freebox possible GPL violation

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freebox possible GPL violation

Pierre Michon
Hi,

I will try to present the facts and free claims about the freebox that run
Linux GPL source code.

Please note that I am not a Laywer.

Also due to the obscurity of the freebox, some informations could be out of
date or incorrect.

Finaly as free is a french provider, most of the link are in french.


==FACT==

1) The freebox is an adsl gateway with VoIP, TV over ADSL and a optional
wifi bridge. The box is built and lended by an ADSL provider 'free'[0].

2) The freebox runs Linux 2.4. You could find some BitKeeper logs on
internet [1], [2]. You could also find some interesting (but sometimes
suspicious) informations on [3]. For example you could see the files that
are in the firmware (and find other GPL softwares).

3) The boot sequence is described on [4]. Note that in case of firmware
upgrade, the box should first synchronize with the dslam and do dhcp
requests, then download the new firmware and finaly reboot.

4) The optional wifi support is provided by a pcmcia card (prism2/3 for
802.11b, broadcom for 802.11g). You can buy it on 'free' portal or on
your own [5]. Note that in both case the card is yours and it is not
lended by 'free'.


==FREE and PRO-FREE CLAIMS (some claims could be find on [6])==

A) The freebox is only lended, so the user can't ask for GPL source code.

-> They forgot that for wifi feature, you have buy a pcmcia card and
that is card works wifi Linux driver. So according to GPL you could ask
for wifi driver source code and all the Linux source code ???
Also some people that don't return the freebox in time had to
paid 400 Euros and they became the owner of the freebox. Free send to a
client a letter [7] saying that if the user don't return the freebox,
free could bill it and then it becomes propriety of the user :
'Nous vous rappelons que conformément aux Conditions Générales de Vente ,
en cas de non-restitution du modem, Free se réserve le droit de procéder
à la facturation de l'équipement terminal, au prix mentionné dans les CGV,
qui deviendra alors la *propriété* de l'Usager.'


B) The freebox don't keep the Linux kernel in memory, it is downloaded
at each boot.

-> If you remember 3), you could find strange that the box need to reboot
if a new firmware is available. Also the boot sequence is quite complex to
be made by an external (non-GPL) firmware : it need to control the led
display, need to control the ADSL chips in order to synchronize, need
to manage PPP in case of 'no-degroupe' users and finaly donwload in memory
the fimware. So we could assume that at least a mininal system (Linux
kernel + some utils) is keep in rom).


C) 'Free' is a network operator and needs to keep secret some informations
in order to preserve security on its networks.

-> Everybody know how security obscurity via is safe. Also I agree they
don't want to give their script or their configuration, but I fail to
see what could be a threat in the Linux kernel.


PS : sorry for my bad english.

[0] http://free.fr
[1] http://openlogging.org:8080/sakura.(none)/max-20040524220224-60268-baea416b9b2da5c2/src?nav=index.html
[2] http://openlogging.org:8080/chewbacca.proxad.net/rani-20040112173203-20972-c609c93690b2941a/src?nav=index.html
[3] http://www.f-b-x.net/
[4] http://forums.grenouille.com/index.php?showtopic=14659
[5] http://faq.free.fr/?q=797
[6] http://djeyl.net/free/nntp/index.php?group=all&author=Alexandre&headers=gpl
[7] http://linuxfr.org/comments/626391.html#626391
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Helge Hafting
Pierre Michon wrote:

>==FREE and PRO-FREE CLAIMS (some claims could be find on [6])==
>
>A) The freebox is only lended, so the user can't ask for GPL source code.
>  
>
If you lend someone linux, you're _distributing_ linux. The
GPL is about _distribution_ I believe, it doesn't have to be a _sale_.

You can't _lend_ someone windows (as a way of doing business) without
satisfying ms licencing terms either.

