Life at Eclipse

Musings on the Eclipse Foundation, the community and the ecosystem

Eclipse and the GPL 3.0

Yesterday I was on a panel at the Open Source Business Conference with Eben Moglen, Diane Peters and Jim Harvie. The title of the session was “GPL 3.0: Directions, Implications, Casualties“, but what it was really about was providing a venue for the Free Software Foundation to talk publicly for the first time about the process that will be followed in creating the next versions of both the GPL and LGPL.

You can read a description of the process that Eben outlined in several articles, such as this one. Unfortunately, I was misquoted as saying that Eclipse would consider moving to GPL 3.0. At this point, I cannot imagine that happening. What I said in response to a question from the audience was that we would consider revisions to the EPL if that meant that we could combine our code with GPL and/or LGPL more easily. But for us to do anything along those lines would require some truly compelling benefits to justify the community work involved.

An obvious question is why was I there? Eclipse doesn’t use the GPL, so how does this impact our community? The fact is that this GPLv3 process is going to be a massive effort with potentially sweeping implications for both the free and open source communities. The FSF has said that as part of their process they want input from other communities, so we plan to be involved. How involved is still TBD.

This effort, along with the work going on at the OSI on license proliferation is going to mean that free and open source licensing issues are going to be a hotly debated topic for the next twelve to eighteen months. As one of the leading open source communities, Eclipse is going to be actively engaged in these conversations. It is going to be interesting to see how all this plays out.

Written by Mike Milinkovich

November 3, 2005 at 11:17 am

Posted in Foundation

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks for setting the quote straight, Mike, and for keeping an open mind about GPL-compatiblity.cheers,dalibor topic


    November 5, 2005 at 10:14 am

  2. It isn’t just proliferation –license incompatibility is a major”internal” threat faced by the freesoftware community. Eclipse is usuallythe example I hold up to people to explainwhy: with an IDE you can’t really thinkabout software in completely separableterms (“X is desktop software, Y isserver software, Z is embedded”, etc),as you will naturally want to end upintegrating bits of all of them.When you think about the “trulycompelling benefits” that licenseharmonization would provide, I’d askthat you would consider this from a verywide scope, and not just narrowly asin “what is in it for Eclipse this year?”.Right now we have several communities,but I think as free software comes toreally dominate the software landscapeas a whole, we will need to erase someof these distinctions. And in particularwe will need to lower legal barriersin addition to social and technical ones.

    Tom Tromey

    November 14, 2005 at 4:07 pm

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