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How Open Does Open Source Need to be?

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the there's-no-pleasing-some-people dept.

147

mjhuot writes "Doug MacEachern, CTO of Hyperic and creator of mod_perl, responds to criticism by Tarus Balog, a maintainer of OpenNMS, that his company's recent open source announcement is nothing but a marketing ploy. It is starting the debate on whether or not just releasing some code qualifies an application as 'open source.'"

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Wine (-1, Offtopic)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540322)

Wine is good.

Re:Wine (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540521)

> Wine is good.

So is beer [voresoel.dk] . (It's not free beer as in free beer, but beer as in Free beer!)

Re:Wine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15540744)

How much open would open source be if open source could be open?

Open source would be as open as open source could be if open source could be open.

Use Free Software instead (4, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540358)

Open source means you can read the source, much like an "open book exam" means you can read the book. The correct term for software that belongs to the community is Free Software. With Free Software, you are guarenteed to have the four fundamental software freedoms. With "Open Source", there is no such guarentee.

By my definition, even Windows is Open Source. In principle, I can view the source code to Windows. It's difficult and I have to sign a whole bunch of documents but I could do it with sufficient patience. This is why I don't like Open Source as a term; it is far too misleading. In fact, it doesn't actually mean anything other than the fact there is a mechanism by which you can see the source code that doesn't involve getting a court-order.

In contrast, the term Free Software has a very precise meaning and really should be trade-marked by the FSF. Then the FSF could only issue licenses to se the trade-mark where the software is licensed that protects the four freedoms. This way, companies couldn't profit from the name unless they labelled their products correctly.

Simon

Re:Use Free Software instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15540422)

I would at least the caveat that with open source you should at least be able to compile and install the software. You can view parts of the windows code, but you cannot get an entire system which you could build yourself. Its certainly not free, and I would not call it open source either.

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

xarak (458209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540496)

Wouldn't copylefting it be better?

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15542098)

Depends on whether you made the software to further free software and want to see it develop in the open domain or out of pure altruism. In the former case you'd use a no-closed-source-derivatives license like the GPL, in the latter you'll use BSD or a similar "do what you want shall be the only law" license and allow everyone to benefit from your code, no matter who they may be or what their goal is.

Re:Use Free Software instead (3)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540501)

If you have to sign documents then it is not "Open". It might be available, but not Open. In technology Open means that it is made freely available for all to see. Such as ISO. Any standard that is published with ISO is concerned Open. Unless anyone can take the Windows source freely, it is not Open.

Re:Use Free Software instead (2, Informative)

brcha (803546) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541443)

> Such as ISO.

Have you ever read any "Open" document from the ISO? Please do try to do so and you will see that to read that "open" document you have to pay about 100 chf (~ 65 eur or 80 usd).

Of course, you can read most of them by downloading them with your favorite .torrent (or emule) client. It is very likely that nobody will sue you for doing so, but still it doesn't make it legal.

Free Software if Free Software
Open Source is proprietary name for quasi free software and it is a name made up by proprietary companies in order to destroy the real free software. If you don't believe me, go and ask RMS. He'll be happy to inform you about that.

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541700)

I can use ISO 9660 completely for free. It is an Open standard and I do not have to pay to use it. Can't you use ISO 9660 just as freely as I can?

Having a membership fee to support the organization is a bit different than M$'s lawyer's determining you aren't a hostile threat to them.

Re:Use Free Software instead (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540523)

Open Source is basically FSF-lite and was invented to make the whole Free Software thing more palatable to businesses. Unfortunately, as with many things made more appealing to business, the actual ideals of Free Software were utterly lost in the process.

Free Software is about sharing. Open Source is about curiosity. I can do what I want with a truly Free piece of software, including repackaging and selling it. With Open Source, all I usually get to do is look at the code (curiosity), and if I see anything I want to fix, I usually have to give my fix back to the original owner.

The power of Free Software is the idea of community development. When you force everyone into restrictive licenses to see your code, you are not only missing the point, but you're losing the single biggest advantage in opening your source code in the first place. At that point, it becomes a marketing scheme and nothing more.

Unfortunately, most software companies are built around Intellectual Property. Trying to sell an idea to them whose central tenet is giving that Intellectual Property away without a lot of restrictive licenses is not going to get very far. So, in order to placate them, we come up with this Open Source idea, which may win the battle but loses the war.

Re:Use Free Software instead (2, Informative)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540816)

With Open Source, all I usually get to do is look at the code

Open source doesn't just mean access to the source code. -- From the Open-Source definition [opensource.org] .

