10 Replies Latest reply on Oct 27, 2010 5:43 AM by Max Rydahl Andersen

    JBoss Tools license question

    Paulo Pinto Novice

      Hi everyone,


      I got contacted by a possible customer that wants to develop an in-house SDK on top of some JBoss Tools plugins, he would like to be able to use this SDK internally as well as distributing it to his own customers.


      He is however unsure if this is possible at all to do, meaning up to which point does the JBoss Tools license allow for such use cases, or would he be required to make his SDK plugins available to the world as well.


      So we need to evaluate all scenarios for each of the frameworks we could make use of.


      Can someone on the forums provide a clear picture on this issue?


      Thanks in advance,


        • 1. Re: JBoss Tools license question
          Max Rydahl Andersen Master

          Hi Paulo,


          The various plugins/features in JBoss Tools are under a mix of licenses: Most are EPL, some are LGPL and the xulrunner we use is MPL so the answer depends on which plugins you will want to integrate with.


          Instead of iterating all options - tell me what parts you want to build on and I can give some concrete examples.

          • 2. Re: JBoss Tools license question
            Paulo Pinto Novice

            Hi Max,


            thanks for the quick reply.


            Still it is not clear to me which plugins exactly he would require, but I can already say that are the ones related to JSF development and visual rendering of the JSF pages + toolbox.




            • 3. Re: JBoss Tools license question
              Igor Jacy Lino Campista Newbie

              That's a very interesting question.I also found it confusing.


              For a minimal set of JSF developerment, I think you install the 2 following features

              • org.jboss.tools.xulrunner.feature.feature.group    (MPL)
              • org.jboss.tools.richfaces.feature.feature.group


              Looking at the internet and also the mentioned bundle/feature (looking at specifically at  org.jboss.tools.richfaces.feature ):

              • wikipedia, you think that its GPL.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JBoss_Tools
              • eclipse marketplace, you don't know (says "Other Open Source").   http://marketplace.eclipse.org/content/jboss-tools-1
              • Bundle's  feature.xml ( + feature.properties ), where it says
                  • copyright=Copyright (c) 2007 Exadel, Inc and Red Hat, Inc.\n\
                    Distributed under license by Red Hat, Inc. All rights reserved.\n\
                    This program is made available under the terms of the\n\
                    Eclipse Public License v1.0 which accompanies this distribution,\n\
                    and is available at http\://www.eclipse.org/legal/epl-v10.html\n\
                    Exadel, Inc. and Red Hat, Inc. - initial API and implementation
              • Bundle's other files like license.html, where it mentions EPL, LGPL and/or other open sources licenses. Where it says:
                  • Red Hat, Inc. licenses these features and plugins to you under certain  open source licenses (or aggregations of such licenses), which in a  particular case may include the Eclipse Public License, the GNU Lesser  General Public License, and/or certain other open source licenses. For  precise licensing details, consult the corresponding source code, or  contact Red Hat Legal Affairs, 1801 Varsity Drive, Raleigh NC 27606 USA.
              • At the plugin level there is no specific place in the MANIFEST, but often developers put a license.txt or an about.html. Where it says:
                  • About This Content   ©2007 Red Hat, Inc. All rights reserved    License    Red Hat Inc., through its JBoss division, makes available all content in this plug-in ("Content"). Unless otherwise indicated below, the Content is provided to you under the terms and conditions of the Eclipse Public License Version 1.0 ("EPL"). A copy of the EPL is available at http://www.eclipse.org/org/documents/epl-v10.php. For purposes of the EPL, "Program" will mean the Content. If you did not receive this Content directly from Red Hat Inc., the Content is being redistributed by another party ("Redistributor") and different terms and conditions may apply to your use of any object code in the Content. Check the Redistributor's license that was provided with the Content. If no such license exists, contact the Redistributor. Unless otherwise indicated below, the terms and conditions of the EPL still apply to any source code in the Content and such source code may be obtained at http://www.jboss.org/tools.


              After this short analysis of the org.jboss.tools.richfaces.feature.feature.group bundle, I think the bundle's license is just misleading and should only mention EPL which makes sense (as all its plugins are EPL) .


              The good thing about it is that the EPL suits perfectly good for other reason.


              Based on an earlier investigation I did about it, I end-up reading in the Free Software  Foundation that the GPL license is incompatible with Eclipse  if its missing a special exception.

              There is also a blog about it from Mike Milinkovich, the executive director  from the Eclipse Foundation at
              What is the position of Red Hat on JBoss Tools with the GPL? Does Red  Hat has the same view as the FSF ?
              Do they use GPL (with exception ) license?


              I understand that if there is an offending code (propietary), it will be redone in a GPL license,  or as far as I can assume, in the case of these bundle it would actualy be EPL.  Is that right?




              • 4. Re: JBoss Tools license question
                Max Rydahl Andersen Master

                Hi Paulo,


                Ok, so he is most likely looking at Visual Page Editor which is mainly Eclipse Public License (EPL) for the plugin code + Mozilla Public License (MPL) for the XULRunner part.


                If he also needs the JBoss AS integration then we are talking LGPL, but I'll keep that out of the explanation for now - but just note it has some differences. You can see the license in each individual feature/plugin.


                For EPL the best resource is http://www.eclipse.org/legal/eplfaq.php which explains the various scenarios.


                With respect to "would he be required to make his SDK plugins available to the world as well" then if those are separate plugins and not derivative works then he can (basically) license them as he wants - see the FAQ for examples.


