Is Fritzing still free?

Hi all.

I noticed that the code in the Github repo, GitHub - fritzing/fritzing-app: Fritzing desktop application, is outdated of about two months and two releases now. This, taking into account the recent restriction in the binaries availability, makes me wonder if Fritzing is moving to some commercial or anyway proprietary license. Maybe I worry too much:). Is the source still free and available? And the binaries are still to be considered free software, apart from the request to pay for the download?

Meanwhile, thank you all for making Fritzing available.

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As far as I am aware, yes. The 0.9.7 release has a bug which caused 0.9.8 to be released about a week later. I expect the tags just haven’t been updated yet in the repository. If you choose you can still build Fritzing from source without a donation. The donation is a lot cheaper than doing that though.


Hi Peter,

Thank you for your attention. My point is not if the “donation” is cheap, or not (but a donation, shouldn’t be voluntary?). My point is if Fritzing is still free software, or not. Requiring a fee to download the compiled binaries is legitimate (ok, today most computers do not have development tools installed, so distributing both sources and binaries is good for free software, but this is only my humble opinion). I only notice that the source code on Github is stuck on 0.9.6, and this makes me wonder that the code on Github is not (or no more) the real codebase used to compile the Fritzing releases. Hence if the Fritzing releases are compiled from a codebase which is not free and open source, I just wonder if Fritzing itself is no more free and open source, as stated in the documentation. Just to know: personally, I can happily live with past releases or even return to draw my poor, little circuits with pen and paper: I’m just curious about electronics, not a pro. I only like free software, and like to compile my tools, explore them etc, when it is possible and when I have time.

Thank you, Luigi

@KjellM is the project manager for Fritzing and would be the one with the official answer, but as far as I know Fritzing is being compiled from the source on github.


Good question.
I watch this project a bit from aside thinking it will be good for my chiidren.
I tried the Appimage now.

Appimage is good as it theoretically can run on all desktop Linux systems.
Unfortunately it fail here on Mageia 8 about the parts database, three error dialogues at start, then at every try at the parts side panel.

From my experience, Flatpak tend to be more successful for similar programs, so that may be a tip to developer.

One of our packagers tried to compile 0.9.6 for Mageia, failed at the database step, and bug for help is not answered yet: Building on Mageia Linux · Issue #3796 · fritzing/fritzing-app · GitHub

To get this marvellous piece to more users, some compiling help (and updated repo) and/or better Appimage (or Flatpak) compatibility is needed.

I payed another 8EUR today and writhe this to help push a bit :slight_smile:

Edit: I reported the AppImage problem at Provide Fritzing AppImage for Linux · Issue #3302 · fritzing/fritzing-app · GitHub /Edit

Edit2: I found a Flatpak of 0.9.6 at Flathub—An app store and build service for Linux seem to run nice: i could make new design and save, and open old 0.9.4 design, close and open app again, and it remembered last design, printed. Maybe this is not an official release? Should be, and updated :slight_smile: More details at Install 0.9.6 on Linux - #7 by microMerlin /Edit2


Maybe I worry too much

I hope Fritzing will move to kind of a dual-version-SW. A free version with some limitations and a payed version for more advanced usages.

Why should everything be free??? Free versions only hinders quick development. If I could pay e.g. 50.- per year for a quick and well working version I would really welcome this approach.

I just payed 25.- for my last download because of this!

This may be a viable option. But please understand that I’m absolutely not saying that evetything should be free. I only say that if something states to be free, then it has to be free, in the sense that the license you have freely chosen to publish your software imposes.
Please note that the software owner can always change the license. There is nothing wrong with this. But, in my humble opinion, this should be stated clearly. Then, the “how much” is a subsequent question. As long as Fritzing continues to state it is under GPL, there will be people who ask for the up-to-date source code and people puzzled for not being able to find it. All IMHO, eh:-).

I have doubts about this. I have been working with GNU/Linux servers for twenty-five years now, and development is constant, continuous and fast, as well as free. Of course, I don’t expect anyone to choose to be free. It’s free to be free😂

As you probably know, most of the Linux SW comes from big companies. Who supports Fritzing? Some students are not enough in my opinion.