The difference between Free Software and Open Source is a matter of philosophy and intended goals. The difference between Free Software and Open Source is not what you are permitted to do with the software. Open Source Software is just as redistributable and forkable as Free Software.

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540853)

I would have to say that every software company is based around Intellectual property. First there's knowledge of the code, and then there's the knowledge how to support and use the sotware. That is all any of these companies have. If Google open sourced all their code, how long would it take because some other company (MS perhaps), bought a bunch of servers, and started hosting a search engine that worked just as well as Google's. How long after MS open sourced (for real) their Windows code, would somebody come and start selling (or giving away) a completely compatible OS. This would significantly hurt their bottom line. Maybe businesses would still buy windows for accountability and support, but most home users don't get much accountability and support right now with windows, so why would they pay for it?

Use Free Software instead-Rewards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15541073)

"I would have to say that every software company is based around Intellectual property."

The world is based around a rewards system. Businesses are. Open source is. Even charities. True alturism (no rewards, not even a warm feeling) are as rare as utopias. A simple point quickly forgotten in the push to get what's ones "due".

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

ElleyKitten (715519) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541317)

Red Hat and Mozilla and other free/open source companies still make money, even though anyone can copy their products.

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

geobeck (924637) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540579)

In contrast, the term Free Software has a very precise meaning and really should be trade-marked by the FSF.

Actually, "Free Software" is just as misleading in the vernacular. Just as anyone who doesn't know the technicalities of "Open Source" might assume that they have unrestricted public access to any source code with that label, many people assume that "Free Software" means free as in beer.

"Rights Free" might be a clearer term, or "Freedom Software"... nah, that opens up another can of semantic worms*. "Clear Software" might be better.

*as opposed to Symantec worms.

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540710)

How about "Libre Software?"

(Of course, I just call it "capital-F Free Software," myself -- I make sure to explain what it means so that the person I'm talking to doesn't think it's the same as "freeware.")

Re:Use Free Software instead (2, Insightful)

trentblase (717954) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541181)

Wouldn't that be "Software Libre"? Anyways, I prefer "Open software"

Re:Use Free Software instead (2, Insightful)

sootman (158191) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540635)

The problem with the term 'Free Software' is it's very hard to hear the difference between a capital F and a lowercase f. And the FSF will never, ever get a trademark on 'free software' because there is absolutely no reason not to call zero-cost software 'free'--in English, anyway. If anything, they could go with a term like 'freedomware.'

BTW, you're using the RMS definition of 'Free' but your own definition of 'Open Source.' By picking and choosing which definitions I'm going to use, I could just as easily say that there's lots of free software on download.com but that Windows very much isn't open source. Intentionally adding to the confusion doesn't help.

Re:Use Free Software instead (2, Informative)

replicant108 (690832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540642)

"Open source means you can read the source, much like an "open book exam" means you can read the book... By my definition, even Windows is Open Source."

Actually, the term Open Source has a clear technical definition, which is available on the OSI website:

http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php [opensource.org]

In my opinion it is not as successful a definition as the 'four freedoms' used by the FSF, but Open Source is a less misleading term than Free Software for most people.

For one, it has the advantage of actually sounding like a technical term.

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541598)

So did no one use the term "open source" before the creation of the OSI?

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

bsartist (550317) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540655)

Open source means you can read the source, much like an "open book exam" means you can read the book. The correct term for software that belongs to the community is Free Software.
That's like saying that the correct term for a potato is "carrot". "Open Source" is not an incorrect reference to "Free Software", it refers to a completely different philosophy.

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540726)

There are degrees of openness. Just releasing a DRM'd binary is more open than a purely hosted service. And many GPL projects don't allow anonymous write access to their CVS. "FSF kosher" is extremely open.

The software's openness is governed by its license. We now have several standard licenses defining degrees of openness. I'd like to see one for each possible degree, with a trademarked name and logo (eg OSS-0, OSS-19) backed by tests in court. But we'd also need standard definitions of open projects, not just the software they produce, to be complete. Eventually we'll have them, once openness is the norm, and closedness is the exception.

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

tiocsti (160794) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540862)

Then you'd get into a situation where truly free software (public domain software) could not be called free, interesting indeed...

Copywritten software can never truly be free, true freedom exists only in the public domain.

Use Open Source instead (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541019)

Free Software means you don't have to pay for the software, much like "free beer" means you don't have to pay for the beer.. The correct term for software that belongs to the community is Open Source. With Open Source, you are guarenteed to have the four fundamental software freedoms. With "Free Software", there is no such guarentee.

