FLOSS Research

Open Yet Closed

Open Source Initiative - Tue, 2017-11-14 11:12

In these days of code that no single mind can grasp, it's hard to see how software freedom is present when there's no realistic community access to source code.

In the early days of Free Software, it was a safe assumption that anyone using a computer had coding skills of some sort -- even if only for shell scripts. As a consequence, many advocates of Free Software, despite a strong focus on user freedoms, had a high tolerance for software that made source available under free terms without providing binaries.

That was considered undesirable, but as long as the source code could be used it was not disqualifying. Many other ways evolved to ensure that the software was somehow impractical to deploy without a commercial relationship with a particular vendor, even if the letter of the rules around Free Software was met.

This tolerance for "open but closed" models continued into the new Open Source movement. As long as code was being liberated under open source licenses, many felt the greater good was being served despite obstacles erected in service of business models.

But times have changed. Random code liberation is still desirable, but the source of the greatest value to the greatest number is the collaboration and collective innovation open source unlocks. While abstract "open" was tolerated in the 20th century, only "open for collaboration" satisfies the open source communities of the 21st century. Be it "open core", "scareware", "delayed open", "source only for clients", "patent royalties required" or one of the many other games entrepreneurs play, meeting the letter of the OSD or FSD without actually allowing collaboration is now deprecated.

As a consequence, OSI receives more complaints from community members about "open yet closed" than any other topic. Companies of all sizes who loudly tout their love for open source yet withhold source code from non-customers generate the most enquiries of this type. When approached, OSI contacts these companies on behalf of the community but the response is always that they are "within their rights" under the relevant open source licenses and can do what they please.

One claim that deserves to be soundly debunked is that it's OK to withhold open source code from non-customers. All open source licenses should be interpreted as requiring source to be made available to the public. OSD 2 is very clear:

2. The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably downloading via the Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.M/small>

Interestingly it's common that the companies involved obtained the source code they are monetising under an open source license, while they themselves own the copyrights to a tiny percentage of the code. They can be considered to have enclosed the commons, enjoying the full benefits of open source themselves -- and celebrating it -- but excluding others from collaboration on the same terms.

Many community members would tolerate this were it not for the company claims to be strong supporters of open source. Even this behaviour might be mitigated for some with upstream code contributions. But in the absence of public code, most community members dispute something is open source, regardless of the license used. "Open yet closed" may have been tolerated twenty years ago, but today the rule is open up or shut up.

Image credit: "OpenClosedPost.png" is a derivative of "Paris - A Bicycle against an old wall - 4292.jpg", 2008 by Jorge Royan (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons and used with permission under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Open Source Initiative Announces DigitalOcean Corporate Sponsorship

Open Source Initiative - Tue, 2017-11-07 20:45

Cloud services platform will provide both financial and in-kind contributions to support OSI infrastructure and new collaboration platform.

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Nov. 8, 2017 -- The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), dedicated to increasing the awareness and adoption of open source software, is delighted to welcome DigitalOcean as a Premium Sponsor. DigitalOcean, a cloud services platform designed for developers, will provide both financial support and hosting for several OSI community-driven services.

A Forbes' Cloud 100 company, DigitalOcean's active engagement and investment in open source software highlights how today's most innovative and successful companies have recognized the value of, and opportunities within, open communities of collaboration. The company regularly sponsors open source related MeetUps and Hackathons—including their popular "Hacktoberfest", develops tutorials on open source technologies and techniques, maintains and contributes to a number of open source projects, and of course offers hosting to open source projects and foundations.

"DigitalOcean's support provides a critical boost to the OSI's ongoing operations, and for the new, community-focused programs we'll be launching in 2018," says Patrick Masson, General Manager at OSI. "With the growth in open source software across all sectors, the OSI is seeing more and more requests for assistance and resources. DigitalOcean's services will provide the OSI with the dedicated infrastructure we need now to successfully extend and expand our support for the new and growing roles emerging in open source communities of practice."

"One of our core company values is, our community is bigger than just us," says Greg Warden, VP, Engineering at DigitalOcean. "From our KVM-based hypervisors to our Go and Ruby applications running on our Kubernetes clusters, DigitalOcean is built on a foundation of open source. That's why it is so important for us to support the Open Source Initiative in its work promoting and protecting open source on behalf of the community."

As a non-profit, community-driven organization, the OSI relies on the support of volunteers who lend their time to develop and manage internal operations and working groups; individual contributing members, whose annual dues provide critical support and votes elect the Board; Affiliate Members, composed of a who's who of open source projects and foundations, and; corporations who choose to support our mission through in-kind donations and generous financial contributions.

About DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean is a cloud services platform designed for developers that businesses use to run production applications at scale. It provides highly available, secure and scalable compute, storage and networking solutions that help developers build great software faster. Founded in 2012 with offices in New York and Cambridge, MA, DigitalOcean offers simple services, transparent pricing, an elegant user interface, and one of the largest libraries of open source resources available. For more information, please visit http://www.digitalocean.com or follow @digitalocean.

About The Open Source Initiative

Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

Media Contact
Italo Vignoli

Categories: FLOSS Research

Ensuring Openness Through and In Open Source Licensing

Open Source Initiative - Mon, 2017-10-30 17:25

It simply may not be clear to those encountering open source for the first time the scope of the Open Source Definition, or the standards expected by the international open source community, when OSI approved licenses are applied. We're here to help clear things up.

Some of the largest forces in business today—consumer-facing companies like Google and Facebook, business-facing companies like Salesforce and SUSE, companies outside the tech industry such as BMW, Capital One, and Zalando, even first-gen tech corporations like Microsoft and IBM—all increasingly depend on open source software. Governments too, including the European Union, France, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and many others have discovered the benefits of open source software and development models. Successful collaborative development of software and infrastructure used by these organizations is enabled by the safe space created when they use their IP in a new ways... to ensure an environment for co-creation where the four essential freedoms of software are guaranteed.

Software distributed under an OSI Approved Open Source License offers much to businesses and governments: both as consumers and contributors. The software freedoms protected through open source licensing harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process driving economies through faster innovation, higher quality, better reliability, lower costs, and an end to vendor lock-in. The open source model also promotes increased security; because code in the public view will be exposed to extreme scrutiny, with problems found and fixed instead of kept secret until the wrong person discovers them. And last but not least, it's a way that the little guys can get together, innovate and have a good chance at beating an established participant. Participating in open source projects and communities can build open standards as actual software, rather than paper documents. It's a way for companies and individuals to collaborate around shared needs on a product that none alone could achieve or, in and of itself, does not constitute a key business differentiator.

Governments too recognize the value of open source as both a technology solution delivering value to the public they serve, as well as an approach for development returning tax-payer investments back to the society they represent.

A European Commission study of 2007 offered, “Open Source is key for ICT competitiveness”, yet, “Though FLOSS [Free/Libre Open Source Software] provides ample opportunities for Europe, it is threatened by increasing moves in some policy circles to support regulation that seeks to protect old business models of creative industries, making it harder to develop new ways of doing business.” [1]

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) has successfully addressed copyright licensing as a concrete expression of software freedom since its founding in 1998. But open source software licenses were always intended to go beyond copyright to deliver rights permission and rights protection for developers and users in multiple IP classes, both explicitly and implicitly. OSI has never approved a license that did not include robust rights to freely make, use and sell software, as required by the OSI’s key principles.

Open Source Includes Patents as well as Copyrights

An open source project and participating communities of practice have always expected that, if a project is “open source”, then they will receive all necessary rights associated with former and current participants to be licensed without further action. This expectation is guaranteed in the Open Source Definition (OSD), “The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties” [2].

The OSI has long explained that unrestricted licensing is essential to protect the software freedom inherent to open source software and the communities of practice that rely on unfettered use, modification and (re)distribution. The OSI has released multiple public comments, and recommended policy, on several issues that threaten open source software, including: open standards [3, 4], Digital Rights Management [5], FRAND [6], and software patents [7].

