Uruguay violates GPL by deleting root on OLPCs

Stanley Sokolow overbyte at earthlink.net
Wed Jul 7 10:25:29 EDT 2010

Please explain your statement that lack of root violates GPLv3.   Couldn't
the owner of the system insert a SD card with a developer's version of
Linux, mount the internal drive of the XO, and tinker with the installed
packages as root from the external OS?  Does GPLv3 expressly mention root

I think Ubuntu disables root logins, but allows sudo access for root
permissions.   Is that a violation of the GPLv3?

On Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 2:32 AM, John Gilmore <gnu at toad.com> wrote:

> > > Ignoring the fact that some deployments ship without root access.
> >
> > Is the practice of completely locking-down the laptops something we'd
> > even want to encourage?
> Shipping the laptops TiVoized like Uruguay does has put them into serious
> legal trouble.  OLPC should definitely not encourage anybody else to do
> this.
> Why bankrupt your project by losing a copyright enforcement lawsuit?
> Shipping the laptops without root access is a direct violation of the
> GPLv3 license on a dozen packages (probably 50+ packages in later
> Fedoras).  They have shipped binaries, while using technological means
> to deny the recipient the practical ability to upgrade or replace them
> with versions modified or chosen by the recipient.
> Only an idiot would distribute hundreds of thousands of units while
> setting themselves up to pay the Free Software Foundation any amount
> of money they demand.  (Given the way OLPC and Uruguay have
> ignored the notice that they're in violation, for years, I do hope FSF
> extracts both future compliance, and its next ten years of operating
> expenses, from these scofflaws.)
> Or does Uruguay think, "Sue us for copyright violation in our own
> courts -- we'll make sure you lose"??  In other words, do they
> just brazenly steal the GNU Project's software, knowing it's wrong?
>        John Gilmore
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