This is the license text: https://www.mongodb.com/licensing/server-side-public-license

A few days ago, Elasticsearch and Kibana were converted from Apache 2 to SSPL, and there has been a lot of criticism (for exmaple). The biggest problem with SSPL seems to be the fact that if software licensed under it is used for an online service, you have to open source everything on the server that falls under the broadly worded “all programs that you use to make the Program or modified version available as a service, including, without limitation, management software, user interfaces, application program interfaces, automation software, monitoring software, backup software, storage software and hosting software”, which some worry could be interpreted by courts as “everything installed on the server”. The fact that it’s not OSI approved (and unlikely to be) is also a point of concern.

The article I linked (IMO quite reasonably) state that Elastic is only using this license to make the free version of their software undesirable and to force more people to buy a commercial license, but that’s a demerit to the company and not necessarily to the license.

What does the “free software, not just open source” community think of this? Does a license like this go too far, or is this the next step in forcing the open sourcing of software? Would you personally ever use this license for your IP?

@Echedenyan
11M

I left an official link to compare with the AGPL here because could be useful for somenyan.

https://webassets.mongodb.com/_com_assets/legal/SSPL-compared-to-AGPL.pdf

@koalp
1edit-21M

I couldn’t understand if GPL and SSPL are compatible.

Can you run mongo or elasticseaech with MIT or SSPL infrastructure software ? I understood that you can’t and that’s really bad if it’s the case. And what happens if you run proprietary microcode or graphics card drivers that are (sadly) not open source ?

For now, I think that this license is poorly written. I also think it is aimed at forbiding their competitors from providing SaaS elasticsearch or mongodb and not at improving software and knowledge freedom. And I doubt they plan to improve it.

However, I will wait to see if other people understand it better and I hope I’m wrong 😬

@Echedenyan
1edit-21M

I like the philosophy of the AGPL and expected something more avanced. So, I like and would use a license like this.

@AgreeableLandscape
mod
admin
creator
2edit-21M

Something I’ve been thinking about: are there any fully libre server operating systems? Most Linux distros have some proprietary blobs, especially drivers, and under the strictest interpretation, that wouldn’t be compatible with the SSPL. All the more reasons for the Linux community to reject proprietary drivers honestly.

@Echedenyan
21M

The VMs with Debian in most services (Scalaway, BuyVM and OneProvider) come fully clean even in the rare cases using software for their services (as Scalway) is FLOSS in the side of the VM.

@AgreeableLandscape
mod
admin
creator
3edit-21M

Interesting, but now you have to wonder if the SSPL would even be allowed to be used on shared/VPS hosts since some of their software is proprietary.

Hell, what about the BIOS of the motherboard? Microcode in the processor? The code in the micro controller than runs the power supply?

Honestly, I like the SSPL as a philosophy, essentially forcing the entire ecosystem to be FOSS if they want to use a particular project, but it’s kind of made unusable by the fact that non-free software has infected everything, and in many cases, with no alternative.

@Echedenyan
1edit-21M

I am sure the license is limited to a first level in the hierarchy (direct level) when running.

The ones I use run on top of KVM with free virtual BIOS/UEFI implementation.

@AgreeableLandscape
mod
admin
creator
11M

I am sure the license is limited to a first level in the hierarchy (direct level) when running.

Thing is, it doesn’t mention it, and it says “without limitation” before listing off software examples

@Echedenyan
1edit-21M

all programs that you use to make the Program or modified version available as a service, including, without limitation, management software, user interfaces, application program interfaces, automation software, monitoring software, backup software, storage software and hosting software

Because the text addresses exactly that. “all programs that you use to make the Program or modified version available as a service” implies direct level.

Anyways, you could ask them to design a simple environment which fits with the idea to be sure. I am sure that being the creators of the license will exist some way to contact them about it.

@AgreeableLandscape
mod
admin
creator
1edit-21M

Here’s the thing, the ultimate meaning of the license isn’t up to the authors, it’s up to the courts, and they can interpret it however they want. This was mentioned in the article I linked, which mentions that even though the authors tried to debunk worries in a FAQ, not even they know how the license would be really be interpreted, and the author’s intentions are irrelevant to judges, only the license text itself matters.

@Echedenyan
1edit-21M

But the authors of the license, in this case as well as mostly other, use to take into account the help of lawyers and/or experts who know how a license should be interpreted in a court.

I think is “expected” to work in the same way it seems to do. In the way you suggest it, I could be unsure of everything as the same text could be applied if I said I am going to do “whatever”.

which mentions that even though the authors tried to debunk worries in a FAQ, not even they know how the license would be really be interpreted

This is a reason already to contact them directly to ensure it.

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