The OSI and the open source community have always treated patent licensing, as a precondition of implementation of a standard, as inherent in approved open source licenses, without any need for separate license grants. Even zero-fee licensing would be problematic, as it still might require (non-monetary) permissions from patent holders before the adoption and use of software, the antithesis of open source. Patent licensing is by definition bilateral—a one-off agreement between a licensor and licensee. Open source communities are by definition multi-lateral, where a single license affords concordance to all licensees. Any approach which includes separate patent licensing for specific users would undermine the multi-participant open source model, conflict with the OSD, and thus could never be interpreted as compliant with any OSI Approved Open Source License or the label “open source software”.

To be clear, of course, the decision to participate in an open source project is entirely voluntary. Companies may choose not to participate, and thus not to license their copyrights and patents. But if they participate in open source, then they must comply with these basic requirements for open source licensing.

Assertion of Patents Against Open Source Software Hinders Authentic Collaboration

Unrestricted collaboration, critical to authentic development in open source software communities, depends fundamentally on equality of participation and transparency of behavior. Organizations like Apache, OpenStack, Cloud Foundry and many others go to great lengths to ensure transparency and equality, and have rules that exclude the possibility of participation by those who attempt to breach either. Seen in the context of collaborative development and distribution, the assertion of a contributor’s patents against open source software is antithetical to open source approaches.

As a result, open source licensing terms prevent patent aggression and disadvantage those who attempt it. Far from being a sacrifice, this use of IP is arguably the dynamo of the technology industry, allowing startups and established corporations alike to rapidly climb upon the shoulders of earlier giants and deliver innovation. Web servers, smartphones, business automation, cloud computing and the sharing economy – to name just a few examples – all arise from the use of OSI Approved Open Source Licenses and would probably never have happened without it.

Open Source is a Defined Term

The OSI, as the steward of the OSD, is the community-recognized body for reviewing and approving licenses as OSD-conformant. The global software development and deployment community refers to software as “open source” when it is made available with source code under an OSI-approved IP license conveying the rights necessary to use, improve and share the software in a manner a given community considers appropriate. The OSD, and the OSI’s authority in certifying licenses, are internationally recognized by open source software projects (e.g. The Apache Foundation, The Linux Foundation, The Mozilla Foundation) [8] , corporations (e.g. Adobe, Dell/EMC, Facebook, Github, Google, HP, IBM, Microsoft) [9], and governments across the world [10].

There also are practical reasons why open source software needs to comply with the OSD and OSI’s approved licenses. Historically, where organizations have attempted to label some piece of software or another “open source” without applying an OSI-Approved Open Source License, the community consistently responds [11], confronting the offending organization [12, 13], emphasizing the consensus of the community [14], and demanding a resolution until alignment with community norms is again achieved [15]. In other words, it is not good business to falsely claim open source compliance.

All OSI-approved licenses share basic attributes defined in the OSD. In particular “mere use” is always permitted.

Approved Licenses, the OSI’s Process

A key goal of the OSI approval process is to allow those without access to corporate counsel to still participate confidently in open source collaborative development in service of their own use, improvement and sharing of the code. The OSI License Review Process ensures that licenses and software labeled as "open source" conforms to existing community norms and expectations. For that reason, all licenses must go through a public review process described below.

  • Ensure approved licenses conform to the Open Source Definition
  • Identify appropriate License Proliferation Category
  • Discourage vanity and duplicative Licenses
  • Ensure a thorough, transparent and timely review (e.g. within 60 days)

OSI’s “crystallisation of consensus” process for license review is overwhelmingly accepted in the community, serving as a nexus of trust and providing permission in advance for innovation. A license thus only becomes "approved" when open public review has reached consensus and the OSI Board has confirmed that consensus.

Individuals, corporations and SDOs may not assert or imply OSI Approved Open Source License status outside this process.

Ready to Help

OSI’s current and former Board has decades of experience in open source software projects and communities, the license approval process, and is aware of many modes of both success and failure related to licensing and community.

OSI is a donation-funded break-even 501(c)(3) with limited staff and a pro bono Board. OSI is nonetheless willing to correspond with any organization on open source matters, as well as help identify independent consultants.

To establish a corresponding relationship, please contact president@opensource.org

  1. Ghosh, Rishab Aiyer. The impact of Free/Libre/Open Source Software on innovation and competitiveness of the European Union, European Commission, 2007. Web. 25 October 2017. http://flossimpact.merit.unu.edu/
  2. OSI Board of Directors. The Open Source Definition. The Open Source Initiative, 1998. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/osd
  3. OSI Board of Directors. Open Standards Requirement. The Open Source Initiative, 2006. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/osr
  4. OSI Board of Directors. Open Standards Requirements for Software – Rationale. The Open Source Initiative, 2006. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/osr-rationale
  5. OSI Board of Directors. Principles of DRM Nonaggression for Open Standards. The Open Source Initiative, 2016. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/osr-drm
  6. OSI Board of Directors. FRAND and Open Standards. The Open Source Initiative, 2012. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/node/616
  7. OSI Board of Directors. Search Results. The Open Source Initiative, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/search/node/software%20patents
  8. OSI Board of Directors. List of OSI Affiliates. The Open Source Initiative, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/affiliates/list
  9. OSI Board of Directors. OSI Corporate Sponsors & Support. The Open Source Initiative, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/sponsors
  10. OSI Board of Directors. International Authority & Recognition. The Open Source Initiative, 2016. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/authority#AustralianGov
  11. OSI Board of Directors. React to React. The Open Source Initiative, 2016. Web. 25 October 2017. https://opensource.org/node/862
  12. Mattmann, Chris A. RocksDB Integrations. The Apache Foundation, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://issues.apache.org/jira/browse/LEGAL-303?focusedCommentId=16088663
  13. Mullenweg, Matt. On React and WordPress. MA.TT, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://ma.tt/2017/09/on-react-and-wordpress/
  14. Multiple. December 2016 Archives by thread. The Open Source Initiative, 2016. Web. 25 October 2017. https://lists.opensource.org/pipermail/license-discuss/2016-December/thread.html#19600
  15. Wolff, Adam. Relicensing React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js. Facebook Code, 2017. Web. 25 October 2017. https://code.facebook.com/posts/300798627056246/relicensing-react-jest-flow-and-immutable-js/

Image credit: "openBlur.png" is a derivative of "Yes We're Open.jpg", 2017 by Pernillan (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons and used permission under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Open Source Initiative, and Open Source Software Movement Celebrate Twenty Years

Open Source Initiative - Mon, 2017-10-23 13:42

The Open Source Initiative will celebrate its 20th Anniversary in 2018. In the true open source spirit, the organization will invite everyone in the open source community to participate.

Raleigh, NC Oct. 23, 2018 — All Things Open Conference — The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the global non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and adoption of open source software, announced today plans for the “Open Source 20th Anniversary World Tour” to run through 2018.

Open source software is now ubiquitous, recognized across industries as a fundamental component to infrastructure, as well as a critical factor for driving innovation. Over the past twenty years, the OSI has worked to promote and protect open source software, development, and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition (OSD), and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement.

The “open source” label was created at a strategy session held on February 3rd, 1998 in Mountain View, California. That same month, now almost twenty years ago, the OSI was founded as a general educational and advocacy organization to raise awareness and adoption for the superiority of an open development process.

To recognize this point in our shared history, the remarkable success of the open source software movement, and the inspiring fellowship of developers, maintainers, businesses and communities engaged in collaborative efforts across so many technology sectors, supporting just about every company and community, the OSI, in partnership with its affiliate members and sponsors, is organizing a global celebration to take place at a variety of open source venues worldwide throughout 2018. “The OSI's twenty year anniversary is a celebration of the open source software movement itself. We hope everyone who has helped to make open source software so successful will join us in celebrating code and communities,” said Patrick Masson, General Manager at the Open Source Initiative.

As of today, the OSI has confirmed 2018 anniversary celebrations in conjunction with the leading open source conferences, as well as standalone community-led events, these include: All Things Open, Campus Party Brasil, China Open Source Conference, FOSDEM, FOSSASIA Summit, Linux.conf.au, LinuxFest Northwest, Open Apereo, Open Camps, OpenExpo, OpenTechSummit China, OSCON, Paris Open Source Summit, and SCALE16x. In addition to official events, the OSI is also supporting volunteer organizers in hosting local, community-led celebrations in their own cities.

