[vbox-dev] VirtualBox code incompatible with GPL v3

Florian Vichot florian.vichot at diateam.net
Tue Feb 24 16:22:06 PST 2009

Hash: SHA1


I'm writing some test code to see how I could control VirtualBox VMs
from the software I'm developing. So I had a look at the SDK.

After fiddling with the SDK a bit, I read that it's possible to use a
"Glue library", instead of doing raw XPCOM calls (see top comment of the
sdk/bindings/xpcom/samples/tstVBoxAPILinux.cpp file: "However, if you
want to write a real application, it is highly recommended to use our MS
COM XPCOM Glue library and helper C++ classes.").

I couldn't find the headers for that "Glue" library in the SDK, so I had
a look in the VirtualBox OSE source. Apparently the files I'm looking
for are the one in vbox/include/com/(from the SVN repo). But, my problem
is the following: those headers are dual licensed with GPL _v2 ONLY_,
and the CDDL v1.

The software I'm developing (the one that would use and link to that
"Glue" library) will be dual licensed too, under a proprietary license
(very similar to VirtualBox PUEL license), and GPL _v3_.

Meaning that thanks to the CDDL, the proprietary license won't be a
problem (CDDL grants me that right, if I'm not mistaken), but GPL v3
doesn't allow me to link to code licensed with GPL v2 ONLY (according to

That seems a bit absurd: I can provide binaries that use that "Glue"
library and no source code (under my proprietary license), but I can't
use it in the Open Source version...

So my question is this: if I'm not mistaken in my analysis of licenses
compatibility, could it be possible that Sun considers adding GPL v3 as
an exception in the COPYING file, or relicenses the "Glue" library under
LGPL (or anything else that is compatible with GPL v3). Since the SDK
doesn't have a license at the moment (I already notified this to the
staff on IRC), maybe it would be a good move to license it under the
LGPL, and move the "Glue" library code into it.

If this not the best place to ask legalese related questions, please
point me to the right one :)

Florian Vichot

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