Newer, More Modern

Submitted by danese on Sat, 2007-03-24 15:26. ::

If you're coming to this URL for the first time in awhile, you may think you're in the wrong place...

Nope, we've just finally soft-launched our new website. The old one was largely hard-coded (as was common back in 1998 when it was launched). It got to be too hard to maintain, as many of you noticed. Many thanks to our volunteer webmaster, Steve Mallett, for putting up this new Drupal-based site that we can edit and contribute to more easily.

Yes, the 'open source' label is still relevant and powerful

Submitted by esr on Mon, 2007-03-12 22:17. ::

Nat Torkington asked recently Is
"Open Source" Now Completely Meaningless. Certainly not; in fact,
there are several reasons this label is still valid and important.
I'm a pragmatist, so I'm not going to wave any flags or sing any
anthems to argue this, just point out what has worked and continues to

First of all, let's be clear about what "open source" means. Software
is 'open source' when it is issued under a license compliant with the
Open Source Definition. Nothing any clueless or malevolant corporate
marketeer does can change that, because the term originated in the
open-source developer community and only we have the authority to
redefine it.

Brent Williams gives the best open source presentation ever?

Submitted by Michael Tiemann on Mon, 2007-03-12 06:24. ::

That seems to be the opinion of Stephen Walli in this blog posting.

I just finished reading Made To Stick, a book recommended to me by my trendspotting wife Amy, and it's quite obvious that Brent has both a command of the facts, an understanding of the context, and a gift for relating them in ways that are simple, unexpected, concrete, and other ways that make the ideas stick. It is wonderful (and refreshing) to see a presentation that is at once so right on the facts and so complete in its explanation. Great work, Brent!

Open Source and Open Standards

Submitted by Michael Tiemann on Wed, 2007-02-28 15:53. ::

For some time, the term "Open Standard" has been gaining in market popularity. Unlike Open Source, which has had a concrete definition for almost ten years, the term Open Standard was merely a feel-good term with no actual technical meaning. Nevertheless, decades of poor experiences with proprietary standards (or no standards at all) contrasted with the dramatic successes of using IETF and W3C standards such as TCP/IP and HTTP have caused IT buyers to consider standards alongside product price and performance when making IT investment decisions. In this context, the term "Open Standard" has suddenly become the new "Healthy!" or "Lo Calorie" or "No Transfat" label: a claim that is either unverifiable or one that is technically true but irrelevant.

Yes! Open Source Is As Relevant As Ever!

Submitted by Michael Tiemann on Tue, 2007-02-27 04:38. ::

There's an idea that's becoming increasingly popular here in Chapel Hill, and it's expressed by one of two bumper stickers. The first is:

Ignore Your Rights And They'll Go Away

The second is:

No, You Can't Have My Rights, I'm Still Using Them

These apply equally well to the definition of Open Source software. For quite some time, we've faced opposition from those who want nothing more than to spread ignorance--to tell people it's OK to ignore what rights may or may not convey with the software they buy. They believe that if enough people simply ignore Open Source, it will go away.

Alfresco shifts to the GPL

Submitted by Michael Tiemann on Fri, 2007-02-23 16:33. ::

Three cheers for Alfresco for changing their license to the GPL.

The first cheer is because they are shifting away from a license which, as a modified version of an OSI-approved license, was not, technically, Open Source as the OSI defines it.

We all remember the days when high-flying technology companies reported "pro-forma" financials instead of pure GAAP financials. The logic was that GAAP was the standard upon which their model was based, but they just wanted to make a few tweaks to better reflect the true value of their company. The liberties some companies took with GAAP created a slippery slope for both the companies and their investors, leading to massive discrepancies between reports and reality. Starting with an OSI-approved open source license and then making some discretionary changes without getting the new license approved can (and has) led to similar problems with respect to the spirit and the letter of the OSD. By stepping away from a modified Mozilla license and embracing an OSI-approved license, Alfresco makes their intentions clear to all--they are an Open Source business.

Long on Words, Short on Understanding

Submitted by Michael Tiemann on Thu, 2007-02-22 16:02. ::
The Open Source Initiative is not the only organization with ideas about how to better understand, and thus develop and exploit software. At the opposite end of the spectrum seems to be The Progress and Freedom Foundation, and their Senior Fellow, James DeLong, who has just posted a new and thoroughly confusing article that appears to praise Open Source and the OSI, but for no valid reasons.

The article I read just prior to DeLong's piece (and to which I will return momentarily) was this piece from another respected journal: The Onion. Please read Experts call for restrictions on childhood imagination and then come back. It finishes with the quote:


Submitted by coar on Wed, 2007-02-07 14:48. :: Sandbox

When it was formed in 1998, the OSI consisted of a small number of dedicated individuals with a shared aim of furthering the goals of open software. Although the composition of this board of directors changed over the years, it wasn't until 2005 that the size was increased from 5 to 9, and actively began expanding the organisation's focus beyond licence evaluation.

Also in 2005 several initiatives were identified, among them this one: to investigate the feasibility of changing the OSI to be a broad-based membership organisation.

2007 and beyond

Submitted by Michael Tiemann on Wed, 2007-01-17 22:13. ::

2006 was a pivotal year for Open Source. 2007 should be a banner year.

In 2006, the OSI's agenda was focused on the problem of license proliferation (defining it, addressing it, and solving it), the harmonization of the definitions of open standards and open source software, and the launch of the new, version 3.0 website, which now serves this content. Of course the OSI also managed the day-to-day business of discussing and approving licenses, fund raising, answering frequently asked questions, and acting as faithful stewards of the Open Source Definition.

With approximately 60 licenses approved by the OSI since 1998, many open source stakeholders agreed that while choice was a Good Thing, too much choice was Too Much of a Good Thing. The License Proliferation Committee brought together a wide variety of stakeholders (license authors and license users, software developers and corporate attorneys) to discuss and recommend how to best remain inclusive and innovative while diminishing the risk of the open source community fragmenting into too many separate, incompatible licensing factions. Their discussions and recommendations resulting in a categorization that has helped simplify the understanding of the many open source licenses that exist, the development of software tools to help licensors choose appropriate licenses, and has precipitated the voluntary retirement of several licenses.

Crafter Manifesto

Submitted by Michael Tiemann on Wed, 2006-09-20 07:34. ::

Dale Dougherty is giving his Make: presentation. Clearly, FOSS hackers are Make:rs. He referenced one of my favorite documents, the Crafter Manifesto, which can be found at

While craft and play may seem as far from technology as one can get, as human endeavors (and we /are/ human) I believe they are intimately related.

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