“Openness and sharing of knowledge is enabling our community in Asia to learn about new technologies every day, “ said Hong Phuc Dang, FOSSASIA Founder. “It is amazing what opportunities open source is providing to so many people. We are excited to be connected with contributors around the globe and to celebrate the achievements of Open Source in the 20th Anniversary World Tour in Singapore and China.”

Pierre Baudracco, CEO of BlueMind, president of the Paris Open Source Summit committee program added, “We are very pleased to be the first European official milestone as part of OSI’s 20th Anniversary World Tour. Paris Open Source Summit, as a major global event of the Free and Open Source sector in Europe, addressing communities, markets, societies, research, politics and more, is just a perfect meeting place to celebrate 20 years of open source, worldwide openness and collaborative contributions.”

About The Open Source Initiative
The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit corporation with global scope formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community. One of the most important activities for the organization is as a standards body, maintaining the Open Source Definition for the good of the community. The Open Source Initiative Approved License trademark and program creates a nexus of trust around which developers, users, corporations and governments can organize open source cooperation. For more information about the OSI, see https://opensource.org.

Italo Vignoli
Chair, OSI Communications Committee

Categories: FLOSS Research

Open Source Initiative Welcomes Cumulus Networks As Premium Sponsor

Open Source Initiative - Wed, 2017-10-18 17:15

Cumulus Networks' contributions support open source projects, developer communities, and now as an OSI Premium Sponsor, advocacy.

The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the internationally recognized home of the open source software movement working to raise awareness and adoption of open source software, announced today the generous sponsorship of Cumulus Networks. Cumulus joins OSI's growing community of corporations that recognize the importance of not only investing in open source software projects and development, but also building a diverse ecosystem that promotes collaboration, enables innovation, and ensures quality.

Cumulus Networks has a strong tradition of internally-driven development of original open source software, including most notably, contributions to the Linux kernel that complete the data center feature set for Linux such as Virtual Routing and Forwarding (VRF), MPLS, MLAG infrastructure, multicast routing features, etc. Cumulus' most recent open source effort is FRRouting, co-developed by a group of contributing companies in the open networking space, to enhance routing protocols. Cumulus Networks has also been a key driving member of the Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) with contributions to the Open Compute Project, Prescriptive Topology Manager--which simplifies the deployment of large L3 networks--and ifupdown2, a rewrite of Debian's tool for configuring networks that greatly simplifies large, complicated networking configurations.

In addition to technical and code contributions, Cumulus has also invested in the development of educational and training programs to help open source developers and users become active contributors with a wide range of freely available resources. "We're very excited by Cumulus' sponsorship," said Patrick Masson, General Manager of the OSI. "Of course we're very grateful for their generous financial support, but also, as part of the sponsorship, we'll also be working with the Cumulus team to create and distribute professional development and training resources that will help the entire open source community learn new technologies, develop skills and more deeply engage with projects."

"Open source is one Cumulus Networks' core principles, and we have a strong background at the company of both developing original open source software and contributing to projects," said Shrijeet Mukherjee, VP of Engineering of Cumulus Networks. "We're thrilled to sponsor The Open Source Initiative and contribute to an organization that is so positively impacting the community by raising awareness and adoption of open source."

Contributions like those from Cumulus, allow the OSI to maintain its internationally recognized status as a nexus of trust with a mandate to protect and promote open source. The OSI engages with open source developers, communities of practice, as well as the public and private sectors around the world, furthering open source technologies, licenses, and models of development that can provide economic and strategic advantages.

About Cumulus Networks
Cumulus Networks (https://www.cumulusnetworks.com) is leading the transformation of bringing web-scale networking to enterprise cloud. As the only systems solution that fully unlocks the vertical network stacks of the modern data center, Cumulus Linux allows companies of all sizes to affordably build and efficiently operate their networks just like the world's largest data centers. By allowing operators to use standard hardware components, Cumulus Networks offers unprecedented operational speed and agility, at the industry's most competitive cost. Cumulus Networks has received venture funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Peter Wagner and four of the original VMware founders.

About The Open Source Initiative
Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For more information about OSI sponsorship, see https://opensource.org/sponsors.

Categories: FLOSS Research

The Faces of Open Source: Mike Dolan

Open Source Initiative - Wed, 2017-10-04 07:44

We're pleased to present the eighth, but sadly, final episode of Shane Martin Coughlan's, "The Faces of Open Source Law", featuring Mike Dolan. We'd like to thank Shane for his great work in introducing the issues related to open source software and communities, as well as the people so deeply involved and committed to helping the movement succeed.

It was the end of the conference, we had seven interviews completed, and the staff was packing up all around. Mike and I got together during the goodbyes between everyone and he mentioned he had a little free time. Instead of closing the season with a typical interview we decided to go a little light-hearted. We grabbed some potted plants from around the main conference room, pushed a few chairs together, and created a genuine knock-off of Between Two Ferns.

Mike commented that our setup was just as ramshackle as the actual show. Despite this we recorded one of the longer and most content-filled interviews of the season, providing a perfect end point to an experiment in connecting personalities to well-known names in the open source legal sphere.

Other episodes:

"Mike Dolan - The Faces of Open Source Law - Season 1 - Episode 8" is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution license. "The Faces of Open Source Law" was shot during breaks at the FSFE Legal Network 'Legal and Licensing Workshop' in Barcelona during April 2017. Thanks to everyone who made it happen!

Categories: FLOSS Research

Transitions in Leadership

Open Source Initiative - Thu, 2017-09-28 12:25

Serving as president of the Open Source Initiative over the past few years has been a joy and an honor, and if I write a memoir someday I'm sure these will stand out as some of the best and brightest years in a long and happy open source career. It has been a delight to collaborate closely with so many people I admire greatly, including Deb Bryant, Molly de Blanc, Richard Fontana, Leslie Hawthorn, Mike Milinkovich, Simon Phipps, Josh Simmons, Carol Smith, Paul Tagliamonte, Italo Vignoli, and Stefano Zacchiroli.

I'm incredibly proud of what the organization has accomplished in that time, continuing stewardship of the open source license list, and growing our individual membership and affiliate programs which provide a path for the entire open source community to have a say in the governance of the OSI.

All good things must come to an end, and the time has come for me to pass along the president's hat to the next volunteer. My work life has grown busier and busier in recent months, and I'm starting a PhD soon, so the time I have available to contribute to the OSI has become incredibly fractured. I'd rather empower someone else to do a great job as president than do a mediocre job of it myself for the rest of the year.

It gives me great pleasure to share the news that the OSI board has elected Simon Phipps as the next president. Having Simon at the helm will help make the transition particularly easy, since he served as OSI president before me. I've known Simon for many years, long before either of us was involved in the OSI, and one thing that has always impressed me is the way he consistently engages with new ideas, championing the relevance of open source in the ever-changing modern world. He also gave the best talk that I've ever seen explaining the four software freedoms and advocating for software freedom (at a conference in Oslo in 2011).

I'll remain as a member of the OSI board, both to support a smooth transition to the new president, and to continue involvement in several active projects at the OSI. My hope is that handing off the administrative responsibility to Simon will enable me to focus my limited volunteer time on other things like improving the license review process.

I'll close with an invitation: if you have a passion for open source and/or free software, consider running for the OSI board in one of our annual elections. Any individual member of the OSI can self-nominate as a candidate for the board (voted by the body of individual members), and active affiliate organizations of the OSI can nominate anyone as a candidate (voted by the body of affiliate organizations). Director terms are only 2-3 years, so serving on the board isn't an overwhelming commitment, and is a great way to contribute your skills and experience to the open source and free software community. Who knows, maybe you'll be the next president of the OSI after Simon.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Microsoft Makes it Official: Becomes Sponsor of Open Source Initiative

Open Source Initiative - Tue, 2017-09-26 08:09

After years of increasing involvement and engagement in open source software projects and communities, Microsoft takes what may be their most dramatic step, joining the home of the open source software movement.

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Sept. 26, 2017 -- The Open Source Initiative ® (OSI) the global non-profit dedicated to promoting and protecting open source software through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, announced today that Microsoft has joined the organization as a Premium Sponsor.

