licensecheck - simple license checker for source files


licensecheck --help|--version

licensecheck [--verbose] [--copyright] [-l|--lines=N] [-i|--ignore=regex] [-c|--check=regex] [-r|--recursive] list of files and directories to check


licensecheck attempts to determine the license that applies to each file passed to it, by searching the start of the file for text belonging to various licenses.

If any of the arguments passed are directories, licensecheck will add the files contained within to the list of files to process.


--verbose --no-verbose

Specify whether to output the text being processed from each file before the corresponding license information.

Default is to be quiet.

-l=N --lines=N
Specify the number of lines of each file's header which should be parsed for license information. (Default is 60).
-i=regex --ignore=regex
When processing the list of files and directories, the regular expression specified by this option will be used to indicate those which should not be considered (e.g. backup files, VCS metadata).
-r --recursive
Specify that the contents of directories should be added recursively.
-c=regex --check=regex

Specify a pattern against which filenames will be matched in order to decide which files to check the license of.

The default includes common source files.

Also display copyright text found within the file


The two configuration files /etc/devscripts.conf and ~/.devscripts are sourced by a shell in that order to set configuration variables. Command line options can be used to override configuration file settings. Environment variable settings are ignored for this purpose. The currently recognised variables are:

If this is set to yes, then it is the same as the --verbose command line parameter being used. The default is no.
If this is set to a positive number then the specified number of lines at the start of each file will be read whilst attempting to determine the license(s) in use. This is equivalent to the --lines command line option.


This code is copyright by Adam D. Barratt <>, all rights reserved; based on a script of the same name from the KDE SDK, which is copyright by <>. This program comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY. You are free to redistribute this code under the terms of the GNU General Public License, version 2 or later.


Adam D. Barratt <>