By my definition, even Windows is Free Software. In principle, I can get Windows for free. It's difficult and I have to sign a whole bunch of documents but I could do it with sufficient patience. This is why I don't like Free Software as a term; it is far too misleading. In fact, it doesn't actually mean anything other than the fact there is a mechanism by which you can get the software for free that doesn't involve getting a court-order.

In contrast, the term Open Source has a very precise meaning and really should be trade-marked by ESR. Then ESR could only issue licenses to se the trade-mark where the software is licensed that protects the four freedoms. This way, companies couldn't profit from the name unless they labelled their products correctly.

Seconded (1)

matt me (850665) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541249)

Open-source is an industry buzzword. It means nothing. They've taken free software, lost our idealogy and the four freedoms, and our now selling it.

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

lys1123 (461567) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541386)

Windows is not Open Source.

Even if you discount the argument that having to provide information and fill out forms to see source code makes it not open (which I believe, but admit is debatable) you still have to admit that Microsoft has the option not to show you its source code no matter how many forms you fill out.

What do you think would happen if Steve Jobs showed up at a Microsoft's Headquarters and said, "I'm here to see the Windows Source Code. I'll fill out whatever forms you like." as you propose anyone can do?

A ridiculous argument. (1)

expro (597113) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541547)

There are more-valid arguments that Windows is not Open Source.

What do you think would happen if Steve Jobs showed up at a Microsoft's Headquarters and said, "I'm here to see the Windows Source Code. I'll fill out whatever forms you like." as you propose anyone can do?

Bill whips out the "All your bases are belong to us" form and Apple is out of business.

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

Etyenne (4915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541391)

Have you ever read the Open-Source Definition [opensource.org] ? This is basically a rebranding of the Debian Free Software Guidelines [debian.org] .



This stupid Open-Source vs. Free Software rethoric get us nowhere. Please get over it already.

Re:Use Free Software instead (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541915)

Open source means you can read the source, much like an "open book exam" means you can read the book.

That's not true. Open source means much more than that, and you know it. There are plenty of proprietary software that is distributed with source, sometimes as a necessity, as in the case of scripting languages, or cross platform compatability. (Proprietary UNIX programs have frequently been distributed as source, since that was the only way to ensure the program could run on the users' actual hardware.) Other times a source license would be sold as an option to the usage license to a proprietary program. These source licenses are typically accompanied by a nondisclosure agreement. Even Microsoft will distributed the source to certain things as part of their Shared Source inititive.

So open source is not merely being able to read the source. To qualify as open source [opensource.org] , you must be granted the right to:
  • Free Redistribution
  • Access to Source Code
  • Maked Derivitive Works
  • Protect the Integrity of the Author's Work (i.e. you cant take my name off it, and you can't say I made something I didn't. Unless, I give you permission to do so.)
  • Be Non-Discrimitory to Person, Groups, or Fields of Endevor
  • All Rights Must Be Transferable
  • The License Must Not Be Product Specific
  • The License Must Not Restrict Other Software
  • The License Must be Technology Neutral


I may not be a big fan of RMS, but I'm not fan or ESR either. They're both self-rightous idealogues as far as I'm concerned. However, I'm not going to let someone willfully misrepresent the other side.

Starting the debate? (3, Informative)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540361)

I thought that one has been ongoing for years.

There isn't one open source license. Some are more restrictive than others. Some are more open than others. People need to be more cautious in their use of terminology and should not use GPL interchangably with open source.

Re:Starting the debate? (1)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540541)

No doubt. Especially GPL 3. I wouldn't dare call that Open Source.

Re:Starting the debate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15541287)

The GPL mandates that the source be open. That means it falls under the category of "open source".

On the other hand it also mandates that the software NOT be free. If I download a GPL'ed app/source, I'm not free to do with it as I please. I'm free to do with it only as much as the GPL allows. So basically, it's not "free software" in the sense that I'm not allowed to close the source of my particular fork.

Which brings me to my point: "free software" is all in the public domain. ALL of it.

Open Source is healf hearted philanthropy (1)

cpatil (955342) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540373)

Once you give it to the community, your say on it need not be honoured. You relinquish 100% of the rights on it and developers should be able to do whatever they want. Build products or SELL services etc without being sued.

Re:Open Source is healf hearted philanthropy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15540416)

You have confused "open source" with "Free Software". Go directly to hell, do not pass "go", do not collect "Free Beer"

They are open... (1)

camcorder (759720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540386)

but not free. They don't claim that they are free (liberal) either.

Open Source - Free Software (3, Insightful)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540392)

If its "Open Source" than I, either a paying or non-paying customer, can get the source and re-compile it on my own.
If its Free -and- Open Source, than some anonymous 12 year old can get the source, and re-compile it, without any licensing fees or issues.
If its BSD/GPL-style-free, than said 12 year old can also re-distribute without sending in signed forms or paying anyone.
Where is the confusion?

