ChibiOS has various licensing options both libre/open source and/or commercial.

Component GPL3 Apache 2.0 Free Commercial Full Commercial Notes
RT yes no yes yes Ports follow the same licensing.
NIL yes no yes yes Ports follow the same licensing.
HAL no yes no no Apache only, it is a free-only product.

GPL3 License

The GPL License is the most famous copy-left kind of license. ChibiOS is free under this license and can be freely used and redistributed under its terms.

The product licensed under GPL3 is complete and unrestricted.

What happened to the GPL Exception?

The GPL+Exception releases have been replaced by a new “Free Commercial License” which removes the GPL entirely, see below.

Apache 2.0 License

Some parts of ChibiOS are licensed under the Apache License 2.0. This license places less restrictions on the user and allows for free commercial use. Non critical parts of ChibiOS are released under this license.

Free Commercial License

GPL3-licensed modules are often not compatible with commercial use. ChibiOS is available also under a free commercial license that frees the user from all the GPL3 requirements. Details about this license:

  • Customer registration is required with information about the developed product.
  • The GPL3 license disappears and is replaced by a copyright statement for the commercial license.
  • Permission has to be grant to ChibiOS to use the customer and product information in order to advertise ChibiOS itself.
  • The user is required to state publicly (web site, documentation) the use of ChibiOS and put links to the web site.
  • The commercial ChibiOS code has to be used as-is, modifications are not allowed in the commercially-licensed modules.
  • The Apache 2.0 ChibiOS code is freely modifiable (it is most of the code, including, demos, templates, examples, configuration files, the whole HAL, drivers, contributed code, etc).
  • Some RT features are not available under this license:
    • High Resolution Time.
    • Advanced Statistics.
  • The deployment is limited to 500 units/cores per license. Re-registration is required in order to obtain more free licenses.

This license is idea for small productions, prototypes or for people that need more time before a full commitment to the product. Register here for a free license, the provided information could appear here if complete enough.

Full Commercial License

Full commercial options are available with two basic licenses:

  • Developer License. Low cost development license with limited deployment, 1000 or 5000 units/cores, can be extended. It is meant for development studios and/or medium productions.
  • Production License. Can be used for development and unlimited deployment.

Both commercial license options give full access to the source code, unlike the free commercial license, the code can be freely modified.

Commercial documentation is available here. The online form for an official quote is here.

Other Options

Runtime licenses are available for customers that wish to embed ChibiOS into their own development environment such as virtual machines, IDEs, programming languages. Partnership licensing or custom licensing options are open for discussion.

Licenses Comparison Matrix

The following matrix describes what you can or can't do under the various licensing schemes:

Question GPL3 Apache Free Commercial Full Commercial
Is ChibiOS free? free free free priced
Can I use ChibiOS in my closed source embedded product? no yes yes yes
Do I have to open my source code? yes no no no
Do I have the right to modify the ChibiOS source code? yes yes read only yes
Do I have to open source my changes to ChibiOS? yes no - no
Do I have to document that my product uses ChibiOS? yes no yes1 no
Do I have to offer the ChibiOS code to users of my product? yes no no no
Is support available? public public public public or premium
Is a warranty provided? no no no yes
Is ChibiOS deployment unlimited? unlimited unlimited 500 5000 or unlimited
  1. Advertisement of ChibiOS use in products is mandatory under the free commercial license.

Features comparison and use cases.

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