>-> They forgot that for wifi feature, you have buy a pcmcia card and
>that is card works wifi Linux driver. So according to GPL you could ask
>for wifi driver source code and all the Linux source code ???
>  
>
Well, the wifi driver may or may not be under the GPL licence.
Check that first.  The linux kernel itself is GPL of course.

>Also some people that don't return the freebox in time had to
>paid 400 Euros and they became the owner of the freebox. Free send to a
>client a letter [7] saying that if the user don't return the freebox,
>free could bill it and then it becomes propriety of the user :
>'Nous vous rappelons que conformément aux Conditions Générales de Vente ,
>en cas de non-restitution du modem, Free se réserve le droit de procéder
>à la facturation de l'équipement terminal, au prix mentionné dans les CGV,
>qui deviendra alors la *propriété* de l'Usager.'
>
>
>B) The freebox don't keep the Linux kernel in memory, it is downloaded
>at each boot.
>  
>
Check where it is downloaded from, that is where linux
is being distributed from. Likely the same company though.

>C) 'Free' is a network operator and needs to keep secret some informations
>in order to preserve security on its networks.
>  
>
They don't need to keep the kernel secret for security.  Of course they
can still
keep their scripts secret, their (non-GPL) userland utilities secret, their
proprietary drivers secret and the hw specs secret. Good or bad, it is
up to them.  But it seems to me they have to offer the kernel source,
at least.

Helge Hafting
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Pierre Michon
In reply to this post by Pierre Michon


Hi,

>Well, the wifi driver may or may not be under the GPL licence.
>Check that first.  The linux kernel itself is GPL of course.
For the prism card, they should use hostap driver, but there no way to
check that (we can't log in on it). At least [2] list hostap in their
drivers.

>Check where it is downloaded from, that is where linux
>is being distributed from.
According to [1] it is downloaded from the company server. But as we
can't log in the freebox, there no way to check it. Also sniffing adsl
is a bit harder...

>Of course they can still
>keep their scripts secret, their (non-GPL) userland utilities secret,
>their proprietary drivers secret and the hw specs secret.
If you look at [2], their drivers are in the kernel tree. Don't they fall
to GPL ?



[1] http://www.f-b-x.net/
[2]
http://openlogging.org:8080/sakura.(none)/max-20040524220224-60268-baea416b9b2da5c2/src/drivers/freebox?nav=index.html|src/|src/drivers
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Emmanuel Fleury
Hi,

I'm sorry, I must be a bit stupid but I don't see any GPL violation
here... Could you be a bit more specific on what kind of code, Free is
keeping under his foot ?

Regards
--
Emmanuel Fleury

Sometimes one should just look at things and think about things
without doing things.
  -- Calvin & Hobbes (Bill Waterson)
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Pierre Michon
In reply to this post by Pierre Michon
Hi,

>I'm sorry, I must be a bit stupid but I don't see any GPL violation
>here... Could you be a bit more specific on what kind of code, Free is
>keeping under his foot ?
Sorry I realise that my first post wasn't clear.


The fimware that is used with the freebox is a Linux system.
So in the firmware there is the GPL Linux kernel and all the GPL software
listed on [1] (busybox for example).

Users can't download nor binary firmware nor source code of GPL
software.

The binary firmware is downloaded by the freebox when a new version is
available. This is done on an unknow server with an unknow protocol.

So free keep the Linux kernel modification they have made. You could
see some of the log of their modification on [2] and [3].
They also don't provide the source for the GPL userspace software they
include in the firmware.

