John Sullivan, executive director of the Free Software Foundation: "Were it grounded in reality, Oracle's claim that copyright law gives them proprietary control over any software that uses a particular functional API would be terrible for free software and programmers everywhere. It is an unethical and greedy interpretation created with the express purpose of subjugating as many computer users as possible, and is particularly bad in this context because it comes at a time when the sun has barely set on the free software community's celebration of Java as a language newly suitable for use in the free world. Fortunately, the claim is not yet reality, and we hope Judge Alsup will keep it that way." Couldn't agree more.
Open Source Archive
"A new analysis of licensing data shows that not only is use of the GPL and other copyleft licenses continuing to decline, but the rate of disuse is actually accelerating." This shouldn't be surprising. The GPL is complex, and I honestly don't blame both individuals and companies opting for simpler, more straightforward licenses like BSD or MIT-like licenses.
It's been a while since we caught up with Stallman. But a couple months ago we took a look around at what's happening with law, politics and technology and realized that he maybe perhaps his extremism and paranoia were warranted all along. So when we were contacted by an Iranian Linux publication and asked if we would like to publish an English translation of a recent interview they had done with Stallman, I thought that it was a particularly rich opportunity.
The Dutch LinuxMagazine translated an interview (direct PDF link) from their magazine with Gianugo Rabellino, Senior Director Open Source Communities at Microsoft into English. Many of your readers are probably wondering, is Microsoft really involved in open source these days, or is there more to it? Fabrice Mous started his conversation with Mr. Rabellino to get to know him better, but also to ask him some pressing questions about Microsoft's policies towards open source and open standards. It turned out to be an interesting, but certainly quite critical conversation, that will probably lead to some discussion.
We would very much like to hear your opinion on the open source policy of Microsoft.
Late last year, president Obama signed a law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain terrorist suspects without any form of trial or due process. Peaceful protesters in Occupy movements all over the world have been labelled as terrorists by the authorities. Initiatives like SOPA promote diligent monitoring of communication channels. Thirty years ago, when Richard Stallman launched the GNU project, and during the three decades that followed, his sometimes extreme views and peculiar antics were ridiculed and disregarded as paranoia - but here we are, 2012, and his once paranoid what-ifs have become reality.
"The Free Software Foundation released a statement open for public signing, titled 'Stand up for your freedom to install free software'. The statement is a response to Microsoft's announcement that if computer makers wish to distribute machines with the Windows 8 compatibility logo, they must implement a system called 'Secure Boot'. The FSF statement warns against the danger that, if done wrong, this system would have to be called Restricted Boot, because it could make computers incapable of running anything but Windows." Signed.
Rapid7 created a $100,000 investment fund to support up to seven promising open source projects in the security industry. The "Magnificent7" projects will be identified and supported through the remainder of 2011 and into 2012. Any security-related open source project - with a preference for BSD-compatible licensing - is applicable and encouraged to submit a "Magnificent7" application.
Google has finally acknowledged that its characterization of Android as open source is false and, in the end, this can only make the mobile platform stronger, InfoWorld's Galen Gruman argues. 'It's hard for believers to accept that open source brings with it difficulties, but look at the consistent failure of the other open source mobile platforms -- Moblin, Maemo, and MeeGo -- that all devolved into grad-student-like thought experiments and personal pet projects. Users don't want that, and ultimately products are sold to users.' Instead, Google has been quietly taking parts of Android back in house to develop them purposefully and deeply, and as Google has asserted more control over Android, it's improved.
"Much has been said about open source projects - and open source platforms are now powering an ever-increasing share of the mobile market. But what is 'open' and how can you measure openness? As part of our new research report, VisionMobile Research Partner Liz Laffan introduces the Open Governance Index - a new approach to measuring the 'openness' of software projects, from Android to WebKit."
In a recent article Thom contributed his opinion to the discussion about the openness of Android that started when Google choose to withhold the source code for honeycomb, here are my 2 cents. In the article the obligations GPL puts on Google are made very clear. This makes it clear that Android is indeed an open-source project. However being open-source and being open aren't always the same thing.
Yahoo plans to release some technologies, including storage technologies, to the open source community, a senior executive of the company said. These are systems that Yahoo built to help it handle large numbers of users on its websites, but that don't necessarily give it a competitive advantage, said David Chaiken, chief architect at Yahoo, in an interview in Bangalore on Friday.
The GNU Project has announced a new project called GNU Free Call, an open source Skype alternative that will offer anonymous VoIP and will use the GNU SIP Witch server as the back end. GNU SIP Witch requires a minimum of system resources so it can be used on cell phones too so it seems the goal is to provide a cross-platform application, the immediate target most probably being Android.
"Now that Linux is the most popular free Unix-like operating system, it shouldn't be a surprise that some projects have begun treating non-Linux operating systems as second-class citizens. This isn't out of contempt for the BSDs or OpenSolaris, it's just a matter of limited manpower: if almost all the users of the application have a Linux operating system and if all the core developers are using Linux themselves, it's difficult to keep supporting other operating systems. But sometimes the choice to leave out support for other operating systems is explicitly made, e.g. when the developers want to implement some innovative features that require functionality that is (at least for now) only available in the Linux kernel."
Late last year Australia's biggest telco Telstra was sharply criticised for using GPL'd code in several of its new products - but not publicly distributing changes it made to the code when doing so. However, it looks as though the company has now come clean, publishing a source code CD of the files changed in its development effort and acknowledging the GPL and Lesser GPL. It's good to see companies responding to the open source community this way and engaging - makes a change from the past!
"Manu Sporny, founder and CEO of Digital Bazaar, has decided to use GitHub to store a project of a nature. Rather than a piece of software, he is listing his own genetic data as an open source project. He has released all his rights to the data and made around 1 million of his genetic markers public domain."
"A recent survey by Gartner found that more than half of organizations surveyed have adopted open source software (OSS) solutions as part of their IT strategy. Nearly one-third of respondents cited benefits of flexibility, increased innovation, shorter development times and faster procurement processes as reasons for adopting OSS solutions. However, the survey revealed that only one-third of responding organizations had a formal OSS policy in place."
"One member of the European Parliament and a handful of their advisors and assistants started a free software group last Saturday, aiming to increase the use of Free and open source software in the European Parliament's IT infrastructure. The user group is open to all who work in the European Parliament, including staff and assistants working in political groups."
Richard Hillesley has written about the fate of various Sun open source projects since that firm's acquisition by Oracle. He noticeably quotes Oracle CEO Larry Ellison as having said "If an open source product gets good enough, we'll simply take it."
The fork of OpenOffice called LibreOffice is going to have its first official release soon. This version is primarily a code cleanup, and so it will not be much different to OpenOffice 3.3, which is also about to be released soon. For the subsequent release of LibrOffice, however, there are proposals starting to emerge which are quite interesting. Tech Drive-in reports on a mock-up of a proposed overhaul of the LibreOffice UI.
The Free Software Foundation announced today that it will be supporting the WebM project. As Brett Smith, license compliance engineer for the FSF, said in a press release: "Google has been working to bring together a broad coalition of organizations to support WebM, which will go far to help it become the video codec of choice with HTML5. e want the world to know that we also support WebM: with its developer-friendly patent license and free software reference implementation, it's a good choice to help ensure the Web fulfills its promise of providing a free way for the world to communicate."