Re:Open Source - Free Software (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15540643)

If its "Open Source" than I, either a paying or non-paying customer, can get the source and re-compile it on my own.
If you check with the guys who actually coined the term open source (www.opensource.org), you would notice that modification and redistribution is a "must" in their book.
If its Free -and- Open Source, than some anonymous 12 year old can get the source, and re-compile it, without any licensing fees or issues.
Same as above, but this time we also have to look at the FSF due to the term Free. They also mandate modification and redistribution.
If its BSD/GPL-style-free, than said 12 year old can also re-distribute without sending in signed forms or paying anyone.
So MPL licensed Firefox, CDDL licensed OpenSolaris and CPL licensed Eclipse are "BSD/GPL-style-free"? Very funny, especially since all those three licenses are also GPL-incompatible.
Where is the confusion?
I think the confusion lies with you.

Re:Open Source - Free Software (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540886)

If its "Open Source" than I, either a paying or non-paying customer, can get the source and re-compile it on my own. If its Free -and- Open Source, than some anonymous 12 year old can get the source, and re-compile it, without any licensing fees or issues. If its BSD/GPL-style-free, than said 12 year old can also re-distribute without sending in signed forms or paying anyone. Where is the confusion?

When you use than for then. Then you understand that this is better than that.

Answer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15540398)

Fully open, including bug databases and all docs otherwise it defeats the purpose of "OPEN".

Example? (2, Interesting)

WinEveryGame (978424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540400)

Can anyone give an example of a successful open source project which spent a good chunk of its early years as a completely proprietary software?

Re:Example? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15540427)

Ugh? Mozilla (Netscape), OpenOffice.org (Staroffice) ..

Open Office? (4, Informative)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540460)

I believe it used to be called Star Office (and still is), created by a German company and bought by Sun. Someone is sure to correct me.

Re:Open Office? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15540767)

StarOffice is not fully open is it or are you mistaking OpenOffice which branched from StarOffice?

Re:Open Office? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541127)

No, I'm suggesting that OpenOffice is an example of open source that began as proprietary, even if it was through branching. I'm well aware that Sun still sells StarOffice, but they still share a common code base which Sun contributes and borrows heavily from.

Re:Open Office? (0, Troll)

Marc2k (221814) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541135)

Did you miss the fact that the subject of the comment was "OpenOffice"?

Re:Open Office? (1)

TorAvalon (971986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541784)

Did you miss the fact that the content of the comment he replied to was "StarOffice"?

Easy, Blender (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15540473)

Done.

Netscape (2, Informative)

zlogic (892404) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540554)

Netscape->Mozilla->Firefox
Quake 1,2,3 (although not mantained anymore)
Google's AJAX toolkit

Re:Netscape (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540741)

Believe me, Quake 1, 2, and 3 are maintained -- just not by iD. In fact, the problem with those programs is that there's too many forks and not really any "definitive" version!

Re:Netscape (1)

resiak (583703) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541822)

http://icculus.org/quake3/ [icculus.org] is close enough to the "definitive" Quake 3 for me.

Re:Example? (1)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540617)

There's a lot of stuff that BEA Systems produces that has been made open source and is extremely successful as open source.

Re:Example? (1)

HoosierPeschke (887362) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540663)

Solaris, MySQL...

uhhhmm... mozilla! (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540667)

n/t

Re:Example? (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540683)

WiX.

Re:Example? (1)

doti (966971) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540730)

And don't forget Quake, and other id games.

Best Example - Blender (1)

linuxkrn (635044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540778)

Blender is one of the best examples. Read how they raised 100,000 EUR to BUY it from the old company and then turn around and GPL/Open Source it.

Blender History [blender.org]

Re:Best Example - Blender (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541063)

Was it really only worth 100,000 EUR? Seems kind of cheap to me. That's only equivalent in coding time to 2 guys over 1 year.

Re:Example? (1)

arose (644256) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540998)

Other have mentioned good examples, I'll add Xara LX to the list.

Re:Example? (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541275)

I heard that Linux started out as SCO Unix and was completely ripped off by Linus and then released as "Open Source".

And if you believe that, I believe the guys at SCO have a bridge they're looking to unload at a low, low price to raise some money to pay their lawyers.

Re:Example? (1)

shish (588640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15542014)

Can anyone give an example of a successful open source project which spent a good chunk of its early years as a completely proprietary software?

