On the rise and fall of the GNU GPL

Back in 2011 we caused something of a stir, to say the least, when we covered the trend towards permissive licensing at the expense of reciprocal copyleft licenses.

Since some people were dubious of Black Duck’s statistics, to put it mildly, we also validated our initial findings, at Bradley M Kuhn’s suggestion, using a selection of data from FLOSSmole, which confirmed the rate of decline in the proportion of projects using the GPL family of licenses between October 2008 and May 2011.

Returning to Black Duck’s figures, we later projected that if the rate of decline continued the GPL family of licenses (including the LGPL and AGPL) would account for only 50% of all open source software by September 2012.

As 2012 draws to a close it seems like a good time to revisit that projection and check the latest statistics.

I will preface this with an admission that yes, we know these figures only provide a very limited perspective on the open source projects in question. A more rounded study would look at other aspects such as how many lines of code a project has, how often it is downloaded, its popularity in terms of number of users or developers, how often the project is being updated, how many of the developers are employed by a single vendor, and what proportion of the codebase is contributed by developers other than the core committers. Since that would involve checking all these for more than 300,000 projects I’m going to pass on that.

Additionally, while all that is true, it does not mean that there is no value in examining the proportion of projects using a certain license. I am more interested in what the data does tell us, than what it doesn’t.

Data sources:
We analysed two distinct data sources for our previous analysis: Black Duck’s license data and a selection of data collected by FLOSSmole. Specifically we chose data from Rubyforge, Freecode (fka Freshmeat), ObjectWeb and the Free Software Foundation because those were the only sets for which historical (October 2008) data was available in mid 2011. For this update we have to use FLOSSmole’s data from September 2012 since the November 2012 dataset for the Free Software Foundation is incomplete. It is not possible to get a picture of GPLv2 traction using this FLOSSmole data since the majority of projects on Freecode are labelled “GPL” with no version number. In addition, for this update we have also looked at FLOSSmole data from Google Code, comparing datasets for November 2011 and November 2012. to get a sense of the trends on a newer project hosting site.

Black Duck’s data
According to Black Duck’s data the proportion of projects using the GNU GPL family of licenses declined from 70% in June 2008 to 53.24% today. The first thing to note therefore is that the rate of decline seen a year ago did not continue, and that the GNU GPL family of licenses continues to account for more than 50% of all open source software. The rate of the decline of the GNU GPLv2 has actually accelerated over the past year, however, and its usage is now almost the same as the combination of permissive licenses (I went with MIT/Apache/BSD/Ms-PL, you can argue about that last one if you like, but I’ve got to stick with it for consistency) at around 32%.

FLOSSmole’s data
Also in the interests of consistency I should clarify that we made a slight error in our previous calculations relating to the data from FLOSSmole. When we looked at the FLOSSmole data in June 2011 we reported a decline from 70.77% in October 2008 to 59.31% in May 2011. In calculating the data for this update I identified an error and that the figure should have been 62.8% in 2011. So less of a decline, but a decline nonetheless. The figures show that despite the total number of projects increasing from 54,000 in 2011 to 57,069 in September 2012, the proportion of projects using the GNU GPL family of licenses has remained steady at 62.8%. However, the proportion of projects using permissive licenses has grown, from 10.9% in 2008 to 13.4% in 2011 and 13.7% in September 2012.

Google Code data
The data from Google Code involves a much larger data set: 237,810 projects in 2011 and 300,465 in 2012. It also presents something problem since one of the choices on Google Code is dual-licensing using the Artistic License/GPL. Including these projects in the GNU GPL family count we see that the proportion of projects hosted on Google Code using the GNU GPL family of licenses declines from 54.7% in November 2011 to 52.7% in November 2011. Interestingly though the proportion of projects using permissive licenses also fell, from 38% in 2011 to 37.1% today. As a side note, the use of “other open source licenses” grew from 2.0% in 2011 to 4.3% in 2012.

What does it all mean? You can read as much or as little into the statistics as you wish. Since I am fed up with being accused of being a shill for providing analysis of the numbers I won’t bother to do so on this occasion – you are perfectly free to figure it out for yourselves.

Here’s everything in a single chart:

That’s not science: the FSF’s analysis of GPL usage

The Free Software Foundation has responded to our analysis of figures that indicate that the proportion of open source projects using the GPL is in decline.

Specifically, FSF executive director John Sullivan gave a presentation at FOSDEM which asked “Is copyleft being framed”. You can find his slides here, a write-up about the presentation here, and Slashdot discussion here.

Most of the opposition to the earlier posts on this subject addressed perceived problems with the underlying data, specifically that it comes from Black Duck, which does not publish details of its methodology. John’s response is no exception. “That’s not science,” he asserts, with regards to the lack of clarity.

