My new site

last updated: 18/07/22

New website

Straight to the point:

Why GPLV3?

“…if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must pass on to the recipients the same freedoms that you received. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.”

Source: GPL-3.0

I have yet to find any publicly available themes that are not MIT licensed at Hugo’s own website (i.e., self published) and It would help if Hugo did not generate a MIT license by default when initializing a new theme using the command “hugo new theme [name]”.

Secondly, distributing any MIT licensed theme usually gives the user the full source code, but any actor could probably package and sell your theme without also providing the theme’s source code. Whereas GPLV3 has the benefit of providing the source code for users to make their own changes, even if you sell your software.

Why Hugo?

Hugo has re-invented the wheel in many aspects, but the possible benefits include:

  1. Portability
  2. Cross-platform support including free platforms such as GNU/Linux (software which is predominantly GPL)
  3. Speed (website performance and publishing)
  4. Choose your own (minimal) hosting platform without hassle

You spoil the involved persons freedom to choose by using substantial non-free external resources (bootstrap, JavaScript frameworks, google fonts) in distributed themes. They brake easily and reduce the user’s options to host given limited resources and factors of costs and global location.

What motivated me to create a Hugo theme from scratch

I started stripping (i.e. modifying by reduction) themes before using them myself and found the whole experience gross. When I did delve into code it became apparent how much my browser needed to pull before rendering a “content-less” page.

I eventually refused to accept the author’s theme or the license as it was intended.

In perpetuity I would have to accept the author’s model while maintaining it myself and being forced to hand them full credit by displaying their unchangeable MIT license. This is more acceptable in artistic works or if these themes were truly original and not following the same contrived archetypes as other content generators before it (e.g. WordPress).


  1. Themes should not use JavaScript, fonts or frameworks to already provided capabilities in HTML5, CSS3 and the user’s browser
  2. Pick a better license to support developers not individuals
  3. Add function to individual pages not the whole template

Mutual agreements

Authors want accreditation for their work, and it would be my view that showing inappropriately vain and unexpected URLs for views, tracking and popularity reasons should not be acceptable - notes in documentation and licensing should be ideal forms of a short and direct breadcrumb trail leading back to the author(s) work.

Garments also have documentation in the form of physical tags, but they are modestly placed as we expect.

Furthermore, the theme is no longer software after being rendered by Hugo (i.e., the /public folder’s contents) and while it does not provide a (possibly interactive) service. A theme’s associated MIT or GPL (hypothetically) should not be applicable to produced websites in some cases (related opinions on this).

There appears to be no compelled reason to include a software license for generated pages if the author’s distributed work creates something that is no longer software or a program.

Disclaimer: I am not giving any advice on what you should do, I am just providing compelling thoughts and ramblings.

Does this mean traceability is optional?

Distributed GPLV3 derivatives or original copies and versions of a program must have an obtainable “paper trail” of source code which benefits the longevity of any theme and helps maintainers and forks. It is developer-focused and not about the individual.

“You may convey a work based on the Program, or the modifications to produce it from the Program, in the form of source code under the terms of section 4, provided that you also meet all of these conditions:

a) The work must carry prominent notices stating that you modified it, and giving a relevant date.”

Source: gpl-3.0

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