License preference among Github users


Github is one of the most popular platforms for hosting open-source projects. An old blog post points to a chart of the popular licenses used. I wonder why MIT is so popular and why GPLv2 is preferred over GPLv3.


MIT I can understand. Most corporate companies prefer MIT licensed projects over GPL licensed.

Infact most of them asked only to use the compiled binaries of GPL licensed projects, and not to play with source. I still dont understand why they do that, but this is really a weird reason a lot of my friends have told.


The way MIT people look at freedom is different from the way the GPL people look at freedom. And they look at the concept of reasonable restrictions also differently. In their view, MIT / BSD is more free than GPL. People want their software to be used widely and GPL puts restrictions that can’t be worked around.


Copyleft protection offered by the GPL licenses protects software freedom by preventing others from incorporating your work into a proprietary code base. This is a good thing and is essential for free software to survive in today’s world. Many people don’t get this and fall to using permissive licenses (such as MIT) that in the long run weaken the cause of software freedom.


Its a kind of game play between licenses practised by people taking different philosophies. As @arunisaac says, each individual or group “looks freedom differently”… :slightly_smiling:

One way to see this is – those who have followed a business model the “open source” way, has to centralize their service and moreover may have to create a black box, while giving the user end piece freely. GPL cannot allow that at all. Its is neutral. While MIT/BSD takes it differently. Eventhough GPL does supports financial capitalization, it depends upon the people who look at it - which so far have made “FOC” as a principal side affect.

Their central service is the way by which they earn their financial income through Access + offering support services.

Is there any model that supports GPL as well as making a good financial income for the maker/individual/group/firm/startup. ??? apart from : crowdsourcing, support service, donation funding ???
May be new business models has to be generated… :wink:


Conversations has an interesting business model. It is a “paid app” (non-gratis) if you download it from Google Play. However, the source code is fully free (libre) and licensed under the GPL3. So, it is fully free software, and no conditions apply if you download and build the app on your own. Therefore, fdroid builds the app from source and distributes it gratis on its repos.

In addition to this, the developer also accepts donations and is available for hire for anything to do with the app.


use the compiled binaries of GPL licensed projects, … not… play with source.

If I download the GPL source code, and if I am involved in development of a project similar to the one that I downloaded, it could be viewed that I used the GPL licensed source to make the new one.
Hence I would have to release the source in GPL.

But MIT or BSD license are permissive.


I am not sure if the “Conversations” satisfy this:

as well as making a good financial income

Given that the number of installs is between 5,000 & 10,000, we can’t be sure if it has a great business model…



Is there any model that supports GPL as well as making a good financial income for the maker/individual/group/firm/startup

Models of Canonical, Redhat, e.t.c.

And there is Google ( though it hadn’t made much money out of those projects, yet)


Ubuntu has gone very far from its original agenda. Now, they even make proprietary software available in their app stores. This is unethical. If you can use Canonical’s model minus all the unethical proprietary stuff, then it’s ok.

Making money by spying on people and building profiles of them is without doubt unethical.

5000 to 10000 downloads at 150 rupees per copy is 7.5 to 15 lakhs. Not bad, I’d say. With free software, you probably won’t rake in the billions like Microsoft, Apple, Google or Facebook. But, that’s ok. Even if we make less money, it’s good, because we earn our money ethically.

In any case, comparing Conversations to something like Microsoft is not fair. Conversations is one small app, whereas Microsoft is a whole operating system and many other products. So, any comparison should be normalized by the “size” (say, lines of code) of the products involved.

This is exactly why the GPL is a good free software license. GPL prevents others from taking the hard work of free software developers and making it proprietary software. If “bad people” want to deprive users of their freedom, let them do it on their own. Why should we free software developers help them?

Some people believe the GPL is unnecessary and think companies would support free software even if it is under a permissive license. I disagree. Here are two prominent examples of the GPL ensuring that more software is free software:

  • Why Clisp is under GPL : This is the story of how clisp, a common lisp implementation, because of the GPL.
  • Objective C in GCC was built by Apple and became free software because of the GPL. This is also mentioned in the earlier link.