Do You Understand GPL?


Most of you know that we build Zen carts very regularly. Part of the draw and value of Zen Cart is its GPL license. This means a few very important things to us as a company who looks to support our customers in the best way possible. Not every company can afford a fully custom developed shopping cart software…. Just for them. The next best thing is a strong community based FREE software solution, like Zen Cart.

So Zen Cart is highly effective and very flexible. The fact that its licensing is GPL means we can mold it to better fit individual business owner’s needs, thus sparing them impossible development costs for the customizations and support they need. Zen Cart accomplishes this and more. One VERY important aspect of any GPL software is its community… This is the lifeline of the support you will need and the secure future of any free software project. No community…. No future.

Zen Cart has a very active and top notch community to rely on for support, advice and even free contributed GPL software modules to make the customizing of your Zen Cart easier.  So for us… We know Zen Cart is standing by their project and that this thriving community of supporters can be relied on.

This also means that the Zen Cart Team has only donations to rely on for development, hosting and other associated costs for the free services they provide…. So when you’re done reading, please buy them a cup of coffee.

So, now we have the value of GPL community supported software… What about the rules?

Simply put Zen Cart is released under the GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE, Version 2. In layman’s terms the following bullet list highlights the most important pieces of the license. Here are Zen Carts remix/contribution rules.

  1. Zen Cart is Open Source Software, this simply means that the code source is freely available
  2. GPL is synonymous with GNU, which gives the software licensing ability to be shared
  3. You can change the software without issue to suit your needs
  4. Remixes and code changes MUST be distributed with the same rights with which the software was given to you
  5. You cannot remove Zen Carts copyright statements within the coded documents
  6. ANY remix/module which changes Zen Cart’s core code is required by GPL to be released as GPL… You cannot make core changes to Zen Cart and then sell it
  7. No remix or contribution is permitted to be discussed/supported in the support forum unless it has been submitted to Zen Cart in the free contributions section

So the straight and narrow of this is…. IF you edit Zen Cart or add to it, the resulting code can only be released as GNU2.0/GPL (the same rights which were granted to you) and you may not sell remixes of Zen Cart.

You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

So you can make Zen Cart do the things you need, share these discoveries and reap the full benefit of very strongly supported software. Cool huh?

Ok, so many times, my partner has been called on the carpet for SELLING Zen Cart modules. These under informed and short sighted folks have not taken the time to read or understand any of this.

Recently, she had quite an email run in with the author of a freely contributed and distributed GPL module written specifically for Zen Cart. This module does in fact make core Zen Cart code changes and was released with proper GNU/GPL licensing upon submission to the free downloads section of Zen Cart.

So logically speaking after what we have learned today…. This module is free for all, Right?

Yes, absolutely. So here’s the catch… No snake oil, just customer service. She offers INSTALLATION SERVICES for many freely distributed Zen Cart Modules in the normal course of her business. We also offer these services for those who need help. Not everyone can install a module and these services are necessary for many. This author of the contribution took issue with this…. He has no intention of offering up his services to install this module for free… But she should (apparently). His offense was related to the one time upfront posted fee for installing this module. He even went as far as to suggest that she only be allowed to charge hourly and her customers must email her for a price.  UHUH!

Understand that our partner and ourselves can be found supporting anyone with the desire to learn for FREE in the Zen cart forum. We have both contributed modules for Zen Cart and expect nothing in return. We both believe very strongly in the empowerment of shop owners… and go out of our way to teach, tutor and help not only our customers, but perfect strangers as well.

So, PRO-Webs will continue to offer installations of Zen Cart modules/contributions without fear, nor remorse. You see it’s very simple… There is no need for concern, because if the shop owner has the time, skill set and desire…. We are more than happy to freely offer up our services in the Zen cart Community Support Forum… Along side of hundreds of additional helping hands, who also volunteer their time to help others unselfishly and without fee.

2 responses to “Do You Understand GPL?”

  1. Very well put! I try so diligently to explain this when I receive an email of this nature. Most of the time you can get it across so they understand, and all is well. Other times it is like beating your head up against the wall – like in the case of this particular mod developer … they just don’t “get it”. I don’t know if they are just not smart enough to get it – or if they just choose not to get it!

    Thankfully I only get emails like this a few times a year and most people do so with ficticious email addresses so I cannot explain to them the information you have put so eloquently in this article!