Inexq/Unex use Linux kernel and other GPL software in their routers, yet refuse to distribute the source code...

Chris Bainbridge chris.bainbridge at
Tue Mar 15 19:32:26 CET 2005

Hi legal dudes,

I'm attaching a series of emails regarding the company Unex/Inexq
violating the GPL. They clearly use Linux in their routers, but refuse
to supply source code, claiming it's a trade secret. They were
unresponsive to earlier emails sent directly to their support address,
but Clovis Lee replied to my email sent directly to him/her. I've also
attached a post I sent to the LKML last year.

I still have the router and would appreciate being able to hack around
with it some day :)


From: Chris Bainbridge <chris.bainbridge at>
Reply-To: Chris Bainbridge <chris.bainbridge at>
To: clovis.lee at
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 11:21:21 +0000
Subject: GPL source code


Firstly I saw your email address on a blog as "someone to contact at
unex/inexq".  I have an ISW054t router. I noticed that it runs Linux
kernel and some other open source utilities. Can you please provide
the source code for this as specified under the GNU Public License?
Unex/Inexq is currently commiting copyright violation, as you have no
license to redistribute apart from the GPL.


From: Unex Support - Clovis Lee <clovis.lee at>
Reply-To: clovis.lee at
To: Chris Bainbridge <chris.bainbridge at>
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 13:09:41 +0800
Subject: RE: GPL source code

Dear Chris

Thank you for your email.
Sorry, the source code is confidential to Unex and we are not allow to
publish any of the related materials to any
other third party or users.  Let me know what can I do for you!  Thank you!

If the above information is still insufficient to solve your problem,
please reply directly to this message.  In your reply,

(a) Inform us that the problem has not been resolved and

(b) Provide any additional information that you think may help us to
further troubleshoot the issue.

Best regards,
Clovis Lee
Technical Support
Unex Technology Corporation

Tel:       +886-3-525-6262 Ext.217
Fax:      +886-5-525-7377
Add:     8F-5, No. 130, Sze Wei Rd., Hsinchu, Taiwan
e-mail:   clovis.lee at <mailto:clovis.lee at>  or
clovis.lee at <mailto:clovis.lee at>

From: Chris Bainbridge <chris.bainbridge at>
Reply-To: Chris Bainbridge <chris.bainbridge at>
To: clovis.lee at
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 12:23:39 +0000
Subject: Re: GPL source code

Firstly, thanks for your reply!

a)  The problem has not been resolved

b)  I don't think you understand the problem. The Linux kernel and
some of the applications that you are distributing in your firmware
are *copyright*. You have a license to distribute them *if*, and *only
if*, you agree to the GPL [1]. This license states that you *must*
give me the source code, as you sold me the firmware. If you refuse,
you are violating the copyrights of many people and corporations
(including IBM, Linksys, and others) who have contributed code to the
kernel. This is software piracy, and courts in the US, Europe and
elsewhere can and will stop your products being sold here, and
furthermore you may be liable for financial penalties unless you take
immediate action to halt your copyright infringement.

c)  Linksys already provide the source code for all of their GPL
software based routers [2]. So do Belkin [3]. Sitecom also [4]. It
doesn't seem to be negatively affecting their business.





I keenly await your reply.



Original Post to LKML
From	Chris Bainbridge <>
Subject	(yet another) probable GPL violation
Date	Thu, 22 Apr 2004 11:42:57 +0100

The Inexq ISW054t is a 802.11g broadband router with 4 port switch. It's 
getting quite popular due to its low price. I suspect that it runs linux, yet 
comes with no mention of the GPL. I've emailed Inexq (the company formerly 
known as Unex) but they haven't replied. 

You can download the firmware from :

The zip contains a file 
ISW054t-S1-200712T3.img which `file` identies as "PPCBoot image"

strings shows:
Uncompressing Linux...
Ok, booting the kernel.

Theres a gzip image at offset 0x2048 which unpacks to 1.8MB : 
dd if=ISW054t-S1-200712T3.img bs=8264 skip=1 |zcat > 
I've searched for the usual magic numbers but can't find the root fs. Any 
pointers would be appreciated. 

Some interesting things from the firmware:

It contains the dynamic ip software from
Networking is done by They 
offer NAT, firewalling, dhcp etc. as a linux module.
It contains this weird Moe line -
A USB stack from
ISL3890 Prism 802.11g chipset driver - firmware starts at 'PACKPACKPACK'
The string "Linksys" appears 5 times (?)
Theres a hidden test html page at http://router/UE/Main
Contains Allegro-Software-RomPager embedded web server

This is the first embedded linux router I've heard of with a Prism 802.11g 
chipset. It'll be interesting to see if it can be turned into a 100% open 
source with the prism54 drivers. I haven't checked any of the other Inexq 
products, but if they use linux for this its likely that they've used it in 
other routers.

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