CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.05.27

Topics for this podcast:

*Smaller PaaS players unite with DotCloud-Duostack deal
*Typesafe taps Scala, Akka, open source and devops
*Changes continue at Continuent
*Future of Open Source Survey debrief
*Changes afoot at the OSI
*Microsoft moves to support CentOS Linux

iTunes or direct download (32:15, 5.5MB)

Opening up the Open Source Initiative

One of the ironies of open source over the years has been that the organisation formed to “educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source”, the Open Source Initiative, was itself *perceived to be* something of a closed shop [see the comments for clarification on this point].

That is set to change as the OSI has publicly launched its plan to encourage greater participation by shifting to a membership model and elected board members. The plan was announced during a session at the Open Source Business Conference (slides) and is part of an effort to focus on the second half of the organisation’s mission statement: “to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community”.

As OSI director Simon Phipps explains in an interview with The H, the plan is to begin welcoming existing open source-related organisations into an affiliate programme, staring with non-profit open source foundations (hopefully by OSCON), followed by for-profit organisations (but not corporations) and government bodies. There will also be a separate Corporate Advisory Board for corporations, and a Personal Affiliate Scheme for individuals.

The exact plan for voting rights and the board election process is still to be decided but a complex arrangement involving an electoral college formed of delegates from groups of affiliates and the OSI’s working groups has been proposed.

The complexity seems to have been born out of two requirements: a desire to ensure that working group participants are not out-numbered by affiliates, and to ensure that the OSI cannot be subverted by any single affiliate (or more specifically corporation) gaining too much power.

Protecting the OSI from subversion is clearly an important goal, although having read the proposal and discussion it does seem to me that this is receiving more attention than is perhaps strictly necessary (as an aside Henrik Ingo has proposed supermajority voting requirements to shield the Open Source Definition from being unnecessarily tinkered with which to my mind provides the security required without associated complexity).

Arguably, a fate equal to the subversion of the OSI would be irrelevance. Rather than assuming that organisations will seek to over-run the OSI, I believe more attention should be being placed on ensuring that organisations will seek to join. The OSI remains well-respected, but I believe that for many of the different constituencies in the open source community it is not entirely clear what it is that the OSI contributes beyond its traditional role of protecting the Open Source Definition and approving associated licenses.

During the launch presentation Simon Phipps made a good case for the increasing relevance of the OSI (such as its involvement in the investigation of the sale of Novell’s patents to CPTN) but the launch was very sparsely attended, even taking into account the business-focused audience and the fact that it was a late addition to schedule, and media attention for the membership plan has been thin on the ground.

For those already involved in the OSI its importance is self-evident. It is those outside that need to be brought in, however, and I know there are some that will need persuading that the OSI remains relevant if they are to give their time – and also their money – to join.

The expanded membership scheme is likely to require full-time staff that will need to be paid for, and it seems likely that the OSI will need to raise funds either through the affiliate schemes or corporate advisory board.

Deciding the nature and involvement of that Corporate Advisory Board is something that hasn’t been addressed as yet and could pose a significant challenge as different people will have different perspectives about what business entities and strategies are considered acceptable in relation to open source.

For example, during the opening remarks at the OSBC presentation Simon Phipps made reference to companies with “dubious” business strategies attempting to “game” open source.

While I am sure Simon was expressing his own views, rather than those of the OSI, he is clearly not the only person involved in this process with that perspective (hence the concern about subversion).

To be clear, there was no direct suggestion that such companies would not be welcome, but if the new OSI is to “build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community” it will be important to avoid any comments that could be seen to be discriminatory.

Open source means different things to different organisations, such that opening up the membership of the OSI was always going to be a complicated process. The plans for the affiliate programme are well thought out (if arguably overly complex) and it is understandable that corporate involvement has been set aside until the end of the year.

Previous attempts to create a membership/affiliate scheme have floundered, so the OSI board is to be congratulated in its progress so far. Anyone interested in joining the process should start with the slides which include the relevant links and contact details.

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.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.05.13

Topics for this podcast:

*Watching for possible devops deals
*New technology, offerings highlight Hadoop
*Oracle proposes Hudson as Eclipse project
*Red Hat’s latest IaaS and PaaS
*Defining open source
*Big changes in the Linux and open source landscape
*451 Group at OSBC 2011 in San Francisco

iTunes or direct download (36:17, 6.2MB)

Time for a new open source definition?

