GPL vs. LGPL

LGPL and GPL

LGPL and GPL are kinds of software licenses that allow users more freedom in sharing and editing open source software. Many of the software licenses available today are very restricted when concerning distribution and modifications. LGPL and GPL take these restrictions away, allowing users more flexibility and freedom; making these two the most popular open source licenses today.

GPL

GPL or General Public License is a kind of license often used by many free operating system software like Linux. This license dictates that the software involved is open for all users. They may modify or edit the software, even obtain and redistribute its source code. GPL does not does not have any restrictions. In fact, it prohibits people from denying users rights to obtain and do what they please to the software.

LGPL

Lesser General Public License or LGPL is a version of GPL with certain amendments. The license is, in general, used in software libraries, only. It’s ‘Lesser’ compared to GPL due to the fact that it provides less freedom to software users. In this license, non-free programs, such as Microsoft, may gain access to the software library. In doing so, the process will be considered combined work with the library.

Difference Between the Two

One major difference between the two is the amount of freedom they provide the users. GPL allows more freedom in making certain changes in the software, in sharing and obtaining original source code. When users distribute software, they also need to make sure that those who receive them are entitled to the same rights and freedoms that they themselves were allowed. Also, all changes made within the software should also be under GPL license.

LGPL however, as the name implies, provides less freedom, and is confined to software libraries only. Users may link their software to non-free programs. Today, most users prefer obtaining GPL licenses for their software and LGPL for their software libraries.

Before deciding which license to obtain, one must consider first his/her goals and preferences. By making sure that the license agrees with all your needs and what you want to achieve, you’ll be sure to obtain the one from which you will benefit the most.

Important Points:

  • GPL is used mostly for programs, whereas LGPL is used solely in software libraries.
  • Changes made while under GPL licensed must be licensed with GPL as well.
  • LGPL allow non-free programs access to libraries.