Can anyone give an example that didn't? (where "successful" = "regularly used by people who've never even heard of open source")

VLC, Gaim.. Gimp? I stuggle to think of as many as the other way round, and those that I can think of aren't as popular (as eg firefox) :-/

Which brings up a theory -- open source is great at building on top of things and adding features, but it works best when a single entity (person or company) gives them a large, stable codebase to work with. (Also note the inverse -- there are loads of projects where a lot of people form a group to start something, then they spend so long in group politics that nothing gets started and people leave from boredom; also, single entities don't have the manpower or variety of ideas needed to sustain growth)

Um, use the definition, will ya? (5, Informative)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540412)

It's really easy to know whether "releasing some code" qualifies: read the definition [opensource.org]

Re:Um, use the definition, will ya? (2, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540468)

From TFBlog: "the source code will be available under the GPL next month."

So I don't see the problem.

Re:Um, use the definition, will ya? (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540543)

So I don't see the problem.

Oh, I didn't want to comment on whether there is a problem or not, I didn't even read TFB. I was just saying that the question is stupid.

Re:Um, use the definition, will ya? (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541427)

"From TFBlog: "the source code will be available under the GPL next month."

So I don't see the problem."

If history is any guide, you may start to see the problem in a month or two.

Here we go (4, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540429)

So, two heavyweights(?) in the OSS community are going to start having a little war over what "open source" really means, eh? Must be a slow news day.

Open Source is what it is, and how "open" you want your software to be is your business. You can throw the whole thing open to anyone and let talented people take up the challenge to adapt and improve your code, or you can have one set of "open" code and one set of "closed" code, the former being available to anyone, the latter available for a price. No one is under any obligation, in either case, to use your software. If you want to charge for the "closed" version so you can actually make a living, where's the harm in that?

In an ideal world, there would be no secrets. All software would be open and free to roam the Earth. We are a far cry from an ideal world; commerce dominates and servers and bandwidth cost money. Whether your OSS is "open" or "slightly open" doesn't matter much -- if you can't scrape up the cash to keep the lights on and the servers running, it doesn't much matter how cool your software is. All I can say is, leave it alone.

What's in a name? (3, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540435)

If only there had been some sort of definition of open source [opensource.org] then maybe we wouldn't have to have to start this debate now.

Re:What's in a name? (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15542102)

Now that would make too much sense!

Organic Food/Open Source its Marketing (1)

BunnyClaws (753889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540438)

This is just a marketing ploy. Software companies are releasing small bits of code and claiming its open source for the sake of marketing. This is no different than food companies throwing in some soy and calling it organic food. Actually I think its more like the cereal FrootLoops. Make it sound like it has fruit in it when you name it "Froot"Loops. Maybe if they just say its "The door was slightly opened for a second source" that would be more fitting.

Adventures in Naming (3, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540445)

"I know! Let's name him Taurus Balrog!!"

"No honey, that's too cruel ..."

"Okay .. er .."

And there you have it. Taurus Balrog would be a cool name, though :)

Re:Adventures in Naming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15542109)

I went to a comedy club once to see Rich Jeni, and I sat right up front. I knew the owners of the club and they had told me that, while last time Rich had been hand in hand with a young lady, this time he was alone. So I was ready when he got to the "relationship" part of his routine.

He did the old joke: half the marriages in this country end in divorce, and the other half ...

there was a pause which I took to mean "everyone join in" so I finished the line: end in death.

It was so quiet I heard crickets.

So Rich comes over, sarcastically thanks me for helping him with the show, and he asks me my name.

"Tarus," I replied.

He immediately jumps back, puts his hands on his hips, and in a real effeminate voice says "Oooh, we're skipping the names and getting to to good stuff. Well, I'm a Leo, Scorpio rising ..." and for five minutes proceeds to riff on my name.

Then he asks me my last name. I replied "Smith". He reaches down and plucks the reservation card off the table and exclaims "Blog? Your name is Tarus Blog?".

Well, I take my shot and go, "C'mon, Rich Jeni isn't the most common name."

He replies, "Okay, okay. Newborn baby in the crib - you got a choice of two names. First, Richard Jeni [he nods approvingly] or TARUS BLOG. Throw that bracelet away."

Always liked that guy.

Shareware (4, Insightful)

Rob_Warwick (789939) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540457)

I don't get why he's upset about Shareware.

Finally we come to the "shareware" model, which is now really starting to draw my ire. Popularized by SugarCRM, it is a "model" where some of the code is open, but to get the full featured version you have to pay, and the full version is not open. Remember shareware? You download a little app for free that does some things, but if you want to unlock all of the features you send the guy ten bucks? If this software was so good, then why hasn't a community sprung up around the free version and made it better?

