Business Components for Java Applications



The following resources are listed here to help you become more familiar with different aspects of dual licensing business model as used today by many other companies. The facts presented in these resources may not be directly applicable to OpenSubsystems, the licensing policy described at this page takes always precedence.

  1. Dual licensing: Trolltech business model
  2. Marten Mickos, The Rhyme and Reason of Dual Licensing
  3. MySQL Licensing Policy FAQ
  4. Mikko Valimaki, Dual licensing in open source software industry, Systemes d'Information et Management, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 63-75, 2003. Available at
  5. Database of free/open source related papers
  6. Sleepycat software product licensing
Last modified

$Author: bastafidli $
$Date: 2006/08/27 07:52:10 $
$Revision: 1.16 $
$RCSfile: licensing.html,v $

If you are considering using any source code, binary files, libraries, solutions or documentation released as part of OpenSubsystems you should familiarize yourself with the licenses under, which OpenSubsystems content is available. This document summarizes the licensing policy so please read it carefully since there might be legal consequences, requirements and procedures, which you should be aware of and follow.

Two licenses

OpenSubsystems is using open-source friendly dual licensing model similar to companies such as MySQL, Trolltech or Sleepycat. Inspired by their business models, the guiding principle is one of fair exchange, or Quid pro Quo ("something for something"). The basic idea is that if your organization is deriving commercial benefit from solutions built using OpenSubsystems software and does not release the complete source code of it's solution, then it is required to obtain commercial license from OpenSubsystems.

OpenSubsystems is available under two licenses: OSI approved GNU General Public License (GPL) and OpenSubsystems commercial license.

  1. All included software developed as part of OpenSubsystems is 100% GPL and therefore if your application is 100% GPL compliant or is licensed under compatible OSI license approved by OpenSubsystems, you are free and more then welcome to include and distribute OpenSubsystems software with your application. As long as you never internally or externally distribute your application and you are using OpenSubsystems under GPL license, you are not required to obtain commercial license. As soon as you start distributing your application in any way and you do not wish to release its source code you should obtain commercial license.
  2. Commercial license allows you to develop and distribute your own software, which includes OpenSubsystems software without the restriction presented by the strict GPL requirements. Therefore by obtaining the commercial license you are not obligated to release any source code of your application as well as you are not obligated to release any modifications to OpenSubsystems software unless you wish to do so. Typical examples of commercial distributions that require commercial license are:
    • Selling software to customers, which includes OpenSubsystems software or requires OpenSubsystems software to be installed by customer.
    • Building and selling hardware, which includes OpenSubsystems software to customers.

Simply rule to follow: if you are developing and/or distributing application to which source code is not available and is not licensed under applicable open source license that is based on or includes OpenSubsystems software, you are required to obtain commercial license.


Organizations in general compete on 3 levels:

  1. Process optimization and execution excellence
  2. Customer service and satisfaction
  3. Technical advantage and innovation

Most services and manufacturing organization are not in the business of developing and maintaining software and the first two areas are most important to them. At the same time, they need software to make their business processes more efficient and effective and most off-the-shelf solutions never fit them perfectly and require customizations or modifications. OpenSubsystems gives these organizations advantage of utilizing ready to use, proven and tested software components and solutions available with the full source code. It allows them create their own solutions at a rapid pace while still taking advantage of commercially supported products as well as advantage of resources of many other OpenSubsystems community members who decided to share their resources by contributing to OpenSubsystems. If you are interested in participating in OpenSubsystems please take a look at our contribution process.

The best explanations of benefits of dual licensing business model for both parties, the developers and the customers, can be summarized by quoting Marten Mickos of MySQL [2]: "The dual licensing model was created in the 90's by MySQL and other forward-looking open source companies. Today it is in use by a growing number of open source companies, and it is the only licensing model that made it to the magic upper right quadrant in a study by Forrester Research, where it was deemed both "strong" and "friendly." Dual licensing allows companies to build viable long-term businesses while at the same time accommodating the needs of the open source / free software community. And, as an added benefit, legal concerns about the origin of the software can be dismissed. Charlie Garry, research analyst at the META Group, has said that, "The dual licensing model is becoming a blueprint for a successful open source business.""

Simple solution

If you are not sure what license is good for you, just consider that commercial license gives you for less than one month salary of your single developer tested and proven product of many month of work of a our full-time team of experienced developers and business experts as well as peace of mind about legality of the software you use.