Pierre


[1] http://www.f-b-x.net/#firm
[2]
http://openlogging.org:8080/sakura.(none)/max-20040524220224-60268-baea416b9b2da5c2/src?nav=index.html
[3]
http://openlogging.org:8080/chewbacca.proxad.net/rani-20040112173203-20972-c609c93690b2941a/src?nav=index.html
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Emmanuel Fleury
Hi,

Ok, I think this is cristal clear to me, now. :)

Pierre Michon wrote:

>
> The fimware that is used with the freebox is a Linux system.
> So in the firmware there is the GPL Linux kernel and all the GPL software
> listed on [1] (busybox for example).
>
> Users can't download nor binary firmware nor source code of GPL
> software.
>
> The binary firmware is downloaded by the freebox when a new version is
> available. This is done on an unknow server with an unknow protocol.
>
> So free keep the Linux kernel modification they have made. You could
> see some of the log of their modification on [2] and [3].
> They also don't provide the source for the GPL userspace software they
> include in the firmware.

Your task will be to prove that the kernel they upload to your box is a
modified Linux kernel (by "modified Linux kernel", I mean no modules but
the kernel itself).

So, the first step would be to catch/sniff this binary image, then
analyze it.

But, as long as you cannot prove that Free has done internal
modifications to the Linux kernel which are not released in any way,
your case is quite thin.

Regards
--
Emmanuel Fleury

Don't speculate - benchmark.
  -- Dan Bernstein
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Arjan van de Ven-4

> Your task will be to prove that the kernel they upload to your box is a
> modified Linux kernel (by "modified Linux kernel", I mean no modules but
> the kernel itself).
>
> So, the first step would be to catch/sniff this binary image, then
> analyze it.
>
> But, as long as you cannot prove that Free has done internal
> modifications to the Linux kernel which are not released in any way,
> your case is quite thin.

why?

The GPL holds modified or not...

(and that includes drivers if they are distributed together with the gpl
kernel as part of a bigger work)

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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Emmanuel Fleury
Arjan van de Ven wrote:
>
> why?
>
> The GPL holds modified or not...
>
> (and that includes drivers if they are distributed together with the gpl
> kernel as part of a bigger work)

Because they can just add a link to www.kernel.org on the kernel 2.4.20
(as refered in http://www.f-b-x.net/#firm). I would be a quick fix for them.

Regards
--
Emmanuel Fleury

Reality continues to ruin my life.
  -- Calvin & Hobbes (Bill Waterson)
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

linux-os (Dick Johnson)
In reply to this post by Arjan van de Ven-4

On Wed, 5 Oct 2005, Arjan van de Ven wrote:

>
>> Your task will be to prove that the kernel they upload to your box is a
>> modified Linux kernel (by "modified Linux kernel", I mean no modules but
>> the kernel itself).
>>
>> So, the first step would be to catch/sniff this binary image, then
>> analyze it.
>>
>> But, as long as you cannot prove that Free has done internal
>> modifications to the Linux kernel which are not released in any way,
>> your case is quite thin.
>
> why?
>
> The GPL holds modified or not...
>
> (and that includes drivers if they are distributed together with the gpl
> kernel as part of a bigger work)

The unmodified kernel and the unmodified drivers are available
from ftp.kernel.org and other sources, the vendor doesn't have
to supply them, only tell you where you can get them if you want them.

Anything the vendor wrote in user-space is the vendor's own stuff.
The vendor doesn't have to supply them at all.

Transparently upgrading across the network is a pretty good idea.
It seems that the "secret" protocol they are using pissed you off
so you think they must be doing something wrong.

Cheers,
Dick Johnson
Penguin : Linux version 2.6.13 on an i686 machine (5589.55 BogoMips).
Warning : 98.36% of all statistics are fiction.

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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Emmanuel Fleury
In reply to this post by Pierre Michon
Pierre Michon wrote:
>
>
> [1] http://www.f-b-x.net/#firm

Quite interesting. But this is "Linus Torvalds" and not "Linus Tordval".

The only thing we can know is that they are using a 2.4.24-pre9 compiled
for MIPS. But, you're right on one point, the fact that they have
several version of the 2.4.24-pre9 with different sizes makes it really
really suspicious.

