Doesn't display information about exact software license

Bug #435183 reported by piero_tasso on 2009-09-23
This bug affects 29 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
software-center (Ubuntu)
Matthew Paul Thomas
Declined for Maverick by Sebastien Bacher

Bug Description

When you see information about software that you want to install, Ubuntu Software Center says whether the license is "Open source", "Proprietary", or "Unknown". It does not show more detail than that (e.g. GPLv2).

It should be helpful not only to make others understand the nature of free software, but also to distinguish free and open source software from software like (just an example) Google Earth, free for non commercial use.

This cannot be fixed in Ubuntu Software Center until Ubuntu packages themselves provide machine-readable information about their exact license. For one proposal to implement this, see <>.

See also <>.

Tags: db Edit Tag help
Andrew (and471) wrote :

Matthew do we want this?

Changed in software-store (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt)
status: New → Incomplete
Michael Vogt (mvo) wrote :

Thanks for your bugreport.

We do show "Open Source", "Proprietary" and "Unknown" now in the store.

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

We do want this, but we can't provide useful information for packages in third-party repositories until package copyright information is made machine-parseable. If you want to make this a reality, do what you can to get <> approved and adopted.

Changed in software-store (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → Confirmed
assignee: Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) → nobody
piero_tasso (piero-tasso) wrote :

thank you very much for license indication, Michael; that's really fine for me, now.
Matthew, the adoption of the proposal would be the best and definitive solution, but I don't know actually what can I do to get the proposal approved.

shawnlandden (shawnlandden) wrote :

What is currently in Karmic Beta is not very good nor useful.

it just says

"License: Open Source"

 For everything in main and universe

and "unknown" for things in multiverse
"proprietary" for things in restricted

instead of "Open Source" software-center needs to use the copyright information from the packages


shawnlandden (shawnlandden) wrote :

blocks on bug 462461

shawnlandden (shawnlandden) wrote :

Re: submitter, the text should never say something like the proposed "free for non-commercial use", it should say License: proprietary for anything that is not DFSG free. There are two fields, price and license.

Alexey Kotlyarov (koterpillar) wrote :

scientes, "proprietary" would be as misleading as "Open source", they all have different clauses like NDA, etc. There should be some more information - not sure how to classify licenses though.

description: updated
Changed in software-center (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
milestone: none → later
summary: - software-store doesn't display informations about licences
+ Doesn't display information about exact software license
MillenniumBug (millenniumbug) wrote :

Regarding #3:

Is it possible to show "GPL" (with a brief explanation) for the packages in own repositories? It would be a good beginning, though not possible for all packages at the moment.

В Вск, 14/03/2010 в 11:46 +0000, Martin Olesen пишет:
> Regarding #3:
> Is it possible to show "GPL" (with a brief explanation) for the packages
> in own repositories? It would be a good beginning, though not possible
> for all packages at the moment.
What do you mean by "Own repositories"? Please note that even packages
in Ubuntu main use a multitude of licenses - for example, MIT, X11,
Mozilla and Apache.

MillenniumBug (millenniumbug) wrote :

True, my mistake. I meant that the license name, being GPL or another, and a brief explanation should be visible.

Now there is only a button labeled 'free', which I assume means 'free as in beer'. The 'free as in speech'-part is only represented as a faint, grey text at the bottom saying 'open source'. The two parts of freedom shold both be promoted, not only the beer.

Donjan Rodic (bryonak) wrote :

I agree with the idea: we can't complain about users not understanding the difference as long as we don't offer them the opportunity to do so.
It's a small but IMO meaningful way to help users apprehend the spirit of Free/Open Source software.

A simple listing of the project's licenses (as soon as we have a mechanism that supports this, of course) with hyperlinks to short summaries (or the license text itself) would suffice and wouldn't clutter the interface.

grofaty (grofaty) wrote :

@Donjan Rodic,
I think there should be a summaries of license, because of two reasons:
1. Who likes to read 10 pages of original license?
2. Are ordinary people lawyers, so understanding law language?
3. Do ordinary people care about open source? For most of the people free as a beer and free as a speech is the same - they are not a programmers to know how to change a program, so why should they care.

Donjan Rodic (bryonak) wrote :

Yes, summaries would be better, as your first two points explain well.

One thing we shouldn't overestimate (or fear) is the average user's apathy towards licensing.They will come to like the Software Center because it offers them a wealth of free (beer) programs. They would generally skip over the little 'GPL', 'BSDL' or 'MIT' link, but I'm pretty sure many would become curious at some point and ask themselves why and how they can get all these things for free, without advertisement or data mining.
I've already had people asking me what that 'License: Open Source' actually means in the current Software Center. While we're at it, I'd also recommend turning that one into a link with a web page explaining the concept.

It's just a nice chance to offer new users insight into the foundations of"our community. There's no reason to miss it :)

David Ayers (ayers) wrote :

I would also like to express the wish to be able to filter packages that are non-free.

I'm aware that the definition of what is non-free is often contested but I would hope that a few standard profiles could be used: FSF/DFSG/OSI to which the majority of fractions would agree to.

This would probably be need to implemented in Debian but I haven't found a bug report to post this suggestion to and the DEP5 seems to be an internal Debian process.

Changed in software-center (Ubuntu):
milestone: later → none
Tudor Holton (tudor) wrote :

Has there been any movement on this bug? I have an open question that directly relates to it at , particularly in relation to skovprodukter's question in this bug.

Kiwinote (kiwinote) on 2011-09-27
tags: added: db
description: updated
Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Debian now has a standard for this:

The next step is to specify how the "License:" fields in a package's debian/copyright should be aggregated if necessary, and summarized as a single line of text. For example, "License: Open source (GPL 3, MPL 1.1, and others)".

Changed in software-center (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt)
anatoly techtonik (techtonik) wrote :

At least there is nothing that hinders the change to make license visible for the software that uses only single license. For projects with multiple it can state like Google Code does - "Other Open Source" or a "First License, ... "

Changed in software-center (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → In Progress
anatoly techtonik (techtonik) wrote :

How is it going?

Changed in software-center (Ubuntu):
status: In Progress → Confirmed
trampster (trampster) wrote :

I recently needed to create a debian package for a commercial application. This application would not be distributed through the ubuntu software center.

After creating the debian package with the custom licence in the copyright file I installed the application using by double clicking on the deb file. This launched the ubuntu software center which showed the licence as "unknown".

I then read about the new machine readable copyright format and changed my package to use this hoping it would now display the licence. Sadly the ubuntu software center still shows 'unknown'.

Coming from the commercial world, the company I work for expects the user to be informed of the licence during the installation process. They are familiar with windows installers where the user is shown the licence and must agree to it before installing.

I realize that in the open source world a user does not need to be shown or agree to the licence as they do not restrict user freedoms. However as ubuntu gains popularity, more companies are looking to bring there proprietary applications to ubuntu. And these companies have expectations regarding the install process when it comes to there licence.

Lucio Crusca (lucrus) wrote :

Just a note about what @trampster wrote in comment #21: it's not true that in the free-as-in-freedom software world users do not need to agree to the licence. The GPL does restrict the single user freedoms in order to grant other freedoms to the users community at large. For example the GPL restricts your freedom distribute works based on the code under a closed source license only. Other free-as-in-freedom licenses grant you that freedom instead.
I think the user should always accept the license, regardless of what the license is. This is useful for the GPL and other free licenses too (in fact free software windows installers do show the license and ask users to accept it, also if it is the GPL).

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