6 years, 10 months ago.

License model?

What will be the license model for mbed 3.0 and associated software?

The phrase "Open Source" is notably missing, so that naturally leaves me wondering if ARM is looking to monetize their investment and start commercial licensing of mbed stuff.

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1 Answer

6 years, 10 months ago.

Hi Bob,

Most of the components of mbed OS will be open source, using the same Apache 2.0 permissive license we use today to try and make the code as accessible and acceptable for commercial and non-commercial use as possible.

But it will notably rely on some components that are much more specific with source constraints, and are provided as free binaries on a per case basis, especially some of the 3rd party low-level wireless drivers - e.g parts of these are often provided by the vendor as binary images which are ported under the mbed APIs, making them easier to use and portable.

In terms of investment, ARM and our partners contribute by being a member of mbed; that helps mbed look at the right level of investment needed to achieve these goals.

Accepted Answer

I think being "partly Open Source" is a bit like being "partly pregnant". When considering a platform, the more restrictive license applies, so what I take from your answer is that if parts of mbed are OS that is a "nice-to-have" rather than a commitment, or perhaps a loss leader, but overall licensees will have to expect to pay for parts of the stack to be fully useful.

Obviously ARM is trying to compete in the IoT space, but yet another commercial offering probably doesn't provide much differentiation. I think being OS would be an attractive feature, I think Linux and Android demonstrate how that can be succesful. Most of the partners in this seem to be hardware vendors.

Anyway, I will be looking to other platforms to use for Open Source projects.

posted by bob cousins 04 Oct 2014

Re: "licensees will have to expect to pay for parts of the stack to be fully useful"; No, it is definitely free.

Re: "is it open source"; most is, some isn't by choice or requirement. As a good example, the driver for some radios are provided by the vendor as a binary blob; we can't open source that. This is analogous to some of the wifi or GPU drivers that were binary in linux. But we won't accept them unless they can be made freely available to developers for use. There may be other components that are binary as part of a commercial or early access control. But as you can see from our work already, most is open source.

Aside: Other companies probably could choose to sell software components that runs on mbed OS; I can imagine that could be a business for some (e.g. selling clever algorithms, whatever). Others might setup as open-source plus support services. We encourage most contributions to be open source too however, and tend to try and teach and share the benefits with companies we work with.

posted by Simon Ford 04 Oct 2014

Huh? "free" is a completely different thing to "open source". To conflate the two things is to show a serious miscomprehension of what Open Source is really about.

I think we can safely forget about Open Source in the context of mbed!

posted by bob cousins 09 Oct 2014