Update: Linden Lab sold Desura to Bad Juju Games on November 5th, 2014.
In 2011, Desura announced that their client-side software would be released under the GNU GPL v3, allowing it to be developed and enhanced by the open-source community, with the server-side of the service remaining proprietary. The code itself was released on January 21st, 2012 under the project title Desurium.
A small community formed around the project, focusing on the development of the Linux client, with release candidates appearing from November 2012 through until around May 2013 (RC 0.8.0 RC10 for Linux 32 and 64-bit). Since then, things have been relatively quiet, no doubt in part because of Desura being acquired by Linden Lab in July 2013, although commits have continued to the project’s repository on Github.
Now that looks like it may be changing.
On September 24th, Oz Linden published a statement of intent on the Desurium community pages outlining how the Lab proposes to carry the Desurium project forward.
Essentially, the Lab will be continuing the project, but under a structure that mirrors the current arrangements for open-source development of the Second Life viewer. Part of this is a proposal to change the licensing for the client from the General Public Licence v3 to LGPL version 2.1, which is currently used with the SL viewer. The company is also proposing introducing a Contribution Agreement “substantially similar” to the Contribution Agreement used with the Second Life Viewer.
The Lab believes the licence change will “help to clarify that game developers can incorporate Desura client technology in their products however those products are licensed, and remove the need to drive software design in order to insulate non-open source games from the viral aspects of the GPL.” It is noted that all work submitted to the project prior to the licence change will remain under the GPL v3 licence, and the change, once implemented, will only apply to the project and contributions from that point forward.
Rather than seeking to make an arbitrary change to the licence, the Lab is looking to do so collaboratively, with the announcement noting:
Changing the license will require that we initiate discussions with past contributors. If some contributors are uncomfortable with this new structure, we may need to evaluate the impact that could have and whether we may need to make any adjustments. Contributors should each expect to hear from us soon.
The announcement also highlights that the Lab wishes to see client development move forward on the Windows and Mac platforms as well. It also carries strong indicators of their commitment to Desura, noting that they are in the process of recruiting additional personnel to undertake Desura / Desurium related work in terms of client development and project management, with a strong emphasis on coordination between development work undertaken in-house and development work undertaken by open-source developers.
Response to the announcement has been muted but favourable from the Desurim community.
- Desura/Desurium Open Source Direction – Oz Linden