                For EPL it's only if you modify (creates a derivative work) that the source code have to be made available, i.e. if you fix a bug in our richfaces plugin then you'll need to provide the changed code - if you write a plugin that provide support for new JSF components then you don't have to distributed the source code for those additional plugins.


                So if that is all he is doing then that should work fine.


                That above is all about copyright, on top of this comes trademark which is something I'm not the right to ask about. I can ask our legal to comment on this if you wish to.


                btw. ignoring legallities a more important topic is what kind of API's you are going to use....we don't guarantee API compatibility for things out-of-the-box for *All* plugins - thus if you need something speak up on the jbosstools-dev list and we'll figure something out (patches welcome)

                • 5. Re: JBoss Tools license question
                  Max Rydahl Andersen Master

                  Hi Igor,


                  First thing to realize is that JBoss Tools is not *one* plugin but an umbrella project for a series of plugins - some which comes from different backgrounds and as a consequence different licenses, but none of them are GPL.


                  btw. just to be clear, i.e. this is my *personal* opinion/stance on the matter based on how we  did the opensourcing of Exadel original plugins and if you are looking  for a Red Hat binding comment you will need to talk with our legal  department not me


                  As to your internet references:


                  1) Wikipedia: Never trust wikipedia - check the source!

                  I've fixed the wikipedia so it no longer wrongly says GPL since it's never been GPL.


                  2) Eclipse Marketplace: Other open source is the only option I saw since just saying EPL would be wrong. (see above)


                  3) Yup, feature.xml/featutre.properties is where you get the proper license info from.


                  4) license.html - yes, all that is true (license to use != copyright).


                  5) If you see plugins with missing/inadequete license info please report that as a bug in our jira. Manifest aren't the right place to look, about.html and license are.


                  I don't understand why you think richfaces are misleading about its license ? It says it's EPL, but it also references things that are not EPL (i.e. Mozilla Public License) thus the license.html is also true.


                  About GPL, there are *no* mention of GPL anywhere beyond Wikipedia which got that wrong, only LGPL is used and LGPL != GPL.


                  And with respect to GPL and EPL then that is best referenced as "it's complicated" but let me try and explain my stand


                  First of, let me be clear: We (JBoss Tools) do not distribute any plugins under GPL, we use primarily EPL but some parts are LGPL, ASL and MPL. No GPL in JBoss Tools.


                  That being said:

                  The GPL license triggers on distribution (at least for GPLv2), meaning it is ok for plugin providers to provide GPL plugins as long as it is not distributed together with EPL bits. Note: We (as in JBoss Tools) does not do this; and do not recommend anyone to do this because it becomes really messy very fast.

                  i.e. users using a GPL licensed plugin can not use it for anything but on the machine they are using it - they cannot copy it nor distribute it to anyone without breaking the GPL license in some form.


                  Eclipse and FSF's blogs all talk about linking and that we completely agree on - GPL is not useful in context of Eclipse plugins because the plugins runs in the same memory uses the same datastructure and thus cannot be clearly separated in the terms stated in GPL.


                  And that is why we cannot nor do we distribute JBoss Tools plugins under GPL.


                  JBoss Developer Studio is though a different thing, JBDS is under GPL, but that is the actual distro, not the actual plugins.

                  Similar to Red Hat Linux or Fedora are under GPL but they actually distribute a copy of Eclipse which is under EPL.


                  So it's complicated - but for the simple case of plugins being available under GPL - that is not something we do nor recommend.



                  Long mail - but I hope it outlined it

                  • 6. Re: JBoss Tools license question
                    Paulo Pinto Novice

                    Hi Max,


                    many thanks for the effort you took in replying to my question.


                    I feel now more confident to proceed my talks with this possible customer and see up to what point we might do something.


                    Again, many thanks,


                    • 7. Re: JBoss Tools license question
                      Igor Jacy Lino Campista Newbie

                      Hi Max,


                      Very good detailed answers. Clarified quite many details.


                      In the meantime I have opened a bug to the Eclipse Marketplace to allow multiple licenses as part of the project description. That would help close that loophole with a better description.


                      ( https://bugs.eclipse.org/bugs/show_bug.cgi?id=328620 )




                      • 8. Re: JBoss Tools license question
                        Max Rydahl Andersen Master

                        Paulo, don't forget my mention about API usage - we are open for suggestions


                        Igor, Thanks - i've cc'ed my self to that issue.

                        • 9. Re: JBoss Tools license question
                          Igor Jacy Lino Campista Newbie

                          Hi Max,


                          Now I remembered one detail I left and came back again.


                          The file:




                          Has a interesting license block mentioning GPL & LGPL. 


                          Maybe its something that can be removed as that feature is actually MPL/EPL  (3 plugins MPL, 1 plugin EPL).


                          [maybe a Jira for this one]



                          Would it make sense to create a page at http://www.jboss.org/tools for the license descriptions?

                          That page could include a table with all the features available under JBoss Tools, and what licenses apply.


                          I think that would help a lot other people.


                          (I could volunteer for that last one)




                          • 10. Re: JBoss Tools license question
                            Max Rydahl Andersen Master

                            Igor - that block is the original license of xulrunner; we can't change that. It just means its triple licensed under MPL and GPL/LGPL.


                            If we removed it we would be breaking the license.


                            About creating a page for the license descriptions...the About box in Eclipse aren't enough ? (that one is at least uptodate


                            If you could make something that generates such a page based on an eclipse installaiton (i.e. p2 repository) then sure, we could make that

                            part of the build to generate a "license-overview" html page.