69% of Open Source Projects Are Under GPL, While Only 10% of Open Source Apps Used By Enterprises Are Under GPL
BROOMFIELD, Colo. May 16, 2011 - OpenLogic, Inc., a provider of enterprise open source software support, scanning, and governance solutions today announced the results of its new research into the popularity and adoption of various open source licenses. The company found that while the GNU General Public License (GPL) is chosen most often by open source developers for their code, enterprises most often use open source software under the Apache License.
In a study announced separately today, the 5th Annual North Bridge Future of Open Source Survey respondents believe that vendors developing open-source software will create more value by using a single open source license than by using dual licenses or "open core" licensing models. So considerations around choosing an open source license that will further open source adoption remain important.
OpenLogic analyzed which open source licenses are most used by enterprises versus those preferred by open source developers. Over two-thirds of open source projects are licensed under the GPL, which has created the impression that the GPL is the most popular open source license. However, the research examined data about enterprise usage and found that Apache-license projects were the most downloaded and most used in enterprise applications.
OpenLogic analyzed data on downloads from OpenLogic Exchange (OLEX) as well as enterprise usage of open source licenses uncovered by OpenLogic's OSS Discovery scanning tools. That enterprise data, based on OpenLogic's 200 enterprise customers, was compared to statistics on which licenses open source developers chose for their code as found in the OLEX repository of 350,000 open source projects.
Licenses chosen by open source developersAmong the 330,000 software packages available in OLEX, the GPL was by far the most popular license choice for developers, with 68.9% usage. Measured in this way, the top 5 open source licenses are:1. GPL (68.9%)2. Apache License (7.6%)3. LGPL (6.7%)4. BSD License (5.3%)5. MIT License (4.1%)
Licenses downloaded by usersHowever, when OpenLogic examined which software packages were being downloaded, the data told a very different story. Users downloading packages from OLEX most often chose packages using the Apache license. Measured in this way, the top 5 open source licenses according to enterprise downloads are:1. Apache License (32.7%)2. LGPL (21.0%)3. GPL (14.4%)4. BSD License (3.8%)5. MIT License (1.6%)
Licenses in enterprise applicationsDownloading software is one thing; actually using the software is another thing entirely. Thus, OpenLogic examined the data from enterprise scans using the OpenLogic Deep Discovery scanning tool in order to determine which open source licenses are most frequently used in enterprise applications. Measured in this way, the top 5 open source licenses in current use are:1. Apache License (15.3%)2. MIT License (10.8%)3. BSD License (10.5%)4. GPL (9.5%)5. LGPL (8.9%)
"This research reveals a license divide between open source developers and enterprises. Hands down, developers prefer using the GPL license for their code, but enterprises tend to avoid the GPL in favor of the Apache license or other liberal licenses," said Kim Weins, senior vice president of marketing at OpenLogic. "When you examine the data from enterprises using the OpenLogic Deep Discovery scanning tool, you are primarily capturing the use of open source by companies distributing software or electronics products containing software. These companies often try to avoid using open source licenses due to concerns about copyleft requirements and the impact on their own intellectual property."
"The take-away point is that simply counting the number of open source projects under a particular license does not tell the whole picture," said Weins. "These statistics indicate that GPL advocates have more work to do to convince enterprises to embrace the GPL. At the same time, they show that open source developers choosing more liberal licenses will lower the barriers to enterprise adoption."
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