This is a valid criticism, which is why – prompted by Bradley M Kuhn – I previously went to a lot of effort to analyze data from Rubyforge, Freshmeat, ObjectWeb and the Free Software Foundation collected and published by FLOSSmole, only to find that it confirmed the trend suggested by Black Duck’s figures. I was personally therefore happy to use Black Duck’s figures for our update.

John Sullivan is not overly impressed with the FLOSSmole numbers either, noting that while they are verifiable, they do leave a number of questions related to the breadth and depth of the sample, the relative activity of the projects, whether all lines of code and applications should be treated equally, and how packages with multiple licenses are treated.

These are all also valid questions. As we previously noted, a study that *might* satisfy all questions related to license usage would have to take into account how many lines of code a project has; how often it is downloaded; its popularity in terms of number of users or developers; how often the project is being updated; how many of the developers are employed by a single vendor; and what proportion of the codebase is contributed by developers other than the core committers.

John offers some evidence of his own that suggests that the use of the GPL is in fact growing. Anyone hoping for the all-encompassing study mentioned above is in for some disappointment, however. It is based on a script-based analysis of the Debian GNU’Linux distribution codebase.

Nothing wrong with the script-based analysis – but a single GNU/Linux distribution considered to be a representative sample of all free and open source software?

That’s not science.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.12.16

Topics for this podcast:

*Hadoop roundup
-Cloudera Enterprise Hadoop update
-Hadapt combines Hadoop with db analytics
-Informatica grows its Hadoop work
*HP open sources WebOS
*The GPL fade
*Red Hat acquisition targets

iTunes or direct download (31:41, 5.4MB)

On the continuing decline of the GPL

Our most popular CAOS blog post of the year, by some margin, was this one, from early June, looking at the trend towards persmissive licensing, and the decline in the usage of the GNU GPL family of licenses.

Prompted by this post by Bruce Byfield, I thought it might be interesting to bring that post up to date with a look at the latest figures.

NB: I am relying on the current set of figures published by Black Duck Software for this post, combined with our previous posts on the topic. I am aware that some people are distrustful of Black Duck’s figures given the lack of transparency on the methodology for collecting them. Since I previously went to a lot of effort to analyze data collected and published by FLOSSmole to find that it confirmed the trend suggested by Black Duck’s figures, I am confident that the trends are an accurate reflection of the situation.

The figures indicate that not only has the usage of the GNU GPL family of licenses (GPL2+3, LGPL2+3, AGPL) continued to decline since June, but that the decline has accelerated. The GPL family now accounts for about 57% of all open source software, compared to 61% in June.

As you can see from the chart below, if the current rate of decline continues, we project that the GPL family of licenses will account for only 50% of all open source software by September 2012.

That is still a significant proportion of course, but would be down from 70% in June 2008. Our projection also suggests that permissive licenses (specifically in this case, MIT/Apache/BSD/Ms-PL) will account for close to 30% of all open source software by September 2012, up from 15% in June 2009 (we don’t have a figure for June 2008 unfortunately).

Of course, there is no guarantee that the current rate of decline will continue – as the chart indicates the rate of decline slowed between June 2009 and June 2011, and it may well do so again. Or it could accelerate further.

Interestingly, however, while the more rapid rate of decline prior to June 2009 was clearly driven by the declining use of the GPLv2 in particular, Black Duck’s data suggests that the usage of the GPL family declined at a faster rate between June 2011 and December 2011 (6.7%) than the usage of the GPLv2 specifically (6.2%).

UPDATE – It is has been rightfully noted that this decline relates to the proportion of all open source software, while the number of projects using the GPL family has increased in real terms. Using Black Duck’s figures we can calculate that in fact the number of projects using the GPL family of licenses grew 15% between June 2009 and December 2011, from 105,822 to 121,928. However, in the same time period the total number of open source projects grew 31% in real terms, while the number of projects using permissive licenses grew 117%. – UPDATE

As indicated in June, we believe there are some wider trends that need to be discussed in relation to license usage, particularly with regards to vendor engagement with open source projects and a decline in the number of vendors engaging with strong copyleft licensed software.

The analysis indicated that the previous dominance of strong copyleft licenses was achieved and maintained to a significant degree due to vendor-led open source projects, and that the ongoing shift away from projects controlled by a single vendor toward community projects was in part driving a shift towards more permissive non-copyleft licenses.

We will update this analysis over the next few days with a look at the latest trends regarding the engagement of vendors with open source projects, and venture funding for open source-related vendors, providing some additional context for the trends related to licensing.

451 CAOS Links 2011.10.25

Microsoft: “more than half your Android devices are belong to us”. And more

# Microsoft claimed that more than half of the world’s ODM industry for Android and Chrome devices is now under license to Microsoft’s patent portfolio following its agreement with Compal Electronics.