Andrew C Oliver recently wrote “I think most know by now that a license is insufficient to make something actually open source.”

What makes this fascinating is that it involves a director of the Open Source Initiative – the stewards of the Open Source Definition – stating that the Open Source Definition is not enough to define software as open source.

There is nothing surprising in this statement for anyone who has been following open source for some time, however. Over recent years we have observed a growing tendency among some open source advocates to define open source beyond the software license.

Another recent example comes from Greylock partner and former Mozilla CEO John Lilly: “The open source world should not let Android redefine it to mean ‘publishes the source code.’ That’s a different thing,” he stated with reference to Andy Rubin’s attempt to explain Android’s openness.

But who is doing the redefining here?

Nothing is black and white when it comes to open source except source code availability and the license: either the source code is available or it isn’t (which means that Honeycomb is not open source), and either the license meets the Open Source Definition, and is approved by the OSI, or it doesn’t.

Everything else – such as the development methodology, the release cycle, copyright ownership, or the associated product licensing and revenue strategy – can be placed somewhere on a spectrum made up of various shades of grey.

It is true to say that the vendors and users adopting software from one end of that spectrum enjoy more of the benefits associated with open source but that doesn’t mean that the software at the other end of the spectrum isn’t open source.

When a person or company ‘publishes the source code’ (using an appropriate license) it *is* open source, and always has been. If that is considered insufficient to make something open source then perhaps the time has for a new open source definition.

UPDATE – Just to be absolutely clear, I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with the Open Source Definition. What I am suggesting is that if you are trying to define open source using something other than the Open Source Definition, then you need another definition of open source – UPDATE

451 CAOS Links 2011.04.08

Facebook open-sources its hardware. Google maintains commitment to open source. And more.

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

# Facebook launched the Open Compute Project, publishing the technical specs of its servers and data centers.

# Google responded to criticism of Android strategy, reiterates commitment to open source.

# The Linux Foundation announced its high availability working group and Carrier Grade Linux 5.0 spec.

# The Linux Foundation also announced the Yocto project steering group and release 1.0.

# Alfresco added 470 new enterprise customers and achieved operating profitability in 2010.

# Cloudera appointed Kirk Dunn chief operating officer.

# The Open Source Initiative provided an update on its opposition to CPTN’s purchase of Novell’s patents.

# Introducing FlumeBase, a database-inspired stream processing system built on Cloudera Flume.

# Nuxeo released a BIRT integration package for its Nuxeo ECM applications.

# The Project Harmony website is now live at

# Yubico and ForgeRock partnered on secure and open source cloud single sign-on.

# Lucid Imagination announced the general availability of LucidWorks Enterprise 1.7.

# The GNOME Desktop project released GNOME 3.0.

# Jim Zemlin said bashing Microsoft is like kicking a puppy.

451 CAOS Links 2011.04.01

James Gosling joins Google. UK Govt tries again at an OSS strategy. And more.

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

# James Gosling joined Google.

# The UK Government published a (nother) new OSS-friendly ICT strategy.

# Savio Rodrigues argued that openness is irrelevant to Android’s growth.

# Collaborative Software Initiative raised $3.7m in new capital investment.

# (Most of) the Symbian source code is now available to partners.

# Likewise claimed 100,000 users of Likewise Open.

# Sauce Labs introduced the Sauce Builder testing tool for Selenium.

# ObjectLabs’ MongoLab hosted MongoDB is now available on Rackspace Cloud.

# Roberto Galoppini shared his thoughts on the potential evolution of the Open Source Initiative.

# Google’s Chris DiBona explained why the company bans the internal use of the AGPL.

# Hive gets production polish.

# Infobright partnered with Zend to improve analytics performance for PHP applications.

# Red Hat CEO said business intelligence is high on acquisition list.

# The Swiss Federal Supreme Court rejected OSS vendors’ appeal against Microsoft contract win.

# Digital Reasoning combined Cloudera’s Distribution for Hadoop with HBase (and a lot more) in Synthesys 3.1.

# Matt Asay explained why Red Hat will likely be the only pure OSS player to reach $1bn in revenue.

# Platform Computing announced its support for Apache Hadoop.

# Alfresco partnered with Jive Software and consulting partner, SolutionSet to deliver an Alfresco-Jive connector.

# Terracotta updated its Quartz job scheduler software.

# Jaspersoft updated its data integration capabilities and enhanced its partnership with Talend.

# Bob Sutor discussed the importance of trust in building and maintaining community.

# Informatica CEO Sohaib Abbasi is joining Red Hat’s board of directors, along with Dr. Steve Albrecht.

# The OpenNebula Project updated its open source cloud platform to version 2.2.

# Ravel Data is planning an open source implementation of Google’s Pregel distributed graph database.

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.

