Over the years we noted with joy the continuous usage of the kernel inside Universities around the world, both for education and for research purposes. ERIKA is now part of many academic and industrial research projects, as well as training courses, and no doubt we can say that thanks to all contributors it became a reference for open-source automotive software. In parallel to this, Evidence got an increasing number of requests from customers, some of them asking for a commercial (non open-source) licensing of ERIKA Enterprise.
Maintaining and evolving the infrastructure behind the kernel requires a continuous effort. For this reason, we have been seeking a licensing scheme which is manageable from the economic point of view, allowing Evidence to maintain over time the growing opensource codebase of ERIKA Enterprise (for both versions v2 and v3). All this somehow worked for version v2, and no doubt that ERIKA Enterprise is what it is now also thanks to all commercial contributions and to all research projects that literally "paid the bill".
Being ERIKA v3 a complete new code base, we decided about the opportunity of changing the licensing terms of the source code, thus allowing a sustainable development of the project. With sustainable, we mean that we strongly want the project to maintain its open-source nature, committing its future to be a open-source AUTOSAR OS implementation; on the other hand, we want to continue to serve our commercial customers in the best way possible. In particular, we noted the opportunity about "selling exceptions" of the codebase (as described by RMS in his blog), and we noted as well the request coming from some commercial customers to obtain the source code of the ERIKA Kernel under different licensing terms.
We strongly believe that the new licensing scheme we devised with ERIKA v3 will help keeping the open-source nature of the project, providing in addition the possibility of further research and development under open-source licensing terms. The following two Sections describe the licensing schemes of the two versions of the codebase.
ERIKA v3 Licensing
ERIKA v3 is now distributed under the following three licensing schemes:
- GPLv2, with a linking exception allowing the inclusion and linking of specific silicon vendor source code (e.g., the register include file, device drivers, and so on);
- GPLv2 + linking exception license, which will allow a customer to link proprietary source code;
- Commercial license.
We consider the first option as ideal for research and development: you can in fact study and change the code at your will, "under the hat" of the GPL license. Please note that linking closed source application code to the GPLv2 version makes the code GPLv2 as well. In order not to be obliged to open you code you can use thesecond and third option.
The second and third options are sold separately by Evidence and not available on this website. The second and third option are good for companies willing to make products containing (and statically linking) the ERIKA3 codebase. These options contains in fact a linking exception for the application code, allowing you to link proprietary application code to the kernel.
Contributions to the ERIKA v3 codebase will require to sign a contribution agreement, that defines the exact rights that Evidence receives from the contributor planning to submit code to the ERIKA Enterprise Project. In this way, it will be possible for Evidence to redistribute all contributions under the open source license, enabling as well the participation of commercial users in the ERIKA Enterprise project development.
You can Download the Contribution Agreement at this link. The document is structured following the Italian law as a transfer of the IP to Evidence, which in turns gives it back to the author.
Please note that, although we plan to redistribute the code also under a commercial license, we guarantee that all opensource contributions we will accept using the contribution agreement will also remain in the opensource codebase (see also the remark apropos this topic in this RMS blog article).
The RT-Druid v3 codebase
The RT-Druid plugin used to configure ERIKA v3 is also a complete rewrite of the codebase, which uses part of the results of the AUTOSAR consortium, such as the ARTOP plugin, which are not open-source.
For this reason, we are likely going to keep the codebase of RT-Druid closed source, at least in the first stages of development. Universities and research institutions interested in working on the codebase of RT-Druid for research purposes can contact us for further information.
FAQ on the ERIKA3 Licensing
- Why the ERIKA3 License provides a Third party Linking Exception?
This is a general issue with GPL software with microocntrollers. In general, when working with a GPL library, you can only link GPL-compatible software. The fact is that most of the code which comes with normal microcontrollers (compiler boot, silicon vendor drivers), comes with a license that is not compatible with the GPL. Therefore, if someone links a GPL code with that microcontroller code, and then he/she distributes it, then he/she is violating the GPL. The way we found is to give an explicit linking exception for libraries we integrated with ERIKA3. In this way, for example, a research department in a University is able to develop a GPL software for research purposes and distribute it. Without the third party license that would not be possible.
ERIKA v2 Licensing
ERIKA v2 is distributed under the GPLv2 + linking exception license. RT-Druid v2 is distributed under the EPL license.
Note that the code base is the union of contributions from various authors; we have no plans to change the licensing scheme of ERIKA v2.
The codebase of ERIKA v3 is a complete rewrite of the codebase of ERIKA v2 (there is no code in ERIKA v3 derived from code of ERIKA v2).