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OSI Board Blog

Microsoft + Novell = Monopoly 2.0?

The O'Reilly Open Source Conference is one of the premier events for hackers, executives, users, and industry analysts to share and discuss open source trends, strategies, and perspectives. It has been so successful for so long that Microsoft couldn't let it continue without becoming a top sponsor, which they have now been for a number of years. One thing that sponsorship buys is a keynote speaking slot, and Microsoft's Sam Ramji took that slot on the final day of the 2008 conference.

Sam's message to the audience, which included leading open source companies, open source project leaders, board members, venture capitalists, etc., is that Microsoft is truly, truly interested in

Defending Open Source

When you see somebody abusing the term "Open Source", please tell us. But also tell them. Let them know that they have lost your trust as a business. Let them know that their use is fradulent (misrepresentation with an intent to profit from it). Let them know that they are confusing their customers. Confused customers do one of two things: they either go away and find another vendor who doesn't confuse them, or they purchase the product and then bad-mouth it to their friends because it wasn't as represented. Look for the Open Source Approved License logo, including the green keyhole.

PJ's bottom line--a new line for the OSI?

Pamela Jones (aka PJ), the groklaw blogger, asks and answers the question OK. But What Does It Mean? (Jacobsen v. Katzer), saying that

It means that while OSI's handling of a list of approved licenses worked very well for a community made up of FOSS programmers, who are decent folks all on the same page overall, now that enemies of FOSS are attacking, we need a new organization to vet licenses going forward a lot more carefully, one made up of experienced FOSS lawyers, none of them with a history of hostility to, or ignorance of, the GPL, with the community as advisors.

Jacobsen v. Katzer case decision (from Mark Radcliffe)

On August 13, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued its decision in the Jacobsen v. Katzer case. This case was the first real test of the remedies for breach of open source licenses in US courts (for more background, see

An obvious reason to use Open Source

Let's say that you want to build the highest building in your {village,town,county,state,country}. Your resources are limited, as they always are. Should you start building from the ground up? Or should you make use of the community foundation that Open Source developers have created? Your choice should be obvious. You may choose to build from the ground up, but your competitors are not likely to make that mistake.

Open Source is not about freedom, nor is it about licenses.

Open Source is not about freedom, nor is it about licenses. It's about community. Of course everyone knows about Richard Stallman's concern about having the freedom to modify all software on his machine. Tim O'Reilly has had a concern for many years that Open Source licenses do not keep software Open Source when it is not being distributed but instead performed as in Web 2.0 applications.

How Open Source Is Your Open Source?

Michael DeHaan has an excellent post entitled "How Open Source Is Your Open Source?". I dare say it is his best post despite getting in a few (Linux) distro biased comments. He proposes a set of community standards that determine the real health and openness of Open Source. In my opinion, a major problem with OSI at the moment is that it perpetuates (mainly indeliberately) that a mere license makes something Open Source. In my view, an Open Source license is really the first step in making software Open Source.

OSCON Lessons for Africa

The Open Source Convention of 2008 has closed its doors. It might not have been right to count our gains and losses during the conference, but it is time and timely, to do so.

The first of all lessons was the increasing number of attendance from Africa. The word increasing may look absurd, because it does not mean from 20 to 50 or even from 10 to 25, but at least it means from 3 to 8.

tigers and elephants

Is Microsoft a tiger or a rogue elephant? A tiger has its own agenda, and cannot be diverted from its mission:to kill and eat. An rogue elephant is powerful and intelligent, but they can also be trained. We in the opensource community are not sure of the answer to this question. If Microsoft is a tiger, we will have to kill it to have peace. If Microsoft is currently a rogue elephant, we can tame it and turn it into a significant open source contributor. Either way, I have faith in the power of open source to overcome, just like the power of water to erode.

What Microsoft can do for Open Source

This morning Sam Ramji gave one of the closing keynote presentations at OSCON 2008. He talked about writing a new chapter in Microsoft's history with the open source community, and he promised to talk openly and honestly with us. It is a promise that he made to me personally when I met him between sessions a few days earlier. He also made a commitment to engage in difficult conversations about tough issues. And he announced some other concrete ways that Microsoft was reaching out to the open source community. But the subtext of all these commitments seemed to me to be a deeper question that Sam is trying to answer: what can Microsoft do to make peace and partner with the open source community?


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