Microsoft's history with the OSI dates back to 2005 with the submission of the Microsoft Community License, then again in August of 2007 with the submission of the Microsoft Permissive License. For many in the open source software community, it was Microsoft's release of .NET in 2014 under an open source license that may fave first caught their attention. Microsoft has increasingly participated in open source projects and communities as users, contributors, and creators, and has released even more open source products like Visual Studio Code and Typescript.

The company is a leading contributor to open source software projects on GitHub (also an OSI Corporate Sponsor); brought Bash/Linux to Windows 10; expanded its support for Linux and open source workloads on Azure; worked with OSI Affiliate Member FreeBSD Foundation to support the operating system on Azure; joined OSI Affiliate Member Linux Foundation and many of its foundations and projects. In addition, Microsoft works with companies like Canonical, Red Hat, SUSE, and open source can now be found throughout Microsoft products.

"This is a significant milestone for the OSI and the open source software movement more broadly," said Patrick Masson, OSI General Manager and Board Director. "I don't think there could be any greater testament to the maturity, viability, interest, and success of open source software than not only Microsoft's recognition, but also their support as a sponsor, as well as their participation as contributors to so many open source projects and communities."

"The work that Open Source Initiative does is vital to the evolution and success of open source as a first-class element in the software industry. As Microsoft engages with open source communities more broadly and deeply, we are excited to support the Open Source Initiative's efforts," said Jeff McAffer, Director of Microsoft's Open Source Programs Office.

OSI Corporate Sponsorship provides funding to support a variety of unique initiatives dedicated to the promotion and protection of open source software and the communities that develop it. The OSI understands corporate use of open source software, and participation within its development communities, is vital to the movement's overall success. The corporate sponsorship program provides an open and transparent mechanism, allowing companies to show support for open source software, the community, and the activities of the OSI. Donations allow the organization to continue its mission of education, advocacy, bridge-building, and of course, its license certification programs and stewardship of the Open Source Definition.

Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

For more information about the OSI, or to learn how to become a sponsor, please visit: https://opensource.org or contact osi@opensource.org.

For more information about Microsoft's open source activities, see https://opensource.microsoft.com or contact opensource@microsoft.com.

Categories: FLOSS Research

American International University, West Africa Extends Curriculum as Open Source Initiative Member

Open Source Initiative - Sun, 2017-09-24 19:39

New membership highlights growing interest in open source software and development among institutions of higher education and global communities.

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Sept. 25, 2017 -- The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the global non-profit formed to educate about, and advocate for, the benefits of open source software and build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community, announced today that The American International University, West Africa's (AIUWA) has joined the organization as an Affiliate Member. AIUWA is a unique educational instituion of higher education, combining degree-seeking programs, along with professional development and certification. The program's mandatory academic and professional courses enable students to graduate with both academic credentials and professional qualifications. AIUWA also serves as a center for health, management, and information technology research and development in Africa.

"AIUWA's membership is incredibly satisfying for the OSI," said Patrick Masson, OSI General Manager and Director. "First, the OSI Board has identified specific goals to increase membership and representation from both higher education, and international communities, especially in Africa. This highlights that our work is making an impact." Masson continued, "Secondly, AIUWA's program is incredibly innovative—offering both degree programs and professional credentials—I think it is a model we can help share to other institutions, which of course is right in line with our mission of 'building bridges between communities.'"

AIUWA, and particularly its College of Management & IT, are simply the first of their kind: founded to address the growing reality of today's technology-based economy where many university graduates must extend their education, returning to learn what is expected by employers after graduation. As a result, the College of Management & IT at AIUWA was setup and has developed programs to bridge the gap between academia and the work place, creating alliances with Oracle, Microsoft & Cisco Academies. IN addition, recognizing the growing impact of open source within technology, AIUWA is now developing an Open Source Academy, in line with their existing portfolio, as well as a student-driven Open Source Club, to expose their students to open source technologies.

"OSI is the de-facto body for open source technologies. Affiliation with OSI aligns with our mission to bring industry into academia. This affiliation with OSI will give more credibility and guidance for preparing the workforce of tomorrow within the classroom," said Olawale Fabiyi, the Head of the Computer Science & Technology Department at AIUWA.

The OSI Affiliate Member Program is available at no-cost to non-profits, educational institutions, and government agencies—independent groups with a commitment to open source—that support OSI's mission to raise awareness and adoption of open source software and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community.

About American International University, West Africa — The College of Management and information Technology

The College of Management and information Technology at the American International University, West Africa the Gambia provides curricula tailored to meeting the requirements of industries and train students to be academically, practically and professionally prepared to "hit the ground running" in the industry. The College provides a platform for galvanizing and channeling the energy and intellectual prowess of the youth to accelerate Africa's growth and development, and by so doing, making contributions to global advancement in human capacity. You can learn more about The College of Management and information Technology at http://aiu.edu.gm/cmit/

About the Open Source Initiative

Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For more information about the OSI, or to learn how to become a sponsor, please visit: http://opensource.org.

Media Contact
Italo VIgnoli
Chair, Communications Committee

Categories: FLOSS Research

The Faces of Open Source: Harald Welte

Open Source Initiative - Thu, 2017-09-21 13:14

Harald Welte is featured in this, the seventh episode of "The Faces of Open Source Law," by Shane Martin Coughlan. Over the past six interviews, we hope you've come to not only recognize the faces of those working on legal matters with the open source community, but also come to appreciate the importance of such issues for promoting and fostering a healthy open source software ecosystem.

As with previous episodes, Shane again provides "production notes" (presented below), offering his own insights from the interviews. Enjoy!

Harald is the original GPL enforcer. He reached out to companies and brought the GPL to court for the first time, way back in the early 2000s. His activities, initially seen as controversial, ultimately led to much greater and improved dialogue between companies and the community-at-large, not least because it cast the GPL as a solid, simple legal document, with terms that a court could rule on.

One of Harald's most noticeable characteristics is his calm, measured, and carefully considered approach to matters. His passion for free software is genuine, but he is not driven by passion alone. He has clear, thoughtful arguments for issues that he engages with, and he often provides insight in an accessible manner. While he is far too modest to use the term, Harald is a thought-leader in open source, and this is one of the interviews I was most excited to shoot.

Other episodes:

"Harald Welte - The Faces of Open Source Law - Season 1 - Episode 7" is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution license.

Categories: FLOSS Research

7 Things You Should Know About… Open Source Projects in Education

Open Source Initiative - Wed, 2017-09-20 10:21

EDUCAUSE's 7 Things You Should Know About ...™ is a series of publications that address a diverse range of professional challenges in higher education IT, from updates on current developments to explorations of important overarching issues. In August of 2017, the organization offered insights in open source in higher education.

Halfway through the semester, Dr. Margaret Broadwater was excited by the progress her students were making in her course Open Source Software Development. Working with open source software projects and development communities gave her students hands-on experience with software development practices, technology frameworks, data structures, and product development. Students also completed installation exercises for open source projects from both developers’ and users’ perspectives, followed by finding and patching bugs in the software. Broadwater knew that her students were learning more than just how to work their way around code. In talking with students she emphasized that open source code was the heart of applications that had become ubiquitous in business and education, including Chrome and Firefox, and was the driver for software like the Apache web server, Fedora Linux, and OpenSSL. Moreover, open source had gained purchase in use by companies, organizations, and government agencies and was thus something they would need to know once they entered the workplace as software devel- opers and engineers. Broadwater knew that by working on open source projects in depth, her students were also learning about the ethos of building code in a community of developers—and, indeed, were becoming part of that community.

Broadwater had learned about open source in a summer workshop sponsored by POSSE, the Professor’s Open Source Software Experience. That meeting focused on helping instructors learn to engage students in development of free and open source software (FOSS). Broadwater learned about FOSS tools and the FOSS culture, picked up a cache of rich curricular materials, and learned pedagogical techniques for supporting student engagement in learning about open source. Another plus was that the instructor for the workshop volunteered to serve as a mentor for Broadwater’s class. Working occasionally with students via BigBlueButton, an open source web conferencing system, he helped steer learners through assignments and answered their most challenging technical questions.