# 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 2011.01.04

Red Hat Q3 results. OSI calls for investigation of Novell patent sale. MPL 2.0. And more.

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

# Red Hat reported third quarter revenue of $236m, up 21% year on year, and net income of $26m, compared to $16.4m a year ago.

# The Open Source Initiative asked the German Federal Cartel Office to investigate the sale of Novell’s patents to CPTN.

# The Mozilla Foundation began beta testing version 2.0 of the Mozilla Public License.

# published a Q&A with Jeff Hawn, chairman and CEO of Attachmate by Jos Poortvliet, openSUSE Community Manager at Novell.

# NetworkWorld reported that most Android tablets fail at GPL compliance.

# Monty Program released the first public draft of its MariaDB trademark policy.

# Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reportedly ordered government agencies to move to open source software by 2015.

# WANdisco announced plans to overhaul the Subversion project, prompting a slap on the wrists from the Apache Software Foundation

# Both The Document Foundation and KDE joined the Open Invention Network.

# Oracle released version 4,0 of its Oracle VM VirtualBox virtualization software.

# Dries Buytaert shared his perspective on the year gone by for both Drupal, and Acquia. The latter grew by more than 400% and went from 35 to 80 full-time employees.

# Digium announced that Switchvox, its Asterisk-based VoIP unified communications offering for small- to mid-sized businesses, grew more than 30% in 2010.

# CollabNet updated its CollabNet Lab Management cloud-based server provisioning and profile management offering to version 2.3.

# Erwin Tenhumberg published an overview of open source at SAP in 2010.

# Ingres claimed “substantial year on year growth” in 2010.

# The Outercurve Foundation accepted the ConferenceXP project into its Research Accelerators Gallery.

# Canonical and the Ubuntu project released the Ubuntu Font Family.

Open core is not a crime

One of the reasons I described the current debate about open core as futile is that there seems to be no hope of it ever reaching conclusion. This is partly because, as Stephen O’Grady notes, the anti-open core brigade have not put forward any potential remedies. Stephen argues that this is because there are no potential remedies. I would go further in arguing that there is, in fact, nothing to remedy.

The vendor controlled open core model sees a vendor offering an open source core project a license approved by the Open Source Initiative, as well as using dual licensing to offer a proprietary version, which also has additional features and functionality, that is not open source.

Simon Phipps has articulated why this strategy does not meet the approval of software freedom advocates, but in doing so, in my opinion, mischaracterises the relationship between vendors with open core strategies and open source.

The description of open core as exploiting loopholes in the system suggests that vendors with open core strategies are deliberately bending the Open Source Definition. However, as we have noted before, the OSD applies only to the license of the underlying code, and does nothing to prevent dual licensing or proprietary extensions.

Simon Phipps has claimed that the “OSI can and will challenge use of “open source” in relation to closed strategies” but so far has offered no response to the obvious question that is prompted by this statement.

Simon also argues that vendors with open core strategies “wrap themselves in the open source flag”. The accusation is that by referring to themselves as “open source vendors” they are misleading world-be users. This is a potentially fair criticism, but it is one that in my experience most vendors with open core strategies have rectified.

As we found with last year’s open core transparency test, most vendors have improved their communication in order to avoid confusion (which is in their own best interests).

Additionally, the core software is open source, and available under an OSI-approved license, and the users retain all the freedoms that are associated with that.

While I fully appreciate why software freedom advocates are uncomfortable with vendors that offer any proprietary software referring themselves as “open source vendors”, I do not believe that there is anything they can do about it for the same reasons noted above. This is why this debate continues ad nauseum. The fact that open core opponents seem strangely unwilling to name and shame the vendors they see as gaming the system doesn’t help matters.

Another of the misconceptions about open core is that something – be it code or freedom – is being taken away from users. It is this assumption that led Henrik Ingo to compare it to theft.

“We don’t approve of stealing, and there are several measures against stealing, in particular laws and criminal punishments. Yet, from this it doesn’t follow that stealing is only a crime if you get caught! So if you put closed source modules into your open source product, and nobody notices, then you’re still not open source.”

