I am looking for a license for a small project.

As a mathematician with my collaborators we created some C code that allows one to simulate some equations. This code is pretty simple but allows for plenty of flexibility. It contains 5 files and more or less 10/15 functions.

We would like to upload it to an online repository (like Github, maybe you could proposed something else?) so that the community can use it.

We would like that anyone can use this code and modify it (the idea of the free), But we would like the chain of authors is respected! Each modifications and publications on a repository should cite the past authors.

Also this code use the Gnu Scientific Library, so it has to be compatible, right?

  1. Which kind of simple license is adapted?

  2. Other related question, we make a documentation of this code with the help of Doxygen. Do each file must contain authors and license?

  3. We would like to thanks our supporting institution. Does it possible to do that in compatibility with a license?

2 Answers 2


The Gnu Scientific Library is licensed under the GPLv3. This means that any work based on it should also be licensed under the GPLv3 if it's distributed, so that's pretty much your only choice.

This license does meet all your criteria (possibly apart from "simple").

The documentation can be covered by this license as well, or could be separately licensed. Documentation doesn't have to be under the GPL if the source material is under the GPL. Other options are the Gnu Free Documentation License (GFDL), or a creative commons license, for example CC BY-SA.

All these licenses require that attribution is left intact, though for the GFDL, only the 5 most important contributors have to be listed.

Using Doxygen places no restrictions. I believe it's a good idea to list copyright information (author(s) and license name and link) on each documentation page.

Obviously you're allowed to thank whoever you like. You are allowed to do this with any license. Someone might be able to take the software, and remove your "special thanks" from it though.

  • Thank you very much for your answer! I was not aware about the GSL license, because we just provide the source of our code, with some functions from the GSL. But we do not distribute nor modify the GSL... It applies to?
    Nov 4, 2015 at 2:38
  • 1
    @EGANTHIN Yes, it would still apply. The GPL is a sort of 'viral' license: anything that even calls its functions must be licensed under the GPL as well.
    – Zizouz212
    Nov 4, 2015 at 2:42

the MIT license is more liberal and allows everybody to utilize it but give you credit. while GPLv2 forces users to share modified works.

  • Unfortunately, neither of these are viable options, because of the GNU library being licensed under GPLv3.
    – ArtOfCode
    May 23, 2016 at 8:27

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