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Samba will move to GPLv3

The Free Software Foundation's new license gets a major endorsement from a major server software project.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
2 min read
The new version 3 of the General Public License got a major endorsement Monday from the project leaders of Samba, widely used open-source software for networked file sharing and printing.

"After internal consideration in the Samba Team, we have decided to adopt the GPLv3 and LGPLv3 licenses for all future releases of Samba," said Jeremy Allison, a Samba project leader. "We feel this is an important change to help promote the interests of Samba and other free software."

The Free Software Foundation released GPLv3 in June, bringing significant changes regarding patents, compatibility with some other licenses, and the use of GPL software in consumer devices such as personal video recorders. With GPLv3 complete, attention now focuses on how widely adopted it will be.

Innumerable small free and open-source projects employ the GPL, but heavyweights such as Samba, the MySQL database, the Linux kernel and Java do as well. Linus Torvalds, leader of the Linux kernel project, has said he prefers GPLv2, released in 1991.

Samba will move to GPLv3 with its upcoming version 3.2, a release whose previous version number was to have been 3.0.29. "To be clear, all versions of Samba numbered 3.2 and later will be under the GPLv3; all versions of Samba numbered 3.0.x and before remain under the GPLv2," Samba said.

Because source code under GPLv2 and GPLv3 may not necessarily be freely intermixed, moving an open-source project from one license to another can be complicated.

The Samba team will continue to provide security fixes to the GPLv2 versions, but new features will be added only to the GPLv3 versions, the team said.

The Free Software Foundation has already released a number of elements of its Gnu's Not Unix (GNU) project under GPLv3, including the widely used "tar" command for compressing and decompressing files.