GPLv3 hits 50 percent adoption

The GPL has hit 50 percent adoption among its GPL-licensed open-source projects, which represents at least 56,000 open-source projects currently licensed under GPLv3.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay

In July 2007, version 3 of the GNU General Public License barely accounted for 164 projects. A year later, the number had climbed past 2,000 total projects. Today, as announced by Google open-source programs office manager Chris DiBona, the number of open-source projects licensed under GPLv3 is at least 56,000.

And that's just counting the projects hosted at Google Code.

In a hallway conversation with DiBona at OSCON, he told me roughly half of all projects on Google Code use the GPL and, of those, roughly half have moved to GPLv3, or 25 percent of all Google Code projects.

With more than 225,000 projects currently hosted at Google Code, that's a lot of GPLv3.

If we make the reasonable assumption that other open-source project repositories Sourceforge.net and Codehaus have similar GPLv3 adoption rates, the numbers of GPLv3 projects get very big, very fast.

The data becomes even more significant, however, when you consider the number of active projects on Google Code, Sourceforge, and elsewhere. Google's ratio of active projects is much higher than Sourceforge's, which generously sees maybe 12 percent of its total number of projects under active development.

Hence, even if GPLv3's overall numbers may still seem small compared with GPLv2, its share of active projects may be quite large.

My recent flirtations with Apache-style licensing notwithstanding, clearly there's life remaining in the GPL, and particularly Version 3.

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