Regards
--
Emmanuel Fleury

Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best.
  -- Oscar Wilde
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Arjan van de Ven-4
In reply to this post by linux-os (Dick Johnson)
On Wed, 2005-10-05 at 07:45 -0400, linux-os (Dick Johnson) wrote:

> On Wed, 5 Oct 2005, Arjan van de Ven wrote:
>
> >
> >> Your task will be to prove that the kernel they upload to your box is a
> >> modified Linux kernel (by "modified Linux kernel", I mean no modules but
> >> the kernel itself).
> >>
> >> So, the first step would be to catch/sniff this binary image, then
> >> analyze it.
> >>
> >> But, as long as you cannot prove that Free has done internal
> >> modifications to the Linux kernel which are not released in any way,
> >> your case is quite thin.
> >
> > why?
> >
> > The GPL holds modified or not...
> >
> > (and that includes drivers if they are distributed together with the gpl
> > kernel as part of a bigger work)
>
> The unmodified kernel and the unmodified drivers are available
> from ftp.kernel.org and other sources, the vendor doesn't have
> to supply them, only tell you where you can get them if you want them.

only for non-commercial distribution!
which here isn't the case obviously


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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Arjan van de Ven-4
In reply to this post by Emmanuel Fleury
On Wed, 2005-10-05 at 13:37 +0200, Emmanuel Fleury wrote:

> Arjan van de Ven wrote:
> >
> > why?
> >
> > The GPL holds modified or not...
> >
> > (and that includes drivers if they are distributed together with the gpl
> > kernel as part of a bigger work)
>
> Because they can just add a link to www.kernel.org on the kernel 2.4.20
> (as refered in http://www.f-b-x.net/#firm). I would be a quick fix for them.

that's not enough to satisfy the GPL conditions.


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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Emmanuel Fleury
Arjan van de Ven wrote:
>
> that's not enough to satisfy the GPL conditions.

It is.

Regards
--
Emmanuel Fleury

And I'm right. I'm always right, but in this case
I'm just a bit more right than I usually am.
  -- Linus Torvalds

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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Arjan van de Ven-4
On Wed, 2005-10-05 at 14:02 +0200, Emmanuel Fleury wrote:
> Arjan van de Ven wrote:
> >
> > that's not enough to satisfy the GPL conditions.
>
> It is.

  3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

    a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
    source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
    1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange;
or,

    b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
    years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
    cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
    machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
    distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
    customarily used for software interchange; or,

    c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
    to distribute corresponding source code.  (This alternative is
    allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
    received the program in object code or executable form with such
    an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)


they don't do a)

they don't do b)

c) is only for noncommerial distribution (not the case here) and only if
they got it in a type b) before, eg it allows you to transfer a type b)
in the non-commerical case.



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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Vincent Hanquez-3
In reply to this post by Emmanuel Fleury
On Wed, Oct 05, 2005 at 02:02:35PM +0200, Emmanuel Fleury wrote:
> Arjan van de Ven wrote:
> >
> > that's not enough to satisfy the GPL conditions.
>
> It is.

From the GPL FAQ:
==================================================
Is making and using multiple copies within one organization or company "distribution"?

No, in that case the organization is just making the copies for itself.
As a consequence, a company or other organization can develop a modified
version and install that version through its own facilities, without
giving the staff permission to release that modified version to
outsiders.
==================================================

The bottom line is the Freebox is still owned by Free when you are using
it. It you "buy" it (by not giving it back and paying 400 EUR), you
don't have the right anymore to plug it into free network, thus don't
have access to freebox's firmware.

but please keep that away from the LKML, this is *offtopic* here.
This list is about *developement* of the linux kernel..
--
Vincent Hanquez
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Emmanuel Fleury
In reply to this post by Arjan van de Ven-4
Arjan van de Ven wrote:

>
>   3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
> under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
> Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:
>
>     a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
>     source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
>     1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange;
> or,
>
>     b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
>     years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
>     cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
>     machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
>     distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
>     customarily used for software interchange; or,
>
>     c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
>     to distribute corresponding source code.  (This alternative is
>     allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
>     received the program in object code or executable form with such
>     an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)
>
>
> they don't do a)
>
> they don't do b)
>
> c) is only for noncommerial distribution (not the case here) and only if
> they got it in a type b) before, eg it allows you to transfer a type b)
> in the non-commerical case.

