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Gnucash for Android, now with Apache License, version 2.0

Posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 in Coding

Yes you read that right. As from commit 9015977cf7, GnucashMobile for Android is now using the Apache license version 2.0. After some research and discussion with the community, I pulled the trigger today.

You are probably wondering why something with GNU in its name is using the Apache license instead of the GPL license. Well there are a few reasons for this switch. IANAL, but in the following paragraphs I will attempt to explain this decision.

First of all, Android itself (apart from the Linux kernel) is licensed with the Apache license. This has led to a big ecosystem of open source Android applications which use the APL2 license as well. With this is mind, using the APL2 just made sense. It enables easy reuse of of various libraries and allows other Android applications to easily make use of components of GnucashMobile with having to change their own license. We have come a long way from days where “Linux is a cancer” and today, there are a lot of businesses built on open source software.

The APL2 license will enable much broader scope of reuse of the code  (commercial or otherwise). Generally, the more people are using software, the more refined it will become. In my opinion, this benefits the original software anyway you slice it. Also, I would like people to contribute back to the software not necessarily because they have to, but rather because they benefitted from it and feel like giving back. That, I think, is always the strongest motivation for contributing to open source software in the first place.

Gnucash for the desktop still uses the GNU GPL license. Mostly when applications are ported to mobile, they retain the license of the main application. But GnucashMobile for Android is not a port. I know there are many different opinions about this, and I am interested to hear them. So hammer away at your keyboards in the comments.

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Bring on the comments

  1. […] last alpha and introduces a new dark ActionBar theme. This is also the first test release under the new Apache 2 license. You need to uninstall any previous alpha releases before installing this version.You can grab it […]

  2. Maxim Cournoyer says:

    Hi! Please allow me to disrespectfully disagree with this change of license!

    It indeed appears backward that a software made to compliment another software part of the GNU project (GnuCash) be licensed under a permissive license instead of a copyleft one.

    To equal copyleft with business unfriendly compared to lax licenses is a common mistake. GPL does not hinder commercial use nor its success; it just requires a different business model in which locking-in users is not an option.

    On the mailing list, you wrote: “I prefer the Apache version 2 license as it seems to be the preferred open source license for Android libraries and applications.”

    I don’t think there’s such a thing as a preferred license for Android libraries and applications outside of core AOSP. Basing the choice of a project’s license on this assumption seems ill-informed.

    > The APL2 license will enable much broader
    > scope of reuse of the code

    I’m curious; were there other non-GPL projects expressing the wish to make code reuse?

    The ideas behind GNU (which, want it or not, is hinted at in the name of your project 🙂 stands for something much stronger and important than conformism, in my opinion!

    The fact that this is tagged with gsoc2012 also leads someone to think that this decision might have been influenced by external considerations.

    In the end, this is your personal decision, but as John Ralls, one of the main developers of GnuCash wrote, one of the argument to stick to the GPL would have been that “since everything else Gnucash is GPL, it makes sense for GnucashMobile to be so as well”. I wholly agree!


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