I am being asked to deploy Notepad++ (a software distributed under GPL) in an enterprise which is a SaaS company. Before doing so, I want to make sure our users wouldn't be violating the license in anyway so I looked around for the terms of use and what it is meant for and how it can be used etc..

I am not a legal person so possible I didn't read between the lines.

What I am trying to make sure is that, I use notepad++ as an IDE to create a software of my own and sell it commercially without violating GPL ?

  • 1
    You're asking two questions, neither of which is completely clear. It looks like you want to know about (a) distributing GPL software inside your company, and (b) using this GPL software as an IDE to develop your own proprietary software de novo. Is that right?
    – MadHatter
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 7:28
  • @madhatter I just need to know the second part. If our users would be violating GPL by using it as IDE there is no point distributing for me.
    – clhy
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 17:15

1 Answer 1


The GPL does not restrict how you may use the software, it only places conditions how you can distribute or modify the software. Thus, using a GPL-covered IDE to produce proprietary software is perfectly fine. Similarly, it is well-established that using GPL-covered compilers (like GCC) to compile proprietary software is perfectly fine. An editor, IDE, or compiler only processes your software as data, but does not insert GPL-covered material into your software that could cause your software to be subject to the GPL. There could be issues around included templates, snippets, or macros, but those are usually exempted from the license. As far as I can tell, Notepad++ does not have a built-in snippet library.

Allowing commercial use is not unique to the GPL. All open source licenses allow use for any purpose, including purposes like creating proprietary software. The “freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose” is the foundation of the Software Freedom concept. Similarly, the Open Source Definition forbids “Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor” (OSD #6).

  • Thanks a lot for taking time to answer this.
    – clhy
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 4:00

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