Licensing Workshop at LinuxTag 2011

Ciaran Farrell


before LinuxTag 2011 I sent around invitations to this workshop "Cross Distribution Licensing Summit": (

Some of you indicated that you would not be able to make it. As it turned out there was not a huge variety of distributions present there, but I think that the discussion that we had was nonetheless quite enlightening.

We saw that there is a variety of ways in which distributions describe the license of a package (or a component of a package) - where the distributions actually mean the same license but have different designations (short names) for their package metadata.

Whereas we didn't actually conclusively decide on anything, we did agree that it would be beneficial if the distributions would adopt a common scheme of designating license names.

Currently, one example of an online collaborative effort (under the auspices of the Linux Foundation) is SPDX ( (which has been adopted by Debian in DEP5). The workgroup at has come up with a list of commonly used licenses (see The list has many licenses but not all licenses that distributions will likely need to track and reference. There should not be a problem with submitting more licenses to SPDX so be included in that list.

Therefore, I'd like to propose that we evaluate as a group the possibility of standardising how we refer to licenses based on SPDX. I know that there has been considerable criticism of the absence of numerous licenses from the SPDX list, but I believe that if we inform the SPDX working group of the licenses we would like to see included and if they are in fact included, the benefits will be quite substantial.

I'm more than interested in hearing your comments, feedback and opinions. Also, I've included as many people on the mail thread as I could and I believe I have reached a large number of distributions. However, if anybody is aware of a person/company who could be interested, please do forward this mail.



Ciaran Farrell __o

cfarrell@... _`\<,_

Phone: +49 (0)911 74053 262 (_)/ (_)

SUSE LINUX Products GmbH,

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