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Thread: Using Pentaho BI-Server In Closed-Source Project

  1. #1

    Question Using Pentaho BI-Server In Closed-Source Project

    Hi folks!

    I'm confused by all the different information I found in the internet about the usage of GPL'ed software in Closed-Source software.

    The scenario:
    We want to use the BI-Server for storing Report Definitions, execute and deliver them on the fly, e.g. triggered by a 3rd party application.
    In addition we like to use CDA to deliver json like outputs for simple URL calls...

    The server should not be included into any new, commercial software or something, it's about using it to deliver a functionality to the enduser. We also do not want to change the sourcecode of the BI-Server, excepted implementing a Single Sign-On strategy.

    So, regarding this scenario, can we use pentaho community for our closed-source application or would this usage force use to publish our customer application under GPLv2 too, which would be a no-go?

    Thanks & Regards

  2. #2


    Hi folks!

    I'm still not sure about the licensing thing but I found the following paragraph at wikipedia:
    Communicating and bundling with non-GPL programs

    The mere act of communicating with other programs does not, by itself, require all software to be GPL; nor does distributing GPL software with non-GPL software. However, minor conditions must be followed that ensures the rights of GPL software is not restricted. The following is a quote from the GPL FAQ, which describes to what extent software is allowed to communicate with and be-bundled-with GPL programs:
    'What is the difference between an "aggregate" and other kinds of "modified versions"?
    An "aggregate" consists of a number of separate programs, distributed together on the same CD-ROM or other media. The GPL permits you to create and distribute an aggregate, even when the licenses of the other software are non-free or GPL-incompatible. The only condition is that you cannot release the aggregate under a license that prohibits users from exercising rights that each program's individual license would grant them.
    Where's the line between two separate programs, and one program with two parts? This is a legal question, which ultimately judges will decide. We believe that a proper criterion depends both on the mechanism of communication (exec, pipes, rpc, function calls within a shared address space, etc.) and the semantics of the communication (what kinds of information are interchanged).
    If the modules are included in the same executable file, they are definitely combined in one program. If modules are designed to run linked together in a shared address space, that almost surely means combining them into one program.
    By contrast, pipes, sockets and command-line arguments are communication mechanisms normally used between two separate programs. So when they are used for communication, the modules normally are separate programs. But if the semantics of the communication are intimate enough, exchanging complex internal data structures, that too could be a basis to consider the two parts as combined into a larger program.
    The FSF thus draws the line between "library" and "other program" via 1) "complexity" and "intimacy" of information exchange, and 2) mechanism (rather than semantics), but resigns that the question is not clear-cut and that in complex situations, case law will need to decide.

    So if I understand that right it means, using the BI-Server in a commercial project would not force us to publish our Sourcecode as long as our application only communicates with the BI-Server? I just want to make sure we do not violate any licenses... Is there someone of the developers who can reliably answer my question?

    Kind Regards!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008


    I don't think any of us here are lawyers, and even if we were, we're not your lawyer.

    Best instruction I can give is to discuss it with your lawyer.
    I'm no expert.
    Take my comments at your own risk.

    PDI user since PDI 3.1
    PDI on Windows 7 & Linux

    Please keep in mind (and this may not apply to this thread):
    No forum member is going to do your work for you. We will help you sort out how to do a specific part of the work, as best we can, in the timelines that our work will allow us.
    Signature Updated: 2014-06-30

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