UPDATE – As can be seen in the comments below Henrik denies that he was comparing open core to theft, noting that he was “using theft and society’s punishment against it as an analogue, to criticise Mårten’s use of “self adjusting system” as a blanket permission to do anything he wants. But nowhere did I explicitly or implicitly say that open core is comparable to stealing.” He later added, however, that “theft goes against the values of our society, whereas open core goes against the values of the open source community” – UPDATE

This comparison is incorrect on the one hand because open core does not involve putting closed source modules into open source, and on the other because adding closed source extensions to the core does not take anything away from the open source user.

They still have the core. They are still free to run the core, to modify it, to distribute it, and to extend it. They are still free, in fact, to fork it and to replicate the vendor’s closed source extensions. They still have all their software freedoms.

It is true to say, however, that certain features are being witheld from them. The fear is that open core prompts the vendor to produce a deliberately crippled core in order to drive users to its proprietary version, but that would be completely self-defeating.

As we previously noted, “There is no point trying to compel community users to become customers by providing them with substandard software and waving an enterprise version at them. It won’t build a community, and it won’t build brand. That is neither the best, nor the right way to generate revenue from open source.” Some vendors have tried that approach. They didn’t last long.

That all being said, I appreciate why advocates of software freedom are wary of open core. It does perpetuate proprietary software licensing, and it does so via open source. But that does not make it a crime. And a considerable amount of code has been contributed to the commons by vendors with open core strategies. Meanwhile even those that would wish to do something to remedy the situation are without the means to do so. Hence the endless and futile debate.

So what is to be done? I find it somewhat ironic that while some software freedom advocates are demonising open core they are also promoting David Wiley’s excellent recent post calling for more tolerance of others.

With that in mind, I will leave the last word on this matter to David:

“If someone has gone out of their way to waive some of the rights guaranteed them under the law so that they can share their creative works – even if that action is to apply a relatively restrictive CC BY-NC-ND to their content – why aren’t we praising that? Why aren’t we encouraging and cultivating and nurturing that? Why are we instead decreeing from a pretended throne on high, “Your licensing decision has been weighed in the balance, and has been found wanting. You are not deemed worthy.” Why the condescension? Why the closed-mindedness? Why the race to create machinery like definitions that give us the self-assumed authority to tell someone their sharing isn’t good enough? Why isn’t the open crowd more open-minded?”

451 CAOS Links 2010.06.15

Your chance to change the OSI. Funding for Appcelerator. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Simon Phipps discussed the need and opportunity to change the Open Source Initiative.

# Appcelerator raised $2.1 million in new equity funding.

# Azul Systems launched the Managed Runtime Initiative, including enhancements to OpenJDK and Linux.

# Perspectives on the $1bn open source vendor debate from Matt Asay and Dana Blankenhorn (Our take: Why there are no billion-dollar open source companies).

# eXo Platform released eXo Web Content Management 2.0, bundled with GateIn 3.0 and Tomcat 6.0.

# Bob Young discussed the evolution of Red Hat and Lulu with the BBC.

# ForgeRock announced a joint development agreement with Open Source Solution Technology (OSSTech) for OpenAM.

# Nokia clarified the roadmap for the Qt SDK and issued the release candidate of version 1.0.

# Richard Fontana described the new contributor agreement for Fedora.

# TechCrunch reported that Twilio has released OpenVBX, an open source call routing service for businesses.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2010.05.28

Topics for this podcast:

*Licensing buzzes with Google, OSI, virtualization and the cloud
*Open source barometer Black Duck sees growth in mobile, healthcare, government
*New life for LinuxCare shows renewed vigor for Linux in clouds
*Apache Hadoop support old and new with IBM, Datameer

iTunes or direct download (27:13, 7.5MB)

451 CAOS Links 2010.05.28

Novell Linux revenue down in Q2. The FSF turns its attention to App Store. Google vs the OSI. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Novell reported Q2 Linux revenue down 4.1% YoY to $35m and open platform revenue down 4.8% to $37m. Total revenue down 5.4% to $204m. Novell’s Linux revenue was heavily impacted by discounts on Microsoft deals. Excluding that, Linux invoicing would have been up 46%.

# The FSF turned its GPL enforcement attention to Apple’s App Store, later shared more details on its complaint.

# Savio Rodrigues discussed the implications of Google’s WebM license on open source selection. The 451 CAOS Theory take, Google demands more openness from the Open Source Initiative, is here.

