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Opera moves Dragonfly to Apache for patent promise

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Web 2.0 Expo Opera has switched its Dragonfly open source debug tool to an Apache 2.0 license to include a promise that users are protected from patents owned by Opera or any other contributor to the project.

Dragonfly - similar to Mozilla's Firebug tool - completed its open sourcing in February, when it was moved from Opera servers to BitBucket. It was originally under the BSD license.

The tool only runs in the Opera browser, and it speaks to the browser via Opera's Scope protocol, which also receives patent protection under the Apache 2.0 license.

With the tool, you can debug JavaScript, CSS, DOM, and HTML code. It's included in Opera 9.5 and later, and it can remotely connect to non-PC devices running version 2.1 of Opera's Presto rendering engine or later. For instance, you can use your desktop browser to debug a site running on Opera Mobile 9.5 on Windows Mobile.

According to Opera, Dragonfly is now used by 100,000 developers, and its use has grown "rapidly" since the introduction of Opera 10.50, based on the new Carakan rendering engine.

Dragonfly is Opera's first open source project, and the company still has no intention of opening sourcing the browser itself. On Wednesday, at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, Opera chief standards officer Charles McCathieNevile told The Reg that open sourcing the browser would mean transforming Opera from a company of engineering to a company of managers, and that's not something it wants to do. He acknowledged that open sourcing the browser would win the company some good will, but said it wouldn't make sense financially.

Opera does use the open source GStreamer multimedia framework for video, and per GStreamer's LGPL license, the company has open sourced its modified source code. You can find it here. ®

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