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Open Source Developers Shun GPLv3, Survey Says

Sep 26, 2007 (09:09 AM EDT)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=202101921


Fearing the restrictions it places on their work, the majority of open source software developers do not plan to publish code in the next year under a controversial new license authored by the main governing body for open source and free software, according to a survey released Wednesday.

In addition, more than 40% of those surveyed said they won't ever publish their work under Version 3 of the General Public License, which was released earlier this year by the Free Software Foundation. "GPLv3 is controversial because it imposes restrictions on what you can do with programs," said John Andrews, CEO of survey taker Evans Data, in a statement.

Evans Data is an independent market research firm that conducts studies on a broad range of issues affecting the IT industry.

The survey found that only 6% of the 380 open source developers polled by Evans Data have adopted GPLv3 since it was published in June. Some 66% said they will not adopt it within the next year, and 43% said they will never use GPLv3.

Among the high profile developers that have previously said they are unlikely to adopt the new license is Linux kernel creator Linus Torvalds.

GPLv3 has produced a rift in the open source community between idealists who believe all software should be free of charge and free to use, and pragmatists who want to see open source software make further inroads into commercial use.

GPLv3 embodies the former point of view in that it stipulates that companies that use software covered by the license place no restrictions on end user access to the software. That has prompted some companies, including Tivo, to indicate that they may seek alternatives to the open source software used in their products.

Tivo does not allow end users to tamper with the digital rights management software embedded in its digital video recorders. Such a prohibition runs counter to the terms of GPLv3. The license also prohibits commercial distributors of software covered by GPLv3 from selectively striking patent deals with some end users and not others.

The stipulation was specifically intended to prevent Microsoft from making patent protection agreements such as the one it inked with Novell in 2006.

Microsoft claims that Linux and other open source programs violate its patents, but has offered indemnification to Linux distributors if they sign licensing pacts.

In addition to Novell, Linux distributors Xandros and Linspire have entered such arrangements with Microsoft.