# Hadapt expanded its board of directors and confirmed its $9.5m series A funding round.

# Appcelerator entered into an agreement to acquire the Particle Code mobile gaming and HTML5 development platform.

# Jaspersoft and IBM are working together to combine InfoSphere BigInsights with Jaspersoft’s full BI suite.

# Karmasphere announced its new Hadoop Virtual Appliance for IBM InfoSphere BigInsights.

# Neo Technology launched Spring Data Neo4j 2.0.

# Opscode extended Chef, Hosted Chef and Private Chef to provide infrastructure automation in Windows environments.

# Sourcefire announced plans to support Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization

# Percona added support for MySQL Cluster.

# Avere Systems partnered with Nexenta Systems to combine Avere’s FXT Series of appliances and Nexenta’s NexentaStor open source ZFS technology.

# The Qt project is now up and running.

# Zed A Shaw explained why he has licensed Lamson under the GPL.

451 CAOS Links 2011.08.26

Jive Software files for IPO. VMware adds Python and PHP to Cloud Foundry. And more.

# Jive Software filed for a $100m IPO.

# VMware launched the beta availability of Micro Cloud Foundry and announced that ActiveState and AppFog would be adding Python/Django and PHP respectively to the Cloudfoundry.org project.

# Meanwhile Salesforce.com’s Heroku added support for Java.

# Eucalyptus Systems announced the launch of Eucalyptus 3.

# EnterpriseDB announced the general availability of Postgres Enterprise Manager as well as the launch of Postgres Plus Cloud Server.

# MOSAID Technologies has filed a patent infringement complaint against Red Hat, as well as another complaint against IBM, Adobe, Alcatel-Lucent, Juniper Networks, NetApp and VMWare.

# The Outercurve Foundation announced the contribution of the OData Validation project.

# Rackspace Hosting announced the availability of professional training for OpenStack delivered by Rackspace Cloud Builders.

# Brian Proffitt did his research on GPL violations of the Linux kernel and found the sky is not falling.

# The Document Foundation announced the forthcoming election of its board of directors.

# Simon Phipps outlined the seven corporate steps towards software freedom.

# Icinga launched version 1.5 of its Nagios fork.

FLOSSmole has published a comparison of 24 software forges.

Microsoft, broadest supporter of Linux

In writing recently about the continuation (451 subscribers) of the Microsoft-SUSE Windows-Linux interoperability and patent agreement, it occurred to me that in a sense, Microsoft is the broadest supporter of Linux in the industry. Microsoft obviously supports SUSE Linux quite deeply given nearly five years of work with its commercial backer. Microsoft somewhat begrudgingly entered into a virtualization agreement with Red Hat, so that both could better support one another’s operating systems and hypervisors. Finally, Microsoft has been among the most aggressive vendors in the industry to back unpaid, community Linux, such as CentOS, for which it unveiled support last month.

Indeed, Microsoft has consistently displayed some respect for Linux in general, including its contribution of code to the Linux kernel under the GPL.

Despite the concerns about Microsoft’s control over SUSE Linux or Linux in general, the fact of the matter is Microsoft’s investment of both dollars, including its SUSE deals worth a few hundred million, and investment of of resources, such as the interoperability work with Novell/SUSE, the kernel contribution, the cross-OS and hypervisor support work with Red Hat and the support of CentOS, Microsoft is significantly supporting Linux development and use in the enterprise.

I wrote last year about the uncertainty around Novell/SUSE kernel contribution given the Attachmate acquisition.

That all-important contribution from one of the key drivers behind the Linux kernel will now likely continue in large part thanks to Microsoft. And while we cannot simply forget Microsoft’s past actions, such as resisting the GPL, the company’s position as a broad supporter of Linux certainly illustrates how we live in a much different Linux landscape today.

451 CAOS Links 2011.08.16

Google says Hello Moto. A GPL violation that hasn’t actually occurred. And more.

# Google announced plans to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5bn, adding an Android handset business and more than 17,000 patents.

# Fabrizio Capobianco speculated that the acquisition represents the end of Android as we know it.

# Meanwhile IP lawyer Edward Naughton continued his Android-bothering by raising the question of GPL compliance and Android device manufacturers unlicensed.

# In response Bradley M. Kuhn noted that Naughton has not identified a GPL violation that actually occurred, while Carlo Daffara pointed out that the GPL portions of Android Honeycomb have been in the AOSP git tree from late January.

# Joyent announced that it had ported KVM to its SmartOS operating system.

# SGI acquired open source computational fluid dynamics software player OpenCFD Ltd.

# Mozilla launched the release candidate draft of Mozilla Public License, version 2.0.

# Rhomobile announced Rhodes 3.1, the latest updates of its native smartphone app framework.

# Karsten Wade called for the formation of a working group on community metrics.

451 CAOS Links 2011.08.02

Talend announces rapid growth. Jaspersoft hires community development director. And more.

