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SugarCRM trades badgeware for GPL 3

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OSCON SugarCRM has transformed from open source whipping boy to free software hero – in an instant.

The software maker revealed today that it will release the upcoming Sugar Community Edition 5.0 – due in beta in two weeks – under Version 3 of the General Public License (GPL). This makes SugarCRM one of the biggest names to back the Free Software Foundation-led revision of the popular GPL. The move also distances SugarCRM from its own attribution-style license used with previous versions of its software, which has received criticism for failing to meet Open Source Initiative (OSI) approval.

"We've been taking a lot of arrows," SugarCRM CEO John Roberts told us in an interview here at OSCON. "But we were very impressed with the Free Software Foundation's work, and felt this was in the best interest of our community."

OSI advocates such as board member and Red Hat executive Michael Tiemann had called out SugarCRM as a real naughty for claiming to be an open source software maker while lacking an OSI-approved license. SugarCRM, like a number of software makers, decided to use its own version of the OSI-approved Mozilla Public License (MPL) with an attribution clause add-on that required customers to display information linking the software with SugarCRM. The OSI railed against such licenses until today, when it approved Socialtext's badgeware license.

SugarCRM has shot right past the badgeware debate by embracing GPL V3. This updated version of the GPL has been portrayed by open source rivals as a threat against business – gwana, gwana, gwana. Now, we find a leading software maker going whole hog with the license.

"I am certainly very pleased that SugarCRM decided to adopt it," Eben Moglen, a lawyer for the FSF, told us. "I had expected that by late this summer we'd begin to see some major commercial projects switch to GPL3. I'm very glad to see that prediction coming true sooner than I had anticipated."

SugarCRM is now looking at the idea of releasing its previous code under the new, OSI-approved badgeware license from Socialtext.

"There's peace on earth," Roberts said. ®

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