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GNU is Not Unix Open Source Programming Software

Most Projects On GitHub Aren't Open Source Licensed 630

Posted by timothy
from the na-und-was-meinst-du? dept.
PCM2 writes "Kids these days just don't care about open source. That's the conclusion of the Software Freedom Law Center's Aaron Williamson, who analyzed some 1.7 million projects on GitHub and found that only about 15% of them had a clearly identifiable license in their top-level directories. And of the projects that did have licenses, the vast majority preferred permissive licenses such as the MIT, BSD, or Apache licenses, rather than the GPL. Has the younger generation given up on ideas like copyleft and Free Software? And if so, what can be done about it?" Not having an identifiable license is one thing, but it seems quite a stretch to say that choosing a permissive open source license is "not caring"; horses for courses.
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Most Projects On GitHub Aren't Open Source Licensed

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  • by Microlith (54737) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:39PM (#43484589)

    They've just noticed that licenses like BSD is better open source license than GPL.

    I love it when people take subjective opinion and present it as if it were fact. Going BSD does mean you give up on copyleft.

    BSD license is truly in the spirit of freedom. Anyone, either open or closed source projects, can use BSD licensed code.

    It depends on your goals. GPL is very clear in its intent to keep the sources of the software it covers open, and that necessarily excludes closed source projects.

  • by ssam (2723487) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:41PM (#43484613)

    I am sure most of those 1.7 million projects have no aspiration to become a real software project. do they have a website, mailing list/forum, releases, users? or are they just random little scripts, snippits and exercises, just put on line for the education of others?

    For a large piece of coding i might care about getting bug fixes back. for the script i use to sort my digital photos in to folders based on the date in their exif, and is 50% lines pasted from documentation or stack exchange, i don't care. if you want to know which licences are used for serious projects then grab the top hundred or thousand from ohloh and check them.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:41PM (#43484621)

    Unfortunately, commentary on licenses, particularly BSD vs. GPL, falls into the purview of Poe's law. They could be trolling, or they could be totally serious and there's no way to tell.

  • Re:BSD license (Score:5, Informative)

    by geek (5680) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:48PM (#43484709) Homepage

    I personally prefer the BSD license. To me freedom means "do whatever you want with it," as soon as you start attaching strings and restrictions it's no longer free.

    Then why not make it public domain? Why attach a license at all?

    Good question. Because without a specific license attached companies and individuals alike wont touch it. The default is "all rights reserved" meaning its not open unless specifically stated. You retain rights until you explicitly give them up. Hope that makes sense, I'm not a lawyer and may not have explained it in the best of terms.

  • by drakaan (688386) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:53PM (#43484791) Homepage Journal

    Closed-source projects can't be distributed under the GPL (that would be in direct conflict with the terms of the license...you have to make source code available, including any modifications you have made...at least for code that you distribute)...I think that's the degree of exclusion the OP was talking about.

    That doesn't mean you can't run a closed-source program on a GPL-licensed OS stack.

  • by Microlith (54737) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:54PM (#43484801)

    The GPL doesn't exclude closed source projects.

    It does. You can't take GPL sources and integrate them into a closed source product.

    Otherwise stuff like Word Perfect, Oracle, SimCity 3000, and Steam wouldn't exist for Linux. Free Software can co-exist quite peaceably with coders that want you to pay for their work.

    This suggests that you don't understand the point you're trying to make. The GPL does not cover the products you listed.

  • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn AT earthlink DOT net> on Thursday April 18, 2013 @01:58PM (#43484835)

    If you write the code, the GPL doesn't prevent you from including it in commercial products. You're the copyright holder, so you can relicense it to suit yourself.

  • by Minter92 (148860) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @02:03PM (#43484907)

    I have never liked the GPL and I've been involved in open source since the early 90s. I've never liked the GPL or really considered it a free license. It's a controlling license. Freedom is not "you are free because you have to do what we tell you." There are 3 types of licenses:

    closed/controlling
    open/controlling ie GPL
    free/open ie permissive license

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @02:05PM (#43484943) Journal

    It's a matter of trust - I trust that generally others will do the right thing, and good changes will come back.

    This is optimistic, like the tragedy of the commons. It's also worth mentioning that there are several times in history when companies used open source code, and wouldn't have given back if it weren't for the GPL requiring it. For example, that is why GCC includes Objective-C support. NeXT wouldn't have given that back at all if they weren't required.

    Microsoft released it's Hyper-V code [osnews.com] due to the GPL. They wouldn't have if the kernel had been BSD licensed. Many mobile companies only release the modifications to Android that are required under the GPL. If it weren't for the GPL, they likely wouldn't release the drivers either, and projects like CyanogenMod would be a lot harder. There's a long list of source code that we have because of the GPL.

  • by metrometro (1092237) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @02:18PM (#43485099)

    Most of what I've posted to Github was a snip of example code that I needed to share with exactly one person. The only real project I have there was AGPL, and it's an enormous piece of work. By project, I'm 5% open licensed. By lines-of-code, it's more like 99%.

  • by TemporalBeing (803363) <bm_witness@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Thursday April 18, 2013 @02:47PM (#43485461) Homepage Journal

    The GPL doesn't exclude closed source projects.

    It does. You can't take GPL sources and integrate them into a closed source product.

    While generally true, you can if it is for internal use only b/c then you are not distributing.

  • by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Thursday April 18, 2013 @04:05PM (#43486381) Homepage

    Wait, your first statement makes no sense. In a GPL *ONLY* world, you'd write GPL software. You'd use other GPL code to do so lowering your development costs. You'd likely charge for support and new additions of the software, but not selling it.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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