David A. Wheeler's Blog

Thu, 19 Feb 2004

Modified “GPL-Compatible. Or Else” noting Apache and XFree86

I’ve just revised my paper Make Your Open Source Software GPL-Compatible. Or Else. Among other things, the new version notes the interesting events surrounding Apache and XFree86.

Apache has changed their license, claiming they’re now GPL-compatible; the FSF doesn’t agree that it’s compatible. Regardless of which version the courts will agree on, it’s clear that some people who deal with Apache’s license agree that GPL compatibility is important.

The XFree86 situation is even more muddled. David Dawes of XFree86 plans to change the XFree86 code license to be GPL-incompatible, and that’s started a firestorm.

I continue to use the original title, which only uses the term “Open Source Software” (OSS) instead of “OSS/FS”. The real reason for the original title is that when I submitted this to OsOpinion, they had strict size limits that I needed to adhere to. Although OsOpinion is no more (and only my copy survives), it’s still helpful for searchers to keep the same title. Besides, those who prefer the term “Free Software” don’t really need this explanation; people who use the term “Free Software” and intentionally use GPL-incompatible licenses are rare indeed, and almost always consider the ramifications of their decisions. This essay is aimed at those who have not fully considered the ramifications of choosing a GPL-incompatible license.

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