Apparently SDL-org changed the license of SDL from the LGPL (a copyleft license) to zlib (a permissive license).[1]

I don’t get why SDL-org would make the license change; unless if it’s for popularity.

  1. Older Releases (Check the license in versions before SDL2 and 1.3.) ↩︎


It’s so commercial game devs can ship it on iOS and consoles. I think Apple makes it impossible to comply with the LGPL. Probably same thing for Sony, XBox and Nintendo.

I’m not too mad even though I’m a GPL fanboy. If it helps SDL adoption among game devs then that will help portability and Linux support in the long run. It will also help games run better on Linux: plenty of games that don’t use SDL have annoying issues with my tiling WM for example.

With SDL 2, they even thought about the future compatibility issues due to static linking: Even if a game statically links SDL, you can still override the static copy with your own dynamic library. The static SDL will forward all function calls to the user supplied SDL.

I never thought that holders of proprietary platforms could come close to this level of influence, making the developers of a libre library have to relicense their work, or otherwise app developers can’t publish for those proprietary platforms if they decide to use the library in question.

I’m a strong (A)GPL fan but I see why proprietary companies hate it, but what is wrong to them with the already permissive LGPL?


LGPL says the user needs to be able to replace the LGPL’ed code with their own modified version. You can’t do that on an iPhone. I think that’s the issue there.

Also the SDL devs are themselves game developers/porters (I think that came out of Loki games), so it’s not so hard to understand why they would relicense their stuff, it basically makes their own life easier also.


It sounds like it was to allow static linking in commercial software. Previously, you had to ship a directory of dynamically linked libraries solely because of license restrictions.



Why couldn’t they just use DLLs? I don’t see why it would be needed to statically link SDL.

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