Open Source Archive

Group Urges Limits on Open Source

"The U.S. Defense Department should think twice before embracing open-source software, a trade association is advising. The Initiative for Software Choice, which counts Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Intel among its backers, said in comments filed Tuesday that the department should "avoid crafting needless and potentially detrimental IT policy to promote the use" of open-source software." Read the report at At a time that countries like Germany and Japan begin to invest in OSS/GPL, Microsoft tries to hold US back. Are the Group's worries justified? Discuss.

RMS and BitKeeper — the Debate Turns Ugly

The Linux kernel mailing list continues to be the locus of sometimes contentious discussion between Richard M. Stallman and advocates of the limited-license BitKeeper code management program that is currently used to store the pieces of the Linux kernel as it is developed. It actually reached the point Monday where there was a discussion as to whether Stallman should be banned from the kernel list.

RMS: Can you Trust your Computer?

"Who should your computer take its orders from? Most people think their computers should obey them, not obey someone else. With a plan they call "trusted computing," large media corporations (including the movie companies and record companies), together with computer companies such as Microsoft and Intel, are planning to make your computer obey them instead of you. Proprietary programs have included malicious features before, but this plan would make it universal." Read RMS' editorial at NewsForge.

Going Overboard on Open Source?

"Open source is supposed to be about freedom. Unfortunately, certain advocates have lost sight of that goal. People should be free to use software which best fits their needs, whether or not it adheres to a particular programming philosophy. I suggest that open source proponents spend their time crafting interoperability guidelines rather than creating a protected environment, which artificially boosts open-source adoption while hiding it from the full rigors of competition." Read the editorial at ZDNet.

The Game Theory of Open Code

"A company selling proprietary software to third parties will never open its code if the company has a competitor. It will never release its software under the GNU GPL. If you consider open code a benefit to society, you may want to propagate open-code legislation or otherwise try to stimulate new competition in the marketplace." A draft of this article has been stirring up much debate on the Free Software law mailing list, but this is the first time it's been published at a web site.

The Binary Nature of Freedom

"There are subtle lessons about freedom in the GPL, but you'll never find them by just reading the license. Instead, you'll have to read between the lines (so to speak) and try to see what can't be seen. Furthermore, these lessons, despite being deceptively simple, could have a profound impact on human freedom if only people understood them. In a sense, software freedom can be seen as a metaphor for human freedom." Read the editorial at Advogato. Update: Checking out my email this morning, I found a submission about another new article on Free Software.

BSD vs. GPL: A Framework for the Social Analysis

These are the first three parts of a multipart paper 'BSD vs. GPL': "The paper attempts to establish a framework for the social analysis that might help to clarify issues for developers of free/open source products as well as the relative merits of each license. This paper is written from the software developer point of view, not that of a lawyer. I would argue that such an approach makes sense because none of major open/free software licenses was ever tested in court. And as such they can be viewed as a social contract, a mechanism for attracting users and co-developers and ensuring cooperation."

The Microsoft Penalty That Isn’t

"The Microsoft license specifically excludes software under the General Public License, commonly known as the GPL. The GPL is the software license used by Linux and by SAMBA, a popular open-source program that allows non-Microsoft systems to share files and printers with Windows." Read the rest of the editorial at ZDNews. Our Take: Funny. Everyone is getting worked up with that CIFS license, and it seems that no one has actually read the new Visual Studio.NET license. We did so with my husband 1-2 weeks ago. We are not lawyers, but what we pretty much understood from it, was that you can't develop and/or distribute GPL or LGPL (or compatible licensed) applications created with Visual Studio.NET. I personally believe that this is more important of the CIFS license issue, because it pretty much takes out any possibility of creating Free software for the Windows platforms, when using either the classic Win32/MFCs or .NET APIs. And if you are thinking about using Gcc, bad luck. The license prohibits using a GPL-compatible license for your apps that link against Microsoft's libraries. Quite possibly Microsoft used such restrictions in order to protect themselves from the possibility that someone may ask them to open source their technologies if third party developers link their GPL apps with Microsoft's libs, but on the other hand, it is restrictive to not be able to use a $1000 developer's tool to create applications the way you wish.

