08.02.07

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Open Source Becomes Web 2.0 and Novell 2.0 (or SCO 3.0)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Xandros at 9:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We previously argued that Microsoft intends to do to “Open Source” with OSI what it did to “GNU/Linux” with Novell. The closer you look, the more reasonable this seems.

Novell, which describes itself as a “mixed-source” company, could learn from this debate and development where there’s greater polarisation that separates “Free software” from “Open Source”.

Beyond that, many industry watchers, including myself, wonder just how much relevancy the OSI will have in the open source community if it were to actually approve open source licenses from the Evil Empire itself. There are already signs of strengthening polarization between the free software and open source software communities; I have little doubt this could tip over to an outright flame war,

Jack Schofield from the Guardian has for a long time been suspected of serving Microsoft’s agenda in a tactfully secret fashion. This new article is no exception and it is worth reading for the value of cynicism.

Either way, if GPL v3 exacerbates the split in the free/open source world, it’s a good time for Microsoft to get cosy with the OSI side while trying to avoid Stallman’s FSF side. This may sound unlikely, because many people in the open software camp appear to define themselves by their hatred for Microsoft. But it wouldn’t be the first proprietary company to get itself accepted. IBM has already made a similar transition.

Of course, the comparison to IBM is laughable, but the idea of separation is true. Also recall this exchange of heated arguments at OSCON. The provocation began with accusation of exploitation and loss of direction in the so-called “Open Source” world, where even Web 2.0 — whatever that is — has become analogous with “Open Source” (APIs), even freedom.

Once upon a time, the term “open source” was coined to save the free-software world from itself–or, rather, from the free-software zealots, as you can read on the Open Source Initiative’s Web site.

Today, I can’t help but feel that the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, where we’re so self-satisfied with the money we’re making off open source that we have neglected the essential freedoms that make open-source profit possible.

There are some more thoughts about it in the item whose title is “Open Source is no Web 2.0″.

It is time we stop the term open source from getting hijacked. I recently wrote about how tech media doesn’t get open source. The events in the last week or so have confirmed my thesis further.

[...]

It is time for saner elements in the open source world to wake up and stop the abuse of the term open source by the tech media and companies like Microsoft. If we don’t do it now, the only other alternative is the free software movement and the business community may not be able to leverage the freedom offered by the free software then.

Finally, here is a very good assessment which explains what Microsoft tries to achieve by invading OSI.

Microsoft people love to overly complicate a simple concept, throw out a dozen definitions or more about one thing to confuse an audience, and then try to make people that believe that it is going to eat its own profits for lunch.

[...]

Does anybody out there think that Hilf is running some kind of separate agenda to Ballmer? Will Hilf’s apparent efforts to bring about some change in Microsoft’s business philosophy transcend Ballmer’s policy? Dream on.

[...]

Just as a fighter plane throws out flares left and right in order to distract heat-seeking missiles, Microsoft throws out these morsels from time to time in order to try and unsettle its competitors. And it tries to win over those it can, using the one thing of which it has plenty – money.

And that’s the only thing which Microsoft understands.

Returning to the main point of this post, recall that Novell, Xandros, and Linspire have become fairly bizarre Linux companies that mix proprietary code with open source. They truly blur the margin that exists between Free software and software that maintains lock-in and control.

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2 Comments

  1. akf said,

    August 3, 2007 at 2:10 am

    Gravatar

    What the OSI really should do before they consider the Microsoft licences… approve the GPLv3. — Yes, when you look up the GPL in their licence list, you still get the old, outdated GPLv2. The same for LGPL.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    August 3, 2007 at 2:42 am

    Gravatar

    Bruce Perens wrote about it, IIRC, and they will soon have it approved.

    The heated discussion at the O’Reilly announcement continues,with some nice punches thrown by one of the readers of this Web sute. Some people are simply too naive, or perhaps they simply liaise with Microsoft. I spoke to some people about this and a couple at days ago PJ attempted to show whose agenda Matt Asay, for example, supports in the OSI board. They still want to bend Open Source toward purely profit-driven causes. These co-called “Web 2.0″ companies rarely give anything in return and developments in the OSI seem to be encouraging greater distance away from the 4 freedoms.

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