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08.01.07

As the Saying Goes, Who Invited These Guys to the “Free Software” World?

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft at 3:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TuxDeluxe explains some of the problems that we face now that a few unwanted guests have arrived and ‘diluted’ the impact of Free software — applications which most business have come to know and recognise as “Open Source” software.

The great majority of the better known and more successful “open source” projects are released under the GPL, and can be described accurately as free software. JBoss (now owned by Red Hat), for instance, has always described itself as “professional open source” but has released its software under Free Software Foundation (FSF) licenses.

An accidental side effect of the popularity of “open source” has been a proliferation of licenses that describe themselves as “open source”, some of which aren’t necessarily compatible with each other and may or may not be recognised by the OSI, and many of which contain proprietorial clauses that don’t always work to the advantage of the licensors or the licensees.

The term “open source” has at times been misused by companies who want to gain the benefits of a wider developer community.

The latest misuse, however, has come from Microsoft, which at some point even called shared source “Open Source”. A BBC columnist who is truly loyal to Free software has contributed a piece where he describes Microsoft’s recent actions as a “chess game”.

Of course Microsoft is not endorsing the larger and more challenging free software philosophy of Richard Stallman, whose GNU General Public License (GPL) places more stringent conditions on the software it covers than it could ever accept.

As Stallman puts it, “open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement. For the free software movement, free software is an ethical imperative, because only free software respects the users’ freedom”.

The bottom line is that one has to watch and understand what Microsoft is trying to achieve. There is far more than meets the eye. Microsoft tries very hard to hide its long-term intentions. In another blog I have been confronting folks (possibly Microsoft employees) who say that Ballmer now praises what he once called “a cancer”. It’s a case of a crocodile tears and a subversive tactic. Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts.

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4 Comments

  1. Stephen said,

    August 1, 2007 at 4:06 am

    Gravatar

    It’s a poor title for the blog entry – to limit access to the free software world is really taking a position opposite to the purpose of the community in the first place. If the framework within the community is sound and it’s licenses likewise, then there’s really nothing new to fear and everything to gain. Microsoft would certainly stand to learn a LOT.

    Nor has managing the MS FUD machine has never been a problem for this “vocal” community either! It may not be status quo, but I’d rather “keep my friends close, and my enemies closer!”.

  2. SubSonica said,

    August 1, 2007 at 4:57 am

    Gravatar

    “to limit access to the free software world is really taking a position opposite to the purpose of the community in the first place”

    Well…no: On the contrary that is quite exactly what Microsoft is trying to do with all its recent and past movements since the Halloween Documents… so controlling/barring Microsoft access to the FOSS development environment is the wise thing to do. If they ever are granted access it should be only on FOSS terms and respecting FOSS philosophy and values (philosophy and values being not anything big corporations care about, that’s why the term OpenSource was coined)

    Classic MSFT strategy here again:

    Try to enter a “market” (FOSS) where they have no foothold by joining or supporting the second-best player (OpenSource and pseudo-free licences -remember the term OpenSource was only coined to make the FreeSoftware concept palatable to the business(money)-minded) in order to undermine and fight the leading player/element in that area.(FreeSoftware, GPL and FSF)
    We have already seen it with two recent examples: SuSE vs Redhat (patent protection rackets), Xen vs VMWare (virtualization technology)…

  3. SubSonica said,

    August 1, 2007 at 5:03 am

    Gravatar

    Notice something curious but illustrative of the above strategy: Microsoft doesn’t never ever mention the phrase “Free Software”, while trying to build an image of supporting “Open Source” in its astroturfing strategy (port25, codeplex, “Shared Source” initiative -notice how they trickily pick a word out of established names in order to subvert it and to deviate the association towards its own offerings, it is the same with MS Office Open XML as a clear intent to confuse OpenOffice.org users to use MSFT’s fake format )

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 1, 2007 at 5:23 am

    Gravatar

    @Stephen:

    > It’s a poor title for the blog entry

    I saw this as a possibility, which is why I prepended “As the Saying Goes” immediately before posting. I saw this ambiguity, which makes it seem like it’s my own statement, as opposed to something which we have been hearing from months in a variety of blog.

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