Launchpad is now open source.

This is a post I’ve been looking forward to for a long time:

Launchpad is now open source!

We released it today under the GNU Affero General Public license, version 3. Note that although we had previously announced that we’d be holding back two components (codehosting and soyuz), we changed our minds: they are included — all the code is open.

Big congratulations (and thanks) to the Canonical Launchpad team, who worked overtime to make this happen sooner rather than later, and to Mark Shuttleworth, whose decision it was to open source Launchpad in the first place.

Rather than repeat the various release announcements, I’ll just point to them:

The Canonical Launchpad developers will be on IRC in channel #launchpad-dev on That’s the place to go for real time development discussion and questions. For usage issues, #launchpad is still the place, as before.

The mailing list is launchpad-dev {AT}, which you can subscribe to by joining the ~launchpad-dev team. Again, that’s the development mailing list; user questions should still go to launchpad-users {AT}

Please bear with us as we learn how to be an open source team. Many of the Launchpad developers have open source experience already, of course, but as a team we’ve been working on Launchpad in-house for some years. This is a big change. We’ve been looking forward to it, though, and are ready and eager.

That’s all. Happy hacking :-).

-Karl Fogel

48 Responses to “Launchpad is now open source.”

  1. ethana2 Says:

    \m/. ôçÔ .\m/

  2. jef Spaleta Says:

    Great to see the full codebase open. I salute you for making the commitment for the final components as well.

    I am a little curious as to when was the decision to commit to opening Soyuz and Codehosting was made. I won’t insist on an answer to that, as the answer as to when isn’t as important as the fact that the decision was made. But I am curious none-the-less.

    Great news.


  3. andrewsomething Says:

    Congratulations! The soyuz news is quite a pleasant surprise!

  4. rww Says:

    Excellent news. I’ve been having trouble explaining to people why some of the stuff Ubuntu relies on was closed-source, so this announcement is music to my ears. Thanks so much, Launchpad people!

  5. Matthew East Says:

    Congratulations to the Launchpad team on this great news. Exciting times ahead.

  6. Jonathan Carter Says:

    That’s great news. I’m glad that Canonical made the leap, I hope that it pays off in big ways in every other respect and financially. Canonical is in a good position to prove that you don’t need to license your software under a non-free license in order to be commercially sustainable.

  7. GodLikeCreature Says:

    Being a newbie, can someone please explain the implications of this? I see the immediate benefit of having all the strength of the community pushing to improve this, but I feel it may also result in a complete chaos and lack of control…

    Is that the case?

  8. kmf Says:

    Awesome news will add the Project to!

  9. Firen Says:

    Make people just through enough hoops to get the source don’t you? The latest version of bzr available in the Ubuntu repo is 1.13.1 (your format requires 1.16.1, why has no one fixed that before now?) How about instead of the kitchen-sink script you provide, let us _download_ the source. Not spend three hours setting everything up and running it, just let us download it.

    Or is this the plan? You only “open sourced” the code as a PR gesture and you’re hoping no one will notice that it’s extremely difficult to actually get?

  10. migla Says:

    So, now you can change the status of bug #393596 to “Fix released”. Great news!

  11. jaduncan Says:

    Debian people, please now consider standardising on this. It’s much better technically than Debian’s current infrastructure, and will enable much, much easier sharing of patches. Finally the community could be reunified a bit, and PPAs for Stable would also be an important improvement for Debian.

  12. azneita Says:

    I was actually expecting jef spaleta to be comment #1. 😀
    Great news and well done canonical!

  13. marc0s Says:

    That’s great great great news! Thanks Canonical and all the people involved in the Launchpad project.

  14. WermRolent Says:

    А где скачать то можно!? =)

  15. zoobab Says:

    “There are no plans to package Launchpad, its deployment is quite complex.”

    What about a big binary or a virtual image?

  16. James Says:

    I’m glad you chose the license that you did.
    Great Job!

  17. Nicklas W Bjurman Says:

    Great new everybdoy. A correct decision in my opinion.

  18. Josef Says:

    It’s great to see this increasing support for free services. Such steps are essential in order to keep free software viable as a server platform as the world of personal computing moves more towards web-based services.

  19. Jared Spurbeck Says:

    Awesome! I’m really amazed at this.

