Don't be afraid of open source software licenses!

The potential use of open source software in development projects often raises questions about license law and software disclosure. We explain why you don't need to be afraid of them.

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OSS licenses - advantages and challenges

Many companies are looking into the potential use of open source software in their development projects. Developers are usually big open source fans, as the Internet offers an almost inexhaustible source of software treasures for solving tasks.

However, decision-makers are often still skeptical, as the use of open source entails the risk of becoming vulnerable under licensing law or even having to disclose all parts of their own software.
Even if there are repeated reports about warning lawyers and license trolls, this fear is unfounded if you know what you are doing and use the right tools.

Together instead of alone

worldwide community

The idea behind open source software is that many software developers around the world share the effort of creating new software. These are not just nerds who program in their free time, but also many large companies who consciously make their contribution and invest a great deal of effort. Different license models have been developed to create the broadest possible base of global developers for open source software.

When using open source software components, it is important to know under which licenses they are made available. As a user, you must comply with these license conditions. In most cases, these are obligations regarding use, documentation and disclosure.

Zwei Programmierer mit Tastatur

If you search for license information in the depths of your cell phone, you will find a very long text with a detailed list of the software components used. It states the license under which they are used, where you can obtain them and what options the cell phone manufacturer offers for making changes. Rarely will anyone want to reprogram their cell phone, as is the case with, but thanks to open source license conditions it is generally possible.

Ginzinger Embedded Linux Distribution - GELin

Licensing under control

If you are planning to use open source components in development, it is essential to know in advance which components you may use under which license conditions. GELin, the embedded Linux distribution from Ginzinger electronic systems, contains tools to automatically generate a kind of "parts list" from your project with a list of all open source components and their license types.

According to the license conditions, you must now follow how you may use the individual components. You must note whether you are allowed to link statically or dynamically, how you must document the use and, for some license types, also provide the necessary tools and source codes on request. The "software parts list" also allows you to quickly determine whether one of the components you use is affected when a new security threat is published.

The license tools in GELin,  GELin, the Ginzinger embedded linux distribution, also generate the complete license text with a list of all components and licenses used for distribution with your product. GELin makes it easier for developers of embedded Linux applications to comply with licensing obligations and reduces the risk of companies getting into legal difficulties when using open source software. In addition, Ginzinger's experienced consultants and developers are available to support the customer.

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