Pentaho open source BI moves from Mozilla to GPL


The move away from Mozilla open source licenses continues today with open source Business Intelligence (BI) vendor Pentaho moving to the GPL. It’s a sign of the times that professional open source vendors are embracing the GPL and leaving behind licenses that don’t demand reciprocity.

Pentaho had been available under an MPL (Mozilla Public License) and as of the upcoming release they’ll be on the GPL — but get this – they’re moving to GPLv2 and not GPLv3. According to a FAQ on the transition:

GPLv2 is more compatible with more of our partners’ licenses and community open source distributions than GPLv3 is today.. Pentaho could move the platform components mentioned above to GPLv3 at a later date, based on partner and community feedback.

In their FAQ, Pentaho notes the reason for the move is due to the widespread adoption and understanding of the GPL. Frankly I think that reason is a little lame – considering that the GPL was widely adopted and understood when Pentaho adopted the MPL in the first place.

Pentaho also cites, what I think is the ‘real’ driver:

Because the
GPL is what’s known as a “reciprocal license” it ensures that the
software is open and remains open.

With an MPL license  a developer could take the code, make modification and not contribute those changes back to the community. With the GPL that’s not possible. If you modify GPL code you must contribute those changes back. Reciprocity protects users and it protects the vendor as well ensuring that the code remains free.

The other driver IMHO could well be to help itself against the ‘other’ open source BI player – namely JasperSoft. The JasperSoft Community Edition is already licensed under the GPL.

Pentaho is the latest in a string of vendors that have moved from MPL (or MPL plus attribution) to the GPL in recent years. In February of 2007, Alfresco moved to the GPL, SugarCRM also moved to GPL in 2007 (though they chose GPLv3).

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