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Using a hypervisor to reconcile GPL and proprietary embedded code

"This guest whitepaper explains how a hypervisor can be used to leverage GPL software while isolating it from proprietary code, in order to ensure compliance with the requirements of the GPL. It was written by a TRANGO Virtual Processors product manager, and uses that company's hypervisor as an example." -- Read more

Looks like a new method of circumventing the intent behind GPLv3.


First a question to


First a question to ponder:
If memory is shared between the two VMs, doesn't that mean the app is "linked" to Linux? I guess it depends on what way exactly it is implemented.

Now my comments:

This is not as bad as tivoization, because modified versions of the GPL'd software will run without any loss of functionality whatsoever.
The way the shared memory should be accessed is known, there even is GPL'd example code for that.

Of course it would be possible for the proprietary app to verify what version of the GPL'd software it is cooperating with, and refuse to run if it doesn't like what it sees, but that's just the same old thing as tivoization: not allowed by GPLv3.

I think it's important to note a hypervisor actually is a very simple OS, and in this case it is not GPL'd. Actually the situation is the same as running a proprietary OS, and using a GPL'd and a proprietary app on the same data.

I don't consider this trick a method to circumvent the intent behind GPLv3, it's only "protecting" a proprietary app by moving it from a free to a proprietary OS.

All that said, I would strongly suggest not to use proprietary hypervisors. They are bad in exactly the same way as proprietary operating systems are, nothing more, nothing less. Well, one thing more: due to their lack of bloat, they are more difficult to crack. But cracking proprietary software in order to get full access to Digitally Restricted data never was the right solution to anything anyway.

Don't use anything less than a completely Free software system, otherwise your data can and will be locked in. The article is simply another example of how it could happen.

Final thought: from the perspective of the operating system running on it, the hypervisor is "hardware". On the other hand, it is an OS too, and therefore should be Free. It shows software and hardware aren't all that different, and it would be best if all hardware in our systems would be Freedom-enabled too.

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