Thursday, 18 February 2010

PostgreSQL - now with added Open Source!

Some of you may be aware that some time ago, Redhat's legal team changed the description of the PostgreSQL licence (yes, that is correct where I live - please don't email me to tell me I can't spell) from BSD to MIT. After doing some poking around (it helps when your boss's boss is an ex-Redhat exec) it transpired that they considered that our licence looked a lot more like the MIT licence than BSD.

It's true that ours doesn't look like the traditional BSD 3 or 4 clause licences - some people had already spotted that, but as it came from Berkeley we always just considered it to be a variant on the simplified BSD licence. The long and short of it was that lawyers said "no they're not the same", and we said "well it sure ain't MIT" and much discussion ensued.

The solution it seemed, was to try to get our licence recognised and approved by the Open Source Initiative. I originally tried to do it as an official BSD variant, but that wasn't accepted. I then resubmitted it as 'The PostgreSQL License" (yes, I know :-p), which was rejected as it wasn't a generic licence (OSI are trying to ensure that all new licences are resuable). Finally, I submitted it again with placeholders replacing the project name and copyright holder info, and nearly two months later, it's approved!

So there you have it ladies and gents. "The world's most advanced database with freely available source code" now actually is, officially, The world's most advanced Open Source database"!


  1. I give up, what *is* the PostgreSQL licence, if it's not BSD or MIT? I looked at the list of licences on the OSI site, but none of them looked relevant.

  2. So Dave what exactly is the new licence (OK will go with your spelling) called? Is it listed on the OSI site yet?

  3. Screwtape, ashimmy,

    The text of the licence hasn't changed from what we've always used, so practically speaking there is no difference at all to end users or people/companies using the source code in other ways.

    What has happened is that our licence text has been approved by the OSI as one that meets the Open Source definition. It will be called the "PostgreSQL License" and is due to be added to the list of approved licences on their website in the not-too-distant future.