Launchpad is a web application and website that allows users to develop and maintain software, particularly free software. Launchpad is developed and maintained by Canonical Ltd.
On 21 July 2009 the source code was released publicly under the Affero General Public License. , the launchpad repository hosts more than 23,500 projects. The domain launchpad.net attracted 1 million visitors by August 2009 according to a Compete.com survey.
It has several parts:
Answers: a community support site and knowledge base.
Blueprints: a system for tracking Specifications and new features.
Bugs: a bug tracker that allows bugs to be tracked in multiple contexts (e.g. in an Ubuntu package, as an upstream, or in remote bug trackers).
Code: source code hosting using the Bazaar version control system.
Translations: a site for localising applications into different human languages.
A significant but less visible component is Soyuz, "the distribution management portion of Launchpad." Launchpad is currently primarily used in the development of Ubuntu, an operating system. Launchpad uses the FOSS (free/open source) Zope 3 application server.
Several of Canonical Ltd.'s own projects use Launchpad for development including Ubuntu and Bazaar. Development of Launchpad is itself managed in Launchpad.
Other prominent projects using Launchpad for various aspects of managing their development include:
Transition to Free Software
Launchpad was initially criticized by the Jem Report and other members of the free software community for not being available under a free license, such as the GNU GPL, despite its aims. In response, the developers stated that they aimed to eventually release it under a free software license, but that it could potentially take years. On 9 July 2007, Canonical Ltd. released "Storm", the first Launchpad component made available under a free software license.
Founder Mark Shuttleworth's response to this criticism was that Launchpad needed paid-programmers to continue the development of the Launchpad platform, and that there would be no point in developing multiple versions of Launchpad due to the probable incompatibility of the forks. However, this still left some members of the open-source movement dissatisfied. On 22 July 2008 Mark Shuttleworth announced at OSCON that the complete source code would be released within the next twelve months.
On 19 December 2008, Canonical Ltd. released the Launchpad component "lazr.config" and "lazr.delegates" under version 3 of the GNU LGPL.
An open API is currently in beta testing, which will allow programs to interact with the website. Calls for an open API to be released were aided by projects like Leonov that resorted to screen scraping to get data from Launchpad.
In December 2008, Canonical announced that the source code to the Launchpad website would be released under a free software license by 21 July 2009. It was also announced that two large components of Launchpad, Soyuz (which is responsible for the build system, package management and Ubuntu package publishing) and Codehosting, would not be released under a free software license. Later, the specific date was changed to a more general timeframe of July/August 2009. However, on 21 July 2009, the software was released under the AGPLv3 (a fully free license specifically for web services), including the two components (Codehosting and Soyuz) that were initially planned to remain proprietary.
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