I’m probably starting a wildstorm here, but I want to put this out there. I don’t always use 100% GPL products on my sites, and that’s okay.
Please put down your pitchforks!
I am a happy Open Source person. If you give me a choice between two equally good products, one being Open Source and the other not, I’ll pick Open Source any day of the week. But. There’s a reason I use Apple Pages and not Open Office. Pages works for me. It fits my workflow, it fits my brain, and it makes me write more easily. Since I’m often sprawled on the couch writing with my thumbs on my iPad Mini, it makes perfect sense to use Pages and iCloud.
But there’s another place I don’t worry too much about GPL or Open Source, and that’s when I’m coding something that is only ever going to be for me.
I was working on a new site and we were looking for icons to properly represent how we felt. We needed a toaster. We didn’t have one in Font Awesome or Genericons, so I pulled up Symbolicons! The catch? It’s not GPL. But the thing was, we knew we’d never be distributing these icons. It was for one website, so why did it matter?
And the fact is that for this use case, it did not matter at all!
Understanding what I’m doing, who it’s for, and where it’s going to be used is highly important. And understanding what I want to support and maintain is equally important. For the most part, open source doesn’t come with Apple Care or companies like OWC who specialize in bailing people out or helping them extend things. WordPress doesn’t come with that, for good or not, it’s really a ‘figure it out as you go’ sort of product.
There are use cases to consider. Who’s going to use the computer? What do they know? Is it worth teaching them Linux or can they keep using their Mac? Much like I do when I’m mentoring someone, I don’t try to push my ideals on someone, or assume my way and my solution is the only solution. When I look at GPL, yes, it’s my default. I always start there. But I don’t stop there and I don’t let it blind me to what things need to be, because the best solution may not be open source, it may not be GPL, and it may not be WordPress.
So long as you’re not violating a license, use what suits your needs. But do pay attention to those licenses.