What Does GPL3 Mean for the Enterprise?
The discussion and debate over the wording of GPL3 has crept into the mainstream tech news, which is a bit surprising. After all, it's just a software license. There are hundreds of software licenses, and in my opinion the ones that should be making the news and generating outrage are the standard EULAs (End-User License Agreements) that infest commercial, closed-sourced software. These EULAs disclaim all responsibility, restrict customer's rights beyond what the law permits, and are often packaged in ways that makes them difficult to find, let alone read or "agree" to. But unlike the closed-source proprietary world, the free and open source software community conducts its business in public. Often noisily, or as I like to say "we will end no whine before its time."
The General Public License, more frequently referred to by its acronym, GPL, has been around for almost two decades. It's remarkable for its simplicity and effectiveness. I give it credit for the abundance, quality and success of free software. (That's, free as in freedom.) And so we have a huge body of excellent community-developed code; thousands of excellent servers, databases, applications, utilities, and hardware drivers, and hundreds of Linux distributions suitable for every occasion, from tiny embedded devices to mondo mainframes.