Haiku should use the Unlicense or WTFPL license

Unlicense or WTFPL licenses are even more premissive license than MIT which results in making the software even more free and open source.

Why don’t you run your own project? This way you could use your own licence.

Haiku has chosen the MIT licence after a long discussion back in 2001 (check our mailing list archives and the famous “Ok, let’s start” thread which started it all.

If you use Haiku code, we do want you to give credit to us for the 17 years of hard and dedicated work. This seems like a totally reasonable thing to ask. Yet you are not happy, you come up 18 years after the fact and ask us “no, I want to use your code without showing any respect for the work you all did”. How rude is that?


You are not understanding me, first of all if I were to make my own distro out of Haiku, I would for sure give credits, even if it is not legally required.

I thought MIT license does not legally require you to credit other people’s work, the only restriction as far as I am aware is that you can’t claim you did the original work.

I wanted to suggest a license that made this OS even more freer (as in freedom).

By the way if I made my own distribution of Haiku, am I allowed to make my distribution have any license?

Let’s quote the licence:

« Copyright ©

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

The Software is provided “as is”, without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and noninfringement. In no event shall the authors or copyright holders be liable for any claim, damages or other liability, whether in an action of contract, tort or otherwise, arising from, out of or in connection with the software or the use or other dealings in the Software. »

Notice that “the above copyright notice shall be included in all copies”. This is the only restriction, really. And this is what forces you legally to give credit.

So, you can even relicence the code of your fork under a more restrictive licence like the GPL or even decide to not distribute your sourcecode at all. However, you cannot remove this limitation: the original licence and copyright claim should still be there (even if you add another licence with additional restrictions).

I must also remind you that:

  1. I am not a lawyer, so I may be wrong about this.
  2. Parts of Haiku are distributed under various licences, some being more restrictive than this (not our choice, we copied that code from elsewhere). So you have to review all those licences to make sure you comply with all of them - or replace/remove the affected code.

According to this website


If you believe in truly free software, I recommend the MIT or BSD license. Put very basically, all they state is “You can use this code however you like, but you can’t pretend you wrote it.” Nice.

I thought this was the only restriction that you can’t pretend you wrote the code??

I am a bit confused now.

Not pretending you wrote the code imply that you recognize someone else did, by definition.
Usually, for MIT licensed code, it comes in the form of the above copyright.
While you don’t have to give credit to every contributors, the copyright notice does assert that it’s the work of Haiku project.

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Oh ok that makes sense. Since you don’t want people to go and pretend they made all this shit as that would piss the devs off.

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I prefer a GPL license for Haiku, that is my opinion but if the Haiku community prefer the MIT license I respect that decision

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Yes I’m of the same opinion too. But it’s just too late probably, also note that there’s a bad perception of GPL in basically the whole community…

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The GPL leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many in the Open Source community at large. Even Linus Torvalds has vociferated his dismay on the direction GPLv3 took. He keeps his kernel under GPLv2. Either way, the GPL is relatively rather restrictive, no matter which version you use.

Back when OBOS crew was debating what license to use, it was agreed that MIT had the least restricted language, while ensuring that credit is given where due. It’s funny watching folk pop in to suggest and debate a license switch, usually on the premise that the MIT license is too restrictive. Ask yourself these questions and give yourself honest answers: why don’t more opensource projects simply release their work as public domain? Why do they use such restrictive licenses? Why do most OSS projects use a license even more restrictive than Haiku’s MIT license? Do I even know what all this licensing drama is really about? Did I come here to suggest a switch of license after reading an article either by, about, or mentioning Richard Stallman? Why didn’t I know that the functional difference between the MIT license and the UnLicense and WTFPL is attribution? Why am I so up in arms against attribution? Why do I consider attribution to be too restrictive?

Ok but please, don’t mix two different issues. You can find on the web that linus said multiple times that adopting the GPL license for the linux kernel is the best thing he had done.

Regarding gpl v3, various projects don’t use it because it introduced the notion of “license exceptions”, which makes the license a bit more permissive and it’s source of debate because it may make the license weaker in lawsuits.

They are two different problems anyway, just wanted to clarify.

There’s one single main reason for Haiku to adopt MIT/BSD, that originally people hoped the OpenBeOS development would have been taken by a company.

I like the GPL because I think on the long run it’s the only license which can create a true open source ecosystem and due to the “restrictive” characteristics it makes both the source and the developer value increase over time.

Regarding your question, my only answer is that those suggesting public domain licenses want people to give away time and money with the risk of companies and people stealing the intellectual property. If this was a perfect world, I’d agree completely with them. I’d love to live in such a world where we can leave permission to anyone to enter in our bank account without anyone stealing money. But we don’t live in such a world.

Those were rhetorical questions for those who feel that MIT license is too restrictive. I mix two issues because they are inherently linked. The GPL, is both more restrictive and more complex and confusing. This has typically been a stumbling block for many software companies to develop for platforms that are based on the GPL.

The MIT license is GPL compatible in that you can mix both licenses in a piece of software. You can even relicense MIT software as GPL or any other license, so long as the MIT license is adhered to and is not removed. This lack of restriction is what I spoke of that led OBOS to originally adopt it. It is unrestricted enough to allow third parties to fork it to further develop it as they see fit, even keeping their proprietary mods to themselves. The only restriction it has is there to keep the original codebase free, open and in line with the stated project goals. This was the major shortcoming of Be Inc’s implementation. Once Be Inc. died, the code died with it. If Haiku were to die tomorrow or be taken into closed development by a third party, the code would still be there, free and available as it should be.

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Sure, mine were sort of rhetorical answers :slight_smile:

I wanted to warn about mixing the issues because someone may think the Linux devs aren’t happy with GPL…where’s it’s exactly the inverse. Linux is what is today thanks to the GPL.

However, let’s be honest, there are more successful commercial projects using GPL or using MIT?

This is a misconception about GPL and commercial projects. In fact, there’s no problem at all in taking GPL projects and make them commercial, you just have to adhere to release the source code or get special permissions from developers.

For example, Google is doing a billion dollars business on linux, android and other open source projects. Another example is Harrison’s consoles MixBus which is based on Ardour. They reached an agreement with the devs and Ardour development has benefit a lot from this friendship.

I can think of a lot of similar successful projects, VirtualBox, Qt, GitLab, MySQL…

There cant be a distro with gpl? It could be cool anyway.

That is the one true reason why I don’t want to use GNU/Linux when I found out it has this bullshit license.

GPL does not allow users to own the copy of the software due to its restrictions. Why would you want to use a software where you can’t own the copy of the software?

Can you extend? I’m not sure I understand what you mean.

Well if GPL forces users to keep their own distribution open source, that in itself is a restriction, right? If that is a restriction, then when you download the copy of the software, that copy isn’t really yours due to its restrictions. Due you understand?

Do you have ever read the EULA in any closed source application? If GPL is restrictive…

You have to remember GPL appeared in a moment where some companies may have made the whole world closed source. However, I don’t think you are going to be taken seriously by anyone claiming that MIT is restrictive because you have to attribute the work.

You can still create the Unlicense Software Foundation and see what happens…

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Yes I know closed source is the most restrictive software out there and off course I hate it the most. I never said MIT is restrictive, yes it does have restrictions but far less than GPL.

How would I exactly create the Unlicense Software Foundation?