OpenFOAM is open source, and will stay so

A few days ago, it was suggested to re-license the OpenFOAM® code, currently regulated by the GPL 3 license, under the Lesser General Public License (LGPL). The suggestion came from the leader of the -extend project (see comment 1 for a clarification), which is a community driven initiative, not associated with OpenCFD, the producers of OpenFOAM.  The idea behind re-licensing is of increasing the number of users of the code, and to “free up” the code more.

OpenCFD, who legally own the OpenFOAM trademark, stated their position on the topic today, with an article on their website, clarifying that their release will remain under the GPL license, and will never switch to a weaker version of it, like the LGPL.

OpenCFD did the right thing. Kudos to them!

Update: On March 1st 2011, OpenCFD launched their campaign “Keep OpenFOAM® open and free“.

This offering is not approved or endorsed by OpenCFD Limited, the producer of the OpenFOAM software and owner of the OPENFOAM® and OpenCFD® trade marks. Alberto Passalacqua is not associated in any way to OpenCFD Limited.


    • Alberto

      Hi Bernhard,

      thank you for your comment.

      – Yes, Hrv spoke for himself, and that’s why I wrote “the proposal came from the leader”.

      – I corrected the wording about the copyright / trademark. At the moment, however, OpenFOAM, meaning the release from OpenCFD, which is legally the only one that can be called in this way, carries the copyright of OpenCFD, and until legally proven wrong, OpenCFD owns the copyright of the code. If there is a problem with the copyright, that is legal matter, and it belongs to the pre-GPL era. As a consequence, I think it is not a topic to discuss among the community, but between the original authors, if they believe it is the case.

      This said, I think it would be better to try to reduce conflicts, and this proposal does not go in that direction, since it keeps digging out past discussions which did not lead anywhere but contributed to increase tensions in the community. In particular, as you know, I believe -extend should be more transparent in their position, since they call their release “OpenFOAM-ext”, even though this does not comply with OpenCFD trademark policy.
      Also, it seems to me, there is a quite general perception, from what I see at conferences and meetings (not talking about the OpenFOAM-related meetings, but scientific conferences and such I took part), that almost the whole OpenFOAM code was developed by -extend and its leader. Clearly it is a misunderstanding (the audience does not know all the details of the OpenFOAM saga), as it can be understood from a quick analysis of the original FOAM 2.3 files released by Hrv in the same thread you linked, but it is supported by the too many ambiguities in -extend.