This page is no longer maintained as of January 2020.
Welcome to the Derivative Team FAQ! The aim of this page is to provide an up to date list of common questions that we get about the Derivative Team project. We encourage you to update this document when something is missing so it becomes a core source of information for the project.
How can derivative distributions help Ubuntu?
First, by including derivative distributions in the Ubuntu Community we can grow the community in a scalable manner. Derivate distributions are often preexisting organization that have their own developers, QA efforts, and customers.
Secondly, by leveraging the increased size of the Ubuntu + derivatives user base, Ubuntu will have additional clout among hardware vendors.
Thirdly, from a financial perspective, some of the derivatives will be commercial distributions who will provide differing levels of customer support. These derivatives will be potential customers from Canonical's support arm.
How can Ubuntu help derivative distributions?
Ubuntu can create a community from which it is easy to create useful derivatives.
These questions are currently being deliberated by Canonical, Ubuntu, and the FSF. If you have more policy questions, please let me know so that we can get them worked out.
How can a derivative distribution use the Ubuntu trademark?
Please read the Ubuntu trademark policy.
How should a derived distribution make it's source code available to remain in compliance with the GPL?
For Ubuntu / Kubuntu / Edubuntu etc we know that we are clean, in that the archive management software we use is tested to ensure that it doesn't publish packages without also publishing the corresponding source.
For derivatives, enforcement of that compliance is up to them, we are happy for them to point at our archives of source packages if they don't want to re-host the same source for packages which they have not modified.
The Free Software Foundation's response
Would it be possible for the FSF to issues a statement on the steps necessary for a derivative to remain in compliance with the GPL.
I am looking at three particular situations:
1. Localization teams create and maintain distributions which are slight customizations particular to their region. In this case, all of the original source packages are available in Ubuntu's archives. Is it permissible for the localization teams to host the source packages for the packages that they have customized on their own server while linking to Ubuntu's archive as an official source for their unmodified packages?
2. Independent organizations are interested in making more significant customizations to original Ubuntu packages. In this case, all of the original source packages are available in Ubuntu's archives. Is it permissible for these organizations to host the source packages for the packages that they have customized on their own server while linking to Ubuntu's archive as an official source for their unmodified packages?
3. Independent organizations are interested in creating and maintaining distributions which include addition original packages in addition to Ubuntu packages. In this case, all of the original source packages are available in Ubuntu's archives. Is it permissible for these organizations to host the source packages for their original packages while linking to Ubuntu's archive as an official source for their unmodified packages?
In each of the above cases, Ubuntu agrees to maintain the unmodified sources for the distro in their archives and the derivative maintains the source for all modified packages.
All the scenarios you described are permissible *if* all of the following occur:
* The derivatives are distributing their work through the Internet. If they're doing something else -- for example, distributing physical CDs -- then pointing to online source, no matter where it's hosted, is not sufficient; they need to either provide the source on CD as well, or include a written offer to provide that. (If you're concerned about this, GPLv3 will probably make it acceptable to provide online source for physical distribution.)
* Each derivative makes an agreement with Ubuntu like you described. This agreement should probably explain how long Ubuntu promises to host the source, and what derivatives should do when that time passes. A blanket agreement -- i.e., something that Ubuntu posts on its web site, valid for all derivatives -- is acceptable.
* The derivatives provide clear instructions to their recipients about how to obtain the source, whether directly from them or from Ubuntu, as appropriate.
How should a derivative distribution name it's custom, non-standard, or additional packages?
Derivative Team and the DCC
Currently, the Derivative team's and the DCC missions and goals are orthogonal. "The DCC Alliance is an association of organizations and individuals to assemble a common, standards-based core for Debian-based Linux distributions and accelerate worldwide commercial adoption of Debian GNU/Linux."
The Derivative team's mission is simply to make it easier for derivative to work more closely with Ubuntu.