OpenSUSE Henceforth Without EULA

Nov 27, 2008

Free Linux distro openSUSE will from now on release without an end-user license agreement. The project will be using the same license notice as their competitor Fedora.

Software installation commonly involves completing an End-User License Agreement (EULA), mostly with just mouse clicks, but often requiring registration of personal data. The open source openSUSE has been no exception. Things will change as of version 11.1, however. "The days of agreeing to a click-through EULA for openSUSE are over!" says community manager Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier in his Spotlight forum. A click-through EULA will be replaced by a simple license notice. According to Zonker, users will be made aware of the rights associated with the free and open source software (FOSS) license notice that will be displayed. The inclusive package from openSUSE consisting of the OS itself together with numerous free software packages will be licensed under GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2). Additionally third-party-software will be under their individual licenses. Also new is that the main DVD will contain only software that users can distribute freely. According to Zonker, "We now have a license that presents no obstacle to redistribution, and no obstacle for modification."

The similarity of openSUSE's licensing with that of Fedora's is no coincidence. Despite their competition, they still have Linux in common. Consider their histories. OpenSUSE is Novell's version of a free Linux that is the code basis for the commercial SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), while the free Fedora project plays a similar role for Red Hat’s RHEL. At least the leaders of the respective communities felt it was
time to collaborate on licensing. Hence, Zonker was quick to thank Fedora project leader Paul Frields for his cooperation.

Zonker cites a number of reasons for the FOSS licensing choice. One is that there was no point in reinventing the wheel, another is that Fedora offered the license freely. "Fedora’s license has worked for them, and there’s no reason it wouldn’t work for us. Reuse is one of the strengths of our community, after all," he explained. He also advised other projects to adopt a similar strategy, perhaps alluding to a recent licensing brouhaha at Ubuntu where users were faced with the possibility of having to address a Mozilla EULA during installation. Mozilla's decision was short lived. After some protest, it retracted the EULA plan (see article).

The issue has been settled at openSUSE, and Zonker promises that trademarks will come next: "We are also working on trademark guidelines that clarify how and when the openSUSE marks can be used, and we’ll be releasing those shortly." Zonker is happy with the new licensing for openSUSE 11.1 and ends emphatically with "The EULA is dead, long live the new and improved license notice!"

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  • About time

    Yes, this has had a negative effect in the past, I can vouch for that. The change would certainly make it more appealing to me personally. Good on them.
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