# Joe Brockmeier published the Spring 2010 Linux Distro Scorecard (parts one and two).

# The 451 Group’s Brenon Daly provided an update on potential bids for Novell.

# Former Red Hat CEO, Matthew Szulik, is also stepping down from his role as chairman.

# Alfresco released Enterprise Edition 3.3, including content services for Lotus, Outlook, Google Docs and Drupal.

# Version 1.0 of the MeeGo Linux distribution for netbooks is now available.

# GroundWork launched a new Quickstart Virtual Appliance based on CentOS.

# Canonical updated its Landscape systems management tool for Ubuntu.

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.

451 CAOS Links 2010.05.25

What’s missing from WebM? VoltDB launches. The importance of profitability. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

# Simon Phipps examined what’s missing from WebM, from an open source perspective.

# Mike Stonebraker’s VoltDB officially launched its open source in-memory OLTP database.

# Jim Whitehurst argued that one of Red Hat’s most valuable contributions to open source is its profitability.

# Infobright appointed former Aleri CEO Don DeLoach as its new president and chief executive.

# Monty Program launched an Unlimited support offering for a company’s entire MySQL/MariaDB estate.

# Red Hat has announced the availability of Fedora 13.

# Terracotta claimed 100 customers have upgraded to the enterprise edition of Ehcache in the last 10 months.

# Stéphane Croisier discussed the future of open source CMS, and the future of open core.

# Pogo Linux released a new line of StorageDirector Z2 Foundation and StorageDirector Z2 HA Cluster products.

# Couchio started testing a hosted CouchDB service.

# A group of implementers of the open source ERP application ADempiere formed ADempiere Business Consultants.

# Simon Phipps argued the case for the continuing relevance of the Open Source Initiative.

# Red Hat’s Paul Cormier disputed Oracle’s open source credentials.

# BitTorrent released an open source implementation of its µTP protocol.

# Microsoft released two new open source projects for interoperability with Outlook.

# Carlo Daffara discussed the limited potential in trying to convert open source users into paying customers.

# When should you use Hadoop? Cloudera’s Jeff Bean offered some suggestions.

# Andrew Oliver argued that for Microsoft, open source means “Windows Encumbered” although without examples.

# While Mark Stone argued in favor of constructive engagement between open source and Microsoft.

# ibatis has become MyBatis and moved from Apache to Google Code.

# Who will build the LAMP cloud? Or does cloud computing need LAMP?

# CIO Update reported on Red Hat’s plans to commercialize deltaCloud.

# Linux trading system to save London Stock Exchange £10m a year, Computerworld reported.

Is it time to rethink the open source license approval process?

Is Google’s WebM open source or not? And why (or more to the point, how) did it take the OSI nearly five months to approve the PostgreSQL license?

Open Source Initiative board member, Simon Phipps, declared on Monday that Google’s WebM project “is not currently open source”. It was a statement based on the fact that the license used for WebM is not currently approved by the Open Source Initiative as being compliant with the Open Source Definition.

The choice of language was unfortunate though. Had Simon written that WebM “does not currently use an OSI-approved license” then the statement would have been unarguably true. Declaring that the license is “not… open source” prompted predictable disagreement.

“OSI does not have a trademark on the term “open source”. It is not OSI-approved, but it is open source by anybody else’s definition,” commented one anonymous respondent, while David Gerard noted that “the rather more active FSF considers it free software”.

I’m not interested in continuing the debates about whether the OSI should be considered the ultimate arbiter of “open source” (as opposed to OSI-approved), or the FSF vs OSI, or whether WebM is officially open source (see Bruce Perens’ comment below for clarification on that). What concerns me is the ongoing open source licensing no man’s land that encourages these debates in the first place.

Another OSI board member, Andrew Oliver recently stated that when it comes to judging software “Either it is open source or not.” This ought to be true, but the WebM example proves that it is not. There is a no man’s land in which the software might be open source, but we have to wait for the license to be submitted to and approved by the OSI before we can know for sure.

The WebM license has been submitted to the OSI’s license review mailing list, not by Google but by Bruce Perens, who noted that he plans to issue a derivative work based on WebM, but – besides – “it’s in the community’s interest to review it”.

With any luck then there should be a definitive decision on the WebM license sooner rather than later. But maybe later. A look at the license review mailing list reveals one submitter has been waiting six months for official confirmation of OSI approval. And he’s not the only one waiting for a response.