By the end of the semester, Broadwater’s students had successfully learned many of the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of open source projects. Some were still learning particulars, like fixing bugs. Other students were eager to move beyond the fundamentals, and Broadwater urged them to focus on suggesting specific improvements or additions. Several students made that assignment the focus of their senior projects.

1 What is it?

Open source refers to software that can be freely used, changed, and shared. open source projects engage a community of developers who collaborate and iterate to develop, grow, and improve software. Developers can access, modify, and customize functionality, providing considerable control to organizations that implement open source software. In general, open source projects seek less expensive and more flexible paths to solutions that are not being adequately or affordably addressed by proprietary software. Typically, communities that initiate an open source project establish a set of values and governing principles concerning factors such as priorities for features, technical specifications, workflows, and how the community working on the project will make decisions. Organizations that build open source software for education include Apereo, DuraSpace, Kuali, and Moodle. The nonprofit Open Source Initiative develops standards and certifies licenses for open source code.

2 How does it work?

Colleges and universities engage in open source projects in a variety of ways. One impetus for considering open source projects is when a campus believes it can better meet its software needs in-house or by collaborating with peers from other institutions. Vendor solutions might not address the problem adequately or even at all, or they might be too expensive or too restrictive in terms of licensing. In an open source community, a “coalition of the eager” might define a problem and sketch a framework for a solution. Project leaders would then frame specific parameters for the project, how the work should be governed, how the workload might be shared, how costs would be divided, what risks might be involved and how they would be mitigated, and how the project could best be maintained over time. In some cases, an individual institution will adopt an open source solution and then join the development community by submitting issues, fixing software bugs, and suggesting ideas for development. As they become more engaged in the community, institutions may contribute code to existing features or perhaps develop a new tool or module. open source projects are usually emergent in nature rather than planned and typically grow organically to address a given need.

3 Who’s doing it?

open source projects vary greatly in scale. Some are driven by individuals creating a specific application or “widget.” Others are major initiatives developed by institutions, companies, and consortia. Colleges and universities have long used open source code in applications such as Apache web servers and CAS authentication. Other examples frequently found in higher education include Linux, Drupal, Wordpress, MySQL, Postgresql, and Mozilla. Opencast, Tsugi, and uPortal offer open source solutions for teaching and learning, while platforms such as Moodle, Kuali, and Sakai provide solutions for course management and financial systems. Companies including Facebook, Google, IBM, HP, Microsoft, and Oracle often incorporate open source code into solutions they sell. Some open source development takes place under the aegis of well-established consortia or communities, such as the Apereo Foundation, DuraSpace, and Teaching Open Source.

4 Why is it significant?

In contrast to proprietary products, open source solutions typically offer more control over features, functionality, maintenance, and costs, with easier pathways to address security vulnerabilities, software bugs, and evolving needs, often using agile development methodologies. Users of open source code can develop software that fits their needs and participate in defining what the solution is and does, rather than trying to adapt to specifications designed by third parties. Open source offers innovative, customizable, cutting-edge solutions with freely visible standards and specifications. open source code is free to purchase and often can be accessed without burdensome procurement processes. Open source does not tie users to vendor constraints or mandated upgrades. Maintenance can be done in-house, collaboratively with other community members, or with service providers—including cloud providers—on an institution’s schedule. Development time can be faster than for commercial solutions. Transparency in development helps users evaluate code for efficacy and compatibility and discover problems that can be corrected without waiting for a vendor to act. open source implementation can readily act as a reference for others while proprietary code cannot.

5 What are the downsides?

open source projects incur the costs associated with using any software, such as maintaining required hardware and network infrastructure, server/database configuration, general management and maintenance, user support, and staffing and training. If the institution elects to participate in development, it will incur additional costs. Although the ability to alter open source software is a key benefit, sometimes developers disagree or have different goals, which can lead to a split (or a “fork”) in the codebase, resulting in separate, sometimes competing software programs. In addition, some kinds of software offer numerous open source options, while others have none.

6 Where is it going?

Open source is widely used, and its impact is likely to grow. Economic pressures and the expanding scope of services are likely to drive more universities to pursue open source options. Increasingly, too, institutions will find that commercial partners use open source code in certain applications. Colleges and universities will become more comfortable with open source solutions for core functions such as financial management, enterprise resource planning, course and program administration, grants management, and teaching and learning. While practices for standardization and licensing for open source are now well-accepted, questions might arise about license compatibility or patenting around specific licenses.

7 What are the implications for teaching and learning?

Open source gives higher education more control over its application portfolio and can contribute to the next generation digital learning environment. Solutions such as Apereo OAE, CAS, or the Tsugi project have the potential to transform learning management and student support services and enhance student success. open source code is helping expand access to affordable education, and solutions such as Moodle and Sakai are helping advance personalized learning. Opportunities to engage in the development of open source code give students practical experience and practice in project-based management models. Open source projects help faculty and researchers share their work and develop ideas broadly with colleagues around the world and offer new ways for libraries to access and archive digital collections.

Contributions by: Ian Dolphin, Douglas Johnson, Laura Gekeler, Patrick Masson

"7 Things You Should Know About…" is a trademark of EDUCAUSE. "7 Things You Should Know About…Open Source Projects" © 2017 EDUCAUSE and available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 License.
EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit membership association created to support those who lead, manage, and use information technology to benefit higher education. The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative is an EDUCAUSE community committed to the advancement of learning through the innovative application of technology. For more information about ELI, please contact us at info@educause.edu.

Image credit: "7Things.png" is a derivative of "1959-xx-xx Educational Cards, Ed-U-Cards A - F", 1959, by Wishbook, via Flickr, and used with permission under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)."

Categories: FLOSS Research

Public Money? Public Code! 22 Organizations Seek to Improve Public Software Procurement

Open Source Initiative - Thu, 2017-09-14 10:46

Digital services offered and used by public administrations are the critical infrastructure of 21st-century democratic nations. To establish trustworthy systems, government agencies must ensure they have full control over systems at the core of our digital infrastructure. This is rarely the case today due to restrictive software licenses.

Today, 22 organizations are publishing an open letter in which they call for lawmakers to advance legislation requiring publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made available under a Free and Open Source Software license. The initial signatories include CCC, EDRi, Free Software Foundation Europe, KDE, Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, Open Source Business Alliance, Open Source Initiative, The Document Foundation, Wikimedia Germany, as well as several others; they ask individuals and other organization to sign the open letter. The open letter will be sent to candidates for the German Parliament election and, during the coming months, until the 2019 EU parliament elections, to other representatives of the EU and EU member states.

Public institutions spend millions of euros each year on the development of new software tailored to their needs. The procurement choices of the public sector play a significant role in determining which companies are allowed to compete and what software is supported with tax payers' money. Public administrations on all levels frequently have problems sharing code with each other, even if they funded its complete development. Furthermore, without the option for independent third parties to run audits or other security checks on the code, sensible citizen data is at risk.

"We need software that fosters the sharing of good ideas and solutions. Only like this will we be able to improve IT services for people all over Europe. We need software that guarantees freedom of choice, access, and competition. We need software that helps public administrations regain full control of their critical digital infrastructure, allowing them to become and remain independent from a handful of companies," says Matthias Kirschner, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe.

That is why the signatories call on representatives all around Europe to modernize their digital infrastructure to allow other public administrations, companies, or individuals to freely use, study, share and improve applications developed with public money. Thereby providing safeguards for the public administration against being locked down to services from specific companies that use restrictive licences to hinder competition, and ensuring that the source code is accessible so that back doors and security holes can be fixed without depending on only one service provider.

"Over the last few years, more and more companies experienced the benefits of working together on open source software. If even business competitors reuse and share code, then public administrations should be able to as well. If it is public money, it should be public code as well!", says Patrick Masson, General Manager & Director, Open Source Initiative.

Public Money? Public Code! from Free Software Foundation Europe on Vimeo.