I’m not saying that nobody funds Linux (or other free) SW. There are free softwares which are funded, and there are free softwares that are completely community-developed, but this is not my point here.
I’m not saying that some students are enough for the Fritzing sw project. The price is completely out of scope, in my thread.
I’m saying that AS_LONG_AS Fritzing states itself as free software (and this is a completely voluntary choice, of being free) than it should behave like real free software. Free software in the sense of the license that Fritzing is published with, not necessarily in the sense of free beer, indeed.

Sorry - my fault. Free and free could be completely different things. In general - I don’t see these things so dogmatic. If it makes sense and the SW ist free/OS great, if not, also OK for me. For me quality counts. If quality is equal I choose OS/free software to support the idea - but only then.

The Frizting software (source) is free free. Anyone can take the content from github to build it on their own system. If they can. With the history of the project (lack of instructions), there can be significant effort needed to do that). The specific compiled images that can be downloaded and run are what the cost is for.

It’s not about compiling/building the SW, it’s about DEVELOPING the SW.

Anyone can take the content from github…

That’s just bla, bla. You have to be a (good) C++ developer with a lot of spare time.
Usually such a developer earns ~3K, 4K per month.

Hi microMerlin

As I tried to explain in my previous messages, here the point is NOT if building Fritzing is difficult, or is long or is tedious or requires significant efforts. In my opinion, building Fritzing has always been quite simple, because this is a relatively simple software project: there are 3 or 4 dependencies at all. But this is only my point of view, of someone whi knows nothing about electronics, and something about software. But even this is not the point of the question. It can be simple or difficult, no matter. The point is that I would like to understand if Fritzing is still free software, or not. Free as in free speech, not as in free beer (cit). Free in the sense of the Gnu GPL, not free in the sense of no money. This has nothing to do with it being hard, simple, cheap or costly.

The question is simple: Is Fritzing still free? Or, in other words: being that Fritzing is a free software released under the GNU GPL, why is the source code in the repository still so outdated? Maybe this is only an oversight. If it is so, then please update the Github source code repository, or indicate where the current source may be found.

Let me add some remark. I’m not saying that the GPL is the right software license for a project like Fritzing. In my opinion, GPL is good if you want to spread and to give your software to the world. If you want to make money from it, then maybe GPL is not the right license. Only my humble opinion, eh.
But there are 2 facts:

  1. Fritzing was released under the GPL years ago. This (the license being used) can be changed, in case. But at the moment, it still seems to be GPL. There were lots of people who contributed to the project in the past, and did that on a GPL software project, i.e. a free software project.
  2. Being that the license is GPL, the updated source code must be available to the public.

Please forgive the long post, but I wanted to make it clear that the point is not if it’s difficult to build Fritzing. The point is that you you, and me and anybody else, can or can not have a look at the source, build it, change it etc.


Hi ReginaldBull.

Please note that the current Fritzing README (at least the less old one I can read in the outdated Github repo) clearly states:
“This means that you can create your own variation of Fritzing, as long as you credit us and also publish it under GPL.”
This protects Fritzing, as a free software: you can do what you want with it, cut it, improve it, change it, but it has to be free software. There are advantages in free software, too.
So, if I want to develop on top of Fritzing, I have to publish my code and stick a phrase on it “derived from Fritzing etc.etc.”. This protects Fritzing (and who contributes to it) from someone who want only to explot and make profit from it. This is not bla bla. Please believe me, good C++ development is not harder, nor simpler, than good electronics development. You have to study it. And there are developers paid more, or less, it depends:))))) Thx for the attention.

