Dual Licensing NetBeans IDE 6.0 under the CDDL and GPLv2 with Claspath Exception

Since launching NetBeans.org in 2000, the source code license for NetBeans has evolved from the open source Sun Public License to the open-source Common Development and Distribution License. With the release of NetBeans IDE 6.0 beta, we add the GNU Public License v.2 to the CDDL already in place. The majority of the NetBeans IDE 6.0 code is available under a dual license consisting of the Common Development and Distribution License ( CDDL) v1.0 and the GNU General Public License (GPL) v2.

Why change licenses?

  • The GPL v2.0 license will provide an additional option to vendors that are unable to work with NetBeans under the CDDL license.
  • Adding GPLv2 as a license option will make NetBeans even more Linux friendly.
  • Adding GPLv2 with Classpath exception to NetBeans will keep product portfolios and bundles consistent. Sun open sourced its JDK implementation under GPLv2 and the GlassFish project is dual-licensed under CDDL and GPLv2 with Classpath exception.

Both the CDDL and the GPLv2 are OSI-approved licenses that meet the requirements of the Open Source Definition.

Impact for Developers

We expect this change to have no significant impact on either projects using NetBeans software or developers writing software that integrates with NetBeans. The license notices required in source files will change - this is the only thing likely to affect developers' daily work.

Dual License Mini FAQ:

Q: What is the licensing change?
A: Sun introduces GPLv2 with Classpath exception for NetBeans as a second license option along with CDDL. GPL v2 is an open-source license. Please see the text of the license.

Q: Why does Sun want to dual license NetBeans under CDDL and GPLv2?
A:

  • The GPL v2.0 license will provide an additional option to vendors that are unable to work with NetBeans under the CDDL license.
  • Adding GPLv2 as a license option will make NetBeans even more Linux friendly.
  • Adding GPLv2 with Classpath exception to NetBeans will keep product portfolios and bundles consistent. Sun open sourced its JDK implementation under GPLv2 and the GlassFish project is dual-licensed under CDDL and GPLv2 with Classpath exception.

Q: What is the Classpath exception?
A: The Classpath exception was developed by the Free Software Foundation's GNU/Classpath Project. It allows you to link an application available under any license to a library that is part of software licensed under GPL v2, without that application being subject to the GPL's requirement to be itself offered to the public under the GPL.

Q: Why is the Classpath exception necessary?
A: If an application needs to be distributed with parts of NetBeans under GPL v2, that application could be subject to the requirements of the GPL that all code that is shipped as part of a "work based on the [GPL] program" also be GPL licensed. Accordingly, a GPL license exception is needed that specifically excludes from this licensing requirement any application that links to the GPL implementation. The Classpath exception accomplishes this. This would be, for example, important for module developers, that are always linking with NetBeans APIs, but also for those that build applications on top of the NetBeans Platform.

Q: How will adding GPL v2 affect current distributions?
A: It will not affect current distributions. Current and future distributions will still be available under CDDL. New distributions starting with NetBeans 6.0 will be available under both CDDL and GPLv2 with Classpath exception.

Q: How can something be released under two licenses?
A: Dual-licensing is the practice of distributing identical software under two (or more) different sets of terms and conditions. When software is dual-licensed, recipients can choose which terms under which they want to obtain the software. The two usual motivations for dual-licensing are business models and licence compatibility. In the case of NetBeans, we're distributing the code under two licenses, CDDL and GPLv2 with Classpath Exception, for license compatibility. That will allow code from differently licensed free software projects to be combined with NetBeans, and will give our users the choice to pick a license that they feel more comfortable with. Sun is adding GPLv2 as the option, since as a matter of policy, Sun never takes rights away, so the NetBeans code will continue to be available under the CDDL license.

More Information

By use of this website, you agree to the NetBeans Policies and Terms of Use. © 2013, Oracle Corporation and/or its affiliates. Sponsored by Oracle logo