July 10, 2007

Samba adopts GPLv3 for all future releases

Author: Shirl Kennedy

The Samba team announced Monday that it will be issuing all future releases of the venerable open source file and print services suite under the third iteration of the GNU General Public License (GPLv3).

Look for a numbering change as well. "To allow people to distinguish which Samba version is released with the new GPLv3 license, we are updating our next version release number," the announcement explained.

"The next planned version release was to be 3.0.26, this will now be renumbered so the GPLv3 version release will be 3.2.0." In other words, Samba 3.2 and all versions thereafter will be released under GPLv3 -- or the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPLv3); versions 3.0.x and earlier will remain under GPLv2.

Samba, which runs on most Unix-type operating systems, provides provides file and print services to Server Message Block/Common Internet File System (SMB/CIFS) clients -- including those shipped with various flavors of Windows -- and plays nicely in Windows server domains. It has been around since 1992.

GPLv3 debuted late last month following years of planning by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and a protracted period of public consultation and wrangling. According to the FSF, v3 is basically an evolved version of v2 that reflects changes in the software industry.

Since v2 was released in June 1991, open source has become a significant part of the commercial sector. Linus Torvalds has publicly stated that he believes GPLv2 to be superior to GPLv3, causing speculation that Linux kernel project may not move to the latest version. Torvalds was, however, more accepting of the GPLv3 final draft and is looking to see if Sun releases OpenSolaris under GPLv3.

The Samba team, on the other hand, strongly embraces GPLv3. Jeremy Allison, speaking for the team, told the FSF that the new license was "a great improvement on the older GPL" and "a necessary update to deal with the new threats to free software that have emerged since version 2 of the GPL." An FAQ appended to Samba's GPLv3 announcement provides details for developers about the integration of new code and the status of code released under GPLv2, among other issues.

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