Launchpad Launched

Canonical, Inc. has released many things: ten versions of Ubuntu, the Bazaar revision control system, and now, Launchpad.

The Launchpad collaboration/development platform is home to a host of well-known names in Open Source software, including MySQL, Inkscape, Drizzle, and Zope. Indeed, it houses Canonical's own family of projects, including the vast empire that is Ubuntu development. Despite its cadre of Open Source residents and the value it provides to those project, however, the service has remained under constant fire for not being Open Source itself. Not anymore.

In London yesterday, while Parliament was vacating the city, Canonical was announcing that Launchpad is now an Open Source project. Released under the AGPL, Launchpad is now on par with its Canonical cousins, and has fulfilled — without a day to spare — the commitment Mark Shuttleworth made at OSCON 2008 to release the platform's source code within a year.

According to Canonical, "Launchpad allows developers to host and share code from many different sources using the Bazaar version control system, which is integrated into Launchpad....End-users identify bugs affecting one or more projects so that developers can then triage and resolve those bugs. Contributors can write, propose, and manage software specifications. In addition, Launchpad erases barriers to collaboration by enabling people to support each other’s efforts across different project hosting services, both through its web interface and its APIs."

"Launchpad has everything software projects, open source or not, need to be successful."

While most of Launchpad's famous residents, and now it as well, are Open Source, Launchpad is not limited to the libre licensed. Unlike some of the other collaborative development options, closed-source projects can avail themselves of Launchpad's features without being required to release or license their code in a specific manner. They do, however, forfeit one key perk enjoyed by Open Source residents — while Open Source projects receive free use of the platform, proprietary development comes at a price. There would seem to be a touch of irony that in remaining closed, such projects finance Open Source development.

One of the big name projects housed on Launchpad is Sun's Drizzle. Core Developer Jay Pipes described the project's history with Launchpad:

Since the Drizzle project’s start in April, 2008, its community and contributors have used Launchpad as a platform for managing code and development tasks, and as an efficient method of communication between community members regarding bugs, workflow, code reviews, and more. Launchpad makes it easy to take all the disparate pieces of software development – bug reporting, source control, task management and code reviews – and glue them together with an easy-to-use interface that emphasizes public and open community discourse.

More information on the move, including details about getting the Launchpad source code, are available from the project's development page.

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Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.

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