NetBeans to become GPL!

I have been in the open source world for a long time. Pretty much since I first installed Slackware in my sophomore year of college (I'll leave calculating that year and my age as an exercise to the reader). I have always felt that open source and commercial interests, when managed properly, can have a wonderful balance that benefits both the consumer, developers, and companies. That's one of the reasons I came to work for Sun, in fact. At Sun I get paid to work on open source software, which was pretty much my dream since college.

Anyway, one of my big complaints with the way large companies deal with open source, including sometimes my employer Sun, is the unnecessary proliferation of licenses. The standard licenses are hard enough to understand with their annoying (but necessary) legalese. The last thing we need are more licenses that require coders to become lawyers if they want to use two products together. That's why I'm very happy to tell you that:

NetBeans will be released under the GPL v2 with Classpath Exception

It hasn't happened yet as we are still working out the final plans, but it's official and it's definitely going to happen. This is great for three reasons. First, you'll be able to get NetBeans under the GPL, just like you can get so many other great open source products. Second, GPLv2 + classpath exception is the exact same license that the JDK uses. This means more harmony with the rest of Sun's Java products. Third, this encourages the use of the GPL over other licenses which I hope will one day reduce the number of licenses out there in the world.

Okay, back to coding!


I linked to the FAQ in the header above, but I just wanted to make it expilict. Here's the FAQ on the change to GPL. And to further clarify, use of the GPL is optional. You can still use it under the CDDL if that works better for you.

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Posted August 17th, 2007