Wednesday, April 08, 2009

GPL is the new BSD

I know, I know, I promised I would not write about open source licenses anymore. The debate is over: AGPL is the license to use, let's move on. However, I still feel there is so much more education needed... So many people pick GPL without knowing what AGPL is, thus screwing the future of their projects in the cloud computing world ahead of us... It is sad to watch and sometimes I want to yell ;-)

Today I read a very nice (long) post by Jeremy Allison (of Samba fame).

The message is exactly my usual one: "GPL is the new BSD". GPL in a cloud computing world loses copyleft, and everything great that came with that (arguably, the entire free software and open source movements).

Jeremy wrotes:

For network services running in a cloud, [AGPL] brings back the fairness provision that the original GPL intended, and returns the freedom that Free Software promises to all users and developers.

Currently the AGPL is a minority license as compared to the GPL. Not much Free Software is currently written directly to serve cloud computing network services.

But cloud computing is going to change the industry in as profound a way as client server did in the late 1980s and 1990s. The ability to easily provision and scale up software services based on the Free Software LAMP stack (Linux / Apache / MySQL /PHP or Perl or Python) or more modern fare such as the open source Java software framework Hadoop is going to massively change the way software is developed. Of course at my day job, it already has for many of the engineers.

Even old fogies like me are going to have to learn some new tricks in this world. Free Software is going to have to adopt as well. I still have lots of Samba code to write first (no, Samba isn’t a finished product yet), but if I ever work on cloud computing code, I’d like to see it under the AGPL, in order to preserve the freedoms I’ve been able to enjoy in conventional software development these many years. Without the AGPL, our freedoms will depend on the kindness of strangers donating their modifications to our code back to us, as they did in the days before the GPL license and the FSF was born
Well said. GPL is going to be the new BSD. Google (his employer) will exploit it as long as possible. People should wake up and "give it an A". C'mon, AGPL is the way to go, just get over it and adopt it, so I can win my bet with Mark...