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Mold is the modern, high performance, and open-source linker taking on the likes of LLVM LLD and GNU Gold. Mold 1.7 has been released as the newest update to this very promising linker, but unfortunately the lead developer is evaluating a license change. Due to still losing money over working on it full-time, he may be forced to change the software license without obtaining sustainable funding.

As is unfortunately an all too common challenge in the open-source world for free software projects not backed by major corporations: the lead developer has been working on the project full-time and leveraging his own resources and bits of community funding, but at this point is proving to be an unsustainable endeavor. Rui Ueyama is unfortunately considering a software license change where Mold use would continue to be free/open-source for personal use but would not be the case for corporate users.

Rui wrote in the Mold 1.7 release announcement:

I’d like to inform users that I’m seriously considering changing the mold’s license from AGPL to a source-available license unless I secure big funding. The new license would be something like individuals can use it for free but corporate users have to pay. mold started as my personal project, and I’ve been working on this full time for two years so far. I thought that I could earn a comfortable income if mold become popular, but unfortunately, I’m still losing my money. I think I need to take an action to make the project sustainable long term.

Rui went on to note in his Google Doc:

It’s even a bit ironic that I had been asked by several big-name companies when mold/macOS would become available, since they wanted to use it for their multi-billion-dollar businesses. But none of them gave me financial support.

A major obstacle in getting financial support is most companies don’t have an internal process to start funding an open-source project. If they need to buy a license, that’s fine, that’s part of their usual business. But supporting (or giving money away to) “free” software is almost impossible. It raises too many questions at every level of management. What is the accounting item it should be categorized to? Is there any legal implication? Who can approve it in the first place? And last but not least, why do they have to do it if it’s available for free?

I’ve been trying to establish a business based on selling support and getting financial support. But I need to admit that it’s not doing well as I would have hoped.

Sadly, this is an all too common issue in the open-source world by non-corporate-backed developers.

As for the Mold 1.7 release, this linker has now added support for the Motorola 68000 “m68k” processor architecture. Mold 1.7 also fixes issues when using Facebook’s LLVM BOLT optimizer and other fixes.

More details on the Mold 1.7 release via GitHub.