Ubuntu is a collection of thousands of computer programs and
documents created by a range of individuals, teams and companies.
Each of these programs may come under a different licence. This
licence policy describes the process that we follow in determining
which software will be included by default in the Ubuntu operating
Copyright licensing and trademarks are two different areas of law, and
we consider them separately in Ubuntu. The following policy applies
only to copyright licences. We evaluate trademarks on a case-by-case
Categories of software in Ubuntu
The thousands of software packages available for Ubuntu are organized
into four key groups or components: main, restricted, universe and
multiverse. Software is published in one of these components based
on whether or not it meets our free software philosophy, and the level
of support we can provide for it.
This policy only addresses the software that you will find in main and
restricted, which contain software that is fully supported by the
Ubuntu team and must comply with this policy.
Ubuntu 'main' component licence policy
All application software included in the Ubuntu main component:
Must include source code. The main component has a strict and
non-negotiable requirement that application software included in it
must come with full source code.
Must allow modification and distribution of modified copies under the
same licence. Just having the source code does not convey the same
freedom as having the right to change it. Without the ability to
modify software, the Ubuntu community cannot support software, fix
bugs, translate it, or improve it.
Ubuntu 'main' and 'restricted' component licence policy
All application software in both main and restricted must meet the
following requirements: Must allow redistribution. Your right to sell
or give away the software alone, or as part of an aggregate software
distribution, is important because: You, the user, must be able to
pass on any software you have received from Ubuntu in either source
code or compiled form.
While Ubuntu will not charge licence fees for this distribution,
you might want to charge to print Ubuntu CDs, or create your own
customised versions of Ubuntu which you sell, and should have the
freedom to do so.
Must not require royalty payments or any other fee for
redistribution or modification.It's important that you can exercise
your rights to this software without having to pay for the privilege,
and that you can pass these rights on to other people on exactly the
Must allow these rights to be passed on along with the software. You
should be able to have exactly the same rights to the software as we
Must not discriminate against persons, groups or against fields of
endeavour. The licence of software included in Ubuntu can not
discriminate against anyone or any group of users and cannot restrict
users from using the software for a particular field of endeavour - a
business for example. So we will not distribute software that is
licensed "freely for non-commercial use".
Must not be distributed under a licence specific to Ubuntu. The
rights attached to the software must not depend on the program being
part of Ubuntu system. So we will not distribute software for which
Ubuntu has a "special" exemption or right, and we will not put our own
software into Ubuntu and then refuse you the right to pass it on.
Must not contaminate other software licences.The licence must not
place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with
it. For example, the licence must not insist that all other programmes
distributed on the same medium be free software. May require source
modifications to be distributed as patches. In some cases, software
authors are happy for us to distribute their software and
modifications to their software, as long as the two are distributed
separately, so that people always have a copy of their pristine code.
We are happy to respect this preference. However, the licence must
explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source
Documentation, firmware and drivers
Ubuntu contains licensed and copyrighted works that are not
application software. For example, the default Ubuntu installation
includes documentation, images, sounds, video clips and firmware. The
Ubuntu community will make decisions on the inclusion of these works
on a case-by-case basis, ensuring that these works do not restrict our
ability to make Ubuntu available free of charge, and that you can
continue to redistribute Ubuntu.
Software installed by default
When you install Ubuntu, you will typically install a complete desktop
environment. It is also possible to install a minimal set of software
(just enough to boot your machine) and then manually select the
precise software applications to install. Such a "custom" install is
usually favored by server administrators, who prefer to keep only the
software they absolutely need on the server.
All of the application software installed by default is free
software. In addition, we install some hardware drivers that are
available only in binary format, but such packages are clearly marked
in the restricted component.