All Questions

170
votes
9answers
30k views

I lost the source code for programs I released as GPL. What to do?

I wrote a software utility I released freely as GPL on a separate machine some ten years ago. But the machine I wrote it on is lost, and I can't find the source code on any of my backups. I am still ...
92
votes
8answers
7k views

How to contribute to Open Source as a non-programmer? [closed]

I really like a specific open source project and would like to contribute to it. Unfortunately I don't know anything about programming. What are meaningful ways in which a non-programmer can ...
80
votes
6answers
6k views

How can large open source projects be monetized?

Many open source projects I see involve having dedicated servers, as well as the expensive infrastructure that powers it. How are these projects monetized to cover the costs introduced during ...
77
votes
5answers
8k views

How can a “crayon” license be a problem?

Bruce Perens (co-founder of OSI) has coined the term "crayon license": I've been calling these "crayon licenses", taking a line from an old Monty Python sketch about a dog license with the word "...
70
votes
1answer
32k views

What are the essential differences between the BSD and MIT licences?

There are many articles out there which cover the topic in length and breadth, but so far I haven't found a nice, concise answer to the question. What are the most important differences between the ...
59
votes
4answers
9k views

How does GitHub's “forking right” cope with an “All rights reserved” project?

The GitHub FAQ states (emphasis mine): You're under no obligation to choose a license. It's your right not to include one with your code or project, but please be aware of the implications. ...
56
votes
5answers
19k views

Can I use GPL libraries in a closed source project if only the output is distributed?

If I create a closed source application which uses some GPL licensed libraries but don't actually distribute the software, only its output, can I keep the software closed sourced? Specifically, I am ...
56
votes
3answers
8k views

If I change the license of my project, can someone use the old license by navigating through Git history?

I am creating an open-source library in JavaScript and using Git to control versions and history. I have several commits in which the LICENSE file is X (for example, MIT), but I would like to change ...
54
votes
9answers
6k views

Why do some people refer to Linux as GNU/Linux?

In some cases I have noticed that some people say GNU/Linux instead of just Linux. Why is that so? Do both terms mean the same or is there a subtle difference?
53
votes
7answers
4k views

Is requiring a license a violation of the GPL? Can I get around it?

At work, we use a version of GCC provided by a vendor of a proprietary OS. The vendor has modified gcc so that it will only run if it successfully acquires one of a limited number of licenses we've ...
51
votes
3answers
1k views

How can I determine if two open source licenses are compatible with each other?

Given two open source projects, each with different licenses, are there metrics or resources I can use to determine if it is legitimate to copy code from one of the projects to the other?
50
votes
2answers
3k views

What can I assume if a publicly published project has no license?

There is some code on GitHub that I would like to use. The repository has no public declaration of license that I can find. But this particular project has over 200 forks and is a pretty active ...
50
votes
2answers
6k views

Why is CC BY-SA discouraged for code?

Everybody knows that you shouldn't use a CC BY-SA license on your code. Even the Creative Commons folk recommend against it. What I don't know or understand is why. I can't seem to find any ...
50
votes
3answers
3k views

Should I include license text in a single file or all source files?

Many licenses, such as Apache 2.0, have both a long and a short form. Typically, the long form is included in the repository as a single LICENSE file, and the short form is used in the actual source ...
48
votes
5answers
3k views

How can a project be relicensed?

I've found out that the license I picked for my project does not quite do what I wanted it do (bad research). Now I want to change the license. Is it as simple as changing the LICENSE.txt in the root?...
47
votes
4answers
5k views

Security of Github.com

Recently some non-technical managers where I work found out that Github has a repository with code from "Hidden Tear" which is a ransomware application. The immediate reaction was to ban GitHub, which ...
44
votes
10answers
9k views

Is GPL “for research purposes only” self-contradictory?

So I used a piece of software which claims to be open source and is licensed under "GPL for research purposes only". As far as I know, GPL 2 and 3 are not themselves free, in sense that you can't ...
44
votes
3answers
4k views

How to explain to users that we do this in our spare time?

Success can be painful for a FLOSS project. We now have nearly a thousand active users and many more people are becoming active contributors to our backlog/issue tracker. Note that while we're getting ...
41
votes
9answers
8k views

How can cheating be prevented in a FLOSS multiplayer game?

Hacking and cheating in online multiplayer games (that use the typical client-server model) is not uncommon. For example, in some first-person shooters there are "aimbots" that allow the player's ...
41
votes
9answers
1k views

Does open source qualify as being part of the public domain?

According to Google, Open Source is... denoting software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. It seems to be that the product seems to ...
41
votes
1answer
8k views

How to deal with contributors who write very bad quality code?

As a maintainer of an open source project which strictly enforces coding style and 100% test coverage, how do I deal with enthusiastic contributors who write terrible looking, untested code (that ...
40
votes
3answers
936 views

Can I “Override” a licensing policy?

On many sites, especially Stack Overflow, I can't help but notice such amazing code snippets. However, they come with a "catch" designed by the author. With user contributions being licensed with the ...
40
votes
5answers
16k views

Is Microsoft VS code really open source?

I have been using MS VS Code since a while now and I am I really loving it. Although the other day I was having a discussion regarding editors with my mentor where he pointed to me this. It's ...
38
votes
3answers
6k views

Is it socially acceptable to star your own repositories on GitHub?

While I'm searching for a new project to start contributing to, I often check the daily email I get from GitHub that lists the most popular repositories of the day and also the repositories starred by ...
38
votes
3answers
2k views

What can/should I do when I see a violation to GPL restrictions?

Some years ago, I was working on a software company that used some copyrighted JAR dependencies that they had bought from a medium-size obscure private company for a very expensive price. After some ...
38
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the right way to ask if a GitHub project is maintained?

