Donnie Berkholz of RedMonk has argued that the “infrastructure stack” needs an Affero LGPL to prevent the dreaded fragmentation. Do we? I’m not convinced that it’s necessary, desirable, or likely to catch on at all.
Donnie’s argument is that an Affero LGPL (as opposed to AGPL) would be workable because it would allow businesses add proprietary bits that link to the stack, but be forced to open up their changes to the actual infrastructure stack itself.
…what I propose would solve many of these problems is an Affero LGPL (ALGPL). Code using the LGPL, unlike the GPL it’s based upon, must stay open itself while allowing other code that links to it to stay closed. This provides for the potential of a forcibly open infrastructure stack that still enables companies to differentiate at higher layers. It means companies would be free to build products on top of it as long as they returned any modifications only to the ALGPL codebase itself.
While I like the intent to Donnie’s thinking, I don’t think that the problem is as dire as to introduce the need for a new license. Nor do I think businesses are likely to embrace a even more reciprocal license when they’ve been reluctant to embrace copyleft on infrastructure in the first place.
Many companies that contribute to open source IaaS projects don’t like copyleft. As an individual, I like copyleft licenses just fine. The reality is, though, that companies like SunGard aren’t comfortable with GPL – especially GPLv3....