Shareware is a limited or expiring version of an application made available for free with the idea that you should be able to try the software before purchasing it. It doesn't have a thing to do with open source, it's just another way of selling your closed source software.

If he wants to be irritated at software that claims to be open source but charges for advanced features, that's fine. But he doesn't need to get annoyed at shareware.

Re:Shareware (1)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540626)

Most of the shareware I used back in the day was much more open and non commercial than it is now. There's a huge movement to bring out limited software and leverage its popularity to persuade people to upgrade. Software like Easy CD Creater, Quicktime, Realplayer etc. all attempt to recieve extra income by witholding features that are not expensive to implement.

This is an important issue for Free Software. There should be no feature restrictions in dual licenced software. A good example where its done well at the moment is OpenOffice.org and StarOffice. StarOffice has proprietry fonts, spellchecker and migration tools but the most important thing is that they don't hobble OOo by preventing features from being added to OOo. Microsoft on the other hand sell multiple versions of Office where the differentiation is mostly about removing features.

Re:Shareware (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540861)

I'm sorry, I really don't see a lot fo difference between removing features from (say) Office Professional and selling it as Office Student Edition, and removing fonts from StarOffice and giving it away as OpenOffice.

In both cases, you've taken a full product, removed some features, and make it available at a lower cost.

Shareware used to have a precise definition (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541595)

> Most of the shareware I used back in the day was much more open and non commercial than it is now. There's a huge movement to bring out
> limited software and leverage its popularity to persuade people to upgrade. Software like Easy CD Creater, Quicktime, Realplayer etc.
> all attempt to recieve extra income by witholding features that are not expensive to implement.

Back in 'the day' there used to be something called the Association of Shareware Professionals who defended the original defination of "Shareware" and discouraged BBSes from allowing Demoware, Crippleware, Time limited trials, etc. from calling itself "Shareware". The ASP disappeared with the death of BBSes (no more enforcement powers, most of the ASPs powers came from freindly relations with Sysops, now an extinct breed)

But in the end, Shareware is usually a combination of the worst aspects of Free Software and Commercial. But there were some outstanding exceptions, I wouldn't have moved to DOS (from a Tandy CoCo3 w/ OS9 Level 2) when I did without someone showing me 4DOS could relieve the crappy existence of living in MS-DOS. But generally Shareware combines the no support of Free with the slow development cycle of Commercial and adds in the dependence on a single person remaining interested lest a program you depend upon becomes orphaned.

Re:Shareware (2, Insightful)

geobeck (924637) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540769)

Shareware is a limited or expiring version of an application made available for free with the idea that you should be able to try the software before purchasing it.

That's what the term has come to mean today, but that's really a demo, not Shareware. In the old days, when software was distributed on BBSes, Shareware was fully functional, and included a notice something like "If you find this useful, please send $X to the creator."

With Shareware becoming Demoware, today that model is sometimes called Donationware, or worse, Freeware. It gets even muddier when apps distributed as Freeware are actually a limited version with a beg notice to buy the "full version".

That is total BS. The original distinction between Shareware and Freeware (before Shareware degenerated into Demoware) was that Freeware had no strings attached, period.

Unfortunately, there is little enforcement of these terms. I've contacted Tucows [tucows.com] a couple of times about demos masquerading as freeware, and they have moved them, but how many people do that? How many thousands of crippled demos lurk in the Freeware sections of various download sites?

Oh, I'm sorry, what was the question? (/rambling)

Re:Shareware (1)

BarkLouder (916884) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540939)

Shareware is a limited or expiring version of an application made available for free with the idea that you should be able to try the software before purchasing it. It doesn't have a thing to do with open source, it's just another way of selling your closed source software.

Not exactly. Way back in the beginning, shareware was generally full featured software that you could try out to see if you liked it. It was really an honor system, whereby if you really kept using it, you sent the "owner" some money. These types of programs were generally quite cheap, but usually pretty good.

Re:Shareware (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541264)

Actually Sugar isn't open. Read up on the SugarCRM vTiger dispute, and read the FULL sugar license. If you ever decide to subscribe to the Enterprise edition, you are then forbidden from ever running the Open Source version again, and you cannot import the Enterprise data into the Open Source edition. They originally released under the Mozilla Public License (which they renamed to the SPL, or Sugar Public License), then threatened legal action against the vTiger folks when they removed all the branding and extended the CRM system. Funny, the license actually require the removal of all branding.

