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Old 08-10-2010, 08:44 PM   #1
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Kobo runs linux and busybox

A week later: Apologies for the tone of this post. It was ill-considered and rude. I did change the title on the message shortly after I posted, but this didn't update the original thread title. Thanks to the moderator who fixed it. I have avoided saying anything else for a week so things can die a natural death. I'd just add that the responses were measured and well deserved. billingd 2010-08-17

Borders Australia have released an SD card firmware (1.4) image links for AU/NZ

A quick analysis shows that it contains runs linux - which we already knew - and ships with a busybox binary that contains a GPL V2 licence string. I have raised the small matter of the source code with Borders Australia. I wait with baited breath for not much to happen.

US readers may have more joy as there are a number of court cases active there. See groklaw for a discussion.

#######################################

For the technically inclined, download bordersau-full-1_4.tgz. Download size is 123 MB.

As the .tgz suffix implies, it is a gzipped tar file. This is a standard unix thing. There are many Windows utilities that will open it, including 7-zip.

The file has been tarred, then compressed twice with gzip. A more descriptive name would be bordersau-full-1_4.tar.gz.gz

I have generated a list of files and posted it on the other thread.

$ gunzip bordersau-full-1_4.tgz
$ tar tzf bordersau-full-1_4.tar > bordersau-full-1_4.txt

Given the file structure and presence of busybox, it is almost certain that the KOBO runs linux and used GPLed code.

If we look at the busybox binary:
$tar --strip-components=2 -xzf bordersau-full-1_4.tar ./bin/busybox
$strings busybox

we see:
Copyright (C) 1998-2006
Erik Andersen, Rob Landley, and others.
Licensed under GPLv2.

Oh dear.

Last edited by billingd; 08-16-2010 at 11:01 PM. Reason: Add apology
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Old 08-10-2010, 08:56 PM   #2
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I will wait and see what Kobo or Borders say before accusing them of GPL violation or running to a litigation lawyer.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:25 PM   #3
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I'm hoping that now that everyone has v1.4 released to their markets, Kobo will get around to releasing the GPL source code they used. That should be the kernel, busybox, and several libraries. I doubt that it will include anything that displays the database or Kobo format books, and it certainly won't include the Adobe code.

Jinke, Bookeen, and Foxit have all released that much.
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:44 PM   #4
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Forgive my ignorance but how is the Kobo running Linux a GPL violation? In the user guide one will notice the extensive pages dedicated to providing a copy of the GPL (which they are required to do) and other information regarding other packages used on the Kobo. In regard to the source, GPL'd source of distributed binaries do not need to be made public. They do need to be provided upon request, but Kobo do not and are not obligated to go "here is the image, oh and here is the source". They are obligated however to provide the source code when asked.

Some companies prefer to just provide the source along with the binaries and alleviate any issues of people wanting to request the code (ie: they provide it regardless).

IF, and this is IF Kobo have been approached and a copy of the source code has been requested, and Kobo have failed/refused to deliver, then they could be in violation of the GPL.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:12 PM   #5
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Hi everyone.

Solicitous is right that Kobo is bound to deliver the source code for GPL licensed applications (and LGPL licensed libraries) upon request. We have no requirement per the GPL to proactively make it available.

However, rather than have all of you email me and ask for the code individually, we've posted the source code to the applications in question, patches to the original code that we have modified, as well as the code to a special secret that you may have found in the Kobo Reader already to our github account.

You can find it here:
http://github.com/kobolabs/

If a moderator is reading this, I would appreciate a change in the subject line. Kobo takes our GPL commitments very seriously, as you have hopefully seen via our full disclosure of what open source software we are using as well as our posting of this code.

Last edited by JCKobo; 08-10-2010 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:23 PM   #6
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Many thanks JCKobo. This should be the end of the matter.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sabredog View Post
Many thanks JCKobo. This should be the end of the matter.
Thanks - would you mind changing your subject line on your original post? I wouldn't want someone just skimming the forums to get the wrong impression.
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:09 PM   #8
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JCKobo

Love to see the title change but I am not the OP of the thread.

I will put a request to the mods.
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sabredog View Post
JCKobo

Love to see the title change but I am not the OP of the thread.

I will put a request to the mods.
Oops - sorry I thought billingd had replied. Thanks.
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:43 PM   #10
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Looks like the subject was updated. Thanks!
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Old 08-11-2010, 12:36 AM   #11
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I cannot recall how this thread was named before, but I simply
dislike it to be renamed on demand. Next step would be to
change the content of posts on demand?
If something important has to be said, new thread has to be
open and all content might be there. People have their own
minds and it is the way forums work.
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Old 08-11-2010, 12:52 AM   #12
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Normally I would certainly agree with you. However the thread title was inflammatory, questioning Kobo's use of Linux/GPL.

Best to change it to be less aggressive.
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Old 08-11-2010, 03:25 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCKobo View Post
Hi everyone.

Solicitous is right that Kobo is bound to deliver the source code for GPL licensed applications (and LGPL licensed libraries) upon request. We have no requirement per the GPL to proactively make it available.
Fantastic.

Sorry about the title. There was going to be some qualification on it. I was reading what I had written and reconsidering the wording - then the phone rang and I stupidly hit the post button.
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:28 AM   #14
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Good job Kobo!
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Old 08-11-2010, 04:25 PM   #15
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Thank you, JC. I was pretty sure you would publish this fairly quickly. It's just not efficient to handle individual requests. I'm cloning it as I write, and look forward to studying it for a long time before I start changing things. Anybody want to use a Bluetooth keyboard for dictionary lookup or annotations? Or maybe remote control?
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