    I guess now we just need to have a talk about Ubuntu One, huh? But maybe if Canonical’s willing to do this, then they won’t mind doing that either!

  20. Marco Rodrigues Says:

    What is the bzr lp:branch_name to do, if I just want to grab the source code for checking and not for compiling ?

    Thank you

  21. Suno Ano Says:

    A good move! If the SCM backend just were GIT ready already 😉

    What I like about launchpad is that is relies/works with two of my favorite things
    – PostgreSQL and
    – Zope3

    Hooray again and may the child grow big and smart 😉

  22. Karl Fogel Says:

    Thanks, everyone! I won’t go into all the internal discussions behind the decision about what to open source — just various business factors, as you can imagine. We’re glad to have opened all of it, and we hope it pays off too.

  23. Jonathan Lange Says:

    Marco, it’s lp:launchpad. It’s quite a big tree through, so you’ll almost certainly want to make a shared repository, or just get a checkout. So either:

    $ bzr co –lightweight lp:launchpad


    $ bzr init-repo –2a launchpad
    $ cd launchpad
    $ bzr branch lp:launchpad db-devel

  24. Maurício Says:

    Codehosting and Soyuz also, amazing!

    The FAQ ( is very useful, for example, “Yes, you can browse the source code on Launchpad ( You can also use bzr get lp:launchpad to download the code without setting up a development environment.”

    It is good to see how GNU Affero Version 3 and the new V3 licenses are evolving. Thanks, everyone!

  25. Toni Ruottu Says:

    I hope Canonical does the right decisions based on reasoning, and not under pressure from users who think every piece of software should be free (as in speech). Now, that Launchpad is completely free software companies can run their own instances of it. This may mean less customers for, or hypothetically it might work as an insurance and provide with even more customer. I hope someone analyzed this.

    It is also possible that the original “secret sauce” took place only because the secret parts were not originally designed to be secure. As we all know Launchpad is hosting “secret” projects for a fee. Low security design with open source would have turned those projects open for anyone which would have a catastrophe. Maybe publication of the secret sauce was confirmed immediately after the said parts were secured.

    I realize Canonical was originally founded to show how free software could be made commercially sustainable. How ever there is more to it. Canonical did not pick one of the projects that already seemed to be sustainable. What they wanted to do is pick something (Debian) that was not yet “commercially sustainable”. Canonicals most important role until today has been to work as a hub, co-operating with all companies that want to work with Ubuntu. They have made Ubuntu commercially reachable, but I don’t think they have made it sustainable just yet.

    So how do we measure, if a project has been proven to be sustainable. The classic measure would be, if it is able to get enough cash to pay for it’s on going expenses, but that is not the whole truth here. The classic measure doesn’t take into account that the company has to continue to do a certain thing. In the classic measure it is OK for some other way to be better. What I think Canonical is trying to prove here is that the model of free software is superior to the non-free model.

    To really see, if it is superior we have to consider the case where Canonical closes its doors and “goes home”. In such case, if there is some zero ideology company that is willing to stand up, buy Ubuntu and continue it’s development as free software, Canonical has succeeded. This does not imply that Canonical actually needs to stop their operation to prove superiority. As this is just a measure.

    The inherent problem here is that, if Canonical is going to make it self sustainable with some surrounding service like Launchpad or Ubuntu One, it also needs to prove that these projects can not be made sustainable without Ubuntu. The math used to be easier with user support. As the support team supports only chosen parts (components “main” and “restricted”) of Ubuntu it may be argued that Canonical has to have some light control over Ubuntu in order to make their support business feasible.

    With Launchpad and Ubuntu One the tying factor is mostly integration into the desktop, but it is possible to do some integration for non-free systems as well, and there are lots of businesses making real money out of that. For Ubuntu One and Launchpad the superior business model may indeed be supporting any big platform, as that is a relatively easy way of multiplying the amount of customers.

    Keeping Ubuntu One and Launchpad available for Ubuntu only may still be a good strategy for a company who has Ubuntu as their flagship. The reason is that these services provide something really useful that may not be available on competing platforms. Thus they are a good way for marketing Ubuntu. This is equal to Apple and Microsoft having a patented video format that can only be viewed on their operating system (to over exaggerate a bit).

