Debian components breach terms of GPLv2

You want source code with that?

A top Debian contributor has been left "pretty disappointed" by elements of the Debian community for failing to comply with the conditions of the GNU GPLv2 license.

Daniel Baumann, who maintains the Debian Syslinux bootloader package, has said Debian components were being released only in binary form without source code - resulting in problems for Apple Macintosh users.

"I don't want to blame individual persons," Baumann said. "This is just a note of how disappointed I'm about some parts of Debian that are not complying to licenses when it comes to distributing software."

One problem concerns Debian CD - the toolkit used to build new versions of Debian for public release. Baumann found the toolkit was using an embedded binary version of Syslinux rather than taking a full version with source code from the official Debian archive. Another instance involved the Sarge release of Debian that shipped with Syslinux 2.04 in binary and Syslinux 2.11 in source.

Baumann also found that source code for some components was missing from last November's beta version of KDE 4 - although this has now been removed from the Debian Live CDs distribution list.

The problem of synchronizing source and binary versions of Debian packages affected some Apple users last week when they tried to install the first beta release of the Lenny, the latest version Debian. Some users found their keyboard freezing up as a result of the wrong binary-only version of Syslinux being included in the package. In this case the current archive version of Syslinux (3.71) did not work - while an earlier version (3.63) embedded in Debian Installer worked fine.

Baumann has acknowledged that the problem is most likely the result of the increasingly heavy workload faced by the Debian community and the growing popularity of Debian-based Linux distros.

"It appears that as good as our package checks are, we spend little to no time to check our resulting products made from these packages," Baumann said.®

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