Licensing policy

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This is the policy covering licensing issues for packages in ROSA Linux.

Acceptable Licenses

There are four major sections for packages in ROSA Linux: main, contrib, non-free and restricted.

The main and contrib sections accept only free / open source licensed software. This is considered to mean all licenses accepted as 'Free Software licenses' by the Free Software Foundation and all licenses accepted as 'open source licenses' by the Open Source Initiative, and any license which is effectively equivalent to one of these licenses (it uses different language, but the provisions work out to be the same). A list of FSF-approved licenses is available here: all licenses listed under "GPL-Compatible Free Software Licenses" and "GPL-Incompatible Free Software Licenses" are acceptable. A list of OSI-approved licenses is available here.

The non-free section accepts software under a license that is not free or open source, but permits unlimited public redistribution. No list of such licenses is available: packages are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The restricted section accepts software under a license that is not free or open source and which cannot be redistributed publicly without limitations.

Standard License Names

ROSA follows the Fedora license naming convention, which can be found on the Fedora wiki. In all cases, the long and short names listed there should be used in ROSA Linux.

Licensing Guidelines for packages

For package maintainers, ROSA follows the Fedora licensing guidelines, with four important differences. The differences are covered below. In all other respects, please follow the Fedora guidelines. Where Fedora mailing lists are referred to, please substitute the ROSA mailing lists. Issues to which particular attention must be paid include versioned licenses, and multiple and mixed license cases. Please take particular notice of the various different cases referring to the GPL and LGPL, including the fact that where the source for an application does not specifically state what version(s) of the license apply, it is technically licensed under any version of the license (and so uses the GPL+ or LGPL+ short name).

Artistic License

The Fedora guidelines consider the original, unclarified Artistic License to be unacceptable. As the Open Source Initiative considers it an open source license, under the ROSA policy, it is an acceptable license for the main and contrib repositories.

Similar licenses

The Fedora guidelines imply that any software that is not licensed under one of the licenses explicitly approved by the FSF or the OSI cannot be included in main or contrib. However, as explained above, ROSA considers licenses that have effectively the same provisions as an approved license, but phrased in different language, to be acceptable. In this case, the License field in the package should consist of the approved short name for the most similar license, followed by -like. For instance, a package whose license was effectively equivalent to the BSD license would have this field:

License: BSD-like

Non-free licenses

As mentioned above, the non-free and restricted sections in ROSA Linux accept non-free packages. When working with these repositories, the following strings are acceptable for the License field:

  • Freeware
  • Shareware
  • Proprietary

Pick the string that best describes the package. Freeware refers to software which can be redistributed without charge in binary form in its entirety, but which is not under a free or open source license (access to the source code is restricted). Shareware refers to software of which only a subsidiary portion can be redistributed without charge; access to the complete package requires payment to the copyright holder or another body. Proprietary refers to software for which no redistribution without payment is allowed. It should be used for packages in the restricted section which are included due to an agreement negotiated between ROSA Linux and the copyright holder. For all non-free packages, the complete license text should be included in the package.

Including license text in packages

The Fedora guidelines state that where the license text is included in the source for the package, it must be included in the compiled package as a documentation file.

In ROSA Linux, when the license requires a copy of the license text to be included with the compiled code, the license text must be included in the compiled package as a documentation file. When the license does not require a copy of the license text to be included with the compiled code, our policy is that the license text should not be included in the package. Lists follow to clarify which licenses require a copy of the license text to be included with the package, and which do not.

Copy of license text required

  • BSD

Copy of license text not required

  • GPL (all versions)
  • MIT

This Policy is based on the Mandriva Licensing Policy.