Archive for November, 2007|Monthly archive page

GPL Vs BSD License

Disclaimer – I do not follow the religion(read Linux or BSD). I use Linux as an operating system by choice and not as religion.

A constant rift between BSD proponents and GPL proponents shows up almost every second week on Slashdot, osnews and where not.(even on freenode channels). Someone who has used both GPL and BSD licensed software for more than 4 years, i guess i am suitable enough to give a clear view for a newcomer.

Basic objection – BSD is more free than GPL and vice versa. Franklly thats ridiculous, because it depends on how you define “free”. If you want software to be free GPL is better than BSD. If you want use of software to be free BSD is better. So, see the whole point that X license is better than Y is moot here, unless you define the term “free” or for that matter any term which makes one license better than other.

Therefore on similar terms, proprietary license is better than GPL/BSD/MIT/Apache/XYZ in terms of “closeness” and “trade secrets”. The whole point boils down to fundamental reasoning of how you want a license to be employed.

Some people who write code get confused under which license should i publish my code, GPL or BSD? Well answer is simple. If you want it to be used by everyone and do not want your license to be a problem while it is being used in a closed sourced environment choose BSD. But if you want code to remain free, that is any modifications or linking to it should also be available like you made it available to the world, choose GPL.

I primarily gave my views on GPL and BSD, thus i am purposefully not including LGPL, AGPL, MIT, Apache License etc.

As a user i never cared what the license was as long as application was available to me and performed well. But once you start modifying the code , you ought to take into consideration of licensing issues.

So, next time you see a troll or a heated argument between GPL and BSD licensing proponents, you know what to do.