Pentaho BI Platform License FAQ

Why is Pentaho using the General Public License (GPL) for the Pentaho BI Platform?

The GPL is the most widely used open source software license. Currently, more than 60% of open source projects tracked on are GPL-licensed. The GPL is well understood by the market and the legal community and has notable precedents such as MySQL, Java and the Linux kernel as GPL-licensed projects. Because the GPL is what's known as a "reciprocal license" it ensures that the software is open and remains open.

What, specifically, is meant by the "Pentaho BI Platform"?

The Pentaho BI Platform is the underlying infrastructure that provides integration of Pentaho's reporting, analysis, dashboard, data integration, and data mining capabilities into the Pentaho Open BI Suite. From a technical and licensing perspective, it is separate from other modules and components like Pentaho Analysis (Mondrian), Pentaho Data Integration (formerly Kettle), Pentaho Reporting (formerly JFreeReport), and Pentaho Data Mining (Weka). Specifically, the Platform engine core, Platform engine services, Platform engine security, Platform repository, and UI foundation will be changed to the GPLv2 license. Going forward, Pentaho will require third-parties who want to contribute code to these components to release that code under the GPL license.

What version(s) of the Pentaho BI Platform does this affect?

The most recent Generally Available (GA) release of the Pentaho BI Platform 1.7 was released under the same Mozilla Public License (MPL) of prior releases. The first release of source code for Pentaho BI Platform version 2 has been released under GPLv2. Future development and GA versions of the Pentaho BI Platform version 2 and later will also be released under GPLv2.

Which version of the GPL are you using?


Why did you choose GPL version 2 rather than version 3?

GPLv2 is more compatible with more of our partners' licenses and community open source distributions than GPLv3 is today. For example, GPLv2 makes it simpler and cleaner for other projects that want to embed both Pentaho and MySQL, Alfresco, or other GPLv2-licensed projects. Pentaho could move the platform components mentioned above to GPLv3 at a later date, based on partner and community feedback.

When does the license change go into effect for customers and OEM partners?

Generally, this change will not affect Pentaho customers or OEM partners until some time after the next General Availability (GA) release of Pentaho version 2, currently planned for the second half of this year, when they decide that they want to upgrade their production deployments or revise their product lines to incorporate the GA release of Pentaho BI Platform version 2.

How does this affect compatibility with other open source licenses?

Like many other commercial open source companies and open source projects, Pentaho is providing a "FLOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software) Exception." In simplified form, this allows Pentaho as well as other organizations distributing software under certain other OSI-certified licenses to be exempt from some of the requirements of the GPLv2 license. For more information, please see the Pentaho FLOSS Exception.

Does the GPL require me to release my extensions, modifications, or applications that use or run on the Pentaho BI Platform within my organization?

In general, the GPL requirement for release of the extensions, modification and applications that use or run on code licensed under the GPL are triggered upon distribution of compiled software or source code. The complete terms of the GPLv2 license are available from the Open Source Initiative here. also provides an FAQ as well as translated versions of the license here. The definitions for modifications, extensions, derivative works and distribution can be complicated and should be reviewed by legal counsel.

What if I or my organization wants to distribute software that embeds the Pentaho BI Platform to customers and I'm not already a Pentaho OEM Partner?

Please see the Pentaho FLOSS Exception here if you are distributing all of your code via the excepted OSI-certified open source licenses. Since the GPL is what's known as a "reciprocal license", if you intend to distribute GPL-licensed code to your customers as part of other software you have created, you may, depending on the software you have created, be required release that code under the GPL. Companies that wish to distribute the Pentaho BI Platform have the option of purchasing a commercial license from Pentaho Corporation. A commercial license would exempt you from GPL obligations.

Our company has a policy against use of GPL software. What should I do?

Commercial licenses for the Pentaho BI Platform will be available from Pentaho Corporation to end user organizations as well as ISV's, OEMs, or other distributors.

Will existing Pentaho customers be provided with a commercial license?

Yes. As we get closer to delivery of the first GPL-licensed GA release of the Pentaho BI Platform, end user organizations who would like a commercial license will be provided one at their request as long as they are current on their Pentaho Subscription.

Will existing Pentaho OEM Partners be provided with a commercial license?

Yes. As we get closer to delivery of the first GPL-licensed GA release of the Pentaho BI Platform, existing OEM partners in good standing who distribute the Pentaho BI Platform will be provided with a commercial license for the Pentaho BI Platform.

Why does Pentaho's product portfolio include multiple license types?

Some of the projects that Pentaho Corporation now leads and sponsors, like Mondrian, Weka, and Pentaho Reporting (formerly JFreeReport) existed prior to the founding of Pentaho Corporation and the creation of the Pentaho BI Platform project. Those projects had different contribution processes and policies, and use different open source licenses including the Common Public License (Mondrian), GNU General Public License (Weka), and GNU Lesser General Public License (Pentaho Reporting and Pentaho Data Integration/Kettle).

Are you planning to change the licensing of other Pentaho modules like Pentaho Data Integration (formerly Kettle), Pentaho Analysis (Mondrian), or Pentaho Reporting (formerly JFreeReport)?

We have evaluated our other projects and their OSI-certified licenses and feel comfortable with their license types. Pentaho has, and will continue to have a mix of OSI-certified open source licenses across its products and projects. Changing the Pentaho BI Platform to the GNU GPLv2 license allows us to further simplify open source licensing for our major independent modules to a combination of compatible open source licenses including CPL (Mondrian), GPL (Pentaho BI Platform, Weka), and LGPL (Pentaho Reporting and Pentaho Data Integration).

Does this change affect me if I use, distribute, embed or modify Mondrian, Pentaho Data Integration (Kettle), or Pentaho Reporting (JFreeReport) in a "standalone" fashion without the Pentaho BI Platform?

No, this change does not affect you.

Does this change the Pentaho Community contribution process?

The contribution process for the Pentaho BI Platform remains unchanged, but the Contributor Agreement has been updated based on the change to the GPLv2 license.

What if I have additional questions or feedback?

There are still some questions and details that we are working through, and we will keep this FAQ up-to-date as we work through those details. Pentaho Corporation made a conscious decision to communicate as early in the process as we felt that we could, knowing that we would still have to work through additional questions following the announcement. If you'd like to assist us by submitting your questions, providing feedback on the change, or ideas going forward, please contact us at
Version 1.1 Last Updated 6/5/2008