(Update – Most definitely it will be later – Google has asked the Open Source Initiative to delay consideration of Google’s WebM license, and in doing so has called on the OSI to be more open)

I fully understand why the approval process is designed to weed out vanity licenses and discourage license proliferation*, but it took nearly five months from the submission of the PostgreSQL license to its eventual approval.

Today Simon has made the case for why the world still needs the OSI, and I agree with him that it retains an important role in the open source ecosystem (which is why we were concerned by its recent organisational problems) but would argue that the process of license approval needs to be overhauled.

Simon argues that it would be great to see more of the older and (in hindsight) unsuitable licenses retired. It would, but it would also be great if the OSI made the process of selecting an approved license easier, and the process of license approval quicker.

The Report of the License Proliferation Committee, which was approved by the OSI board in 2006, highlighted an open source license wizard project underway at USC law school and San Francisco State engineering department and stated its hope “being able to generate a list of existing licenses that meet defined goals will lessen the need for people to create their own new licenses”.

I’m not sure what ever happened to that wizard project, but it sounds a lot like the Creative Commons license selector. (As an aside I remembering discussing a similar idea with another OSI board member, Martin Michlmayr, during the Open Source Think Tank in Paris and he mentioned proposing it to the OSI board).

I previously argued that web-based tools also have the potential to make the process more fluid and involve others in the approval process. It seems to me that in a world where Digg and IdeaStorm already seem old, taking almost five months to approve a license in use for 14 years by one of the most popular open source projects in the world is absurd and completely unjustifiable.

*Although I’m not convinced that license proliferation is the threat it once was, see this post for an explanation.

CAOS Theory Podcast 2009.10.16

Topics for this podcast:

*Our take on Q3 and current funding for open source
*OSI part of renewed definition discussion, status suspended
*Our latest special report – Warehouse Optimization
*Get ready for The 451 Group’s 4th Annual Client Conference

iTunes or direct download (23:21, 5.3 MB)

Approving and disapproving open source business strategies. Yes or no?

Simon Phipps has begun a conversation designed ultimately “to devise some sort of a Software Freedom Definition which articulates a holistic vision of software freedom against which businesses can be benchmarked.”

To put it another way, this is an attempt to create a definition of “open source vendor”. We have discussed this issue before, and I have expressed our willingness to help out if we can.

At the same time, if I am honest, I am in two minds about whether this is a valuable exercise, and I think it is worth considering why we should want to do this, as well as how. The question, to me, is: should the OSI (or any other body for that matter) be approving open source development and business strategies?

Any attempt to approve certain business practices is, by definition, also going to involve disapproving of certain business practices. I would question whether doing so is counter to one of the reasons for the creation of the open source movement – specifically, as Eric Raymond explained there was: “a pragmatic interest in converting these people [corporate types] rather than thumbing our noses at them”. To put it another way, the plan to approve certain business practices is, ‘a bit free software’ for my liking (and that, I am aware, is precisely the point for some involved in this – returning the conversation to software freedom). I would agree with Jason Perlow, who wrote this week, that the open source movement should “continue as a culture of inclusion and.. not be the arbiter of behavior or demonize those who cannot yet or refuse to join us”.

The open source movement is made up of many differing views and debates about freedom and openness are an important part of a lively ecosystem. At the same time, these debates are confusing for outsiders and do not present a good image of open source, especially when they result in ad hominem attacks and name calling. If these debates are inevitable, then I believe that it is better that they are focused and have a chance of generating in a meaningful result. The conversation that Simon is starting would appear to offer both that focus, and have a chance of producing a meaningful result (although it will not be easy – the phrase ‘can of worms’ springs to mind). Also, from a purely selfish practical perspective, sometimes in the course of our CAOS research we do want to draw a line around which vendors we want to consider “open source vendors” for particular research (such as measuring venture capital investment in open source vendors). I would much rather we were able to use scorecard that had been agreed industry-wide than our own definition.

Clearly, since I have expressed our willingness to help this scorecard process the positive aspects of this exercise outweigh the negative aspects in my mind. However I do think it is important to approach this effort in a spirit of inclusion, rather than exclusion, and to make an effort to explain why the approved business practices are seen as beneficial in terms of both software freedom and commercial interests.

The Open Source Initiative’s corporate status is suspended: a CAOS Theory Q&A

UPDATE – The OSI’s status was in early 2010 restored to “Active”, per the California State website – UPDATE

The ability of the Open Source Initiative to steward the Open Source Definition and police the use of the term open source as it relates to software is in doubt following the confirmation that the corporate status of the non-profit company has been suspended in California. What does it all mean?

