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

By 2017-04-258月 22nd, 2017Press Release

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

BARCELONA, Spain (Free Software Legal and Licensing Workshop), April 25, 2017 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.

cregit is currently capable of processing repositories of source code written in C,C++, and Java, but is extensible to other languages (patches are welcome). To see what cregit can do when applied to the Linux kernel, please visit:

To learn more about or contribute to development of cregit, go to:

FOSSology 3.1 Release

FOSSology 3.1 is a GPLv2 (GPL-2.0+) licensed open source project that facilitates open source license compliance by helping developers, lawyers, and software managers determine and communicate the components, licenses, and copyrights associated with software. Now available for use, FOSSology 3.1 features include:

  • User interface improvements to make bulk scanning more efficient when used with multiple licenses

  • New Dockerfile, also used for Docker Hub, including composed containers with a separate database server

  • To support sharing of information from FOSSology scans with other programs, both SPDX 2.0 document formats (RDF and tag:value format) are now available

  • Generation of Debian copyright files (aka DEP5)

To learn more about FOSSology, please visit:

About FSFE

Free Software Foundation Europe is a charity that empowers users to control technology. Software is deeply involved in all aspects of our lives; and it is important that this technology empowers rather than restricts us. Free software gives everybody the rights to use, understand, adapt and share software. These rights help support other fundamental freedoms like freedom of speech, press and privacy. The FSFE helps individuals and organisations to understand how free software contributes to freedom, transparency, and self-determination. It enhances users’ rights by abolishing barriers to free software adoption, encourage people to use and develop free software, and provide resources to enable everyone to further promote free software in Europe.

About The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation is the organization of choice for the world’s top developers and companies to build ecosystems that accelerate open technology development and commercial adoption. Together with the worldwide open source community, it is solving the hardest technology problems by creating the largest shared technology investment in history. Founded in 2000, The Linux Foundation today provides tools, training and events to scale any open source project, which together deliver an economic impact not achievable by any one company. More information can be found at

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