Version 10 (modified by Klaus Espenlaub, 13 years ago) ( diff )


Licensing: Frequently Asked Questions

This page deals with questions you may have about VirtualBox and its licensing. You may want to look at the User FAQ and Developer FAQ for additional topics.

  1. What license is VirtualBox released under?

The Open Source Edition (OSE) is released under the GNU General Public License V2. Essentially, this means that you get the full source code of VirtualBox OSE, and you can distribute and modify it, provided that you ship all modifications under the GPL as well.

If you want the extra features that are missing from VirtualBox OSE, you can alternatively use the full VirtualBox package free of charge for personal use or evaluation purposes. Both versions -- VirtualBox OSE and VirtualBox -- are available from the Downloads page.

  1. Can I buy a commercial license for VirtualBox?

If you are an individual end user, there is generally no need to purchase a commercial license, provided that you respect, in the case of VirtualBox OSE, the terms and conditions of the GPL, or, in the case of the full VirtualBox package, those of the Personal Use and Evaluation License.

As an enterprise customer, we encourage you to purchase commercial licenses from Oracle and receive benefits such as access to enterprise features and support for mission-critical use of VirtualBox. We also encourage ISVs and IHVs to incorporate VirtualBox into their offerings, preferably through a custom license deal with Oracle. Please contact Oracle for additional information.

  1. How can VirtualBox be both open source and commercially licensed?

This is called "dual licensing". Since Oracle holds all the copyrights to the VirtualBox code, or is at least permitted to relicense code that is owned by external contributors or other parties, we are free to choose the terms under which we license the code to our customers, or the open-source community.

  1. Why dual licensing?

We -- like other companies -- believe that dual licensing gives both developers and users the best of two worlds. While anyone is free to look at the code and even improve it, commercial licenses support the company and allow for professional maintenance and support. The open-source community gets more high-quality free software at no cost, while businesses can rely on quality support from our first-hand developers. Both worlds profit from each other: The commercial licenses support both our business, and the open-source community, and vice versa.

  1. Will the licensing terms of VirtualBox OSE be changed in the future?

We are not currently planning to do so, but it doesn't really matter. Any code that was once released under the GPL cannot be "closed" again. The license that Oracle has granted you with the GPL is perpetual and cannot be taken back. Even if Oracle were to change the license again, this could only affect future versions, and anybody would still be permitted to redistribute the existing VirtualBox code under the terms of the GPL.

  1. What exactly do you mean by personal use and academic use in the Personal Use and Evaluation License?

Personal use is when you install the product on one or more PCs yourself and you make use of it (or even your friend, sister and grandmother). It doesn't matter whether you just use it for fun or run your multi-million euro business with it. Also, if you install it on your work PC at some large company, this is still personal use. However, if you are an administrator and want to deploy it to the 500 desktops in your company, this would no longer qualify as personal use. Well, you could ask each of your 500 employees to install VirtualBox but don't you think we deserve some money in this case? We'd even assist you with any issue you might have.

Use at academic institutions such as schools, colleges and universities by both teachers and students is covered. So in addition to the personal use which is always permitted, academic institutions may also choose to roll out the software in an automated way to make it available to its students and personnel.

  1. Can I redistribute the VirtualBox binaries?

No. The Personal Use and Evaluation License allows you to download the VirtualBox binaries for personal and academic use and for evaluation, but it does not give you the right to redistribute these binaries. So you may not put them onto your own websites or other mirrors. We do this because we would presently like to keep track of how many people are downloading these binaries.

The no-distribution restriction does not apply to the Open Source Edition (OSE), as the GPL does, of course, permit redistribution of source and binaries, provided that you adhere to the other terms and conditions of the GPL.

Note that starting with VirtualBox 4.0 the base package is released under terms and conditions of the GPL, and the separately downloadable extension pack which contains a few closed source features is released under the Personal Use and Evaluation License.

  1. Which guidelines apply to the use of the name VirtualBox?

The term VirtualBox has been registered by Oracle as a trademark in various countries. It may be freely used together with the products available from this web site. However, if you choose to ship custom binaries and/or source code revisions of the product, Oracle reserves the right to deny use of the trademark VirtualBox. This might seem rather strict but we believe that it is important to avoid any kind of confusion arising from multiple versions of the same product coming from different sources.

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