Open-source license update Feb 21, 2017

With the upcoming version 17.02, Genode will adopt the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPLv3) as its regular open-source license.

Since our first release in 2008, Genode has been available under two flavors of licenses addressing different user bases. With Genode's regular open-source license, we address the Free-Software community, researchers, and technology enthusiasts. With the commercial license, Genode Labs enables product vendors to leverage Genode's technology for their businesses.

For our open-source license, we originally picked the time-tested GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2). However, the time did not stand still. After 9 years, it is time to update the license to a more recent version. After careful review of the open-source licensing landscape, we settled on the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPLv3), which is based on the GNU GPLv3 and thereby rectifies several shortcomings of the GPLv2. Furthermore, it closes loopholes of the GPLv3 license with respect to web applications. Unlike 2008 when most applications were programs executed directly on the end user's computer, web applications have become predominant by now.

To address possible concerns about the interoperability of the AGPLv3 with other open-source licenses, Genode's license will be accompanied with a linking-exception clause that clarifies our consent to link Genode with all commonly established open-source licenses.

In December, we presented our plan of the license change to the subscribers of Genode's mailing list. The following constructive discussion within the community helped us to refine our linking clause and to create a common understanding of the rationale behind our licensing choice. Thanks to everyone who participated in this discussion!