# Talend grew 153% in the first six months of 2011, and now claims 2,500 paying customers.

# Jaspersoft appointed Matthew Geise as the company’s senior director of community development.

# The Document Foundation announced LibreOffice 3.4.2, targeting both private individuals and enterprises.

# FuseSource unveiled Fuse IDE 2.0, and updated version of its Eclipse-based integrated development environment.

# Gorilla Logic announced the availability of FlexMonkey 5 the latest version of its open source automated testing tool for Adobe Flex and AIR.

# GNU Emacs has been violating the GPL since 2009.

# Drupal data migration specialist Cyrve has been acquired by Acquia.

# A protest by Swiss proprietary software vendors is reportedly delaying the publication of federally-developed open source software.

# Chrome has overtaken Firefox in UK browser share.

# Dave Neary and Dawn Foster presented their thoughts and experiences of measuring open source community metrics.

451 CAOS Links 2011.06.14

Apache OpenOffice.org proposal approved. SkySQL Tekes new funding. And more.

# The proposal for OpenOffice.org to become an Apache incubator project was unanimously approved.

# Rob Weir discussed how the relationship between OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice need not be a zero-sum game.

# Simon Phipps offered his thoughts on the potential positive and negative outcomes.

# Tekes, the main public funding agency for research, development, and innovation in Finland, awarded SkySQL a grant of €250,000 and a loan of over €600,000.

# Opscode announced the general availability of Opscode Hosted Chef, formerly the Opscode Platform, and launched the Private Chef appliance.

# Infobright launched version 4.0 of its open source analytic database.

# Glyn Moody questioned whether we still need the FSF, GNU and the GPL.

# Cenatic published its analysis of the criteria for adopting open source software in public administrations.

# Nuxeo and Hippo announced a technology alliance through which they have built an ECM/WCM connector based on the OASIS CMIS standard.

# The VAR Guy wondered whether Canonical’s Ubuntu focus is too diverse.

# Sandro Groganz discussed what US-based open source vendors need to know about Europe.

# The Xen code for Dom0 has been accepted into the Linux mainline kernel.

# Brian Proffitt covered the two faces of UK open source.

# The VAR Guy encouraged Adobe to engage more with open source.

# Matt Asay pondered Red Hat’s potential to challenge Oracle with a database of its own.

FLOSSmole data confirms declining GPL usage

Last week we published a post looking at some statistics suggesting a decline in the usage of the GNU GPL.

The post sparked some interesting debate, not least about the validity of Black Duck Software’s numbers, which we had used to compare usage of the various FLOSS licenses over recent years.

While we have no specific reason to doubt Black Duck’s figures, Bradley M Kuhn, in particular, suggested that Black Duck’s data should be “ignored by serious researchers” since the company doesn’t disclose enough detail about its data collection methods.

He added that “AFAICT, FLOSSmole is the only project attempting to generate this kind of data and analysis thereof in a scientifically verifiable way”.

You can probably guess where this is going…

Started in 2004, FLOSSmole* collects data on open source software projects. FLOSSmole’s data is freely available via Google Code.

In order to test Black Duck’s data we downloaded FLOSSmole data from four sources for which both current (May 2011) and historical (October 2008) data was available: Rubyforge, Freshmeat, ObjectWeb and the Free Software Foundation.

We then sorted each data set and generated subtotals for each license type, checking the data manually to make sure we had combined all the relevant data (data tagged GPL2, GPLv2 and GNU GPLv2 for example).

Given the wide variety of ways in which the various GNU Public Licenses have been tagged across the four data sources (a huge number of Freshmeat projects are tagged simply “General Public License” with no version number) it also made sense to group the licenses together into the GPL family (including LGPL and AGPL).

The results show that the GPL family of licenses accounted for 70.77% of all 53,914 projects in the sample in October 2008. In May 2011 that figure had declined to 59.31% of 54,800.

As a reminder, the figures from Black Duck showed the proportion of projects using the GPL family of licenses had declined from 70% in June 2008 to 61% today. So the FLOSSmole figures actually show a more rapid decline in GPL usage than Black Duck’s.

One important point to note is that a significant number of projects (5,775) in the 2011 Freshmeat data do not have license details. Removing these projects from the sample would result in the GPL family of licenses representing 66.3% of 49,025 projects in 2011.

Either way, the FLOSSmole results confirm a decline in GPL usage.

UPDATE: Just to be clear, the figures for ‘GPL family’ above include both LGPL and AGPL as well. FLOSSmole’s figures show both increased from 2008-2011, from 6.22% to 7.21% and 0.11% to 0.36% respectively.

2ND UPDATE: Of course, the % of total projects is only one way to measure adoption, and some people will argue it’s not a particularly good one. Certainly we’re not going to get carried away with the fact that the % of projects hosted by the Free Software Foundation using the GPL family has declined from 81.2% to 76.7%. Although it is kind of interesting.

