Random (and likely incoherent) thoughts on the LGPL debate

At this very moment, people are arguing on the Joomla Forum whether Joomla’s Framework should change their license to LGPL or not. The page has reached 17 pages now. Wow. Many posts. Much word. Very debate. Amaze.

Usually, threads on the forum die a quick and painless death, so you know there’s a fierce debate going on. In case you don’t want to read the entire thread, I will summarize it for you:

  • OSM publicly “polls” whether the community wants to “allow” this license change or not.
  • The anti-LGPL brigade strikes first.
  • A lot of people ‘comment’ +1. (Seriously, guys. That’s 2nd grade math. At least ^2 a vote if you want to have an impact)
  • The Pro-LGPL brigade presents their arguments for the change.
  • Some anti-LGPL people who know how to use the letters on their keyboard give their reasons why they’re against a license change. They’ve got some solid arguments.
  • People start discussing other things, as well (Oooh, popular forum post. This is my change to talk about something completely different!)
  • Seventeen pages later they’re still going back and forth.

The core issues of the discussion

  • The PLT Team wants to switch to the LGPL license. This would allow anyone to use the Framework within propiertary software. Basically, they can use it to build software that’s “not open.”
  • People want the Joomla Framework to rebrand as “something not the Joomla Framework.

The things I don’t get

People are opposing the change to the LGPL license because it would give certain people freedoms which they don’t have now. I always assumed that this “Freedom” played a central role in Open Source software. I never understood the different licenses. Open and Free is Open and Free, right?

Personally, I don’t see how this license change would damage Joomla. Worst case scenario (as far as I can see) is that someone can use the Framework, build something, and never give back any of the code. Isn’t the entire idea of a framework that it is used as the foundation of an application, and that you build your application around this specific Framework?

Would Joomla, as a whole, really be “damaged” if someone used it to build AwesomeApp3000 and he never contributed? How can someone damage your project by “not contributing?” Some people seem to think so, and I respect their opinion and sentiment. But the optimist in me says that maybe you’re opening the door for other, not-so-strictly-open-source developers to adapt the Framework. And, at some point, some of their work might flow back to said Framework. That’s not bad, right?

The Not-Joomla Framework

People suggest a name change, because it might impact the Joomla brand. Others want to keep everything under one roof. I am ot a marketing specialist, and maybe I’ve got a simple word view, but I imagine a world where the Joomla Framework can exist (under that name) next to the Joomla CMS without being confused.

It is basically what the situation is like today. There’s Joomla the CMS, and Joomla the Framework. Are people really confusing the both at this moment? I think the current “marketing” is doing a good enough job to separate the both. You download Joomla the CMS from Joomla.org, you find the Joomla Framework… wherever it’s at nowadays.

We should not take “protecting Joomla as a brand” too far. People “get” that there are different products, sharing a same name. People “get” that a Ford Mustang and a Ford V8 Engine are two different things. We should not underestimate the supposedly confused audience, to settle political scores.

Disclaimer

The post above are my personal musing on the topic(s) I’ve been following for a few days. I am not trying to convince anyone of anything. I don’t claim I “get” everything which is being discussed. I am not picking sides and I’m certainly not “trolling” anyone. Keep that in mind when commenting. 😀