AsusTek's Linux-based Eee laptop violates the software license under which Linux is released, according to a PC Pro story out today. The laptop, which competes with One Laptop Per Child's stripped-down XO machine, currently runs a version of Linux distributed by Xandros.
Because it is released under the GNU General Public License, the source code and any modifications of the operating system must be made available to the public in the manner specified by the GPL. Software developer Cliff Biffle says not all of the code has been released, and the code that has been released lacks the proper attribution.
PC Pro reports:
Asus, Biffle says, has "extensively modified" the asus_acpi (advanced configuration and power interface) Linux kernel module so that it works with the Eee PC hardware. In itself that is not a problem. But Asus has removed all attribution information about the module name, version, and author and, according to Biffle, its developers "appear to have attempted to hide what they were doing. (All references to "asus_acpi" have been removed, but other identifying features remain.)".
AsusTek representatives could not be reached for comment, according to writer Simon Aughton. He notes, however, that the last time AsusTek was accused of GPL violations the code in question was made public after only one letter from the copyright holder.
It's good that AsusTek is quick to cooperate, but the fact that the company has faced similar allegations in the past is not such a good thing.