*Howison, J., Conklin, M., & Crowston, K. (2006). FLOSSmole: A collaborative repository for FLOSS research data and analyses. International Journal of Information Technology and Web Engineering, 1(3), 17–26. (more)

CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.06.10

Topics for this podcast:

*eBay wins bid for open source e-commerce player Magento
*Citrix releases its own version of OpenStack
*MapR brings its own Hadoop distribution to market
*IBM builds out its analytics and data stream stories with Hadoop
*The trend toward more permissive licensing
*Why Oracle’s donation of OO.o disappoints

iTunes or direct download (31:26, 5.4MB)

The trend towards permissive licensing

Ian Skerrett last week suggested that there is a growing trend in favour of permissive non-copyleft licenses at the expense of reciprocal copyleft licenses. Ian asked “name one popular community open source project created in the last 5 years that uses the AGPL or GPL?”

The responses didn’t exactly come thick and fast. I certainly couldn’t think of one. But the question did prompt me to look for some evidence for the trend away from copyleft licenses.

License usage
The first port of call for evidence of trends related to open source license use is Black Duck’s Open Source Resource Center. The lastest figures show that GPLv2 is used for 45.33% of projects in Black Duck’s KnowledgeBase, while the GPL family accounts for roughly 61% of all projects.

While the GPL family is dominant, comparing the latest figures with those provided in June 2008, June 2009, and some previous CAOS research from March 2010 indicates a steady decline in the use of the GPL family and the GPLv2 in particular.

According to Black Duck’s figures the proportion of open source projects using the GPL family of licenses has fallen to 61% today from 70% in June 2008, while the GPLv2 has fallen to 45% from 58% three years ago.

It is worth noting that the number of projects using the GPL licenses has increased in real terms over the past few years. According to our calculations based on Black Duck’s figures, the number of GPLv2 projects rose 5.5% between June 2009 and June 2011, while the total number of open source projects grew over 16%.

We should expect to see slower growth for the GPLv2 given it has been superseded but even though the number of AGPLv3 and GPLv3 projects grew 90% and 85% respectively over the past two years, that only resulted in 29% growth for the GPL family overall (while A/L/GPLv3 adoption appears to be slowing).

In comparison the number of Apache licensed projects grew 46% over the past two years, while the number of MIT licensed projects grew 152%. Indeed Black Duck’s figures indicate that the MIT License has been the biggest gainer in the last two years, jumping from 3.8% of all projects in June 2009 to 8.23% today, leapfrogging Apache, BSD, GPLv3 and LGPLv2.1 in the process.

While the level of adoption of copyleft licenses remains dominant, and continues to rise in terms of the number of projects, there is no escaping the continuing overall decline in terms of ‘license share’.

UPDATE – Since some people dod not trust Black Duck’s data I also took a look at data collected by FLOSSmole. The results are remarkably similar. – UPDATE

Vendor formation
Black Duck’s data is not the only indication that the importance of copyleft licenses has decreased in recent years. The research we conducted as part of of our Control and Community report also indicated a decline in the number of vendors engaging with strong copyleft licensed software.

Specifically, we evaluated the open source-related strategies of 300 software vendors and subsidiaries, including the license choice, development model, copyright strategy and revenue generator.

By plotting the results of this analysis against the year in which the companies were founded (for open source specialists) or began to engage with open source (for complementary vendors) we are able to gain a perspective on the changing popularity of the individual strategies*.

Having updated the results to the end of 2010, our analysis now covers 321 vendors and shows that 2010 was the first year in which there were more companies formed around projects with non-copyleft licences than with strong copyleft licences.

The formation of vendors around open source software with strong copyleft licenses peaked in 2006, having risen steadily between 1997 and 2006 – although there have been gains since 2007. By comparison, the formation of vendors around open source software with non-copyleft licences has been steadily increasing since 2002.

The results get even more interesting in terms of Ian’s question if we filter them by development model. Looking at community-led development projects, we see that there have been significantly more companies formed around community-led projects with non-copyleft licenses than with strong copyleft licenses since 2007.

In fact, strong copyleft licenses have been much more popular for vendor-led development projects, but even here there was an increase in the use of non-copyleft licenses in 2010.

This last chart illustrates something significant about the previous dominance of strong copyleft licenses: that it was achieved and maintained to a significant degree due to the vendor-led open source projects, rather than community-led projects.

One of the main findings of our Control and Community report was the ongoing shift away from projects controlled by a single vendor and back toward community and collaboration. While some might expect that to mean increased adoption of strong copyleft licenses – given that they are associated with collaborative development projects such as GNU and the Linux kernel – the charts above indicate a shift towards non copyleft.

As previously noted, while free software projects utilize strong copyleft to ensure that the software in question remains open (or as Bradley M Kuhn recently put it, to keep developers “honest”), vendors using the open core licensing strategy use strong copyleft licenses, along with copyright ownership, to ensure that only they have the opportunity to take it closed.

