Friday, November 3, 2017

Can anyone use OSS in their product?

Use of open source (OSS) licensed software have gained widespread acceptance. Its no longer just for hobbyist and academic studies. R&D takes place much rapidly with these open knowledge available to masses but its very different from just copying the software when corporations and industry adopts OSS in their product.

Ever wonder why anyone would allow their codes formed from sweat and sleepless nights to be made available to everyone? Broadcom for example, provide their source codes and its become such a powerful references. Something to ponder, but lots of articles are around to help one understand.

If you intend to use OSS as part of a product that is sold (not the services) or distributed freely, there is the GPL and LGPL type of licensing type of OSS. A brief if not too broad explanation on the differences.

Products bundled with GPL type licensed OSS components and codes must distribute with the source code made available to the product recipient. Lets say, you develop a smart desktop suite called P99SmartDS that incorporates modified Mozilla Thunderbird to handle smtp and pop messaging to the desktop. Thunderbird expects you to ship the P99SmartDS with working source code and be licensed not more restrictive than that GPL licensed.

Products bundled with LGPL type licensed OSS component and codes must distribute with the license and library of that specific OSS component. Lets say, you develop a wireless driver interface and application to simplify configuration and its using a LGPL licensed OSS library. This application does not have to be OSS licensed.

Selling a product base on OSS is not just about submitting bugs or chats in forums. It sharing of knowledge gain via successful products. The OSS licensed is the guardian to ensure continuity of the freedom of choices and knowledge. Play your part to safe guard this freedom.

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