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Michael Tiemann's blog

Well It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...

It was early June in 1987 when Richard Stallman announced the release of the GNU C compiler version 1.0. As I wrote in Open Sources, it was the most thrilling and most terrifying day of my life (up to that point). Having first read and lightly hacked Emacs code in 1985, having read and lightly hacked GDB code in 1986, I eagerly attended a week-long lecture series on Emacs Stallman gave in Febrary 1987 at MCC in Austin Texas.

Am I "It"?

Yesterday I was blog-tagged by Stephen Walli. Does the fact that he tagged for other people mean that I'm not "it"? Oh well...the topic is one that interests me, and I think he started the ball rolling in an interesting direction, so I figure I'll add my thoughts.

For my money, the three ways that open source can benefit one's business (presuming you are in the business of open source) is:

    Nicholas Carr Gets it Half-Right Again

    In 2003, Nicholas Carr shook up an increasingly irrelevant community of CIOs by publishing the article "IT Doesn't Matter". I believe that he got it half right: the irreversable trend of information technology was toward commodity economics, and thus the idea of paying rents for proprietary software was preposterous. What he did not quite get right was to properly recognize that his insight was itself a strategic enabler for those intelligent enough to understand the competitive consquences of the trend he identified.

    GNU Affero GPL version 3 and the "ASP loophole"

    A few months ago I posted my initial impressions for a draft version of the GPLv3 license, and I am happy to say that as with other licenses developed with community input, the then-good GPLv3 has continued to improve. As I read the "final" draft version of GPLv3, which I think is truly excellent, I thought about the discussions from last year about some other licenses submitted to the license-discuss@opensource.org mailing list.

    We All Want a Pony!

    Alan MacCormack published a new paper entitled A Developer Bill of Rights: What Open Source Developers Want in a Software License for the AEI-Brookings Joint Center. Whenever I see a statement of developer desiderata, I'm reminded of this timeless posting by One Laptop Per Child hacker extraordinaire Chris Blizzard:

    Monopoly v. Competition--What's Best for the Market?

    The news outlets, radio waves, and blogosphere [1] and [2] continue to buzz with responses to the FORTUNE magazine article where Microsoft claims that many popular Open Source software packages, including the Linux kernel, infringe some

    Riel's Law of Innovation

    Rik van Riel posted an interesting insight this weekend about this important difference between those working under the constraints of the proprietary software model and those of us who use and develop open source software:
    they *have* to target their development to work on marketable features, while we have more liberty to focus on things that provide our users with value -- even if they are not glamorous enough to use in marketing material.

    A Think Tank of One (or Ten Million, take your pick)

    Two months ago I blogged about the best open source presentation ever?, which was remarkable because mostly when I read what other people have to say about open source, I'm much less charitable (for example, this about James DeLong's latest paid product).

    Open Source Licensing and Governance

    Earlier this year, arguments and debates raged about whether the open source model was doomed to fail in the 21st century economics of Software As A Service (SAAS). One thread of these discussions centered around the creation of a new type of license that could effectively preserve source code availability and author attribution while denying licensees some of the freedoms enjoyed by the authors, particularly the freedom to present a user interface distinct from so-called attribution.

    GPLv3 looks like a worthy update

    When I first came across the GNU General Public License in 1986, it was nothing short of an epiphany for me. Its revolutionary approach to copyright (all wrongs reversed) and the bold vision of the GNU project (to do nothing less than to make UNIX obsolete by making something that was both better and free) was as earth-shaking to me as perhaps quantum physics was to Einstein. (You don't need to tell me I'm no Einstein--I know that.)

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