Kicad distribution in third-party application


I was wondering if it is possible to include kicad (in particular, eeschema) in a third-party application, such that someone else who uses the application will not need to download and install the full kicad, but only eeschema and the ability to export netlists.


Yes, but you must give recipients of your app the same access rights that you have. The easiest way to do that is to distribute your app under the GNU GPL.

I don’t know the ins and outs of GPL V2 vs V3, or of using other open source licensing constructs with included GPL V2 content, but someone else here might be able to cover that.


Oh! Yes, but I actually meant how to include the necessary kicad files (of course, with the license included) in the application.


Well we don’t know what you plan on doing. How should anybody help you with that?


I thought that was what you meant but I don’t remember ever seeing anyone mention that they had reason to do this. Free software people don’t normally spend a lot of time making ‘light’ versions of their programs. It might be better to ask the developers list if there is a breakdown of what is used where but they probably work more on integration that separation. :wink:


I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a ‘live’ version. The person doing the Ubuntu packaging seems to keep pretty up to date if you want to go that route.


Because the licence is GPL it’s extremely important to understand that you have to offer the source code, too. It’s not enough to link to the original kicad git source. The details are a bit unclear and under dispute but you are safely complying to the licence if you distribute the source code together with the binaries.


Thank you for the response. That is a good idea.


If you include an eechema executable in your installation package, it’s not necessary to license the rest of your application under the GPL as long as the executable is truly a separate bit. However, if you were to compile part or all of eechema into your application as object files then you do have to release your application under the GPL.

Either way you must offer to distribute the sources used to build the specific version of eeschema you’re distributing, along with any other infrastructure such as Makefiles, as @eelik states.

These tricky legal details are best resolved with the assistance of legal counsel who is familiar with the GPL. Don’t guess at it or think you can interpret the legal terms yourself.


Thank you everyone. I actually hadn’t been thinking of the license issue when I wrote the original post, but everyone here has given me some really good advice. Thank you!


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