Either way, strong copyleft is used as a means of control on the code and the project, and our analysis backs up Ian’s contention that there is a trend away from control and towards more permissive non-copyleft licenses.

This is part of what we called the fourth stage of commercial open source business strategies and is being driven by the increased engagement of previously closed-source vendors with open source projects.

The fourth stage is about balancing the ability to create closed source derivatives with collaborative development through multi-vendor open source projects and permissive licensing, and as such it not only avoids the need to control a project through licensing, it actively discourages control through licensing.

That is why, in my opinion, the decline of the copyleft licenses has only just begun.

*The method is not perfect, since it plots the license being used today against the year of formation, and as such does not reflect licensing changes in the interim. It does provide us with an overview of general historical trends, however.

451 CAOS Links 2011.05.20

Open Virtualization Alliance launches, Reforming the OSI. IBM targets Hadoop. And more.

# BMC Software, Eucalyptus, HP, IBM, Intel, Red Hat and SUSE created the Open Virtualization Alliance.

# The Open Source Initiative launched plans to encourage greater participation from the various open source industry stakeholders.

# The WSJ published a preview of IBM’s forthcoming Hadoop-related announcements.

# SQLStream raised $6m for its stream computing platform, based on Eigenbase.

# MongoLab raised $3m for its MongoDB hosting and services.

# Oracle introduced a new Java Specification Request to evolve the Java Community Process.

# DataStax hired former Quest executive Billy Bosworth as its new chief executive.

# Red Hat released Enterprise Linux 6.1.

# Attachmate’s SUSE business unit announced its plans under Nils Brauckmann.

# Bradley M Kuhn discussed Android in the context of GPL enforcement.

# The Fedora project switched to a new contributor agreement.

# OStatic argued that it is too early to count out Eucalyptus Systems.

# Openbravo added new Point of Sale capabilities to its ERP software.

# Martin Michlmayr discussed some lessons learned from Munich’s migration to Linux.

# Zanby has released the code for its enterprise groupware under the GNU GPL3 license.

# Wyse released a new Linux-based thin client.

Community Linux love from Microsoft

One of big stories out of the Open Source Business Conference this week was Microsoft’s announced support for the CentOS community Linux distribution, a free clone of RHEL that nonetheless enjoys significant enterprise and cloud computing use, as we’ve covered extensively, including a special report that is currently being updated, in part, with a new survey.

This is not the first time MS has displayed love for unpaid, community Linux, given its 2009 contribution of GPL-licensed code to the Linux kernel. This was significant in that it was contribution and participation by Microsoft in the Linux kernel, beyond one of its partner’s Linux distributions, such as the case of Novell and SUSE Linux and more recently, Red Hat and its RHEL for mutual, customer-demanded virtualization support (451 subscribers) between Microsoft and Red Hat.

It seems Microsoft understands that unlike pirated Windows, which it considers a loss, the use of free, unpaid Linux — particularly by large enterprise, government and other organizations — is a big opportunity for it.

True, use of community Linux is typically driven by cost savings and the capability of sizable organizations to self-manage their Linux servers, often involving no payment. However, our research indicates there is often is still a need for higher level support and, more commonly, the ‘insurance factor’ of having a commercial vendor behind your infrastructure software so you, or your boss or board, have someone to call or blame if things go wrong. Microsoft is capable of supporting CentOS in both cases of technical support and being the insurance for an organization. It will be interesting to see the kind of reaction and traction the company gets from customers, presumably Windows shops, running CentOS.

It was only a couple of years ago we were writing about the death, and ongoing life of CentOS.

Today, it continues to be one of the most fascinating open source software projects in that it has no formal commercial backer, not even a foundation, but yet benefits from a solid, dedicated development team that continues to push the OS forward. We, along with Microsoft, continue to hear about use of CentOS increasingly in cloud computing, where it can be used, often free of charge, to add, subtract, scale and scrap as needed. It is, like other Linux distributions, also popular among hosting and other service providers, who again are primarily building public, private and hybrid cloud environments and ecosystems.

This is why again it is very interesting to see Microsoft supporting CentOS with HyperV and Windows. It’s not the first vendor to do so, as server giant HP has supported CentOS, Debian and other community distros to some extent in its server and support offerings. Microsoft’s CentOS support is certainly another example of how the landscape and market for various Linux distributions and operating systems in general is currently undergoing disruption.

