Linux Foundation and Free Software Foundation Europe Introduce Resources to Support Open Source Software License Identification and Compliance

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by | April 26, 2017

Free book, cregit tool, and FOSSology 3.1 support GPL compliance

The Linux Foundation and Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) today announced new resources to help with free and open source software (FOSS) license identification and compliance. They include:

The availability of a new, free online book, “Practical GPL Compliance: A guide for startups, small businesses, and engineers,” by Armijn Hemel, MSc and Shane Coughlan.
The open sourcing of “cregit,” the underlying tool used at, provided by The Linux Foundation. cregit enables easy access to and improves the visibility of details in the history of changes in source code files.
The 3.1 release of FOSSology, a tool licensed under the GPL that helps engineers and office staff understand the free and open source (FOSS) licenses associated with a project.

“We must work more on helping those who want to be part of the free and open source software community understand the praxis and licenses used,” said Matthias Kirschner, president of the FSFE. “The resources now made available contribute to making it easier for companies to rely on and develop free and open source software. Licensing compliance is just the first step on a journey towards using free and open source software, but it’s often a steep learning curve, and we know these resources will contribute to enabling more companies to take the step into the community.”

Software is considered free and open source based on the choice of license used for the source code. The GNU General Public License (GPL), version 2 is the key license that has contributed to the success of Linux and many other FOSS projects. “A better understanding of identifying where GPL licensed code exists in products and guides for how to comply with the terms can better enable the FOSS ecosystem to comply with GPL licensing,” said Kate Stewart, senior director of strategic programs at The Linux Foundation.

Mike Dolan, vice president of strategic programs at The Linux Foundation, said: “We feel it’s important to help people using Linux in their products understand the licenses associated with the code they are using, who has contributed to the code and what users need to do to comply with the license the authors have selected. The FSFE and The Linux Foundation are the leading non-profit organizations assisting developers and companies with education, training, practical guides and professional networks for complying with the GPL. To support this goal, we are announcing the availability of a free book on compliance, the release of the cregit tool under the GPLv3 license, and an important update to FOSSology.”

Practical GPL Compliance Book
Authored by compliance experts Armijn Hemel and Shane Coughlan, Practical GPL Compliance is a book for startups, small businesses, and engineers tasked with shipping products that contain software covered by the GNU General Public License. The book is directly applicable to consumer electronics, drones, IoT or automotive devices based on generic Linux or Android-based Linux devices. The goal is to provide practical information to quickly address common issues and errors and to empower compliance engineers or compliance teams to get their job done as efficiently as possible. The guide goes beyond simple instructions and provides checklists and flowcharts to visualize key approaches or best practices for real-world situations.

To download your free copy:

cregit 1.0 Release
cregit is a new Linux Foundation project licensed under the GPLv3 (GPL-3.0+). Developed in collaboration with Daniel German of the University of Victoria and Alexandre Courouble and Bram Adams from the Polytechnique of Montreal, cregit is a framework of tools that facilitates the analysis and visualization of the evolution of source code stored in git repositories.

The goal of the project is to explore how source code evolves with each contribution and over time. One of its main applications is the creation of a token-based view of the source code, deconstructing the code into the smallest parseable units recognized by a compiler. A token-based view of git blame data shows, for each token in the corresponding source code, the commit that introduced token or last modified it and links to any relevant discussions of that change in mailing lists.


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