Initial Signatories:

Associação Ensino Livre | Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL) | Chaos Computer Club (CCC) | D3-Defesa dos Direitos Digitais | Dyne.org Foundation | European Digital Rights (EDRi) | Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) | HackYourPhD | KDE | Linux User Group Of Slovenia (LUGOS) | Linuxwochen | Modern Poland Foundation | Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland | Open Software Business Alliance | Open Source Initiative (OSI | Software Liberty Association Taiwan | The Document Foundation | Wikimedia Germany | Xnet | digitalcourage | ePaństwo | quintessenz
Categories: FLOSS Research

SF Open Source Voting - September 2017 Update / Newsletter

Open Source Initiative - Sun, 2017-09-10 12:03

This update has an important and urgent call to action to help defend elections in California. Stop AB 840, the last-minute change that would weaken California election security at a critical time instead of strengthening it. Can you spare a moment to help?

Retweet this...

Call your Calif. Assembly & Senate reps Monday: ask them to #ProtectElections, vote NO on last-min #AB840 changes: https://t.co/rS6ht4NG3U

— Chris Jerdonek (@cjerdonek) September 10, 2017

Disclaimer: while Chris Jerdonek is a member (and President) of the San Francisco Elections Commission, he provides this update as a member of the public and not as a Commissioner.

  1. SF's open source voting project in SF Chronicle!
  2. Planning Phase RFP update
  3. SF Open Source Voting Technical Advisory Committee (OSVTAC) update
  4. Spotlight: Colorado's Open Source Election-Auditing project
  5. URGENT ACTION: Stop AB 840! Save election security in California!
1. SF's open source voting project in SF Chronicle!

The SF Chronicle published a great article on San Francisco's open source voting project last week. If you can't read the article because of a paywall, it might work to click through the following tweet using Twitter's mobile app.

2. Planning Phase RFP update

The consulting firm Slalom was selected as the winning bidder on San Francisco's RFP for the open source voting project assessment & planning phase: Congratulations, Slalom! Once the contract is finalized, all three RFP bids should become public (both Slalom's bid and the two non-selected bids).

3. SF Open Source Voting Technical Advisory Committee (OSVTAC)

The 5-member, newly formed Open Source Voting System Technical Advisory Committee (OSVTAC) has now held two meetings at SF City Hall, and things are moving along quickly. The committee now has its own website (hosted on GitHub).

At its second meeting, the committee approved the first iteration of its document of recommendations for the open source voting project. You can read the document online. Just like the committee's website, the recommendations are also hosted on GitHub. The recommendations are being developed in a way similar to how open-source software is developed. In addition to conventional methods like email, members of the public can also submit comments or suggested wording on GitHub, just like with open-source code. The committee will be able to discuss and vote on these suggestions at monthly meetings.

One key difference from an open source project though is that because of state and local open meeting laws, committee members aren't allowed to collaborate as a group outside of noticed meetings. This approach of soliciting public feedback on GitHub is a bit like how the Whitehouse solicited feedback on its draft source code policy last year.

The committee's next meeting is Thursday, September 21 at 6pm.

4. Spotlight: Colorado's Open Source Election-Auditing project

Another example of open-source election software happening right now for US government elections is the following election-auditing project for the State of Colorado. The company Free & Fair won an RFP that Colorado issued this summer. Colorado wants the software to be open source under the GPLv3 license (or something similar). While the license hasn't been confirmed / added yet, you can still follow along and watch the software being developed right now! Chris submitted a couple easy contributions (aka "pull requests") just to see what would happen (and also for fun!).

5. URGENT ACTION: Stop AB 840! Save election security in California!

This week (the week starting Sept 11), the California Legislature is on the verge of passing a terrible bill for election integrity and security. It is called AB 840


We need to act now because the California Legislature has only one week left in session. Sept. 15 is the last day. There is so little time because the bill was changed at the last minute, without ever getting a public hearing.

In brief, the bill would remove the legal requirement that all computer-counted ballots have to be subject to the random manual audit after each election (what the California Elections Code calls the "1 percent manual tally"). This is a hard-fought requirement that has been in place for over 10 years. Under the new wording, 30-40% or more of all ballots would be exempted from this requirement. This includes all provisional ballots and all vote-by-mail ballots arriving after Election Day. These ballots would create a huge target for hackers. At a time when election hacking is on the rise, the bill does exactly the opposite of what California should be doing to protect the integrity of the vote.

The change is being pushed by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and CACEO (the association of county registrars). It was added at the last-minute on August 24 without any public hearings. This was long after the California Assembly passed the bill, and after the Assembly and Senate Elections Committees passed the bill without this wording.

How does this bill relate to open source voting? The security of an open source voting system depends not just on software, but also on the processes around the election. Even if you have paper ballots and open source software, computer hardware can be infected with malicious code to change how votes are counted. Random manual audits checking the computer counts against the original paper ballots are the last defense we have to protect against this.

This isn't just about San Francisco. California state government depends on all counties having secure elections.

There is only one week left. The California State Senate will likely vote on the bill this Monday, Sept. 11, and the Assembly could vote on it Wednesday or Thursday. Please contact your Assembly and Senate representatives and tell them to vote NO on AB 840. Our elections depend on it. For more details on how you can help, see this page: https://countedascast.org/stopab840/

More AB 840 Background

For people who want even more nitty-gritty details, here is more background: In terms of wording, the bill changes the 1% manual tally requirement from "ballots" to "ballots canvassed in the semifinal official canvass." What is the "semifinal official canvass" exactly? It is essentially the "election night" totals. In other words, if this bill passes, there will be no legal requirement that ballots counted after election day by computer be audited. All of these ballots will be exempted from the manual audit. For example, with this bill, malicious code could simply wait until Thursday to "turn on," and any vote tampering would go undetected. Also, even if registrars used their discretion to add more, it would be too late to be effective because the random selection will already have taken place! The malicious code could just "turn on" for precincts that weren't selected.

Why are Secretary of State Alex Padilla and the County Registrars pushing for this change? In 2016, a citizen sued San Diego County Registrar Michael Vu for not including all ballots in the audit. The judge ruled that late vote-by-mail ballots had to be included in the audit, so the citizen won. You can read more in this newspaper article about it.<?p?>

The case is now being appealed. Now, instead of helping counties like San Diego fix their practices and come up with a process to include all ballots, they're trying to weaken the law and remove the requirement. In other words, Vu's past practices would become legal with the change. That is what the AB 840 changes are about. It would make the case against Vu moot. It would also protect other county registrars that choose not to include all their ballots in the audit, instead of protecting voters' ballots and elections.

Here are a couple other recent online pieces about AB 840:

The text of this article was written and provided to the OSI by Chris Jerdonek

Image credit: "SFUpdate.png" is a derivative of "Solitude", 2011, by Mortimer62, via Flickr, and used with permission under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). "

Categories: FLOSS Research

The Faces of Open Source: Jim Wright

Open Source Initiative - Fri, 2017-09-08 07:32

Jim Wright features in the sixth episode of Shane Martin Coughlan's, "The Faces of Open Source Law." about open source, law and how our community is evolving. Interviews were shot during breaks at the FSFE Legal Network 'Legal and Licensing Workshop' in Barcelona during April 2017. Thanks to everyone who made it happen!

Jim is a powerhouse of knowledge in open source. He is fully versed in technical issues and deeply experienced in legal matters, both visible immediately in his quick, easy and comprehensive commentary around virtually any open source-related subject. Our discussion was framed by the same three questions as all the others in season one: how did he enter open source? what was the most interesting thing he observed? what did he think we should keep our eyes open for in the next 12 to 24 months? What stood out is perhaps how Jim tied his answers to the longer history of open source itself, and framed his answers in the content of our 20 plus year evolution as a community.

One thing that Jim’s interview highlighted was that there was plenty of scope for deeper, more comprehensive interviews as we explored open source law, and he helped set the tone that would see a decision to shoot long-form interviews in the forthcoming series two.

Other episodes:

"Jim Wright - The Faces of Open Source Law - Season 1 - Episode 6" is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution license.

Categories: FLOSS Research

OpenProject Foundation Joins Open Source Initiative

Open Source Initiative - Tue, 2017-09-05 11:03

Open source project management software, with global user base, extends commitment to collaborative open source software development through OSI Affiliate Membership.

