Bonum Certa Men Certa

Michael Tiemann's Rebuttal to Torvalds' Response to Taxoperability

Who 'gets' it?

There is a bunch of reports out there about Linus Torvalds cautiously welcoming Microsoft's Taxoperability Program, but there is the possibility that he misses a broader picture. To repeat a response to Asay from yesterday, consider the following comment from Michael Tiemann, President of the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

In my opinion, anything that Microsoft does that falls short of the published open source minimums is...sub-minimal. Torvalds is happy because his standards are lower--he cares more about himself than his community. But other people have higher standards--we also care about the community at least as much as we care for ourselves.


The words here are a little strong and Tiemann, who is most notably behind "Open Source", seems to be embracing a Richard Stallman-like (GNU/FSF) stance, caring to ensure that software remains free and secure from software patents.

Torvalds' view was somewhat surprising because he does in fact worry about software patents. Might he be missing the conditions secretly embedded in the Taxoperability Program (put more bluntly here) which pertain to patents. Moreover, is the OSI beginning to realise what Microsoft intends to do to open source? Watch this new pick from Groklaw:

Patent Pledge for Open Source Developers



07:52PM February 02/26/08, 2008

[PJ: Microsoft has come up with its own proprietary definition, if I may call it that, of Open Source projects. Here it is, found on the new Patent Pledge for Open Source Developers page of its website:

"To benefit from this promise, You must be a natural or legal person participating in the creation of software code for an open source project. An "open source project" is a software development project the resulting source code of which is freely distributed, modified, or copied pursuant to an open source license and is not commercially distributed by its participants. If You engage in the commercial distribution or importation of software derived from an open source project or if You make or use such software outside the scope of creating such software code, You do not benefit from this promise for such distribution or for these other activities."

Blech.] - Microsoft


Gatchev.info adds some personal analysis, calling it a "Divide and Conquer" Promise. [via LinuxToday]

here is a lot of discussion around the new Microsoft premise to offer freely documentation about its protocols and interfaces, and to not sue developers who use it to create code for non-commercial goals, even if they violate Microsoft patents. Some people think that this is done to avoid further pressure from the European Commission. It could be so - but there could be also a different rationale for it.

[...]

I would. Fair is fair… If only it wasn’t for one small detail: this way, they destroy the FOSS essence. Every FOSS license gives you the right to use and distribute the software in any way you like, commercial or not. If you are limited to non-commercial distribution only, this is not freedom anymore. And this is going to damage the positions of FOSS not only among the freedom pundits, but also (and maybe even more) among the ordinary users. That is - to marginalize FOSS.


It is possible that Linus Torvalds has not learned the full extent of Microsoft's latest announcement. His response to this might be damaging to perception. Neither Red Hat nor the EU cared for Microsoft's promise, so why should the Linux kernel?

Steve Ballmer license
Image from Wikimedia

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