Does Open Source Software Really Work?

"Sheila Harnett, an engineer at IBM's Linux Tech Center, told NewsFactor that what holds Linux back the most is the scalability issue. In the ongoing debate between open source advocates and proprietary software makers and users, it turns out that -- to at least some extent -- both sides are right: Open source does work, but only in some cases. With respect to enterprise computing, analysts agree that for smaller projects that do not involve mission-critical elements, there is room for open source software, such as Linux." Read the rest of the article at OSOpinion.

Free Programs with Strings Attached

"Open source operating systems such as Linux and Apache, which can generally be downloaded from the internet and adapted or modified for use with other programs, have become a mainstream business tool. More than half the world's websites now run on the Apache web server and 57 per cent of companies polled by IDC, the research company, used Linux to run a big application within their enterprise. The popular view is that there are few restrictions on how open software can be used. But, like proprietary software, it is distributed with a copyright licence. While this may simply require anyone redistributing the software to acknow-ledge the original author, the most commonly used licence, the GNU General Public Licence or GPL, is significantly restrictive." Read the rest of the article at Financial Times Online.

Judge Defers GPL Questions for Trial in MySQL vs. Progress Soft

"In a decision handed down today in Boston, US District Judge Patti B. Saris ruled on the preliminary injunction motion in MySQL AB vs. Progress Software Corp. On the trademark dispute, on which the Free Software Foundation (FSF) takes no position, she has ruled that Progress Software is enjoined from marketing products under the MySQL trademarks until trial." Read the rest of the press release at The significance of this trial is that this is the first time where the GPL license will have to "stand" in a court.

Richard Stallman Answers GNOME Board Candidacy Questionnaire

"GNOME is not an independent software project; it is a part of the GNU system. This means GNOME does not exist just for its own success. It has a purpose: to provide the GNU system with a desktop. So while we should try to make GNOME successful (all else being equal), that's not the highest goal of the work on GNOME. If, on the other hand, GNOME and the rest of the GNU system are widely used, but mainly in combination with proprietary software, they will have succeeded only part-way, and a big task will remain ahead of us." Read the rest of the answers, and also have a read to the issue that was raised a month ago between RMS and some of the GNOME members.

RMS/Kuhn, Raymond, O’Reilly on the Freedom to Choose Licenses

An interesting debate has started between important people in the open source circles. Stallman and Kuhn in their essay 'Freedom or Power?' state that: "However, one so-called freedom that we do not advocate is the "freedom to choose any license you want for software you write We reject this because it is really a form of power, not a freedom." Eric S. Raymond fights back: "In other words, Stallman and Kuhn want to be able to make decisions that affect other developers more than themselves. By the definition they themselves have proposed, they want power". Tim O'Reilly started the debate: "If Freedom Zero for developers is the freedom to offer software on whatever terms the developer sets and a user will accept; Freedom Zero for users is the right to choose whatever software they like, without interference from platform vendors who try to deny that choice."

Is Open Source Fading Away?

"The revolution triggered by Linux may be slowly starting to fade. Many companies are becoming increasingly protective of their intellectual property rather than embracing open source during the economic slump. The ideological purity of the open-source software business is being diluted by a new era of pragmatism as start-ups adjust to the economic slump." Reported at ZDNews.

SourceForge Drifting

"Over the past few months the SourceForge development facility, which hosts a large number of Free Software projects, has changed its policies. Features for exporting a project from SourceForge have been removed. The implementation used to be exclusively Free Software but is now based on non-free software. Finally, VA Linux has become rather underhand in their attempts to grasp exclusive control of contributors' work. SourceForge did a lot of good for the Free Software community, but it's now time to break free." Read the rest of the editorial at

Public Domain Software – Better Than Open Source?

Descriptive Quote from the OSOpinion editorial: "Open source and free software were founded on the idea that all information and knowledge should be made freely available for the benefit of all, and what is software but the embodiment of knowledge? Unfortunately, much of today's open software is not free in one important respect. The use of copyright and the General Public License (GPL) restricts its commercial exploitation."