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Sept. 05, 2017 - The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the founding organization of the open source software movement, announced that the OpenProject Foundation has joined the global non-profit as an Affiliate Member. OpenProject joins a who's who of global open source projects and foundations in support of software freedom, including Drupal Association, Eclipse Foundation, Linux Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, Wordpress Foundation, Wikimedia, and many more. The OSI Affiliate Member Program allows any non-profit community, organization or institution—unequivocally independent groups with a clear commitment to open source—to join the OSI in support of its mission to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source software and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community.

"The Open Source Initiative provides a strong global platform aimed at promoting and strengthening open source software,” says Birthe Lindenthal, Chairperson of the OpenProject Foundation. “At OpenProject we share this commitment to open source software and are looking forward to supporting OSI's mission."

OpenProject is an open source project management software with a large international user base. Licensed under the GPLv3, OpenProject was first released in 2012 and is used by many small, medium and large sized companies as well as individual users who value the benefits of open source. OpenProject aims to become the leading open source project management software and focuses, in particular, on creating a great user experience, and features that support the entire project life cycle, through the use of state-of-the-art technology. Developed as a fork of Redmine and Chiliproject, OpenProject initially focused on software development projects, but has since implemented many functionalities that enable traditional project management outside of the scope of software projects as well.

“OpenProject’s clear commitment to, not only open source software and development, but the ‘open source ethos’ makes this an exciting opportunity for us at the OSI,” said Patrick Masson, General Manager and Director at the Open Source Initiative. “The OpenProject Foundation serves as a model for other emerging open source software projects on how to organize, govern, and develop, ensuring the project and community are directly involved, while also protected so that code and contributions remain open despite the involvement of any individual developers or companies.”

Robin Wagner, Product Manager at OpenProject added, "At OpenProject we aim to develop the leading open source project management software, based on our shared values of protecting and promoting open source software. The Open Source Initiative is the perfect fit for us. We are honored to become an OSI Affiliate Member."

About OpenProject

Driven and inspired by our users, our community and by the utilization of state of the art technology, the OpenProject Foundation (OPF) is incorporated as a membership-based, non-profit organization. Although registered in Berlin, Germany, the OPF is designated for the global OpenProject community. The foundation supports and guides the software project, the community and its growth, ensuring that the OpenProject platform continues to exist beyond the participation of individual members or companies. For more information, please visit: https://www.openproject.org/openproject-foundation/.

About the Open Source Initiative

Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For more information about the OSI, or to learn how to become a sponsor, please visit: https://opensource.org/affiliates.

Categories: FLOSS Research

Rocket.Chat Extends Support to Open Source Initiative and Community

Open Source Initiative - Tue, 2017-08-29 12:45

OSI welcomes Rocket.Chat as newest Corporate Sponsor: support not only provides financial aid, but extends infrastructure and services to larger open source software advocacy community.

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Aug. 29, 2017 -- The Open Source Initiative (OSI), the founding organization of the open source software movement, announced Rocket.Chat has joined the global non-profit as a Premium Corporate Sponsor. Rocket.Chat joins Craigslist Foundation, Facebook, Github, Google, Heptio, HPE, IBM, USB Direct, and many more sponsors, supporters and members committed to increasing awareness of open source software, and participation within the innovative communities that enable its continued advancement.

"We're very excited to announce Rocket.Chat's sponsorship, not only because of their generous financial support, but also because they'll be providing access to the Rocket.Chat platform itself in support of our Incubator Projects and Working Groups," said Patrick Masson, OSI General Manager. "The OSI community is highly distributed, and access to a collaboration platform like Rocket.Chat will help our community organize, co-create and manage the very important work underway to increase the understanding and adoption of open source software."

The OSI provides opportunities and resources—web hosting, wikis, mailing lists, etc.—for open source advocates to self-organize around affinity issues and projects. These "Incubator Projects" are dedicated to addressing a specific need of, and for, the open source community in line with the OSI's mission of education and advocacy while building bridges among different constituencies. Incubator projects focus on the creation of resources for open source communities, development practices, licensing or any other non-code aspect of the open source ecosystem. With the addition of Rocket.Chat as a Premium Corporate Sponsor, another valuable tool has been added to the resources the OSI can provide Incubator Projects to help advance the open source movement.

About Rocket.Chat
Rocket.Chat is the leading open source team communication platform. A free Slack alternative to take back control of your data, save time and increase productivity. Communicate anywhere with our web, embeddable, desktop and mobile clients. Message, screenshare and conduct audio and video conferences in private, public and guest channels. Secure user roles with our advanced access control tools. Embed chat in your web and mobile applications with LiveChat and transform your team chat into a single communication platform for messaging, customer support and lead generation. Make Rocket.Chat your own with our open source community, partnership integrations, plugins and powerful APIs.

About the Open Source Initiative
Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) protects and promotes open source software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For more information about the OSI, or to learn how to become a sponsor, please visit: http://opensource.org/sponosrs.

Italo VIgnoli
OSI Director & Marketing/Communications Chair

Categories: FLOSS Research

The Faces of Open Source: Till Jaeger

Open Source Initiative - Mon, 2017-08-28 14:51

Dr. Till Jaeger features in the fifth episode of Shane Martin Coughlan's, "The Faces of Open Source Law." The series was shot during breaks at the FSFE Legal Network 'Legal and Licensing Workshop' in Barcelona during April 2017, and is provided here to promote greater understanding of how the law and open source projects and communities are interacting and evolving.

Shane's series explores the history of open source software from the perspective of the people who contributed to its development, not just the technologies, but importantly the legal aspects that are core to open source's success. Several interviews include members of the OSI community--some of the folks who have helped the OSI and software movement grow to become the internationally recognized resource it is today.

As in previous episodes, Shane also provides "production notes", offering some of his own insights from the interviews and around the topics discussed.


Till is one of the original lawyers behind open source license compliance. His work for gpl-violations.org is well-known as is his more recent engagement in the GPL case involving VMware. What is less known is who Till is, how he sees the world, and why he dedicates a lot of time to issues around open technology. Our interview was relatively short but we managed to capture at least a few of these items, and to touch on Till’s larger interests beyond open source. He is, of course, just as well known for contributions to cases around digital citizenship as open source in his native Germany. An exceptionally talented individual who is also an exceptionally nice gentleman.

Other episodes:

"Till Jaeger - The Faces of Open Source Law - Season 1 - Episode 5" is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution license.

Categories: FLOSS Research

How Can Open Source Become User-Centric?

Open Source Initiative - Sun, 2017-08-27 09:55

Including design and UX in a true community project is a challenging matter of balance because of the motivational model behind open source projects.

According to The Cathedral and the Bazaar, the key motivation for participants in open source projects is “scratching their own itch.” One consequence of this is co-ordination of contributions to support user-centric design is inherently an optional extra in a true open source project with multiple independent participants. We all wish there was a way to get genuine user experience quality as a key dynamic of open source projects. But there are two big reasons that is challenging.

First, individual users truly don’t know what all users want.

  • To be clear, I am not repeating the trope that “users don’t know what they want”.
  • Each user knows what they want, and those with the personality profile that allows them to express their desires articulately in public can often make a compelling case for their own needs.
  • But an overall evaluation of “what users want” is perilously difficult to establish, even for corporations which can eliminate large numbers of voices with the requirement that payment must be made to have a qualifying opinion. Corporations employ Product Managers who use market research and personal experience to guide development. It’s a well understood job, but even with skilled product managers a proprietary project can miss the mind of the market.
  • User voting is not the answer, as anyone who has seen it in action in Bugzilla can testify. I’m not convinced that user-funded bounties help identify broad user needs either, although they offer a useful avenue for funding some open source.
  • All the same it is very common indeed, especially in end-user software, for users to show up demanding a feature be implemented or changed. I have often seen community members struggle to remain courteous to rude, entitled freeloaders demanding things they want from people they have never met and have no intention of thanking, let alone paying.
  • Instead, users need skilled advocates speaking on their behalf, prioritizing features based on utility, demand and practicality and working with developers to advance the user experience offered by the software.
  • They need to do so from a base of merit-earned status and not appointment.
  • What I crave for open source software is thus a user experience centric approach, not a user-centric approach, and they are dramatically different.
  • But that requires the appointment of a skilled user advocate, not the ad-hoc voices of millions of individuals or a self-selecting subset with type A personalities.

