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The GPLv3, One Year On

It's been a year since the GPLv3 was introduced to the open source world -- so how's it doing? That's the subject of two surveys currently being conducted to track open source license usage and conversion.

It's been a year since the GPLv3 was introduced to the open source world -- so how's it doing? That's the subject of two surveys currently being conducted to track open source license usage and conversion.

The first survey, conducted by Black Duck Software, shows the GPLv3 coming it at No. 7 out of the top 20 open source licenses used amongst projects polled. Not surprisingly, the GPLv2 filled the top slot by a gigantic margin -- 57.81% -- while the GPLv3 had a 1.82% share. That's still not too bad for a license that was only introduced a year ago; the same survey puts the Apache License at 2.77% and the Mozilla Public License at 1.29%. (Note that these numbers are from the data gathered on July 2 and may change in the future.)

The second survey, courtesy of Palamida, also features some detailed quotes from various software outfits about GPLv3 adoption. Some fairly famous names are in that list -- SugarCRM's Community Edition and Samba, for instance, have adopted Version 3, although there are still plenty of big names sticking with what they have. I'm not terribly surprised by this, since I didn't figure the GPLv3 was going to be an automatic upgrade for most people.

One thing that would be useful to know, although admittedly not the easiest thing to harvest, is activity statistics about the projects in question -- maybe by using the activity stats from Sourceforge if the project's hosted there. This would give us some idea of the degree of usage or participation for each project. It's one thing to say "2,800 open source projects use the GPLv3," but what percentage of those 2,800 projects are, say, part of the top 100 or even 500 projects at Sourceforge? (I tried to cull some information about that from Sourceforge, but from what I can tell it's difficult to search for GPLv2 vs. GPLv3 licensed projects; the results I got from a generic search were too miniscule for me to think I was doing the search correctly.)

Finally, a quick (and admittedly unscientific) glance at the lists of projects in both surveys shows a healthy mix of project types -- a little of everything under the sun, from what I can tell. It'll be interesting to see where things stand in another year -- or even by the end of this one.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing