09.08.21

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Techrights Statement on Stefano Maffulli as Executive Director of OSI

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OSI, Patents at 8:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OSI, Microsoft money
Things have not been rosy since OSI started taking Microsoft money (Simon Phipps, for example, stopped condemning Microsoft for its patent blackmail)

Summary: There are positives in today’s announcement about new OSI leadership (or full-time member of staff), but time will tell if promise turns into concrete results

The new chief/leader at the OSI (some press release/media/coverage we’ve found so far is rather shallow, as were congratulatory “tweets”) deserves the benefit of the doubt. He didn’t sign the defamation letter against RMS and over the years he was mostly decent. I’ve followed him for many years and I’ve seen no reason to question his integrity or his sincerity. His contacts/connections are also decent people. Can the OSI still be redeemed? We certainly hope so, having witnessed an influx of proprietary software interests in the Board and the management.

The OSI clearly needs to change; but not in the direction/trajectory it has been changing in recent years. Go back to your roots/goals (they amended their mission statement very recently and announced that earlier this week).

For those who rush to judge the OSI, be patient; we’ve not seen any evidence yet of the new chief doing something bad. It’s unfair to judge proactively. One reader of ours wrote to say “OSI staff driven -> dependent” (on sponsors), but that’s the sort of challenge they need to tackle. They sort of sold out in recent years as they became more than 95% dependent on corporate cash, not individual supporters, as per their IRS filings.

The salary of the new chief thus depends on the corporate sponsors (same problem in the Linux Foundation), which will be harder to challenge/criticise without risk of retaliation. But it needs to be done every now and then.

In public: Microsoft loves Linux; in private: Microsoft blackmails LinuxTo be very clear, Stefano is historically not on Microsoft’s side. Here is what he wrote last year compared to 14 years ago (responding to the FSFE). Stefano was the Italian Chancellor of the FSFE back when the FSFE wasn’t a front group for monopolies like Google with Microsoft cash on its lap. FSFE might be beyond redemption. Can Stefano correct/undo the OSI’s mistakes?

As a matter of priority, let’s hope that the OSI’s boosting of GitHub will come to an end. Let’s hope Stefano will realise that devoting more than half of the OSI’s budget to proprietary software (ClearlyDefined budget, according to Josh Simmons) is a mistake. He needs to question this misuse of funds and then change the OSI’s direction. We certainly hope he’s not falling for any of that “Microsoft loves Linux” nonsense (lie). Just to be very clear, Microsoft's patent blackmail carries on, but it is better disguised (secret deals, Azure “IP” “advantage” etc.) and journalism is pretty much dead by now, so any actual facts get drowned in an ocean of PR (like “Microsoft loves Linux”). Microsoft isn’t reviled in the Free software world because of “hatred” or due to envy; it’s reviled in many circles for its deeply criminal behaviour, which has not changed. It includes entryism and the OSI must recognise this. The sooner, the better.

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