First, it is very arguable to say that they are "distributing" the
software as it does not comes with the FreeBox but is automatically
downloaded at each boot through the DSLAM network (which the user is not
supposed to know about).

Second, if you take the example of the LinkSys case, there was an
indirect way of getting all these informations (their website) and
_still_ you don't have all the informations you claimed in the boxes
that LinkSys is selling but on their website.

See:
http://gnumonks.org/~laforge/weblog/2005/06/13#20050613-linksys-adsl2mue

And (LinkSys GPL Code Center):
http://www.linksys.com/servlet/Satellite?childpagename=US%2FLayout&packedargs=c%3DL_Content_C1%26cid%3D1115416836002&pagename=Linksys%2FCommon%2FVisitorWrapper

If you want to know more about the _usage_ (and in matter of justice and
laws the usage is often more important than what is written down),
I would suggest you take a look at the LinkSys case.

See:
- http://lkml.org/lkml/2003/6/7/164
- http://lwn.net/Articles/53780/

Regards
--
Emmanuel Fleury

My life needs a rewind/erase button.
  -- Calvin & Hobbes (Bill Waterson)
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Michael Poole
Emmanuel Fleury writes:

> First, it is very arguable to say that they are "distributing" the
> software as it does not comes with the FreeBox but is automatically
> downloaded at each boot through the DSLAM network (which the user is not
> supposed to know about).

In the US, copyright law's definitive use of "distribution" says that
"to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the
public by sale or other stranfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or
lending" is a right reserved to the copyright owner.  Saying "it's
only a loan" or "it's only temporary" does not relieve any obligation
under the GPL.  I would imagine that law across the EU is similar.

Michael Poole
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Pierre Michon
In reply to this post by Pierre Michon
Hi,

> First, it is very arguable to say that they are "distributing" the
>software as it does not comes with the FreeBox but is automatically
>downloaded at each boot through the DSLAM network (which the user is not
>supposed to know about).
Have you read my first comment ?
If you said there is nothing in the freebox, how does it boot in order
to recover the firmware ?
They made a no-GPL firmware, that manage the led screen, the adsl chip,
ppp, that can do http request ?

Why does it need to rebbot when a new firmware is available ?

I am bored that people always give the same suspicious arguments...

Pierre
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Pierre Michon
In reply to this post by Pierre Michon
Hi,

>Your task will be to prove that the kernel they upload to your box is a
>modified Linux kernel (by "modified Linux kernel", I mean no modules but
>the kernel itself).

Have you read my first comment ?
I provide the link of their BitKeeper changelog [1] [2]...
Also GPL state that you need to give GPL source even if you don't do any
modification...

Pierre

[1]
http://openlogging.org:8080/sakura.(none)/max-20040524220224-60268-baea416b9b2da5c2/src?nav=index.html
[2]
http://openlogging.org:8080/chewbacca.proxad.net/rani-20040112173203-20972-c609c93690b2941a/src?nav=index.html
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Re: freebox possible GPL violation

Pierre Michon-2
In reply to this post by Pierre Michon
Hi,

>The bottom line is the Freebox is still owned by Free when you are using
>it. It you "buy" it (by not giving it back and paying 400 EUR), you
>don't have the right anymore to plug it into free network, thus don't
>have access to freebox's firmware.
So how do you explain my point B ?

Why does it need to reboot when there is a new firmware ?

How they manage to download the firmware (need led driver, ppp, http,
adsl driver, atm stack, ...)

>but please keep that away from the LKML, this is *offtopic* here.
>This list is about *developement* of the linux kernel..
Please suggest other mailling lists.


Pierre
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