It's one thing to offer open source, it's another thing to split the license itself into two pieces, where one claims to be open source and then the other part in the commercial product forbids you from using the Open edition. It's nothing short of bait-and-switch where you redefine the terms behind the user's back. "You see, it depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."

I can understand his positon.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15540500)

After starting http://www.proclanmanager.com/ [proclanmanager.com] I wasn't expecting hordes of people to help but I did expect at least a few. I have got a few people that have helped out but in my experience it usually goes down like this:

1) Some guy emails me and says he is interested in the project and would like to help out
2) I email him back with my copy & pasted response welcoming him and telling him about the mailing lists, source code, etc.
3) I never hear from him again.

I've been running my open source project since 2002 and since then no one has contributed much at all.

I feel like I have contributed so much to the project and as the years go by not having anything to show for it just de-motivates me. I quickly found out that even employers are not interested with open source work you have done on your CV.

If the guy wants to sell a better version of his code good for him I don't see what the problem here as in my experience no one is interested in helping they just want stuff for free.

Re:I can understand his positon.. (1)

evil_Tak (964978) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541362)

I quickly found out that even employers are not interested with open source work you have done on your CV.

This is pretty contrary to my experience.

All of my prospective employers have been intrigued (during interviews) with my work on opensource projects, and that experience definitely weighted things to my advantage.

I've started three small open-source projects. On all three of them, I've received patches, code, miscellaneous contributions(e.g. .spec files), and suggestions from random people; actually more than I expected. However, I approached my projects with the attitude that, I'm going to create this software; if anybody else can make use of it, or wants to contribute code, then great. If I had been expecting a significant amount of help from others in order to create something functional, it wouldn't have happened.

You can lead a coder to code, but you can't make him improve it.

Re:I can understand his positon.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15541458)

Perhaps it's time to redesign your website. I'm not trying to be harsh on you, but I can see why a prospective developer might be turned away from your project. Dude, it looks like it's a Geocities website from 1997! Who would want to rally behind THAT kind of symbol? If it had just "kicked in" that I had signed up to help out with a project with that kind of image, I would definitely not utter another word of it.

Take what RMS says .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15540518)

....and do the opposite!

There is an official definition (2, Informative)

Godji (957148) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540525)

The term "open source" has an official definition right here: http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php [opensource.org]

Whether some software is open source is equivalent to whether it conforms to all points in this definition. There you have it, debate settled.

It is an entirely different issue if this definition can be legally enforced; it cannot, as far as I know. So there is no mechanism preventing companies from making noise by falsely using the term. That is why one shuold always take an "open source" or "free software" claim with a grain of salt, and verify the claim carefully.

Why are we even having this discussion? (1)

PotatoHead (12771) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540576)

If said software can be embodied into the existing body of open code, without changing it's existing freedoms of use, then said code is open enough!

If strings are attached, then it's not open.

Done, next.

Re:Why are we even having this discussion? (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541376)

Oddly enough, a quick search of your blog reveals that you have, in the past, referred to Linux as "Open Source". Granted your opinion may have changed since you characterized it as such, but by the definition you give in the above comment, GPL software is not Open Source.

If I have an existing body of BSD-licensed code, I can't take a piece of GPL code and add it to my code and then release it under a BSD license.

Maybe the problem of defining "open source" isn't really as simple as you glibly suggest it is.

Good ol' days (1)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540672)

I remember when Open Source meant you could download the source with the binaries, change the source, and recompile the app yourself - if you knew how. You could then redistribute the new binaries (with the changed source)and any additional documentation you wanted.

Ah, childhood.

How open? (1)

GeorgeMonroy (784609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540759)

As open as a starving hooker.

well... (5, Funny)

revery (456516) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540781)

How Open Does Open Source Need to be?

[Haj] You know... open.
[Pin] But how open? It's not a black and white issue.
[Haj] It should be open, like a door.
[Pin] That makes no sense, Haj.
[Haj] Sure it does. A door is either open or closed. There's no in-between there my color-blind friend.
[Pin] Are you kidding me? Look at this door. It's closed. But if I pull it just a little, is it open?
[Haj] Yes. It is open.
[Pin] How about now, if I pull it some more, is it more open?
[Haj] You can't be more or less open Pin... That's my point.
[Pin] Look at the %^%@#@%# door Haj. Does it look MORE OPEN to you?
[Haj] Well that's a different question isn't it. Does it "look more open"?
[Pin] ...
[Haj] I mean what if my eyes were closed?
[Pin] Haj...
[Haj] What if I was blind, Pin? Huh, what then?
[Pin] ...
[Haj] Now you're totally stumped, aren't you buddy? Stumped by my rhetorical questions.
[Pin] ...
[Haj] [in a girl's voice] What if I was blind?
[Haj] I can't believe you don't have a response dude... Pin? whatcha doing with that ice pick?
[the screen goes black and there is the sound of terrible things being done to someone's eyes]
[Haj] I just want you to know, if you ask "does the door ~feel~ open", I'm not going to answer you man...
[Haj] Pin... Are you still there? Hello? Anybody?

