GPL v3 – One Year later

The past year has been amazing for me – I made the move to the west coast, changed careers, and have had some of the most fun of my life being part of the team here at Sugar.

This week also marks, thanks to Black Duck Software reminding me, that the GPL v3 is now one year old.

The new version of the GPL has made serious strides in its year, with a lot of projects (including SugarCRM) opting for the latest GPL version.

Here’s some stats, courtesy of Black Duck:

  • GPL use holds steadyThe GPL family of licenses is the most widely used in open source, with about 70 percent of all open source projects covered by GPL, Lesser GPL (LGPL) or Affero GPL (AGPL) licenses. When considering all GPL licenses together, the total figure is essentially unchanged over the past year.
  • Thousands choose v3Since the release of GPLv3, 2,345 open source projects have opted to use the license. The number of projects covered by GPLv3 has been growing at a rate of about 20 percent per month over the past six months. Ubuntu, SugarCRM, Samba and Funambol are a few of the widely used projects that have selected GPLv3.
  • Yet most remain with v2Approximately 58 percent of open source projects today are covered by GPLv2 and an additional 11 percent by LGPLv2. Most of the widely used open source projects, including Linux, JBoss and Hibernate, remain with version two.
  • Use of GPL licenses is increasingly splitWhile the overall number of projects that select AGPL is still relatively small, its use is clearly on the upswing, with adoption accelerating from a few per month at end of 2007 to almost 20 per month in recent months. The Affero license addresses licensing issues specific to online vendors.
  • Dual licensing on the riseThe GPL is a reciprocal license that compels developers to return changes they make to the code to the open source community. Other licenses, such as Apache, Berkeley and Mozilla, are more permissivedevelopers have more flexibility to change code and apply that code as they choose. Open source vendors such as MySQL, SugarCRM and Pentaho increasingly license free versions of their products under the GPL to allow potential customers to test the software, but then use a different license for the commercial version.

I think we are well on the way to curbing what was a serious case of license proliferation in the market. I was happy that SugarCRM made the move to GPL v3 last year, and am glad to see other companies and projects follow suit.