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I developed a software product which integrates the Ubuntu system. I want to sell this software someday. Is it legal to integrate the Ubuntu system in this software product?

Do I need to pay? Or write an application to Ubuntu?

"integrate" means that I distribute my software product by a CD. And I need to integrate the Ubuntu in the CD too. And my software is run on Ubuntu system. It is an App on Ubuntu. I will not modify Ubuntu. I think I do not need to make my software open source.

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How do you mean "integrate"? What packages are you using? –  BiggJJ Jul 6 '13 at 8:49
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Depends on what parts of Ubuntu you are redistributing. What packages are you using? You cannot redistribute all software, even open source, unless you comply with all the terms in the licenses. (For GPL this means you'll have to provide the source code as well) –  gertvdijk Jul 6 '13 at 8:49
    
"integrate" means that I distribute my software product by a CD. And I need to integrate the Ubuntu in the CD too. And my software is run on Ubuntu system. It is an App on Ubuntu. I will not modify Ubuntu. I think I do not need to make my software open source. –  wangyaosuper Jul 7 '13 at 7:11

2 Answers 2

Software within Ubuntu is widely GPL compatible and various essential base components are certainly GPL2 or GPL3. Those are the licenses you're going to have to abide by.

The core understanding is that if you include this software, you need to make the source code available. I'm not sure if that stretches to your software (if it just sits on top) but if you've customised any of the Ubuntu system by modifying existing files, you must provide source for that.

I would strongly suggest talking to a professional about this. The FSF might be able to help but either way, I would start just by reading through what the GPL is and how it effects you:

People take these licenses seriously. Don't ignore them.

Just to express this again: GPL is not the only license in use (there are a myriad of various open source licenses in use in the default install of Ubuntu) but adhering to GPL should (talk to a lawyer about how you do that and to indemnify yourself that if this is true) mean you're also complying with their licenses. Aka, GPL is the fussiest license.

If you install other things (including things from the repo, or software that Ubuntu offers to install like drivers), these may have different licenses and you'll need to audit that. See the comments for some questions on dealing with that aspect. The rest of my answer assumes a clean Ubuntu install.

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+1 for "People take these licenses seriously. Don't ignore them." –  don.joey Jul 6 '13 at 9:31
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If I understand the question correctly, the relevant part is What is the difference between an “aggregate” and other kinds of “modified versions”? Generally speaking, simply distributing two different products together does not mean that either is covered by the other's license. If you want to be absolutely certain, consult with a lawyer. –  Michael Kjörling Jul 6 '13 at 9:35
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Ubuntu includes many other licenced software packages beside GPL. Most of the kernel/libc and stuff is GPL indeed, but far from all is GPL. See also: How do you find the licenses for everything installed on your system?, How to list all my packages from command line which can show package name, license, source url, etc? –  gertvdijk Jul 6 '13 at 16:20
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"I would strongly suggest talking to a professional about this." Seriously, this is a question for a lawyer not an online Q&A site. –  JohnD Jul 6 '13 at 19:21
    
@gertvdijk GPL is the most restrictive in use. LGPL, MIT, BSD, etc are far less involved. More restrictive things can be installed but that's true of any system. –  Oli Jul 7 '13 at 13:26

Refer to the Ubuntu licensing information. If you are still unsure it would be best to email Canonical to confirm. It seems to depend on individual packages involved and their licences, so you may need to read each piece of software's license you use to check that they do not rule out commercial uses.

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