Second, developers in open source free software projects don’t take orders.

  • That’s just a consequence of the model. An open source project arises where the intrinsic interests of many people overlap. The overlap does not make their intrinsic interests merge; it simply creates an area of their respective lives where they collaborate with others, or use the work of others with whom they have no other relationship.
  • The lack of any other relationship is what makes software freedom so important. By guaranteeing that every individual can use, improve and share the software without reference to any other person or entity, we ensure each person is free to meet their own needs without interference.
  • The corollary of that freedom is a lack of authority relationship. Two users who use the software in different ways are unable to force each other to change they way they use the software; if they want interoperable behavior they need to negotiate it. Two developers who earn their living from the software in different ways are unable to force each other to implement a feature that serves their needs. Instead they must implement the code they need and negotiate its inclusion with others. Finally a user wanting a feature implemented cannot demand a developer implement it. They might make it appeal to a developer, perhaps by paying them outside the scope of the project. But there is no basis for an authority relationship.
  • This places the UX expert in an invidious position. A UX outlook is inherently the synthesis of user experiences, so represents no individual in its entirety. UX also involves directing others in how to shape their code, in an environment where power relationships are expressly excluded.
  • Further, in a collaborative project, every participant pays their own way (rather than looking to the project for pay) and meets their own needs (rather than directing or paying the project to do so).
  • A UX expert and/or “product manager” is also very unlikely to have an external motivation for their involvement. As a consequence, it’s quite unlikely that one of the collaborators coming to the project will be a UX practitioner and if they are, their external motivation for doing so will probably be a concern for the project.

That’s not to say projects are ignoring UX. Two examples:

  1. Mozilla spends a significant sum on UX and has been able to elevate respect for UX so that it is a developer priority (although of course Mozilla is special).
  2. TDF have recently decided to spend donated funds to retain a UX expert to support the LibreOffice developers (who are already supported by a good design team) and are in the process of exploring how best to help him interact with the developers, who are not under the majority control of any entity.

Self-reliance arising from motivations and rewards external to the project is a fundamental part of the open source model. While some are frustrated that the developers get to call all the shots, to challenge their power over the future of the project is to Quixotically confront a natural force that arises from inherent self-reliance and is doomed to frustration. Trying to shame developers into accepting your authority has a poor track record of success.

So if you would like to switch to a user-centric approach for open source development, you will need to answer the two questions that arise from the analysis above:

  1. Which users will be at the centre, how do they get there, why are they the ones who should be there and who is representing them?
  2. What will motivate the people who actually make stuff – developers, designers, documenters – to do the things they ask for.

We need to explore ways to build motivations for UX practitioners to join collaborative communities and mechanisms for their contributions to not violate the natural dynamics arising from the absence of authority relationships. Mozilla has one approach, and TDF another. Maybe others have approaches they can share and from which we can all learn? Let us know below.

This article was originally published in Meshed Insights, and was made possible by Patreon patrons.

Image credit: "userCentric.jpg" is a derivative of "Computer Expert", 2015, by Karen Baijens, via Flickr, and used with permission under Creative Commons' Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). "

Categories: FLOSS Research

The Faces of Open Source: Mark Radcliffe

Open Source Initiative - Mon, 2017-08-21 21:52

In this fourth episode of Shane Martin Coughlan's, "The Faces of Open Source Law," we continue our introductions to the vibrant open source community, through discussions with some of it's most active contributors.

Shane's series may focus on legal issues, but through his discussions, you'll also find a wealth of information related to broader topics related to development, community and contributions. We're also very lucky to include in this series interviews, some of the folks who have helped the OSI grow to become the internationally recognized organization it is today. This week is no different with an interview with the OSI's legal counsel.

As in previous episodes, Shane provides "production notes", offering his own insights from the interviews.


Mark is someone that is known to everyone. He has been involved in open source law since it became commercially viable and he has insight into market adoption from startups through to multinationals. Mark also has been involved in helping NGOs such as Open Source Initiative, but in our interview I wanted to stick closely to the commercial side of things, for the simple reason that his ability to express market concerns is second to none.

It is noteworthy that in shooting this interview I already had the germ of season two of Faces of Open Source Law in my mind, I was thinking it would be using long-form interviews, and I wanted to have Mark as one of the interview subjects. This meant our season one interview is more closely focused than the others in the series, and in some ways it is biased towards setting the scene for a much longer conversational discussion in due course.

Other episodes:

"Mark Radcliffe - The Faces of Open Source Law - Season 1 - Episode 4" is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution license.

Categories: FLOSS Research

SerenataFlowers.com and Hipper.com Extend Support to Open Source through OSI Sponsorship

Open Source Initiative - Wed, 2017-08-16 11:32

Open source adoption continues to grow as companies seek not only higher quality software, lower costs, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in, but also leverage the power of community investment and collective intellect to drive innovation.

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Aug. 16, 2017 -- Today the Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the global non-profit formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source software and communities, is pleased to announce corporate sponsorships from SerenataFlowers.com and its sister company Hipper.com. SerenataFlowers.com recently extended their corporate giving program to recognize open source software projects and the communities that develop it, particularly those projects used to enable their own business, through financial donations and employee development time. The OSI joins other beneficiaries including, PG Routing, Creative Commons, Piwik, Selenium, Posgreslq and others.

"The support of SerenataFlowers.com is extremely satisfying for us at the OSI. Many mistakenly believe that contributions—both financial and technical—are primarily made by companies working within the software industry, you know, developers not florists," said Patrick Masson, General Manager at the OSI. "However SerenataFlowers.com highlights that today, all companies are software companies and thus all companies can benefit greatly from adopting open source software and working with the collaborative communities that support it."

SerenataFlowers.com's Managing Director, Martin Johansson, emphasized the company's investment, "We actively use a large number of open source software in our website front-end and back-end development. Examples include, Snowplow Analytics, Metabase, Joomla, foundation framerwork, MySQL, and many others." Johansson added, "Open source software is one of the cornerstones upon which our business is built. We believe open source software is both more secure and more efficient than their closed-source counterparts and we are actively looking to replace as many closed-source technologies for open source equivalent technology."

Corporate sponsors like SerenataFlowers.com provides the OSI with funds to support a variety of unique initiatives to help promote and protect open source software and the communities that develop it. The OSI understands corporate use of, and participation in open source development is vital to overall success. The OSI's corporate sponsorship program provide a open and transparent mechanism to allow companies to show support for open source software, its development, and the activities of the OSI. Donations allow the organization to continue our mission of education, advocacy, community building...and, of course, maintain our license certification programs.

Corporate sponsorship also provides opportunities—and resources—to interested contributors to self-organize around affinity issues and projects dedicated to addressing specific needs of, and for, the open source community. These, "Incubator Projects" focus on the creation of tools and services for open source communities, development practices, licensing or any other non-code aspect of the open source ecosystem.

About SerenataFlowers.com
SerenataFlowers.com is an independent online florist that specializes in the design and delivery of fresh, superior-quality floral arrangements. Founded in 2003, the company has blossomed to become the largest independent online flower retailer in the UK, picking up plaudits for its exemplary Web site and unique customer experience -- and making some very loyal flower-loving friends in the process. SerenataFlowers.com are the equivalent of A-list celebrities: gorgeous, desirable and boasting a longer shelf life than their contemporaries. Sourced from the finest growers, the flowers are groomed with fastidious care, fashioned to perfection and elegantly transported to their destination in the shortest possible time. For more information about SerenataFlowers.com, visit https://www.serenataflowers.com/.

About the Open Source Initiative
Founded in 1998, the Open Source Initiative protects and promotes open source by providing a foundation for community success. It champions open source in society through education, infrastructure and collaboration. The (OSI) is a California public benefit corporation, with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. For more information about the OSI, or to learn how to become a Corporate Sponsor, please visit: https://opensource.org/sponsors.

Lucia Polla

Italo Vignoli
Open Source Initiative
Categories: FLOSS Research
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