Question about GNU license

Hello! I’d appreciate some input on a project I’m starting, to help me understand if it would be appropriate for me to use software licensed under GNU, such as Discourse.

I provide consulting and custom code for small businesses that want to create monetized online communities. Typically they have a Wix or Wordpress site and associated forum.

I’ve started wondering about offering to manage a Discourse forum for some of my customers, and creating custom plugins to meet their needs. I wouldn’t be sharing Discourse source code - these are low-tech customers, and are probably not even interested in installing Discourse themselves, so I would manage their hosting. I also would not be modifying Discourse source code, but I would be creating plugins. This would be paid work for for-profit businesses.

Is this an appropriate use of Discourse? Both in terms of the technicalities of the GNU license, and the spirit of the law, in terms of being a good open-source citizen. I’ve used open-source software for decades for my own personal use, donated and contributed to projects, but have never had a reason to involve it in my business life.

Thank you!

1 Like

Looking at this another way, I trust you’ve noticed the #marketplace Category? It might be worth looking through its history to get an idea of what third party services are normal and permitted.

This is surely irrelevant? It is openly available to anyone who browses GitHub.

FYI you might be interested in our enabling platform for third party developers:

Monitoring your plugin



Adding Subscriptions to your plugin