The Top Licenses on Github
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The Top Licenses on Github
by Jon Buys - Feb. 07, 2012Comments (2)
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Apparently, Apple has been slowly reducing the number of GPL licensed applications that are bundled with OS X. I’m not surprised by this news, especially considering that FreeBSD is doing the same thing. However, buried in the conversation on Hacker News was an interesting comment, that most, if not all, of the top projects on Github are either BSD or MIT licensed. My curiosity was piqued, and this was too good to pass up. Github has a handy page which ranks the most popular watched repositories. The projects listed range from the Linux kernel itself to CSS frameworks, and everything in between. Github also has a “Popular Forked” page, which lists the repositories that have been forked the greatest number of times, and an “Interesting” page, which I believe to be a combination of the two. (If I’m wrong about this, please let me know in the comments.) The breakdown of the projects and their associated licenses, as of February 2012, looks like this: MIT License Ruby on Rails Impress.js Devise Three.js Express Jekyll Chosen Socket.io Paperclip Formtastic Authlogic Raphael Cucumber Cancan Janus Foundation Node.js BackBone CoffeeScript Underscore Symfony Resque Compass will_paginate Sinatra BSD Style Blueprint CSS Redis Termkit D3 Django git-flow asi-http-request Apache License v2.0 Twitter Bootstrap Three20 Less.js Facebook PHP SDK Tornado Dual GPL and MIT jQuery jQuery Mobile jQuery UI No License Listed Homebrew Oh-my-zsh Gitignore I could not find a license on these three projects, if I missed it, please let me know in the comments. – Thanks! Public Domain HTML 5 Boilerplate Normalize.css GNU-AGPL v3 Diaspora PHP and Zend HipHop Dual BSD and MIT Modernizr GPL Linux If we move this list into a graph, the result looks like this: From this view, it is clear that MIT is the dominant license among the most popular projects on Github. MIT is followed, at a distance, by BSD and Apache. The JQuery libraries are available in a dual GPL/MIT license, depending on what the developers needs are. Only the Linux kernel is licensed under pure GPL. It would be easy to assume that this list shows a trend away from the GPL and towards the more open and free MIT/BSD style licenses, however, that logical leap would be foolish considering the projects listed. If, instead of counting the number of projects listed, we weighed each project by its impact on the world, the resulting graph might look more like this: The impact of the Linux kernel on the computing industry is hard to overestimate. The year of the Linux Desktop may never come, but Linux dominates in the data center, especially in web hosting data centers that many of the smaller projects listed above rely on. Linux is the foundation that allows most of the other projects to exist. What I am interested in is if the popularity of the BSD and MIT licenses is actually due to the simplicity of the license. They are short, easy to understand, and impose no real restrictions on the use of the code. Has the GPL become too complicated for its own good? I’m looking forward to the conversation.
bsd Apache MIT
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by Rami Sass on Feb. 09, 2012I think a lot of independent or small-groups of developers are not as interested in the ideology behind GPL and simply don't mind freely sharing their work without limiting it's distribution. Most of the time, if I want to release open source, I don't care for forcing it's potential users to be open themselves. I'd much rather get a larger community around it.
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by evan tanski on Feb. 10, 2012The GitHub list shows that MIT is the dominant license, followed at a distance by BSD and Apache. The J Query libraries are available in a dual GPL/MIT license, Only the Linux kernel is licensed under pure GPL.
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