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XERP - Open Source License Discussion

Sep 26, 2009 at 6:15 PM

Hi All,

Oscar contacted me by email to see if I would be interested in participating in this project and any feedback I might have.

I answered by email and Oscar requested I post my response here to share with others. So here you have my 2 cents ;-)

Hi Oscar,

Its an interesting and ambitious project.
I'm too busy myself with mojoPortal to get involved much with other projects.

My only criticism is the use of DevExpress or any commercial closed
source components baked in early on in the project makes it not
appealing for open source developers because it will never really be a
full open source project. Though I do understand it will go more
quickly using such tools.
It will be free and very useful, perhaps that is enough for your goals
but many open source developers are concerned with more than just free
as in beer.
It will take a lot of long term commitment to really produce this
ambitious solution.
Its very easy to come up with a good idea for an open source project
but very few people really follow through because its requires a lot
of work sustained over a long period of time.

The more developers involved the more formal processes will be
required and this will make things go slowly vs just a few really
committed good developers who work well together. The motivation for
such long term commitment has to come from somewhere. I would think of
a dual licensing strategy or a plan to monetize it early on in the
planning so there is something beneficial for you and a few developers
to work towards or I fear there will not be enough motivation to
sustain efforts to complete this. The inclusion of the devexpress
stuff can also inhibit your ability to monetize it depending on the

Best Regards,


additional thoughts:

I think it is important for you guys to figure out the licensing strategy early on. Projects like OpenERP and Compiere/OpenBravo are sustained by dual licensing and a commercial strategy.

You should think of the long term and if there is not some financial incentive will the project really get fully realized or will the amount of work involved be too much time commitment if there is no incentive. There are many projects that get started then abandoned and the more ambitious the project the more likely this will occur because more sustained and coordinated effort is required to produce something this ambitious.

If you plan a way to dual license you will need to have an organization that owns the code in order to both license it under open source and commercial licenses. This means contributors must be willing to transfer copyright (or at least joint copyright) to the owning entity otherwise its impossible for the owning entity to include the contributed code in the commercial license version unless its a very liberal open source license like MsPl. But if you use a very liberal license then some other commercial entity may come along and do a better job making money on your work. So typically what you find with dual licensing is that the open source version is GPL so that others cannot include your work in closed source products without licensing it from you. This is what OpenERP and the others do.

There may be other ways of monetizing based on premium features vs the free open source features. This is my approach with mojoPortal.

In any case you will need to be careful about contributions, make sure the contributor is the author and is able to contribute it. Some employers have contracts where they own everything you produce even in your free time, so make sure contributors are not under such contracts or if so the employer is agreeing to contribute the code.

Its a lot to think about, but for a big undertaking its important to figure out your strategy early.

Sep 26, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Good Morning Joe,

Thank you very much for your participation.

We agree with you.

Please Review: 

We do expect to see sister projects convert XERP to both alternative commercial toolsets and open source toolsets.

It sounds like you really know a lot about this.

Would please join us and help organize this task?


Emilio, Garth, and Oscar