Everybody loves Google. Their search technology is great, and they generally seem to follow their credo of “Don’t Be Evil.” So they have tons of good karma built up, which leads me to ask the following question out of curiosity and without meaning to imply anything bad about Google.
Google now sells the Google Search Appliance, a 1U machine that sits on a corporate intranet and allows intranet users to search company documents with Google-esque speed and accuracy. And as we all know, Google itself runs on Linux, as does its appliance.
My question is, now that Google is selling a machine that runs Linux, don’t they have to also distribute any GPL code on the device — such as the Linux kernel, and any modifications they’ve made to it? I asked Google about this via their “request information” form, but have not yet received a reply. I guess since I expressed no interest in purchasing an appliance they skipped over my message. All google is required to do is provide the source code to the people who receive the binaries (if, in fact, they have modified and distributed any GPL code), which they may be doing, but since I don’t know anyone who has one of these, I can’t determine whether or not the source is provided with the device. There is no mention of the GPL or Linux in the appliance’s license terms, though the following clause IS there:
Any and all third party binary or source code included in the Product may be used only in conjunction with the Appliance, and such use shall be subject to all the terms and conditions of this Agreement. THE PRODUCT OR ANY PORTION THEREOF MAY NOT BE USED, COPIED, TRANSFERRED, OR MODIFIED EXCEPT AS EXPRESSLY PERMITTED BY THIS AGREEMENT.
Not exactly consistent with the GPL, is it? But like I said, Google has lots of good karma built up, so they get the benefit of the doubt. But… where’s the source?