op5 and GPL

Posted: September 27, 2008 in FOSS
Tags: ,

op5; a network management/monitoring tool set developed on mighty Nagios. For me, the most important and interesting thing is the way they use open source concept.

What does op5 mean by open source,

With open source, we mean that the source code, which constitutes our products, is made available to our customers, who can utilize, read and modify the code. This assures the user that the program is doing what it should and is adjustable to fit the customers needs. Such modifications are commonly made by the original author, who may choose to make those adjustments a part of the official version. Find more information about the projects we build our products upon.

And see how they use GPL,

In GNU General Public License 2.0, it says (translated freely) that it is prohibited to withhold source codes from the user, if the source code is a development of the source code protected by GPL. One is not allowed to further spread the developed software or the original. However, there is nothing that states that one has to make one’s seperated and stand alone add ons available to the general public.

op5’s products are based on a number of different GPL licensed softwares. We develop functionality, which is normally added to one or more open source code programs. The code usually involves integrated functions, between several independent programs, in order to obtain added functionality and/or user-friendliness. Our source code is always available to our customers.

This introduces a few (but not trivial) problems and also shows how depth an enterprise can go with GPL. As I’m not an expert on legal matters, no serious comments will be raised here.

Anyway, at the end of the day, GPL has ended up as propriety license.

  1. I agree that the wording on the page you’re referring to is not the best one we’ve come up with. However, it doesn’t quite do us justice wrt how we work with the various communities.

    What we want to say with that page is that we use a lot of GPL’d source-code to build our products. All modifications to those projects are ofcourse freely available, although we prefer to get them included in the upstream project rather than carrying a bunch of patches. There is one exception to this, and that is the patch we apply to all UI-ish projects, replacing the default help/support links with our own. We’ve contacted the authors of all involved projects (actually only Nagios), and Ethan Galstad has agreed that it would be a bad idea to make that patch public and has granted us an exception for it. As he’s the copyright holder, it’s in his full right to grant whatever exceptions he wants from the license he’s chosen.

    We also want to point out that the source-code of our own addons (such as configuration tools, custom plugins etc), are also made available to the customer even though they are not always GPL’d. Since they’re not derivative works, we do not have to license them under the GPL.

    Fortunately, the inertia of the corporate minds at the top of op5 are slowly relenting, and we’re releasing more and more of our software as GPL’d opensource, available to the public free of charge and free of obligations. Check out http://www.op5.org for more info on that. You’ll find the source-code repositories under the “projects” link.

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