Updating Genode's license to AGPLv3 + open-source linking clause

ILYA Khlopotov ilya.khlopotov at ...9...
Wed Dec 14 16:01:52 CET 2016

hello Norman,

I am watching the GenodeOS for quite some time. A while ago I started a port of Erlang language to genode. Erlang is licensed under ASFv2. In order to compile it under GenodeOS it needs a c library.
please clarify how it would be possible to combine ASF and AGPL.

Best regards,

On December 14, 2016 1:54:16 AM PST, Norman Feske <norman.feske at ...1...> wrote:
>Dear community,
>with the upcoming release 17.02, we are planning to change Genode's
>open-source license.
>The current GPLv2 license
>The Genode OS Framework is currently licensed under the terms of the
>version 2 of the GNU General Public License. We originally picked this
>license in 2008 for the following reasons:
>* It captures the spirit of Free Software, which we deeply share with
>  the FSF. The license ultimately empowers the authors and the end
>  users of software. Genode would not exist without Free Software. It
>  is built on the shoulders of software like GCC, the GNU system, or
>  Linux. All software that we at Genode Labs develop is Free Software.
>* At the time of the first Genode release, the GPLv2 was a time-tested
>  and widely used license.
>* It enables the dual-licensing business model of Genode Labs. If
>  Genode is commercially leveraged for proprietary solutions, Genode
>  Labs benefits from the success of such products. This way, Genode
>  has a long-term strategy to fund its development without relying on
>  donations, public funding, or venture capital. We value this
>  independence as fundamental for the sustainability of our project.
>* Adopting the same license as Linux made a lot of sense because we
>  are routinely reusing Linux driver code inside Genode components.
>Affero General Public License
>The time did not stand still. The GPLv3 became widely spread and
>well-understood. It rectifies several shortcomings of the GPLv2.
>Furthermore, the Affero General Public License [1] closes loopholes of
>the GPL license with respect to web applications. Unlike 2008 when most
>applications were programs executed directly on the end user's
>web applications have become predominant by now.
>For Genode, we ignored the deficiencies of the GPLv2 for a long time.
>the same time, with more and more software being added to our "ports" -
>the library of 3rd-party software ported to Genode - the license
>compatibility question, which we tried to avoid for Linux kernel code,
>arises for other 3rd-party software that is combined with Genode.
>Admittedly, one reason for our hesitance was our fear of long-winded
>opinion-loaded discussions around the licensing topic. But we
>have to acknowledge that an update to a modern license and a
>clarification of our stance with respect to the interoperability of
>Genode with other Open-Source software is long overdue.
>The AGPLv3 encapsulates exactly the spirit, which originally attracted
>us to the GPL. After careful review, it makes perfect sense to use it
>for Genode. The following Wikipedia article nicely explains the
>rationale behind this license:
>  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affero_General_Public_License
>Addressing interoperability concerns
>Unlike most end-user software, which falls into a tangible category
>(application, library, kernel), Genode plays a special role. Not just
>because it is an operating system. But it is very unconventional at
>that: It is a collection of programs (Genode components). It is also a
>set of application libraries. It is also a "system library". It also
>comprises a dynamic linker. It may also be the kernel (i.e., our
>kernel). The lines between the categories become blurry.
>For this reason, we intend to add a linking clause to Genode's version
>of the AGPL license text, similar to the classpath linking exception
>restricted to software licenses that are blessed by the Open-Source
>Initiative, the Free Software Foundation, or Genode Labs.
>Inspired from the text of the classpath linking exception, our clause
>would look as follows:
>  Linking Genode code statically or dynamically with other modules
>  is making a combined work based on Genode. Thus, the terms and
>  conditions of the GNU Affero General Public License version 3
>  (AGPLv3) cover the whole combination.
>  As an "additional permission" as defined by Section 7 of the
>  AGPLv3, Genode Labs as the copyright holder of Genode gives you
>  permission to link Genode source code with "independent modules"
>  to produce an executable if the independent modules are licensed
>  under an "approved license", and to copy and distribute the
>  resulting executable under terms of your choice, provided that you
>  also meet, for each linked independent module, the terms and
>  conditions of the license of that module.
>  An "approved license" is a license that is officially approved as
>  an Open-Source license by the Open Source Initiative [1], or
>  listed as a Free-Software license by the Free Software Foundation
>  [2], or explicitly approved by Genode Labs.
>  An "independent module" is a module which is not derived from or
>  based on Genode.
>  If you modify Genode, you may extend this exception to your
>  version of Genode, but you are not obliged to do so. If you do not
>  wish to do so, delete this exception statement from your version.
>  [1] https://opensource.org/licenses
>  [2] https://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.en.html
>With this clause in place, we want to express our consent to use Genode
>in combination with other open-source software. Note, however, that -
>unlike the classpath exception clause, our clause excludes the
>combination of Genode with proprietary software. This is our deliberate
>With Genode becoming AGPLv3, we face the question of how to integrate
>3rd-party code (like GPLv2-licensed Linux device drivers) in a Genode
>component. To address this concern, Genode-specific glue code that is
>needed to integrate the 3rd-party code with the Genode API ("system
>library") will have a license that is compatible with both the license
>of the 3rd-party code and Genode's AGPLv3 as such glue code is a
>derivative of both Genode and the incorporated code, e.g., the MIT
>license. In line with the wording of the exception clause above, when
>distributing binaries of such components, the licenses of both Genode
>and the incorporated 3rd-party code must be respected.
>I hope that you support our plan to relicense Genode to AGPLv3 along
>with our linking exception clause. Should you have doubts about us
>taking this direction, please let me know.
>Best regards
>Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske
>Genode Labs
>http://www.genode-labs.com · http://genode.org
>Genode Labs GmbH · Amtsgericht Dresden · HRB 28424 · Sitz Dresden
>Geschäftsführer: Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske, Christian Helmuth
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Sent from my Android device with K-9 Mail. Please excuse my brevity.
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