Bonum Certa Men Certa

Not Everyone in the OSI Shows “Respect for Microsoft”

Not so long ago, the Linux Foundation called for "respect for Microsoft". This led to a stir (and rightly so). Apart from some older rebuttals, there is also this new one from Brian:

This, I believe, is the respect that should be given to Microsoft, and any other proprietary company with a history of antagonism towards Linux: the respect of something always potentially dangerous. Like dynamite. As dangerous as dynamite is, it can still be used productively and safely.

The best thing to do is cast away fear and intimidation. How? By remembering this: because it is free and open source Linux can never by destroyed. It can be slowed down, or sidetracked by our own actions, but the genie is out of the bottle and can never be put back. With this in mind, why worry about what Redmond says?

Respect them... and never forget who they are.


On the face of it, community divide and fracturing is obtained by separating those who never truly cared about Free source (they merely consumed and used it) and those who have a goal in mind -- a goal that is not to be reached by exploiting, abusing, and selling out.

Tension has always existed between so-called Web 2.0 (typically Free software consumers) and open source developers, whose values and software are being compromised by others. We saw that in OSCON last month. Usually, there is peace among the community nonetheless.

Microsoft then steps in to muddy the waters and widen the divide. They did it with Novell. They did it with Xandros. They did it with Linspire. This, for example, is precisely what they do by seeking approval from the OSI. Bill Hilf said that he was not pleased to find anti-Microsoft comments in the OSI Web site, so now he wants to be a 'buddy' of the OSI. Surely, that would separate those who understand what Microsoft has done in the past and those who chose to forget and/or forgive.

Fortunately, Microsoft is facing new barriers when it comes to admission into the OSI in the form and embodiment of software licences. Mr. DiBona is among those who stepped in.

Things got really interesting when Chris DiBona, longtime OSI member, open source advocate, and open source programs manager for Google, Inc. chimed in:
I would like to ask what might be perceived as a diversion and maybe even a mean spirited one. Does this submission to the OSI mean that Microsoft will:

a) Stop using the market confusing term Shared Source b) Not place these licenses and the other, clearly non-free , non-osd licenses in the same place thus muddying the market further. c) Continue its path of spreading misinformation about the nature of open source software, especially that licensed under the GPL? d) Stop threatening with patents and oem pricing manipulation schemes to deter the use of open source software?

If not, why should the OSI approve of your efforts? That of a company who has called those who use the licenses that OSI purports to defend a communist or a cancer? Why should we see this seeking of approval as anything but yet another attack in the guise of friendliness?

[...]

OSI should not trade on its reputation lightly... this is not a discussion about licenses but whether or not it is wise for OSI to enable its most vicious competitor.


From my correspondences with Chris in the past I know for a fact that he is dedicated not to a proprietary Linux, but to a free (and Free) GNU/Linux. He apparently knows too well what Microsoft is up to. It's a shame that many people -- let alone the Linux Foundation -- is being astonishingly blind. Does everyone there agree with Jim Zemlin?

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