Gp2x Gpl Faq


Active Member
Aug 4, 2005
**1.4.0 Kernel Source Released!**
GPH Have released the source code to the modified Linux kernel used by the GP2X's 1.4.0 firmware. This a major step forward towards GPL compliance. GPH still has several other things they must do before they are completely in compliance but this is a good first step.


This document is a best attempt to describe the truth of the matter when it comes to the “issues” revolving around the GP2X and its status as a product that violates the GPL licensee. In doing so the purpose is to try to educate people as to what this problem means to them.

What is the GPL?
The GPL, or General Public Licenses is a document that servers as the licensing agreement of many popular open source projects, such as the Linux kernel. The documents stated purpose is "to guarantee your freedom to share and change free software--to make sure the software is free for all its users". Fundamentally the most notable of these guaranteed freedoms is the right to receive a copy of the source code of any GPL licensed software to which you have already received the corresponding compiled code. The GPL maybe viewed in it’s entirety at and it may be helpful to read it before continuing with this FAQ.

Isn’t Open Source Software Free?
The “openness” of software’s source code in no way denotes its price or freedom, and like wise price does not denote freedom, nor does freedom denote price. These are all three independent and different concepts. For example, just because a program is available at no cost does not mean that you are entitled to its source code, or more importantly to this case, just because a programs source code is available doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want with said source code.

How can GPH be committing copyright infringement if Linux is Open Source / Free?
Open source software can be copyrighted in the same manner closed source software can be copyrighted, and in the case of software that uses the GPL licensee this is exactly what happens. When a work is copyrighted it gives the author of the work the exclusive right to make copies of that work. The author/copyright holder is able to transfer or share this right with other individuals at their choosing. When the copyright holder chooses to use the GPL licensee it establishes a means for the transference of the right to make copies of the work. The GPL licensee grants to anyone who receives a copy of a GPL licensed work the right to copy, modify, and redistribute the licensed work as long as they perform certain functions. GPH has not preformed these certain functions and therefore they had no right to copy the GPL licensed works in question. Making copies of a copyrighted work without permission to do so is a copyright violation.

What exactly does GPL require?
To paraphrase the GPL licensee:
  • Any work based on a GPL licensed work must also be licensed under the GPL
  • A GPL licensed work must be accompanied with a copy of the GPL licensee
  • The source code, and all files required to compile it with the exception of the compiler itself must either accompany a GPL licensed work, or be provided upon request.
  • No additional restrictions can be made upon a GPL licensed work beyond the restrictions made by the GPL license itself
So why can people sell Linux?
Nothing in the GPL licensee says you cannot sell a GPL licensed work. It simply says that if someone receives a GPL licensee work they also receive certain rights. A great example of how this works is the Linux development kit for the PlayStation 2. To receive a copy of Linux from Sony you were required to purchase from them a kit that included several pieces of hardware, such as hard drive, and the kit also included disk that contained installers for the GNU/Linux Operating System for the PS2 and all of the accompanying source code. Sony was not required to give this version of Linux away freely, but if someone who received a copy of it from Sony decided to give copies of it away for free they were well within their rights to do so. All the GPL does is insure that if you get a program you also get its source, and the right to give other people the program, as long as you also give them the source.

Why do people care if GPH pirates a couple of GPL licensed programs? It’s not like anybody is losing any money.
The individuals who created, and contributed to the programs that were pirated have expressly indicated in their decision to use the GPL licensee that they wanted their works to only be distributed if the source code accompanied their work. There are a great many man-hours that have been put into these projects and as been often said “time is money”. Additionally GPL licensed software counts on its forced openness to further the evolution of said software. This is now of critical importance since Linux has been gaining momentum on embedded and handheld devices. It is important that the changes made to Linux to get it to work on the GP2X are available to all Linux developers. This is the “price” of using GPL licensed software, and thus far GPH has not paid this price.

I don’t care about copyright law - “I got teh romz” – why should I care about any of this?”
Your rights have been violated just as the rights of the programmers who made the GPL licensed software have been violated. You were entitled to a copy of the source when GPH gave you a copy of the binary.

I still don’t care, I’m not a programmer so what good does the source do me?
Even if you don’t know what to do with the source code someone else will. Many of the software related problems with the GP2X effect all users, and it’s HIGHLY likely that one of these users will decide to do something about it. So while your person dream feature may not be added to the GP2X, it’s a pretty sure thing that the boot time will be reduced dramatically.

