Samba clarification around GPL and VFS modules.

Jeremy Allison jra at
Thu Oct 22 15:41:12 UTC 2020

People who follow Samba development may
have noticed the following commit that
just went into the Samba repo:;a=blob;f=VFS-License-clarification.txt;h=6b67381cc20412456d7d01a0587c0d627254a2b8;hb=1262b13f4db9502c36579b7dd740d8002e0baac9

For people who don't read git (I'm assuming
that's everyone :-) it's a clarification
around GPL license boundaries and Samba
VFS modules we've been discussing within
the Team for a long while now.

Here's the text of the new file so people
can understand what we're doing here.

Hopefully this will make it much clearer
to OEMs and vendors using Samba where their
GPL requirements begin and end when extending
Samba to work with their own unique filesystem



A clarification of the GNU GPL License boundary within the Samba
Virtual File System (VFS) layer.

Samba is licensed under the GNU GPL. All code committed to the Samba
project or creating a derived work must be either licensed under the
GNU GPL or a compatible license.

Samba has several plug-in interfaces where external code may be called
from Samba GNU GPL licensed code. The most important of these is the
Samba VFS layer.

Samba VFS modules are intimately connected by header files and API
definitions to the part of the Samba code that provides file services,
and as such, code that implements a plug-in Samba VFS module must be
licensed under the GNU GPL or a compatible license.

However, Samba VFS modules may themselves call third-party external
libraries that are not part of the Samba project and are externally
developed and maintained.

As long as these third-party external libraries do not use any of the
Samba internal structure, APIs or interface definitions created by the
Samba project that are licensed under the GNU GPL then it is the view
of the Samba Team that such third-party external libraries called from
Samba VFS modules are not part of the Samba code and cannot be
considered a derived work of Samba for the purposes of GNU GPL
licensing. Thus such libraries are not required to be under the GNU
GPL or a GNU GPL compatible license.

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