The complaints about Fritzing not being “free” are exactly about compiling/building the software. The paywall is (as @microMerlin pointed out) only for the compiled binaries (and is what is at least partially funding development now!) As was pointed out it is possible to download the source (as required by the GPL) and compile it yourself for free. The paywall (for a very small fee compared to the hassle of building from source which I have done) is to pay for development, the build environment and development. I tried for about 3 years to get development restarted. There are a very small number of people that are making pull requests against the source code (and that has been the case for the 5+ years I have been involved with Fritzing.) Almost all the fixes in the last couple of versions of Fritzing have come from Kjell who is being at least partially supported by the paywall. Without him (and Aisler who provide the Fab who I believe recruited him and partially fund him) Fritzing would probably have died by now as the libraries are getting to old for current OS versions. I don’t like the paywall but would rather have it (and the web site, forum etc.) than have a basically dead Fritzing as the libraries got too old. I could keep myself running by compiling the source, but not anyone else (no way to distribute a release!)


Hi Peter.

My original complaint about Fritzing was exactly about the source code not being updated. Maybe I’m too blind, but on the source repository the lastchange dates 19 June and the version is still 0.9.6. There were two releases from that date. This was the fact which originated my question about it being still free software. The rest is clear, the GPL requires to distribute the source, not to build it. And requiring a fee for the binaries is just one common way to raise funds. As I wrote to Kjell at the time of my first post, it’s better to have somethig alive that a good free software dead, no question about this. Only, some clarifying words about the repo being updated or not and why, in my opinion would be very helpful. Regards, and thank you.

There was a release (about a month ago I believe) 0.9.7 that turns out to have a major bug (generic IC no longer works) a week later the bug fix was released as 0.9.8. I don;'t know how the build environment is structured, I would expect it is building from head on github, but it may well be using a local copy on the build system (as there is virtually no one other the the developers submitting pull requests on github!) that then gets pushed to github. I expect they have not yet had time to update the github repository if that is the case, but we are not talking a long term lack of updates (as may appear from the version numbers), but rather a scheduled release (which is 6 or 8 months after 0.9.6) that turned out to have a major problem that needed resources to fix and a new release number. The sky isn’t falling as far as I can see, folks are just busy and there are very limited resources available right now. The desirable situation is for the community to step up and submit pull requests, but it hasn’t happened often in the last 5 years and I don’t expect it to start all that much. The people with the skill set don’t appear interested in contributing which is why the intent is to hire paid developers (Fritzing got this far as a funded university development project, it did not start out open source although I believe it has always been GPL.) The code is complex and poorly documented. I have done a couple of fixes (included in 0.9.4) but I’m not sure they are entirely correct. They are better than what was there (a seg fault that corrupted the user directories), but I am not at all sure they are the correct answer. They were accepted on that basis, maybe not entirely correct but better than what we have.


Hi Peter.

Obviously, I don’t know why the project started as GPL. I only know that it has always been GPLed, and as long as we can say, it’s still under GPL. GPL has so many advantages, and poses an obligation: to release the source. The real source code, not a seemingly copy of it. It’s not a question about how many pull requests, how many contributors or contributes. If a sw is GPLed, then you, me and anyone else owns the right to obtain, review, study, change, adopt the source code as you like. The current source code. It’s a matter of principles, not a metter of numbers or money or sky immediately falling or falling in a year or two. Just a stupid joking example: You told that you built Fritzing. So you used some libraries, which are free software too. What would you think, if the free libraries you downloaded to build your own Fritzing release were bugged, or outdated, and made your Fritzing crash or produce wrong results? Maybe you would say, damn f**ing free sw library, I did not ask them to release it free. I used them because they were free, otherwise I would have chosen to use another library, or write my own library to do that work. But since they release it free, then I have the right to have the updated copy. I hope you can understand my point, which is a matter of principles. Thank you for your attention.

Having version number ‘release’ tags in the repository is a convenience, not a necessity for free/gpl etc software. As far as I know, all of the code that went into the paywalled images is already in the repository. It just may not be obvious which commit it is based on.

I’m glad building the software is simple for you. I am a software developer, but this is way not my historical environment. I found getting usable versions of the dependencies a major problem. Even then, I “had” to use the QT IDE to get a good build. Command line make path did not work for me. Part of that is probably that I was trying to start by reproducing an older build, then working forward in time. Which meant some of the basic tool and library versions were also important for successful building.