It happens all the time. You come across a useful-looking project that has few or no recent commits, many long-open issues and pull requests, and nothing is changing. How do you usually ask if the ...
36
votes
7answers
3k views

How to react to unhelpful contributions to otherwise unnoticed projects

Time and again, it is noted how frustrating it seems to contributors when their contributions are rejected (e.g. here, here, or here). That is why I am somewhat undecided about how to handle a ...
34
votes
6answers
4k views

How can I get users to read the docs/FAQ before asking new questions?

I created an open source user management system for PHP which is (admittedly) directed towards novice programmers. The idea is to help familiarize "Cowboys from Code Canyon" with the tools and design ...
34
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I attract new programmers?

I am working on a project, currently by myself. It's a side project, I'm not expecting to make money on it. It's posted on GitHub, and I'm going to be building a project page for it. Once it's built, ...
34
votes
6answers
2k views

Is it possible to close an open source project?

If yes, what are the consequences of Open Source projects being discontinued, if it's done by a large organization? As per this post, the older version of project can still be used under the same old ...
34
votes
3answers
2k views

Should I include a copyright line in every file?

This is similar to my other question, but specifically about Copyright rather than Licensing. Typically, each source file contains a line of the form Copyright 2010-2015, Me Is this strictly ...
33
votes
6answers
1k views

Can I copy-paste a snippet from Stack Overflow into my GNU-GPL project?

I have found on Stack Overflow a 10-lines block of code that does exactly what I want. There is no license information in the post nor on the answerer's profile page, so the CC BY-SA 3.0 license of ...
33
votes
2answers
701 views

Can I change the caps to lowercase in licenses?

The well-known MIT (or "X11/MIT" license reads): Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), ...
30
votes
4answers
10k views

Is it legal to use GPL code in a proprietary, closed-source program by putting it in a separate, standalone program?

As we all know, the GNU General Public License (GPL) is a "copyleft" source license: which means it is designed not merely to make the code to which it is initially applied free and preserve its ...
30
votes
2answers
2k views

Report a security issue to a project hosted at GitHub

If I find a security issue in a Github project should I raise it in the project's issue tracker (where it's open to public scrutiny) or try to find private means to contact the repo's maintainer so ...
29
votes
4answers
7k views

Is illegally obtained GPLv2 software still subject to the terms and conditions of the GPL?

Let's say some company is developing a software component licensed under GPLv2. The company never intends to release the software to the public because they are only installing it on their internal ...
29
votes
3answers
1k views

Do I really need to include a licence file for common licences like GPL or MIT?

The GPL3, for example, says: Conveying Verbatim Copies. You may convey verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and ...
29
votes
2answers
8k views

What's the difference between Copyright and Licensing?

Preamble There are two other questions, specifically related to Licensing and Copyright. In reviewing the answers and comments, I get the feeling that people generally consider the two to be the ...
28
votes
7answers
3k views

Embedding GPL code in proprietary software

Here's a tricky situation that I didn't encounter before: My company embeds a piece of slightly modified GPLv3 code into their otherwise proprietary application. They don't link a library or ...
28
votes
4answers
1k views

FLOSS projects : How and where can I start contributing?

I'm new to the open source community. I've always wanted to contribute to successful existing open source projects. I thought that contribution to good open source projects was meant only for ...
28
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the difference between FOSS and FLOSS?

FOSS stands for "Free and Open Source Software", whereas FLOSS stands for "Free/Libre/Open Source Software". The use of libre denotes the idea that the software is "free as in free speech, not free ...
27
votes
10answers
9k views

Is there a generally accepted “anti-copyleft” clause or license?

I would like to publish code for an application under an open source license like BSD, MIT, or Apache 2 which allows for changes and derivative works to be contributed back to the open source project ...
27
votes
7answers
3k views

How is selling FLOSS packages for monetary compensation a viable strategy?

This question is about selling FLOSS and its source-code. According to Selling Free Software and commercial purpose, Free Software can be distributed with or without charge. My friend asked me two ...
26
votes
6answers
1k views

How can I convert users to contributors?

I run a project with a decently-sized userbase - a couple of hundred people, perhaps. It's regularly used by all users, and I've made it clear who developed it, where it can be found, and that it's ...
26
votes
4answers
1k views

If I include some GPL code in my project, can I release it as BSD?

I have scientific software that I would like to release under the BSD 3-clause licence, but it includes some old code that was released under GPL. Can I still package it all and release as BSD?
26
votes
5answers
309 views

How do I stop people from opening questions in the issue tracker?

I'm a collaborator in a pretty popular open source project hosted on GitHub. We have a problem where people constantly show up in the issue tracker and post questions about the library. Dealing with ...
25
votes
8answers
29k views

Can GPL licenced software be used in corporate environments?

If software is licenced under a GPL license, can it be used without restriction in a corporate/commercial environment? The software that I am refering to is QGIS which provides this description: ...
25
votes
10answers
5k views

Are open source developers at risk of being scammed?

Suppose your client asks you to build open source software for them. You begin doing the work and publishing updates on GitHub, but when you finish they tell you they don't like it and won't pay for ...
25
votes
2answers
4k views

Why doesn't this GPL loophole work?

Suppose Alice makes some proprietary software. The source is available, but under a proprietary license which prohibits derivative works and sublicensing. Bob writes some GPLv3 code. Carol prepares ...
25
votes
2answers
4k views

Do you violate the GPL if you provide source code that cannot be compiled?

In a recent question on programmers.SE†, it was asked whether a project is open source if it provides some source code but doesn't make it clear how to actually compile it. Consensus is that it'...

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