Thursday, January 18, 2018

No, there is no "FreeDOS Licensed Retailer"

One user reported that a person on EBay is selling FreeDOS on USB fob drives and advertising themselves as a "FreeDOS Licensed Retailer." No, there is no "licensed retailer" program for FreeDOS.

But according to the GNU General Public License, anyone is allowed to sell FreeDOS (or any software distributed under the GNU GPL) so long as they provide the source code, too. And in the FreeDOS 1.2 release, we include the source code as part of the installer packages.

The seller seems questionable to me. A few examples that confuse me:

Is source code included?
I don't know exactly what this person is selling. If it's the FreeDOS 1.2 installer on a USB fob drive, we already have an image for that on our website. Or it could be a pre-installed version of FreeDOS on a USB fob drive. If it's the former, then the source code is already there, in the packages that you can install as part of FreeDOS 1.2. If the latter, it depends if the seller installed source code when they installed FreeDOS 1.2 to the USB fob drive. They advertise a 16GB fob drive, so there is plenty of room for source code if they chose to include that.

Is it a USB fob drive or CD?
The seller claims: "Please Note: We have been authorized under the developer’s GPL license agreement to provide a service to buyers by offering this software in a CD format. This is great news for individuals, companies and organizations who prefer the convenience and portability of a CD, that may not have an internet connection to download the software, prefer the install file to be on a CD for easy distribution to other computers and many other reasons." But it's odd that the seller mentions "CD" and they are selling a USB fob drive instead.

Are they contributing back to FreeDOS?
The seller also claims: "By purchasing this software you will also be helping the open source community, as a portion of sales will be donated to developers to support further development." Certainly no one has contacted me to arrange any donation of sales to benefit FreeDOS. So in this case, the seller appears to be advertising something that is not true. Note that there is no obligation to contribute anything back to FreeDOS under the terms of the GNU GPL, so it seems odd to claim that when they don't have to.

I guess my recommendation is to be careful if you buy FreeDOS online. You can always download the full FreeDOS distribution at no cost from our website.

I have been trying to reach this seller via email. He replied to me once in November, but since then has not responded to emails.

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