[Spread-users] Spread OS license & GPL incompatibility?

Eric Rybski rybskej at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 10 04:40:02 EDT 2009

   I'm working on an open-source project where Spread looks to be a great
fit for a distributed, shared-memory architecture.  However, after
thoroughly reviewing the open-source license, I sense potential conflict, as
this project is already GPL licensed.

   Based on my understanding, the Spread license is based on the original
BSD license w/ advertising clause.  This BSD license is documented as
incompatible with the GPL license (see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/license
-list.html) <http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/license-list.html>.  However,
without the advertising clause, the (modified) BSD license is compatible
with GPL.

At this point, it seems I won't be able to use Spread due to this small, but
sticky, advertising clause.  This is very disappointing.  Or perhaps I have
overlooked something?

Even the "alternate" license (
http://www.spread.org/license/apache_log_license.txt) for web-service
logging-only purposes seems too broad, also including the advertising
clause.  (Also, the alternate license is out of date, referencing Spread
3.13 or earlier; I assume all users would be using Spread 3.17.4 or 4.0,
given that these were released ~3 years ago.)

   Although I understand motivation to promote Spread toolkit and protect
intellectual rights via the current license advertising clause, I wonder
whether this may detriment continued adoption and growth of Spread in
open-source communities.

I have noticed that a variety of open-source Spread-based projects, such as
mod_log_spread or Spread client interfaces in different languages, seem to
out-of-date or unsupported.  This seems unusual given the apparently strong
community interest just 2-3+ years ago.  I suspect at this point that, at
least within open-source communities, interest in Spread may have diminished
some.  I've been wondering why.

Maybe it's due to potentially competitive messaging alternatives, such as
OpenAIS or AMQP, for which most (if not all) implementations are
GPL-licensed, exist today and have growing user bases.  Although these are
generally suited for more classic enterprise message-style architectures,
the overlap is significant enough for many common messaging projects to make
small nuances as licensing a decision point.

   Is there any interest in developing a dual-GPL/BSD Spread open-source
license?  A GPL license would allow other GPL projects to build on the
Spread toolkit.  The BSD license could remain unmodified, as it has its
place for environments wishing to internally modify the Spread source for
custom applications.

   I assume most customers interested in a serious (enterprise) Spread
deployment will consider encrypted communication and commercial support.
 Thus, any customer planning an enterprise-level deployment of a GPL'ed
project built on Spread may have interest in purchasing a commercial Spread
license.  This seems like a win-win situation for all parties, both
increasing potential Spread user-base and financially supporting Spread
toolkit development.

   I personally have found Spread's semantics and general ease of
installation and setup to be preferable to most other messaging frameworks.
 Also, the existence of generally stable client interfaces in most popular
languages makes for easy adoption and portability.

  It seems this topic came up a few times in the spread-users group over the
last several years, but without much discussion (if any).  Perhaps most
Spread users today are commercially-licensed, and the open-source community
is a significant minority?

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