Licensing: Frequently Asked Questions
This page deals with questions you may have about VirtualBox and its licensing. You may want to look at the User FAQ and Developer FAQ for additional topics. This information is accurate for VirtualBox 4.0 and later, when the packaging was redesigned in order to simplify the licensing.
- What license is VirtualBox released under?
The base packages (everything but the extension pack) is released under the GNU General Public License V2. Essentially, this means that you get the full source code of VirtualBox, and you can distribute and modify it, provided that you ship all modifications under the GPL as well.
If you want the extra features in the extension pack you can use them free of charge for personal use or evaluation purposes. Both packages -- VirtualBox base package and VirtualBox extension pack -- are available from the Downloads page.
- Can I buy a commercial license for VirtualBox?
If you are an individual end user, there is generally no need to purchase a commercial license, provided that you respect, in the case of the VirtualBox base package, the terms and conditions of the GPL, or, in the case of the VirtualBox extension pack, those of the Personal Use and Evaluation License.
As an enterprise customer, we encourage you to purchase commercial licenses from Oracle and receive benefits such as access to enterprise features and support for mission-critical use of VirtualBox. More information is available on the Oracle VirtualBox VM pages, which also contain a link to the Oracle store where you can directly buy licenses. We also encourage ISVs and IHVs to incorporate VirtualBox into their offerings, preferably through a custom license deal with Oracle. Please contact Oracle for additional information.
- How can VirtualBox be both open source and commercially licensed?
This is called "dual licensing". Since Oracle holds all the copyrights to the VirtualBox code, or is at least permitted to relicense code that is owned by external contributors or other parties, we are free to choose the terms under which we license the code to our customers, or the open-source community.
- Why dual licensing?
We -- like other companies -- believe that dual licensing gives both developers and users the best of two worlds. While anyone is free to look at the code and even improve it, commercial licenses support the company and allow for professional maintenance and support. The open-source community gets more high-quality free software at no cost, while businesses can rely on quality support from our first-hand developers. Both worlds profit from each other: The commercial licenses support both our business, and the open-source community, and vice versa.
- Will the licensing terms of VirtualBox be changed in the future?
We are not currently planning to do so, but it doesn't really matter. Any code that was once released under the GPL cannot be "closed" again. The license that Oracle has granted you with the GPL is perpetual and cannot be taken back. Even if Oracle were to change the license again, this could only affect future versions, and anybody would still be permitted to redistribute the existing VirtualBox code under the terms of the GPL.
- What exactly do you mean by personal use and academic use in the Personal Use and Evaluation License?
Personal use is when you install the product on one or more PCs yourself and you make use of it (or even your friend, sister and grandmother). It doesn't matter whether you just use it for fun or run your multi-million euro business with it. Also, if you install it on your work PC at some large company, this is still personal use. However, if you are an administrator and want to deploy it to the 500 desktops in your company, this would no longer qualify as personal use. Well, you could ask each of your 500 employees to install VirtualBox but don't you think we deserve some money in this case? We'd even assist you with any issue you might have.
Use at academic institutions such as schools, colleges and universities by both teachers and students is covered. So in addition to the personal use which is always permitted, academic institutions may also choose to roll out the software in an automated way to make it available to its students and personnel.
- Can I redistribute the VirtualBox base package binaries?
Yes. The GPL allows you to download the VirtualBox binaries, including the right to redistribute these binaries as long as you adhere to the other terms and conditions of the GPL.
- Can I redistribute the VirtualBox extension pack?
No. The Personal Use and Evaluation License allows you to download the VirtualBox extension pack binaries for personal and academic use and for evaluation, but it does not give you the right to redistribute these binaries. So you may not put them onto your own websites or other mirrors. We do this because we would presently like to keep track of how many people are downloading these binaries.
- Which guidelines apply to the use of the name VirtualBox?
The term VirtualBox has been registered by Oracle as a trademark in various countries. It may be freely used together with the products available from this web site. However, if you choose to ship custom binaries and/or source code revisions of the product, Oracle reserves the right to deny use of the trademark VirtualBox. This might seem rather strict but we believe that it is important to avoid any kind of confusion arising from multiple versions of the same product coming from different sources.