GNOME package licensing

Just a basic question. Does GNOME recommend any licence for core / circle packages ?

Below are 3 core packages with different licensing.

1. Files - GPL >= v3


2. Gedit - GPL >= v2


3. Geary - LGPL >= v2.1

Screenshot from 2020-09-15 22-57-16


We require that all projects hosted on GNOME infrastructure come under the terms of an OSI-approved license, and we prefer that they don’t have a policy of copyright assignment.

We don’t have a strict recommendation on what kind of license to use, but, generally speaking:

  • libraries should use the Lesser General Public License
  • applications may use whatever license they prefer


Do you mean to imply, that there should be no copyright owner mentioned in source files, because I see this all the time in GNOME projects.

That’s not what “copyright assignment policy” means.

Please read:

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Thanks for the link.

Another related question:

  1. What is the recommended way to add licence in the GtkAbout dialog. The one with licence in built for instant view:


or the ones in the topic description which have a link to

  1. The link case has an advantage that it will point to the recent version of the license. But, is it correct to expect that the user should have an internet connection to view the licence ?


The recommended way is to use the GtkAboutDialog API with one of the well-known license types. Alternatively, to use the specific license text with gtk_about_dialog_set_license(), in case the license is not one of the known types.

It does not really matter what the about dialog says: the application should ship a file with the full licensing terms. The about dialog should just give an overview of the license in use.

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In that case, can we mandate that the apps should be pointing to the local LICENSE file shipped with the app, rather than a remote licence link at ?


No, we can’t “mandate” anything. If you want something to happen, you get to work on it.

If you want to open a new GNOME-wide goal, you can talk to the release team and the design team. Then you’d have to add new API to GTK4, since GTK3 is frozen, to allow the AboutDialog to point to a file location or a GResource. After that, you will need to open a merge request for every GNOME core application (once they move to GTK4) to install their licensing terms file, and use the new API to show it.



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