Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Top 20 Most Commonly Used Open Source Licenses

My recent post "Tim Yeaton Snares Black Duck" gave me the encouragement to check out what Black Duck is up to these days.

While surfing the Black Duck Software website, I came across a very useful page worth bookmarking:
Top 20 Most Commonly Used Licenses in Open Source Projects

Black Duck's site says that they update the data in the table below on a daily basis, so please click over to their website for the latest data:
There is nothing unexpected or overly shocking in the data. For example, I have known that GPL 2.0 is the dominant open source license. I always thought the Apache 2.0 license was a little more prevalent, but the data is not far off from what I expected. GPL 3.0 appears to be doing really well since it is already above the Apache 2.0 and Mozilla Public License.

Anyhow, I figured I'd share the link. I'll certainly visit it periodically to stay abreast of the open source license landscape.


Sacha L said...


Do you know by any chance if they have a way to provide the same listing "by language" i.e. what this listing would be for C/C++ vs. Java vs. etc.? I've tried to find it but couldn't. I would be interesting to see how much "the Linux community" (however it could be defined) is "bending" those stats vs. the other FOSS communities.



pvescuso said...


I don't have the language count handy for all OSS, but I do for the new projects released in 2008, which would be a leading indicator of where things are going.

We counted over 17,000 new OSS projects in 2008 – those projects that show a creation or registration date in 2008. 47% of these newly created projects used the C language. Java came in as the number two language of choice at nearly 28%. Third was Javascript at over 20%. In the world of scripting, nearly 18% of the projects chose to use Perl while only 11% used PHP. These were both higher than Python at nearly 10% and Ruby at 6%. Note, most projects used more than one language and these results are based on the number of projects using a given language, not the number of lines of code created.

Hope this helps. Also we conducted a survey this week at SD West and asked developers what their primary language/environment was (not specific to OSS). The results are at:

Peter Vescuso

Sacha L said...

Thanks Peter, that's very interesting. Now, do you have the next level of information i.e. for the Java projects, what is the license ranking? And same for C/C++?

My bottom line is this I guess: it would be very interesting to track the license ranking PER programming language AND OVER TIME, to see how license adoption in a specific "technosystem" evolves.

But maybe it is just me who is interested in that kind of things :)