XEOS Software License


The XEOS Software License is an OpenSource/Free software license attempting to address issues found in other licenses of the same kind.

It was originally created for the XEOS operating system, and its foundation libraries like XSFoundation.

Basically, it's a kind of mix between the BSD(s), MIT and BOOST software licenses, attempting to bring the good parts of each one into a single license, with a few additional clauses (read the «Goals» section for more details).

It has not been yet recognised as a valid software license by the FSF, as I wasn't able to get in touch.
But I hope it will be in a short time.


The main goals of the XEOS Software License are:

  1. To impose minimal restrictions on redistribution.
  2. To allow use in proprietary software.
  3. To differentiate library and executables derivative works.
  4. To prevent issues with GNU/GPL licensed software/libraries.

1 - Minimal restrictions on redistribution

As the BSD(s) and MIT software licenses, the XEOS Software License aims to be simple, straightforward, and unrestrictive.

I personally don't want to live in a world where a software engineer has to be a lawyer in order to work.
A software license should be simple to use and to read. Seriously, who actually read the full terms of GNU/GPL, honestly?.

It should also minimise the side effects on redistribution/derivation with third-party code, licensed with different terms (read «4 - GNU/GPL issues» for more details).

2 - Proprietary software

I would love living in a world with unicorns and rainbows everywhere, but lets be serious - Proprietary software is not evil.

When thinking about proprietary software, people often think about big companies, like Microsoft, Adobe or Apple.
But creating software is not about fighting against large corporations. It's not about being a hippie with a long beard and fighting against the establishment, the evil companies run by evil billionaires, the dark side of the computers, or whatsoever.

The world is also made of small companies and indy software developers, trying to create great products.
Quality takes time, and time has a price.

If you're looking for fairness, do you really think it's fair to tell an indy developer (maybe a guy just like you, who doesn't make millions every hours) that he cannot sell the software he wrote for a year, just because he used 10 lines of GNU/GPL licensed code in its code base?

I think it's not. Small companies and indy developers needs to make money in order to continue their work.
Just like everyone, they need money to eat.

So code licensed under the terms of the XEOS Software License can be used inside proprietary software.

3 - Library vs. Executables

Source redistribution should retain all copyright notices, that's right.
But what about binary redistribution?

For an executable, if you used free software, I think it's fair to recognise it, and to reproduce copyright notices in your documentation, about window, or whatsoever.

But I personally don't think it should be the same for a library.
Both can be considered as binary redistributions, but in fact it's a whole different story.

When developing a software, you may end up using tons of libraries. Some provided by your OS, some used by other libraries, etc.
So at the end it may be very hard to have to full picture of all the libraries you are actually using, and which copyrights you may infringe.

In order to address this, the XEOS Software License permits binary redistribution without attribution, as long as the derivative work is a library.

4 - GNU/GPL issues

So what's wrong with the GNU/GPL?

Initially nothing. It was an absolute necessity, as it brought back the OpenSource spirit in the computer engineering world.
And it did a great job, as it allowed people to take consciousness of the OpenSource/Free software necessity.

But it has become a complete nightmare, especially with version 3.

The main issue with the GNU/GPL is its virality.
Developers using code licensed under the terms of the GNU/GPL no longer have the choice to use a different OpenSource license; they are forced to also use the GNU/GPL for their whole project.

This is specially catastrophic for library development, because the GNU/GPL license terms even disallow dynamic linking with a GNU/GPL library from a non GNU/GPL project.

This has become out of control, and this is no more freedom.
How can you speak about freedom when you are trying to force people to use your very own concept of freedom?

The OpenSource world needs to keep its original roots, and it should not become a casualty of war, in the war started by the GNU philosophers and integrists against the commercial world.

In order to prevent issues with the GNU/GPL, the XEOS Software license explicitely disallow any form of linking with code licensed under the terms of the GNU/GPL.