teksaport at hotmail.com
Thu May 20 08:28:55 CEST 2010
I would like to develop an embedded device with Linux. I am very confused about everything I've read on the Internet about linking, and GPL, and violations and this list seems to be the place to ask a few questions.
Firstly I am not an established programmer and I don't have a company or lawyers to fall back on, I just have an idea that hasn't been done yet and I need some advice. So if my questions are stupid, just help me through it. I would prefer not to get flamed for stupid questions, but I am in fact under educated on this topic and my head is spinning with everything I've tried to understand about the subject. So please be patient.
Anyway, as I said, I'm expecting my device to run Linux and I will be creating a few rather simple C programs to run upon it, and I have planned on compiling them with gcc. I'm not aware of any other way to compile programs on Linux for that specific situation (embedded). I am planning my programs to make use of the serial port, stdio, networking (dns, https and such) and possibly sockets. It would seem that I cannot build my programs without linking to standard libraries, however I won't need to make any changes to those libraries. And then I hope to sell these units.
But the problem is this. I'm not against open-source, I'm against loosing control over something I've spent a lot of time and money to bring to market. I am worried that by putting my code into the GNU or GPL or LGPL or whatever, that my little 1 person setup could easily be overrun by those who have the resources or experience to write their own libraries and not deal with the open source legalities. I know that a good hacker can decompile my simple stuff and/or just look at it to see what it's doing, but I believe hacking is illegal, so I can't stop that. But like everyone, I need to make a living and so I need to ask, 1) if I link to existing linux libraries do I have a choice of making a closed-source program, or must they be open because of the linking? 2) If the source has to be released, what kind of protection do I have? I don't really care if someone see's my actual source - no matter how pitiful it is, but I do care if someone uses that same idea/concept or my own code against me. What can I do? I'm not even sure if there is anything like patents or trademarks that could give me the protections I would like. 3) I'm pretty sure, based on what I've read, that even if I do release it under one of the open-source types, that I can still sell the unit and the code, right?
With the above said, I've also spoken to a embedded board designer and I am considering having them design a board specifically for my project. If that happens, the board could be patented, right? Yes I realize that this is about open-source, and that is my main concern, but I suspect that some of you on here would know about the hardware as well, so I mentioned it.
Your advice would be appreciated.
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