    The problem in creating such services to market Ubuntu, is that Ubuntu as a product doesn’t afaik, yet pay for their development. Thus they are increasing the expenses a lot making it harder to prove that developing Ubuntu in a free software model is superior. Thus, I cannot help feeling that any funding gained from non-free parts of these systems would alleviate the burden of proving that Ubuntu in it’s minimal form is economically superior way to develop software.

    All this relates to whether or not you care, if the free software model is superior and self sustainable. I know there are lots of FSF lovers who couldn’t care less about how much software development funds you can raise with free software, as doing software in any other way is unethical. While I personally like to use free software, I think that zero compromise of freedom for raising funds may be unethical as well, because it will slow down development keeping us for a long time in technological stone age, let that be a super ethical one.

  26. Niklas Says:

    …but anyway Toni, now the launchpad software is libre software.

  27. behdad Says:

    Thanks everyone. 🙂

  28. Dolanor Says:

    This is ma happy dai !

    Thanks Canonical !

  29. Flimm Says:

    Well done!

  30. Cuong Le Says:

    good news for me !

  31. Costi Says:

    Great news. If only it were a bit easier to get started. I have wrestled a while with the instructions in the “Getting” page and I would like to share some of my experience here. The instructions on Getting are somewhat missleading in that I did have to sign up on Launchpad and upload my key to the account to be able to get the full code including the external sources.
    Maybe the “Getting” page could be updated so that others have it a bit easier.
    My second observation is that there is little documentation I could find on how the administration tasks in launchpad are achieved (delete a project and associated information, remove or lock an account, etc.). Is the product documentation available beyond the end-user help available on

  32. Hafiz Says:

    Congrats and THUMBS UP ;D

  33. Karl Fogel Says:


    Could you take this to the mailing list or IRC channel (as described on )? You shouldn’t have needed to sign in
    to get the sources — anonymous access was our intent, and actually I
    tested it when we released. So if you need to sign in, something’s wrong.
    (But let’s have this thread over in the right forum; that’s also the best
    place for your other questions.)


  34. Elias Says:

    I was just browsing the web when I saw this. Congratulations! 🙂

    I really like launchpad.

    I remember debian refused to join lauchpad (and gnome as well, maybe others) on the basis of that lauchpad is (was) non-free. I really support their past decision. Now that lauchpad is free, I wonder if debian and the others are at least considering using it?

  35. Karl Fogel Says:


    We certainly wouldn’t object! But Debian has a lot of infrastructure built up now, so I imagine it’d be a harder decision to make than it was back then.

    I’d love to at least be better integrated with the Debian bug database. There’s a blueprint called “Forward bugs to Debian” (, but it appears to be just about the technical aspects of how to talk to the Debian Bug Tracking System, which currently has only an email-based API (which is exactly why I’d love to use Launchpad to interact with Debian bugs!). What if we could do mutual dup-searching, for example?

    A good example of interaction betwen Debian and Ubuntu (in Launchpad) on the same bug: LP #36690 and DBTS #217836. The bug was found in 2003 in Debian; found (independently?) in Ubuntu in 2006; attempted fix in Ubuntu later in 2006; Debian points out problems with the fix; not clear from the current comments how much those problems have been acknowledged on the Ubuntu side. Nevertheless, there is clearly benefit to all from having them linked.

  36. Joshua Li Says:

    Yay. I hope to see a lot of positive changes in Launchpad soon. Launchpad is going to be a very good program now!

  37. jmb_kz Says:

    hello people.
    where i can ask my suggestion about new feature in

  38. Matthew Revell Says:

    @jmb_kz A good place to start would be here:

  39. zaher kadour Says:

    Great news
    Thanks canonical and everyone.

  40. Developer Says:

    How can I participate in the project?

  41. Karl Fogel Says:

    See for how to participate in the project.

  42. gsa Says:

    thank you for now

  43. Bilal Akhtar Says:

    Launchpad ROCKS!!!!!! Just because lp’s open source, I moved from the (buggy) sf to lp!.

  44. petux7 Says:

    Can help me anybody in a questions
    there is a translation of launchpad
    or can we open this project?

  45. Ayush Says:

    Congratssssssssssssssssssssssss team launchpad !!! 🙂

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