VirtualBox

Ticket #19751 (new defect)

Opened 2 years ago

Last modified 23 months ago

clarify license of VBoxGuestAdditions ISO OSE or PUEL (free vs nonfree)

Reported by: adrelanos Owned by:
Component: documentation Version: VirtualBox 6.1.10
Keywords: Cc:
Guest type: all Host type: all

Description

VBoxGuestAdditions iso was PUEL (nonfree, proprietary) in 2009 as per  this forum discussion. Therefore the Debian package  virtualbox-guest-additions-iso is still in Debian nonfree (meaning: Debian is saying that package is proprietary, not Open Source / Free / Libre Software). The  Debian license file for virtualbox-guest-additions-iso still says so.

A lot has happened since 2009.

The VirtualBox licensing FAQ [2] does not mention the VBoxGuestAdditions ISO. It only mentions the VirtualBox Extension Pack being under nonfree license Extension Pack Personal Use and Evaluation License (PUEL) [3].

Editions page [4] stating:

Before version 4.0, there were two editions of VirtualBox: a full binary containing all features and an "Open Source Edition" (OSE) with source code. With version 4.0, there is only one version any more, which is open source, and the closed-source components have been moved to a separate extension pack.

When installing from guest using guest additions ISO, there is no PUEL license prompt either.

Source code organization page [5] mentions:

src/VBox/Additions/: The "Guest Additions" for Windows and Linux (and possibly more in the future); this is code that must be installed within a guest to optimize its performance and usability. The build system compiles this code into an ISO file that can be mounted as a VM's virtual CD-ROM drive, as described in the user manual.

The VirtualBox guest additions source tree is apparently part of OSE. Therefore the build result should also be under OSE.

VirtualBox extension pack source code was as far as I know never visible to the general public. Therefore reviewing the situation with today's knowledge, I wouldn't know why virtualbox-guest-additions-iso should be considered being under non-free PUEL license.

The licensing state (libre vs non-libre) was never in public, specifically mentioned, clarified according to my elaborate web research. It seems quite likely that guest additions ISO is nowadays under a libre license (OSE).

Asked about this in  virtualbox forums and Debian issue tracker  move virtualbox-guest-additions-iso from non-free to contrib but haven't received any answer after more than 1 months therefore I guess there won't be an answer. Therefore now asking here.

I speculate it could be that the Debian maintainers of the package are waiting for the VirtualBox representatives to make any statement regarding the license.

It would be good if this could be clarified. A short reply "VBoxGuestAdditions iso is OSE." would suffice.

[1] -

[2] https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Licensing_FAQ

[3] https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/VirtualBox_PUEL

[4] https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Editions

[5] https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Source_code_organization

Change History

comment:1 Changed 23 months ago by arudnev

A part of Guest Additions source code is the part of OSE repository and licensed under GPLv2. Guest Additions build also includes big list of 3rd party files under various permissive licenses

At the same time VirtualBox binary packages which are distributed freely includes Guest Additions ISO, and Licensing FAQ (https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Licensing_FAQ) clearly states: Yes. The GPLv2 allows you to distribute the VirtualBox Guest Additions, in modified or unmodified form, as long as you adhere to the terms and conditions of the GPLv2.

I hope that answers your question.

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