told
this is being worked on)
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