12.30.14

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Black Duck Debunked Again, Data Asserted Invalid

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Black Duck’s GPL-hostile numbers are hinged on a biased collection of data, claims controversial columnist Byfield

JUST before Christmas we wrote this critique of Redmonk because it was using data from its former paymasters at Black Duck. The data was used to discredit the GNU GPL, a cornerstone of copyleft (which in inherently one of the biggest threats to the likes of Microsoft, which is in turn closely connected to Black Duck).

“No article is perfect, but the takeaway from Byfield’s article is that Black Duck’s claims deserve no trust.”An article from Bruce Byfield (excerpt in [1]), a person whom we typically disagree with (he tends to aggravate projects or sites and then malign them using their response, i.e. the troll’s modus operandi), finally disputes the Black Duck ‘data’, which is in some case derived directly or funneled through Microsoft (for over 5 years now). Byfield criticises “both the Red Monk studies and their main source, Black Duck Software,” noting quite correctly that the way data is collected is biased by designed (incomplete and tilted in favour of large corporations such as Microsoft).

While we cannot agree with all of Byfield’s assertions, some of his points align with ours and bolster critics of Black Duck, including Debian heavyweight Bruce Perens, who warned people that Black Duck's claims about the GPL are "B.S."

Will Hill, a Debian user, has highlighted numerous flaws in Byfield’s article, including:

Oh no, he’s dredging up all that bullshit again? It was pretty conclusively dealt with at the time by counting packages in Debian, etc. Let me count the howlers,

Because permissive licenses are more flexible and less likely to generate compliance problems, the possibility is strong that these sources could have a conscious or unconscious bias against copyleft licenses.

That’s basically what Black Duck was trying to get people to believe, that software freedom is not “flexible” enough for businesses who prefer “permissive” BSD. This is silly and wrong, but he’s stated as a fact. What a turkey.

Debian, for example, notes that its license “include” a short list but makes no guarantee that the list is complete, and goes no further than to note that a half dozen licenses are “common.”

This undermines people’s ability to see the best rebuttal in a dishonest way. The answer came from counting the total number of packages and the number of GPL packages to see that GPL use had increased.

No article is perfect, but the takeaway from Byfield’s article is that Black Duck’s claims deserve no trust. They are selling agenda and bias.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. The problem with license trends

    The conventional wisdom is that free software licenses are rapidly evolving. The copyleft licenses are supposed to be in decline, and the permissive licenses gaining popularity, according to two widely-quoted studies from Red Monk by Stephen O’Grady and Donnie Berkholz, In fact, writing in 2012, Berkholz declares that new project licenses are more likely to use a permissive license than anything else. However, on closer examination, whether these conclusions are accurate is open to question.

    For one thing, both the Red Monk studies and their main source, Black Duck Software and its Open Hub site (formerly Ohloh) are business-oriented. Because permissive licenses are more flexible and less likely to generate compliance problems, the possibility is strong that these sources could have a conscious or unconscious bias against copyleft licenses.

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