Why GPL v2 Frequently Asked Questions
1. What license change is being proposed?
Sun proposes to introduce GPLv2 with Classpath exception for
as a second license
option along with CDDL. GPL v2 is an open-source license. Please see http://opensource.org/licenses/gpl-license.php
for the text of the
2. Why does Sun want to dual license
NetBeans software under CDDL and GPLv2 with Classpath Exception?
The GPL v2 license will provide an additional option to vendors
that are unable to work with NetBeans software under the CDDL license.
Adding GPLv2 as a license option will make NetBeans software even more
Adding GPLv2 with Classpath exception to NetBeans software will keep
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
3. What is the Classpath exception?
The Classpath exception was developed by the Free Software
Foundation's GNU/Classpath Project (see
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.
4. Why is the Classpath exception
If an application needs to be distributed with parts of NetBeans software
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
5. How will adding GPL v2 affect current
It will not affect current distributions. Current and future
distributions will still be available under
CDDL. New distributions, starting with the NetBeans 6.0 release, will be available
under both CDDL and GPLv2 with Classpath exception.
6. How can something be released under
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 license compatibility.
In the case of NetBeans software, 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 software, 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.