using Visual Basic in open source projects

Tzeng, Nigel H. Nigel.Tzeng at
Mon Jul 21 21:54:27 UTC 2008

Fortunately the open source definition is not so constraining.  You can find many open source projects written in VB and C#.  Not quite as many as in Java/C++/C but still quite a few.  Even GPL ones...although I'd guess most would be Ms-PL or Ms-RL as most would live on CodePlex.
So...there's no issues with running in the "Free World".  Especially given that you can run proprietary apps on Linux which represents the main "free" operating system anyway.  That paragraph is misleading in this context.
I would look to see the extent of VB compatibility under Mono if it really bothers you.  It was a 2006 Google SoC project if I recall correctly.  Cool stuff and I think the student was hired by Novell.
Given that you are in an academic environment I would also recommend looking at Educational Community License v2.0.  It is Apache based and used on other educational projects like Sakai.  It is GPL 3.0 compatible but not 2.0. <> 
An open source license that was GPL compatible (but not GPL) gives you the widest range of flexibility.  Given that some data aquisition code may have to rely on vendor provided libraries, GPL would be a bad choice.


From: Pimm Hogeling [mailto:pimmhogeling at]
Sent: Mon 7/21/2008 5:09 PM
To: license-discuss at
Subject: Re: using Visual Basic in open source projects

Hello Pablo, has the following question in it's faq: "Can I write free
software that uses non-free libraries?", and the answer starts with
"If you do this, your program won't be fully usable in a free
environment. If your program depends on a non-free library to do a
certain job, it cannot do that job in the Free World. If it depends on
a non-free library to run at all, it cannot be part of a free
operating system such as GNU; it is entirely off limits to the Free
World." The rest of the answer can be found here:

Also, when looking for the "most open" license you should check out
the X11/MIT license.

Hope this helps.

Pimm Hogeling

2008/7/21 Pablo Dotro <pdotro at>:
> Greetings,
> I am aware that this is very probably an off topic subject, I will gladly accept any suggestions as to where to properly ask this question ;-)
> I work as technician at the Universidad de Buenos Aires (University of Buenos Aires, in Argentina), in charge of IT services for the Physics Dept. teaching labs (at the Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, FCEyN).
> We are about to start a project that includes developing a ton of data adquisiton and data anlysis software to replace some very old utilities that were traditionally used in some of the regular experiments the students perform.
> They are currently written in QuickBasic for DOS, in a mix-up of sample code from equipment manufacturers and old student and staff contributions accumulated along the years. Since most original authors are uncredited, and some of the code is in really bad shape, we are "clearing the board" and starting again from ground zero.
> One of the premises of the project is that we are to chose the "most open" licensing scheme we can find.
> Now most of our coding experience is in Visual Basic 6, and we have very little experience in creating open source software.
> We are using the standard controls shipped with VB6, and some freely available (in binary form) ActiveX controls. Is it still possible to release our code under a free and open source license, even when it depends on the use of third party libraries and controls that are closed source? anyone has experience in doing this?
> I understand that I need to get a lawyer for proper legal advise, but I would like to start with at least some information before being able to convince our management to get proper legal counsel involved in this.
> Thanks in advance,
> --
> Pablo M. Dotro
> pdotro at
> Encargado de Servicios Informáticos
> Laboratorios de Enseñanza
> D. Física - FCEyN - UBA

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