ExtJS: When open source is not open at all

ExtJS claims to be open source. It's not.

I was really excited to hear about ExtJS the other day. It was billed as an open-source JavaScript framework for building web applications. Great! I went to the company's website and learned that it's actually dual-licensed. Even better! Maximum licensing flexibility.

But then I went to the company's licensing page and things got murky really fast. It turns out that the ExtJS won't allow you to use Ext under its LGPL (3.0) license "[i]f you plan to distribute Ext in a product that will be packaged or sold as a software development library, toolkit or plug-in-based framework."

It's a bit like saying, "You can use this as open source so long as you use the software how we'd like you to use it. If you have any money, forget open source: pay us instead."

So how is this open source? This is a wholesale rejection of the Open Source Definition (#6). It's fine if ExtJS wants to distribute its software under a proprietary license, as it does today. But it's not fine for it to claim to be open source but then to constrain the use of its code in such a way that clearly makes it closed-source software.

Choose, ExtJS. Your current licensing model is not open source.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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