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PHP5 JSON Still In A Licensing Mess

Free Software

Published on 21 August 2013 07:14 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software
90 Comments

Debian-based Linux distributions are in a bit of a mess with their support for JSON over what appears to be a bit of a silly license issue.

Long story short, Debian's PHP5 package is no longer enabling JSON support for the widely-used web programming language as the JSON support is viewed as being GPL-incompatible. The PHP JSON code has a line added to its license that simply says, "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil."

This restriction makes the JSON code under a "non-free license" and thus they've disabled the JSON PHP support even though JavaScript Object Notation is widely used amongst web-sites and various web apps.

This issue was over "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil" license clause was originally pointed out last year but is beginning to be a lot more noticeable with Ubuntu 13.10 pulling in the Debian package change.

Debian/Ubuntu users can gain JSON support though by running apt-get install php5-json and after that it works fine (PTS does depend upon PHP5-JSON so this is already a problem I've already dealt with, but this JSON license issue was pointed out in an email today by Phoronix reader "Mark".)

With the PHP developers being unable to find/convince the original JSON code developer to ideally remove this clause from his code, a new JSON extension for PHP is being planned but hasn't been merged yet and there hasn't been a status update in some time.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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