451 CAOS Links 2011.03.25

Red Hat grows revenue 20%+. Google withholding Honeycomb source code. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and Identi.ca, and daily at Paper.li/caostheory
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Red Hat reported Q4 revenue up 25% to $245m, FY revenue up 22% to $909m

# Google is withholding the source code to Honeycomb for the foreseeable future.

# Rick Clark explained why he left Rackspace amid concerns that the company is exerting too much control over OpenStack.

# DataStax launched Brisk, a Hadoop/Hive distribution built on Apache Cassandra.

# Details emerged about Mapr, which is building a proprietary version of Hadoop.

# Hadapt emerged from stealth mode to commercialize HadoopDB research project.

# Mark Radcliffe said the analysis behind Android GPL violation claim is “fundamentally flawed”.

# OpenLogic partnered with MuleSoft to resell Tcat Server.

# Stephen Walli explained why the Symbian Foundation failed.

# North Bridge and 22 open source leaders launched the fifth annual Future of Open Source Survey.

# Evident Software launched ClearStone 5.0, monitoring Cassandra, Memcached/Membase, and MongoDB. (amongst others).

# Evident Software announced strategic partnerships with Terracotta, EsperTech, Neo Technology, and Cirrus Technologies.

# Black Duck Software announced the availability of Black Duck Suite 6.

# Great Bloomberg interview with Cloudera CEO Mike Olson on open source and big data.

# Continuent updated its Tungsten Enterprise replication and data management offering for MySQL and PostgreSQL.

# Genuitec released MyEclipse Enterprise Workbench and MyEclipse Blue Edition 9.0.

# Tasktop Technologies announced Tasktop Enterprise 2.0, including Task Federation.

451 CAOS Links 2011.03.22

Paranoid Android. Canonical and Gnome. A new OSI. And more.

Paranoid Android
If you are interested in the potential violation of the GPL by the Android kernel you have probably already immersed yourself in the numerous blog posts published on the topic. If not, start with Sean Hogle’s analysis or Bradley M Kuhn’s overview of the original allegations and work backwards from there, not forgetting a detour for the obligatory Microsoft connection. Linus Torvalds said claim “seems totally bogus”. In the meantime, Microsoft sued Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec for patent infringement by their Android devices.

On the relationship between Canonical and Gnome
Similarly, if you already have an interest in the relationship between Canonical and the Gnome community you will probably have already read the numerous posts written on the subject in the past week. If not Dave Neary’s Lessons Learned is a good place to start, while Mark Shuttelworth’s response is also worth a read, as is his earlier post. If you are *really* interested in the relationship between Canonical and Gnome, look no further than Jeff Waugh’s series of posts on the subject.

A new Open Source Initiative
The Open Source Initiative confirmed its new board appointments and announced plans to move to a representative model that will enable open source communities to become members.

…and relax
Couchbase announced the general availability of Couchbase Server, and the formation of the Couchbase board of advisers, while J Chris Anderson outlined the details of the new release.

Best of the rest
# The Centre for Technology Policy Research published a review of the UK government’s track record when it comes to open source and open standards-related policies.

# As the Drizzle fork of MySQL reached general availability Brian Aker outlined the drivers behind its development and the technical details.

# The Qt team responded to the reporting of the sale of the commercial Qt business from Nokia to Digia.

# JasperSoft reported 50% growth in year-over-year sales, and a 30% increase in average customer contract size.

# Revolution Analytics announced a partnership with IBM Netezza.

# Pentaho announced the worldwide general availability of Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition 3.8.

# Zenoss introduced Zenoss Datacenter Insight, providing analytics on physical, virtual, and cloud-based IT resources.

# 10gen released version 1.8 of its document database, including support for journaling and incremental MapReduce.

# Oracle released an update to MySQL Enterprise Edition, including integration with MyOracle support.

# Red Hat boasted of independent recognition of the strength of its patent portfolio, while it emerged that the company previously paid $4.2m to settle a patent infringement claim.

# Karmasphere and Canonical announced a partnership to support Karmasphere’s Hadoop-related products on Ubuntu.

# The Linux Foundation announced the formation of the MeeGo Smart TV Working Group.

# Amazon is launching an app store for Android applications.

# The results of the 2011 Eclipse board election.

# OpenERP launched its Apps library for open source business apps.

# The Eclipse Foundation launched the open beta of OrionHub.

# The Alembic Foundation was formed to create open source data sharing and management technologies for individuals.

# Juniper Networks joined the Eclipse Foundation.

# The 2011 Future of Open Source Survey, from North Bridge Venture Partners, The 451 Group and Computerworld is now live.

# Rhomobile launched RhoHub 3.0.

# Gluster joined the OpenStack community.

# Sirius launched 24×7 open source support

# eXo introduced eXo Platform 3.5 and launched eXo Cloud IDE.

# Cloud.com released a new version of CloudStack, its open source cloud computing platform.

# Media training will be available for developers at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit.

# InfoQ asked, What is the future of Apache Harmony?

# Richard Stallman said something mildly controversial about cell phones.

451 CAOS Links 2011.01.11

Black Duck acquires Olliance Group. Funding for Zend and PHP Flog. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and Identi.ca, and daily at Paper.li/caostheory
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Black Duck Software acquired Olliance Group.

