Monday, August 6, 2007

Welcome to Open Source 3.0

On June 29, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) concluded a community-based drafting, editing, and commentary process and released its GNU General Public License (GPL), version 3. Since then Black Duck is tracking more than 305 (as of today) free and open source software projects that have already published code under the new license. (Be aware of counts based on announced intentions, blog entries or less than rigorous spidering.)

If Open Source 1.0 started in 1989, when the original GPL was written by Richard Stallman, and the Open Source 2.0 period stretched from 1991 to mid-2007 when GPL 2.0 was dominant, then GPLv3 has ushered in a new era. I call it Open Source 3.0.

The conclusion of GPLV3 process and its launch has ramped up interest and demand for open source -- not just GPL, but for other open source projects as well. The reason? The elimination of uncertainty.

While enterprises have changed over time -- being more cost conscious, reducing the number of vendors in the supply chain, reusing more code, and rejecting incumbent vendor licensing models while adopting new ones (such as subscriptions) -- they still react negatively to uncertainty. And it appears that the advent of GPLv3 has slain the dragon of uncertainty and unleashed demand for open source and Black Duck technologies.

Since GPLv3 was introduced, we have seen a significant expansion of our business. Proprietary companies who want to remain proprietary, enterprises who want to embrace open source, and other components in between are engaging with us with new levels of interest. We are also seeing a new wave of open source development in the form of projects and ventures.

This rush of new customers is clear evidence that GPLv3 is knocking down legal hurdles and warming cold feet. Companies are now focused on code reuse instead of lawsuits. Trepidation is making way for innovation.

So if you're a company that is still sitting on the sidelines, wanting to use open source code but still unsure, I say: Welcome to Open Source 3.0. Come on in. The water's fine.

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