Difference Wiki

GPL vs. LGPL: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 3, 2023
GPL (General Public License) mandates derivatives to be open-source, while LGPL (Lesser General Public License) allows linking to proprietary software. Both are free software licenses from the FSF.

Key Differences

GPL, or the General Public License, ensures that derivative work also adheres to open-source distribution, enforcing the sharing of source code. LGPL, the Lesser General Public License, while also promoting open-source, allows proprietary linkage, providing a bit more flexibility in terms of linking to non-open-source software.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023
Under GPL, any derivative work or adaptation must also be distributed under GPL, ensuring a consistent open-source lineage. Conversely, LGPL allows proprietary applications to link to LGPL-licensed libraries without needing to open-source the proprietary code, creating a bridge between open and closed source frameworks.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023
While GPL insists upon a strong copyleft approach, dictating that derivative work must uphold the same license principles, LGPL provides a more permissive approach, adopting a weak copyleft which allows for inclusion in non-free projects. This difference reflects distinct philosophical stances about open-source development.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023
Developers using GPL ensure that any project utilizing their code will also be open source, fostering a comprehensive open-source ecosystem. LGPL, while supportive of open-source, allows for broader utilization, including in some proprietary contexts, thereby potentially promoting wider usage of the library.
Sara Rehman
Oct 03, 2023
Both GPL and LGPL aim to protect and empower developers by ensuring acknowledgment and keeping software freely available. GPL provides a more rigid framework to assure this across all derivatives, while LGPL offers a somewhat looser structure, accommodating more varied software distribution models.
Sara Rehman
Oct 03, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Flexibility

Rigid, all derivatives must be open-source
More flexible, allows linkage to proprietary software
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

Usage in Proprietary Software

Cannot be included without opening source code
Can be used without opening proprietary code
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

License Type

Strong copyleft
Weak copyleft
Huma Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

Library Linking

Derivative software must also be GPL
Allows proprietary software to link to LGPL libraries
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

Intended Use

For comprehensive open-source ecosystems
To permit utilization in broader contexts
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023
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GPL and LGPL Definitions

GPL

GPL prevents proprietary adaptations of open-source software.
GPL ensures derivative works of software like GCC remain open to all users.
Sara Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

LGPL

LGPL is designed to protect the user’s freedom to share and change free software.
LGPL-licensed software like FreeType permits free usage, modification, and distribution.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

GPL

GPL ensures that software derivatives are also open-source.
Linux, licensed under GPL, ensures that derivatives like Ubuntu also remain open-source.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

LGPL

LGPL allows developers to utilize the code more flexibly than GPL.
LGPL permits proprietary applications to link to open libraries without adopting a full open-source model.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

GPL

GPL seeks to ensure freedom to share and change all versions of a program.
GPL grants users of applications like GIMP the freedom to modify and distribute copies.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

LGPL

LGPL aims to promote the widespread use of the library across various software.
LGPL permits GNU libstdc++ to be utilized in varied software environments without imposing GPL.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

GPL

GPL emphasizes preserving open-source integrity in derivatives.
Programs derived from GPL-licensed software, like BusyBox, cannot be made proprietary.
Sara Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

LGPL

LGPL allows proprietary software to link to open-source libraries.
Proprietary software can utilize libraries like GTK+, which is LGPL-licensed, without open-sourcing their own code.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

GPL

GPL requires modified versions to also be GPL-licensed.
Modifying a GPL tool’s code means your tool must also be distributed under GPL.
Huma Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

LGPL

LGPL incorporates a weak copyleft, ensuring the licensed library remains open-source.
Libraries under LGPL, like libpng, remain open-source even when implemented in proprietary software.
Huma Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

GPL

Abbreviation of grams per litre
Sumera Saeed
Dec 06, 2015

FAQs

Can I use GPL software in my proprietary software?

Yes, but your software becomes subject to GPL, requiring you to open-source it.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

Can I modify GPL software for personal use without sharing?

Yes, modifications for personal use don’t have to be shared, but distribution requires sharing under GPL.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

What does LGPL stand for?

LGPL stands for Lesser General Public License.
Huma Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

Is LGPL considered a “weak” copyleft license?

Yes, LGPL is considered weak copyleft because it allows linking with proprietary software.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

What is “copyleft” in the context of GPL?

Copyleft in GPL means any derivative work must also be distributed under GPL.
Harlon Moss
Oct 03, 2023

What is the goal of LGPL in software development?

LGPL aims to proliferate open-source libraries in various software, including proprietary.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 03, 2023

Can LGPL libraries be used in proprietary software?

Yes, LGPL libraries can be used in proprietary software without open-sourcing it.
Janet White
Oct 03, 2023

Can I sell GPL-licensed software?

Yes, but you must provide or offer the source code to users.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

What happens if I violate the GPL?

Violating GPL can result in legal consequences and the loss of rights to use the software.
Harlon Moss
Oct 03, 2023

What is a derivative work under GPL?

A derivative work under GPL is any work that uses or modifies the original GPL-licensed work.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

Can LGPL work be converted to GPL?

Yes, LGPL work can be relicensed as GPL if the developer chooses.
Sara Rehman
Oct 03, 2023

Is LGPL more permissive than GPL?

Yes, LGPL allows for more permissive use, particularly in proprietary software.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 03, 2023

How does GPL ensure code remains free and open?

GPL mandates that any adaptations and distributions of the code remain under GPL.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

What does GPL stand for?

GPL stands for General Public License.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

Can I sell software that uses LGPL libraries?

Yes, and you’re not required to open-source your software unless you modify the LGPL library.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

Can you give an example of LGPL software?

An example of LGPL software is the GNU C Library.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023

What is the main philosophical difference between GPL and LGPL?

GPL enforces strict open-source distribution, while LGPL allows interaction with proprietary software.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 03, 2023

What are some examples of GPL software?

Examples of GPL software include the Linux kernel and WordPress.
Harlon Moss
Oct 03, 2023

Is violating the LGPL legally enforceable?

Yes, LGPL violations are legally enforceable and may lead to legal consequences.
Janet White
Oct 03, 2023

Can proprietary software use GPL components?

Only if the entire software project adheres to GPL, open-sourcing its own code.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 03, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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