Sequoia PGP is now LGPL 2.0+

By Neal | October 18, 2021

We’re happy to announce that we’ve changed Sequoia PGP’s license from the GPL 2+ to the more permissive LGPL 2+. Simultaneously, we’ve also released version 1.5 of the openpgp crate under these terms.

LGPL v3: Free Software; Free as in Freedom.

When we started Sequoia, we choose to license the code under the GPL 2+. One reason that we chose the GPL is that it makes a political statement: we support free software.

Over the past four years, however, several free software projects have chosen not to use Sequoia, because it is under the GPL. Delta Chat planned an iOS app, but because Apple does not allow GPL software in their App store, the Delta Chat developers couldn’t use Sequoia. And, when Thunderbird looked for a new OpenPGP library, they rejected Sequoia because it was licensed under the GPL. These are the two most prominent examples of free software projects rejecting Sequoia. Unfortunately, there are others.

Given these results, we have concluded that our strategy was a mistake. Choosing the GPL prevented not only proprietary products from using Sequoia, but also free software projects. That’s not what we wanted.

Today, we unanimously decided with our partners at the p≡p foundation and p≡p security to change Sequoia’s license to the LGPL 2.0+. We hope this change will strengthen the free software ecosystem.

New API in Version 1.5

Version 1.5 does not introduce any new API.

Financial Support

Currently, the p≡p foundation pays six people to work on Sequoia. Since the start of the project four years ago, p≡p has covered nearly all of the development costs.

We are actively looking for additional financial support to diversify our funding.

You don’t need to directly use Sequoia to be positively impacted by it. For instance, OpenPGP CA is a new tool for creating federated CAs targeted at simplifying the use of OpenPGP for activists, lawyers, and journalists who can’t rely on centralized authentication solutions. So, consider donating. Of course, if your company is using Sequoia, consider sponsoring a developer (or two). Note: if you want to use Sequoia under a license other than the LGPLv2+, please contact the foundation.