I don’t believe people will just donate their time to fixing this stuff, source code released or not, so why does it matter if the source gets released?
Everything currently on the GP2X, and everything you could possibly put on the GP2X with the exception of the photoviewer, ebook reader, and the menu launcher, was made by someone in there spare time as a hobby.

Linux is slow and crappy – so what do I care if the source code gets released?
There are two reasons. First, creating direct hardware access programs will be much easier when the source code to linux can be dissected to see how it works. Second, Linux in general is not slow and crappy; it’s just GPH’s implementation of Linux that is currently lacking. A properly implemented Linux based OS on the GP2X may make a world of difference.

I’ll never trust the quality of a community based firmware - so what do I care if the source gets released?
You already trust many open source community managed programs whether you know it or not. The best example of one such program is Apache web server. Over half the websites on the internet are run on Apache servers, (this tends to be the more reliable half of the internet) and one such example is this very site. Community written software can be very reliable. Additionally there is nothing stopping GPH from taking elements from the community firmware and putting them into the official firmware.

Isn’t GPH going to go out of business now because of some “Linux Zealots”?
The only way GPH goes out of business over this is if they don’t release the source. The copyright holders of the software that has been infringed have never sought punitive fines, or other monetary punishment from someone that has simply given up and released the source of a violating product. In fact they rarely even require the guilty party to admit they did anything wrong. However – if GPH continues to not release the source code, legal action will eventually be taken against them, and this may result in the company going bankrupt. So if you want to see GPH stay I business, you want them to release the source.

Ok, fine you’ve convinced me, I want GPH to come into compliance but what can I do?
Certainly no one should do anything rash, and the last round of harassment didn’t produce any results. If anything it may have damaged the relationship between the Linux Community, the GP2X Community, and Gamepark Holding. Any plan of coercing GPH into GPL compliance would have to be well thought out. Discussing ideas to address the problem in a positive, and constructive, way should be encouraged, but it should be kept in mind that patience is a virtue.
Better yet, move it to F.A.Q.


The documents stated purpose is to ensure the freedom of users by guaranteeing them certain rights.

Not precisely correct: the GPL doesn't guarantee freedom for the users (users are forbidden from certain things, such as redistributing under a non-GPL license), but freedom for the code.

And the GPL's purpose is for making sure that one's computer does not operate as a black box; i.e., that you can always obtain and look in the source code of all software running on your computer -- this in turn ensuring that there's no nasty stuff hidden inside the applications.
A sticky would be great - and hopefully in a "high visibility area". The positive replies are most encouraging, I was half way expecting another: stfu you GPL zealot this topic has been beaten to death, response.
I feel more like closeing/deleteing it, this topic WILL result in flames, it may as well lead to idiots harrasing the distirbutors again,
GPH is just about to release the source and you guys have to start it again, its realy annoying.
Just have some fucking pacience, thanks.
Relax Vimacs, the post apparently seems to be more about informing users of GPL and the current situation with the GP2x, as opposed to inspiring people to take action (other then an off the cuff remark about posting if you think you've got a solution to the problem).

Anyway, according to Craig who said this before the 1.4 beta was announced: 1.3 was skipped, 1.4 would be release, 1.5 will be the one with the source code. So we've just got to wait a bit longer. Given GPH Holdings so far, I'd say at worst 2 month, at best 3 weeks. That's just my personal estimate.
Well done, DijiTao. This definitely belongs as a pinned topic.

(A minor point -- I hope you don't mind. Since you are now the "intelligent face" of the defenders of the GPL, could you please change "loosing any money" to "losing any money"?)
Updated, I hope you find the new ending more acceptable

@ RiX0R
Changed the line to be a direct quote from the GPL – I think that it reads correctly now.

Vimacs posted on Feb 17 2006 at 09:38 PM said:
I feel more like closeing/deleteing it, this topic WILL result in flames, it may as well lead to idiots harrasing the distirbutors again,
GPH is just about to release the source and you guys have to start it again, its realy annoying.
Just have some fucking pacience, thanks.
Seriously, this is no time to play dictator; you've done it too much already.
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@ Nickspoon & Ravnos:

Fixed & Fixed, thanks hopefully this will get stickied.