Bruce Perens is one of the mainstays of Linux and the Open Source movement, but he has never gotten as much publicity as Linus Torvalds, Richard M. Stallman or Eric S. Raymond. His latest project is TECHNOCRAT.NET. He sent in a few notes (hit "Read More" to see them) about what's happening on the Open Source licensing front, an area in which he is one of the World's Leading Experts(tm). Bruce will happily answer questions about Open Source and related software licensing issues. Instead of posting your questions here, please send them to email@example.com. We'll choose the 10 or 12 best ones, forward them to Bruce, and post the answers in a day or two.
When to Stop ComplainingI'm known for complaining, publicly, when I think something's wrong. There's another side to that, though, if you want to be an agent for constructive change and be taken seriously. When people fix what you are complaining about, you can't just keep complaining, you have a choice of shutting up or saying something nice. So, it's time to say something nice about two huge companies.
Good News From IBMA while ago, I publicly complained about IBM's termination clause in their original Jikes license. Lots of people read my complaint and made it clear they felt the same way, and IBM noticed. An IBM product manager and attorney contacted me, they fixed their license, they released the license for public criticism, and they put the new license on Jikes and PostFix (IBM Secure Mailer). IBM is referred to as the 600-pound-gorilla of the computer industry, but in this case they were an extremely polite and accommodating 600-pound-gorilla that did the right thing for the community. They should be praised for that. I like their new license so much that I'm going to use PostFix as the mail-delivery agent on my own system. I've been using qmail, but its license isn't really compliant with the Open Source Definition so it's time to switch.
Apple, TooThe Debian developers and I publicly complained about the original Apple Public Source license. Again, lots of people read our complaint and helped get the message across to Apple. The press and even some Open Source pundits handled our complaints very poorly, treating them as an "attack" rather than the constructive criticism we meant. Apple, however, handled our criticism extremely well. They addressed our complaints in the APSL version 1.1 . Again, a big company that should be praised for doing the right thing for the community.
Other CompaniesLots of other companies have recently come out with software that complies with the Open Source Definition. They all seem to be taking an OSD-compliant license quite seriously as a prerequisite for community participation in their projects, and many companies are contacting me for a reality-check before they release their licenses for public criticism. I've been able to save a few of them from embarassing gaffes. I'm currently working with several really big companies on OSD-compliant licenses.