Shift to GPLv2: NetBeans GPL'd

by Tim O'Brien

From Sun Microsystems: Netbeans out under GPLv2 with the option to use it under CDDL. For those of you who don't know what that means, I'll quote from the Sun Microsystem's FAQ:

2. Why does Sun want to dual license NetBeans software under CDDL and GPLv2 with Classpath Exception?

The GPL v2 license will provide an additional option to vendors that are unable to work with NetBeans software under the CDDL license.

Adding GPLv2 as a license option will make NetBeans software even more Linux friendly.

Adding GPLv2 with Classpath exception to NetBeans software will keep product portfolios and bundles consistent. Sun open sourced its JDK implementation under GPLv2 and the GlassFish project is dual-licensed under CDDL and GPLv2 with Classpath exception.


This is a big deal, the NetBeans codebase is massive, and opening it up with GPLv2 means that the open source "ecosystem" just got that much larger. Most of the programming audience isn't going to jump at licensing news, but releasing NetBeans under GPLv2 might just have a bigger immediate effect than GPL'ing the JDK. Sun's moving in the right direction.


7 Comments

cooper
2007-10-26 15:47:58
"but releasing NetBeans under GPLv2 might just have a bigger immediate effect than GPL’ing the JDK."


You think? I mean, for people that care, free as in beer is almost good enough for NetBeans. Until there is a full GPL JDK, though, all the great stuff Sun has in the open source world won't *really* make their way out into a lot of the FLOSS world because of the lack of runtime (See also: Glassfish).


I think the GPL is a good move for Sun, pretty much across the board, but, for the momement, this doesn't seem earth shattering. I will be more curious to see how big of a dent NB6 makes in TextMate's user base. I know most of the Ruby people I talk to have no plans to switch.

Henri Yandell
2007-10-26 21:51:44
So... what kind of companies can deal with GPL but can't deal with CDDL?


The only ones I can think of are ones who are tying GPL'd works to Netbeans (there's not a lot of GPL'd Java to tie) or that there's a lot of people out there wanting to release GPL'd Java projects, which I've not noticed.

Tim O'Brien
2007-10-27 08:27:29
@cooper, I don't think NetBeans itself is a compelling story. I use Eclipse myself. The story here is the codebase. If I'm going to create a library, let's say something like a GPL'd version of a utility to manage Tomcat instances. It is now a realistic option to farm some code from the extensive Tomcat integration code in the NetBeans CVS repository. In other words, the GPL-friendly Java open source community now gained access to a huge code base, much of which isn't entirely focused on the IDE.


What's not full about the JDK at the moment? Are you still avoiding it because of the various binary bits involved in the OpenJDK build? If you are, take a look at IcedTea.


Tim O'Brien
2007-10-27 08:42:05
@Henri,


> So... what kind of companies can deal with GPL but
> can't deal with CDDL?


A few reasons. First familiarity. Poll any collection of legal experts familiar with open source. Ask them each to tell you about the important features of the GPL. The ask them to tell you the important features of the CDDL. I'm going to bet that a large majority are not going to be familiar with the CDDL.


Second, think of the target here. Sun's priority is to make sure that Java and Linux play very well together.


Third, see my response to cooper, it isn't NetBeans that is the big win. (I don't use NetBeans) It is the code. Say you are working at a company that wants to farm some of this code, you are much more likely to feel comfortable farming the code to a limited subcomponent and releasing that subcomponent under GPL than you would be if you had to navigate the CDDL.


(But the first reason is primary, in most organizations it is difficult enough to get legal to understand GPL and the Apache License throw the MPL and the CDDL at them, and they are liable to just start rejecting requests.)


> The only ones I can think of are ones who are tying GPL'd
> works to Netbeans (there's not a lot of GPL'd Java to tie)
> or that there's a lot of people out there wanting to release
> GPL'd Java projects, which I've not noticed.


To me this is more about code farming than the NetBeans product.


Another assumption I'm making is that Sun's selection of GPL as a base is going to affect the "ecosystem" over the next few years. I think it will, regardless of what you or I think about the various disadvantages of the GPLv2 when compared to the ASLv2. If Java lasts (which I think it will), I predict more and more people starting Java projects under the same license as the JDK.

cooper
2007-10-27 20:38:44
Tim:
What's not full about the JDK at the moment? Are you still avoiding it because of the various binary bits involved in the OpenJDK build? If you are, take a look at IcedTea.

*I* am not. Frankly when I was a Linux user, step 1 in setting up a box was "Go to blackdown/sun/whatever and get 'real' Java." However, for distros like Fedora, who ONLY ship OSI certified products, the binary only bits of OpenJDK are still a deal killer. Until there is a 100% FLOSS JDK, it is still out of bounds for a lot of the Linux world. It will get there, sure. However, for people like me who are NetBeans users and don't hold to such fundamentalist beliefs about what is on my box, it doesn't change anything.


My original point about NetBeans, though, is that GPL vs CDDL doesn't change anyone who might cares mind. However, the fact that you can't run NB without closes source bits does.

Jeff
2007-10-29 08:03:13
I agree with Tim, Netbeans GPLed will open lots of options in Linux OS for Java development. For example in Ubuntu Netbeans can be on the supported software on the main repository not anymore on the universe. So lots of people can access more easy to it and spread the word.
Tim O'Brien
2007-10-30 14:03:36
@cooper,


My original point about NetBeans, though, is that GPL vs CDDL doesn't change anyone who might cares mind. However, the fact that you can't run NB without closes source bits does.


You are making little sense in this post. "You can't run NB without close[d] source bits". What does that mean? Do you understand that we're not talking about GPL and CDDL, we're talking about GPL or CDDL?


Until there is a 100% FLOSS JDK, it is still out of bounds for a lot of the Linux world. It will get there, sure.


Alright, do you even know what the IcedTea project is? Robert, if you are going to comment on blog posts, it's probably a good idea to click on some links. Ok, so we have both RedHat and Ubuntu either distributing or repackaging Sun code, that's somehow not representative of "a lot of the Linux world".