The OSI’s corporate status is suspended?
According to the website of California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, yes.

When did this happen?
We’re not sure at this stage. We were alerted to the news via a comment left by Thomas Lord on the Simon Phipps’ blog. Wikipedia indicates that the status has been suspended since at least September 2, 2009.

How did this happen?
Thomas Lord has claimed to be at least partially responsible, having filed a compliant with the state attorney general office following a dispute with the OSI board. See his comment below.

What does the Open Source Initiative have to say about it?
We asked OSI president, Michael Tiemann, and general counsel, Mark Radcliffe, a number of questions related to the suspension. We received the following response from Michael:

“Like many non profits that are staffed by volunteers we have not always gotten our paperwork into the state on time. We have been working with our counsel and accountants to satisfy the state’s requirements for several months, but have not been able to make the submissions as swiftly as the state wanted. Consequently, they have suspended our corporate status. We are working hard to satisfy their requirements and anticipate that we will be able to do so in the near term. Since OSI does not conduct business in a conventional manner, i.e. we are not selling products, we believe that the suspension will have a minimal effect on our mission.”

That doesn’t sound so bad.
No, it doesn’t. With respect, however, we believe the situation is more serious than that statement suggests.

How so?
Regardless of whether the OSI sells products in a conventional manner, the suspension appears to legally prevent the OSI from actively going about its business of approving licenses and stewarding the Open Source Definition.

According to the State of California’s Franchise Tax Board website:

“Suspension or forfeiture affects a business in many ways:
• The business loses its rights, powers, and privileges to conduct business in California.
• The business loses the right to use its business name in California. In turn, another business could register with the suspended or forfeited business’ name, and the name would then belong to the other business.
• The business cannot initiate lawsuits, defend itself against lawsuits, or enforce its legal contracts. But other parties can enforce their terms in these contracts.
• If the business enters contracts while suspended or forfeited, it can never enforce those contracts unless it obtains relief of contract voidability.
• Suspensions and forfeitures are public information.
• The business loses the right to get an extension to file a tax return.”

So the Open Source Initiative could lose it name?
Yes it would appear so. In fact, it may already have done. If that were the case we believe it would impact the OSI’s ability to enforce its trademarks related to “OSI”, “Open Source Initiative”, and the OSI logo.

What about the open source trademark?
There isn’t one (for an explanation of why, see this 1999 announcement by Eric Raymond). The OSI does not have any trademark related to the term “open source”. However, the respect in which the OSI is held, combined with the trademarks that it does hold, has enabled the OSI to discourage the use of the term “open source” with software that does not use OSI-approved licenses. Since the the corporate status of the OSI is suspended its ability to do so in the future is in doubt.

What does this mean for open source?

It means that the organisation responsible for stewarding the Open Source Definition and approving open source licenses is not currently legally allowed to operate in the state of California, or defend itself against legal claims, and may lose its name. Beyond that, we do not know at this stage.

Why is The 451 Group making this information public?
As noted above, suspensions and forfeitures are public information and the bare facts are already available.

We are concerned about the impact that the suspension of the Open Source Initiative could have on open source developers, users, projects, and associated investors and vendors. The 451 Group has clients in all of the above categories so we believe it is appropriate to inform them of the suspension of the Open Source Initiative’s legal status and how it might impact them. We are in the process of creating a formal analysis of the situation for 451 Group clients.

We also believe that the potential impact is significant enough that, while the bare facts are already public, the issue deserves to be brought to the attention of the wider open source community. We will let the members of that community come to their own conclusions about what it means to them.

How can a company be suspended in California?
According to the website of California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen, a Californian company can be suspended:

“1) by the Franchise Tax Board for failure to file a return and/or failure to pay taxes, penalties, or interest; and/or 2) by the Secretary of State for failure to file the required Statement of Information and, if applicable, the required Statement by Common Interest Development Association.”

It is not clear which body suspended the OSI.

Can the company be revived?
Yes, if it was suspended by the Secretary of State then it must file a current Statement of Information.

If it was suspended by the Franchise Tax Board then it must:

“File any delinquent tax returns. Pay any delinquent tax balance, including penalties, fees, and interest. File a revivor request form.”

