From the Board

Patent owners and Open Source

Are you a patent holder, wondering how to write software which implements your patent? Here's my advice: Patents expire. Towards the end of the patent's lifetime, you want to be trying to transfer the patent's franchise over to the relationship between the patent-holder and the licensee. That can be done with closed-source software, but you risk competitors writing their own software. With Open Source software, as long as you manage the relationship with the user correctly, you end up with a franchise.

Microsoft needs to blush

OOXML needs to die. It's clear that OOXML is a faux standard -- not because it's a vendor standard. There are lots of vendor-created standards which are real standards (e.g. PostScript). No, OOXML is a botch because it's expressed in terms of an undocumented Microsoft graphics library. OOXML is all "and then a miracle occurs". You've seen that cartoon, right?

Who speaks for the Open Source Community?

Steve Ballmer asks, in an E*Week interview, who speaks for the Open Source Community, and answers his question by saying that nobody does. True enough! He then goes on to point out that Larry Ellison, he speaks for Oracle, yes. True enough! But who speaks for the proprietary software vendors? When we, the open source community, want to make an agreement with the proprietary software vendors, who do we talk to? Do we talk to Larry? Or Steve? Or Jonathan? Or Curley? Or Moe?

Simon Phipps was right

Simon, I'm beginning to think that you were right and I was wrong. You said a standard's process is a crucial aspect of the standard's product, and a process that is not open cannot be trusted to produce a product that can be considered open. I maintained that I had seen and used many wonderful standards that took absolutely zero input from me, and therefore I didn't see my participation as a necessary prerequisite for assuring quality in the future. I believed that no matter what the process, a standard should be judged by the product.

What's in a label? ODF vs. OOXML and Open Standards

The OSI adopted a mandate of working on Open Standards two years ago. We put forward a statement on requirements for an Open Standard which boiled down to a simple proposition: if the standard could not be implemented fully and faithfully in Open Source, the standard should never be declared nor considered open.


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