GPLv3 Celebrates Two Years, GPLv2 Still in Front

Jul 01, 2009

In June of 2007, after many months delay, the Free Software Software Foundation released GPLv3. Since that time, the license has been gaining an increased following, but without much threat to GPLv2 in first place.

Open source knowledge base provider Black Duck Software confirms in a study of most commonly used open source licenses that GNU General PUblic License (GPL) 3.0 is in fifth place overall, with a little over five percent usage.

Unchallenged in first place, with half of all licenses, is still its predecessor GPL 2.0 that reigned alone for 16 years. The Lesser PGL (LPGL) 2.1 is in second place with around 10%. Chances are it will take GPLv3 a few more years to move up the ranks, but has already positioned itself just after BSD 2.0 at six percent.

The adoption rate of GPLv3 in software and projects increased from the 90 initial licenses in 2007 to 3,725 in June, 2008, to 9,755 in June, 2009, according to Black Duck calculations.

Related content

  • GPLv2 Less Popular

    Latest statistics from Black Duck Software show version 2 of the General Public License (GPLv2) sliding in popularity. Just under half of all the open source projects contained in the September 2009 statistics used the GPLv2.

  • New Qt Version 4.3.4 under GPLv3

    Trolltech is releasing version 4.3.4 of its GUI library under the version 3 of the GPL. Apart from this the makers of Qt have simply fixed bugs in the release.

  • Trolltech to release Qt under GPLv3

    As part of the KDE 4.0 release event, Trolltech CEO, Haavard Nord, announced that the Qt library would be released under GPLv3. Qt is an important framework for the KDE Linux desktop system.

  • The GPL and the birth of a revolution

    The GNU General Public License was born of the simple idea that freedom matters. Yet this simple tool for protecting freedom has another important feature that makes it even more powerful, and that is the ability to build communities.

  • Kernel News

    Chronicler Zack Brown reports on the latest news, views, dilemmas, and developments within the Linux kernel community.


  • Re: Missing Data

    I want to correct a misperception. In Davide Prina's comment he suggests that in creating Black Duck's KnowledgeBase of open source project information that we track only major sites such as Sourceforge and Codeplex. In fact we track over 4300 sites, many of which are single-project sites such as Asterix. See:

    Davide correctly points out an issue with the project descriptions on many sites, i.e., in mnay cases the project description refers to the wrong license. To correct this, Black Duck employs both people and analytical tools to review projects to determine the correct license, much as Davida did in his example. A better approach would be for OSS projects to employ more discipline in referencing the correct license.
  • Missing data

    Most of the GPL 2.0 (and also LGPL 2.1) is in reality "GPL 2.0 or any later version".
    So all this are also GPL 3.0 compatible or can be converted into strict GPL 3.0 by anyone.

    Sometime ago I have make some test and found that site like blackducksoftware do not consider a lot of tiny site like sourceforge but with few projects, also there are a lot of site with one single free software project that is not counted. I have found that there are project in sourceforge or similar site that are not considered with the real license they use. Also some project are counted more than once.

    I make an example of this mistakes: I take the project "A set of linguistics tools" on sourceforge (

    47 Dizionario cognomi italiani 03_01__2009_06_26 Affero General Public License 3.0

    not correct it is AGPL >= 3.0

    48 Dizionario italiano Mozilla 2_4_2007_09_01 GNU General Public License V3 or later


    49 Dizionario italiano per OOo 2_4_2007_09_01 GNU General Public License V3 or later

    But 48 and 49 are the same project packed into two different format

    50 Strumenti Linguistici DicOOo OOo2-pack_01_07__2008_11_29 GNU General Public License V3 or later

    But 50 is 49 + 51 (AGPL) + hypenator (LGPL)

    51 Thesaurus OOo 2.x.x 02_09_l_2008_11_29 GNU General Public License V3 or later

    wrong it is AGPL >= 3.0

    Also is missing a tool that let you extract wrong words from a text file and you can use some filter. I used it principally for finding Italian dictionary missing word, test heavy modification on Italian dictionary, ... but it can be used to check type mistake into a text in few seconds.

    This project is released as AGPL >= 3.0

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More