If it was suspended by both it must:

“first file a current Statement of Information with the Secretary of State and obtain a letter of proposed relief from suspension or forfeiture. Upon receipt of the proposed relief letter from the Secretary of State, the business entity should complete an Application for Certificate of Revivor (Form FTB 3557) and submit the application along with a copy of the proposed relief letter to the Franchise Tax Board.”

451 CAOS Links 2009.10.06

Patents. M&A. Adoption. Business strategies. And more.

Follow 451 CAOS Links live @caostheory on Twitter and
“Tracking the open source news wires, so you don’t have to.”

This bumper edition of 451 CAOS Links is brought to you courtesy of the Open World Forum’s temperamental wireless connection.

# Red Hat urged the Supreme Court to to make clear that it excludes software from patentability, while the SFLC and the FSF also filed briefs with the US Supreme Court arguing against software patents.

Investment and M&A
# The WSJ reported that EC document suggests Oracle intends to keep MySQL to compete against Microsoft, prompting Matt Asay to report that Oracle’s interest in MySQL has been misread.

# The OW2 Consortium and the Open Solutions Alliance have merged.

# Pentaho acquired LucidEra’s Clearview, will be packaged as Pentaho Analyzer Enterprise Edition, while Julian Hyde explained how it will fit into Pentaho’s business model.

# Intalio raised $1.5 million in equity and debt.

# Ruby-on-Rails startup FiveRuns has been acquired by WorkThink.

# OpenLogic explored what has happened to OpenProj following its acquisition by Serena Software. Its questioning had the desired effect.

# Benchmark Capital hired former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos as an Entrepreneur in Residence.

# The London Stock Exchange confirmed that it will replace its TradElect platform with a Linux-based alternative.

# The European Parliament selected Mule ESB as the backbone for its service-oriented architecture (SOA).

# BT and Unisys implemented the Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite to support their Statistical Data Warehouse.

# Portland has unanimously approved a resolution to open governmentt data and encourage the use of OSS.

# Peru’s Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation is now using Red Hat, Alfresco and Zimbra.

# A survey indicated that 96% of French public sector agencies are using open source.

Business strategies

# Truth in labelling: Simon Phipps called for OSI definitions for development and business models.

# John Mark Walker asked Open-Core or open snore?

# The real issue is who controls your software. Good, reasoned argument by Carlo Daffara.

# Tarus Balog weighed in on the free/open source victory debate.

# James Dixon published Misunderstanding open source #3: applying ‘Free Software’ religion to open source business models.

# Eric Barroca explained why open source platforms are likely to succeed against proprietary platforms.

Products and services

# Cloudera launched Cloudera Desktop including a monitoring client for Hadoop applications, while GigaOM asked, Is Hadoop champion Cloudera the next Red Hat?

# Funambol launched version 8 of its mobile sync and email software, including new Ajax MyFUNAMBOL portal, while Roberto Galoppini reported on how Funambol is walking a tightrope with its new proprietary approach.

# Pentaho extended its unlimited usage deal for start-ups to its entire BI suite.

# Talend updated Talend On Demand, its SaaS data integration platform.

# Untangle updated its Internet security technology to version 7.0.

# Zmanda released version 2.0 of its Zmanda Cloud Backup (ZCB) product as well as aversion compliant with the EU Data Protection Directive.

# Open-Xchange released OXtender for Business Mobility, which connects with Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Nokia, Windows Mobile devices.

# Yahoo’s Zimbra division launched Zimbra Collaboration Suite (ZCS) 6.0.

# Microsoft Research unveiled a snapshot of Barrelfish, its multi-core operating system, under the BSD license.

# AMD and Pixelux announced a joint development agreement around the open source Bullet Physics engine.

# Objectivity launched an open source developer network to dive interest in Objectivity/DB.

# The New York Times will release the next version of its Document Viewer under an open source license.

# Six Apart opened up TypePad API, launches TypePad Motion microblogging application.

# Andy Updegrove took a second, glass-half full, look at the Codeplex Foundation.

# Cyanogen developer, Steve Kondik, declared himself sympathetic to Google’s position on Android.

# OSS Watch reported that software sustainability is the result of a combination of openness and strong leadership.

# Daniel Chalef reported on how language and cultural diversity is driving open source SI growth in Europe.

# Savio Rodrigues warned against confusing open source with open standards in the context of exit costs.

# The FSF offered a bounty for finding non-free software in free software distributions.

# Somewhat inevitably:

# claimed 1,000 registered members in the first six days.