# Viola Private Equity invested $7m in Zend Technologies.

# PHP Fog raised $1.8m from Madrona Venture Group, First Round Capital, Founder’s Co-op, and other angel investors.

# The proposal for CPTN Holdings to acquire Novell’s patents has reportedly been withdrawn.

# Jaspersoft announced a major update to its open source BI suite with Jaspersoft 4.

# ZDnet reported on no GPL Apps for Apple’s App Store. Jason Perlow examined the implications. Stephen Walli suggested a solution to the GPL/Apple App Store conundrum: dual licensing (assuming copyright ownership).

# ICEsoft announced version 2 of its ICEfaces open source Rich Internet Application development framework.

# The Eclipse Foundation introduced Orion, a browser-based open tool integration platform.

# The future of Hudson includes a proposal to change the project’s name to Jenkins.

# MuleSoft announced the general availability of Mule ESB 3.1.

# The Apache Software Foundation announced the launch of Apache Cassandra 0.7.

# Matt Asay highlighted the need for open source specialist vendors to innovate, as well as commoditize.

# Oracle has reportedly dropped support for MySQL on IBM’s i operating system.

# Red Hat is retaining is Raleigh HQ and planning to add 540 new jobs.

# Version 1.6 of the Joomla open source CMS is now available.

# Appcelerator claimed to have more than doubled in size since the end of November.

# Nominations are now open for the 2011 Eclipse board members.

# Brian Behlendorf became the World Economic Forum chief technology officer.

# Broadcom joined the Linux Foundation as did GoAhead Software.

# A glass-half-full look at Oracle’s approach to open source.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2010.07.23

Topics for this podcast:

*OSCON conference highlights and impressions
*Rackspace and NASA open source more of cloud computing
*Open core debate du jour
*Open source motors Rhomobile’s multi-smartphone development software

iTunes or direct download (27:39, 7.6MB)

Licensing matters again in open source or not, virtualization and the cloud

Just when you thought open source and its licensing were getting a bit dull (okay, that will probably never happen) … Sure, the GPL is giving up some of its dominance. OEM, embedded, mobile and other expansion areas for open source are keeping open source licenses relevant, as are virtualization and cloud computing, and these are all areas where open source licenses such as the AGPLv3 hold both promise and burden, depending on who you ask. It’s clear open source licensing is heating up again as a topic and as we assess what is really open and what is really not.

Matt recently asked about Google’s recently announced WebM, whether it is open source and what this tells us about the open source license definition and approval process. WebM, a Web video format that is available for free, is intended as open and even open source, but it is not actually licensed under an OSI-approved open source license, thus making it fall short of the definition of open source.

We may see Google get that OSI approval. It’s certainly not out of the ordinary, and even Microsoft has successfully lobbied and certified some of its own licenses as open source. However, for the time being, WebM falls under the category of ‘not open source,’ and I believe reflects Google’s challenge of getting open enough. On the other hand, Google’s Android OS, which is also backed by a broad consortium of other software, hardware, wireless carrier and other players, is sometimes criticized or questioned on its openness, particularly amid its recent progress. The fact of the matter is the kernel and core of the OS is based on Linux and the OS itself is licensed under the Apache 2.0, one of the top open source licenses we discuss in our report, The Myth of Open Source License Proliferation and one we see gaining use and prominence.

‘Open enough’ is another topic we’ve discussed on the CAOS Theory blog before, but I believe we are seeing cases of non open source software, such as Amazon’s APIs for EC2 and its cloud computing services, being open and available enough in many regards. Yet the fact these are not open standards and not open source brings persisting concerns about what the future might hold. This also highlights how lock-in, which we saw fade to some extent as a factor driving open source, is becoming more significant again. Although there has been an evolving acceptance of some lock-in, particularly as the debate has moved to open data, many early and established cloud computing users are worried if they have a single source for their infrastructure and services (vendor and product shutdowns, consolidation and rigid roadmaps are among the legitimate customer fears). In response, many are looking to ‘alternative’ software pieces and stacks for their private and hybrid cloud computing endeavors, and this is frequently, if not mostly open source.

Back to the licensing matter, we’re also seeing some friction on software licensing from virtualization and cloud computing, where the wants and needs of suppliers and consumers do not necessarily align. In terms of open source, this dilemma shows how flexibility and leverage — either with the vendor or with the software itself given the ability to access source code and build on it or influence its development — can help set open source apart as users contemplate their licensing and deployment strategy. Still, there are also challenges that come with open source software licensing, such as requiring the sharing of code and modifications and limited use of the open source code in combination with other software and in other products.

All of this highlights the ongoing need and importance of the OSI and broader industry definition of open source and its licenses, particularly as open source continues to blur and blend with non-open source in mobile and other electronic devices, virtualization, cloud computing and elsewhere.