Questions to ask about FOSS levels: (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540900)

  • Can you acquire the sourcecode anonymously/without signing anything?
  • Can you compile the sourcecode into a full version of the binaries?
  • Does the sourcecode reference only same-level or more open sources?
  • Can you modify the sourcecode and deliver to others?
  • Can you submit your changes to the original/current authors for inclusion?
  • Can you redistribute/resell the sourcecode? Your modified binaries?


Sticking to an earlier philosophy, sourcecode is just a list of steps to create a certain effect. By sharing this recipe publicly, you invite comment, and can allow for various distrbutions that improve upon your version. The survival of these depends on their applicability to the market - and may find specialization. Conversely, anything that interferes with this process is pushing the market to accept tools that possibly do not fit and may never fit to your problem.

The standard shell tools on Unix are one level where it's easy to see the benefit of this philosophy. Taking this to the level of Linux, we find similar distributions fanning out, then collapsing into specializations (embedded, server, nongeek gui's).

There are merits to holding the source and not. If you purchase OTS non-free, you regard the program as an appliance and if you hold all the source, you are making and maintaining (perhaps with market help) your own tools. Each requires skills and risks, but they will both forever exist.

Regarding sourcecode:
To the skilled (engineer), it is empowering to work with tools.
To the unskilled (executive), it is efficient to work with appliances.

It doesn't matter how open software is. To my clients/managers, I merely explain the risks and rewards of either side. "You get what you pay for" vs "We can build it ourselves" - there are times when each seems advantageous, and both can bite your business.

Being the engineer, I like the $ coming to me instead of a vendor, so I usually stick my neck out to propose an in-house solution first,then line up the OTS solutions. When I land one, it lands big and usually works out well for everyone.

an analogy (3, Funny)

acvh (120205) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540902)

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. I immediately ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!"
"Why shouldn't I?" he said.
I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!"
"Like what?"
"Well ... are you religious or atheist?"
"Religious."
"Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?"
"Christian."
"Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"
"Protestant."
"Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"
"Baptist."
"Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"
"Baptist Church of God."
"Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"
"Reformed Baptist Church of God."
"Wow! Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?"
"Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!"
To which I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.

Re:an analogy (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541123)

That is a good one. I think it explains the FSF and OSS movement to a Tee. Much of the internal fighing over Open Source is really on very minor issues.

A company releases the source to their App. You can view it and change it for your own use but not distribute the
App to anyone else, without permission. Vs. You can view it and change it for your own use and if you want you
can distribte the app without previous concent


If you want change you well need to evoke small changes not huge one. No matter how well you explain things not all people will want your coice of Open Source Software.

Take 'em both with a big grain of salt (3, Insightful)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 8 years ago | (#15540980)

Well, that's fun. Tarus basically gets on a soapbox and starts lecturing about how he & his company have been doing Open Source for, like, years. That young rascal Doug better listen to Tarus!

Tarus is arguing from authority, if you know what that old debate tactic is. And to be honest, I give him some credence.

But then Doug posts right in the comments, and basically explains that he's been doing Open Source for at least a decade -- before the term existed. And he explains that they're going to follow a GPL model, but they're going to do it on their own timetable, not Tarus's.

Fun.

Having said that, they're both getting things wrong, IMHO. Tarus is ascribing way more to Open Source than he should. For example, he says that a community must exist, contributing actively to the code. This is a fallacy on two points. First, that would immediately disqualify 90% of the projects on SourceForge, which are maintained by a lone hacker. But second, that's more of a Free Software, you-must-develop-software-the-RIGHT-way line of thinking. Open Source does not have these burdens -- it's just a flag people raise to say "you can get this source code." No more.

And Doug clearly jumped the gun. If they're going slow & sure toward the goal of GPL, that's great -- just don't say you have something that you don't yet offer.

Semi-Open Source (2, Interesting)

zephos (877875) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541196)

I have to say I agree with the author a bit about certain projects that are "open-source" but then have more advanced closed-source versions yet champion how open source they are and how great for the community that is. The given example SugarCRM is a perfect example.

SugarCRM does offer an open source version of their software and it seems to be pretty solid. However if you look at it versus even the lowest paid closed source version very important functionality has been removed; namely Outlook support and access restrictions. The Outlook thing may be a licensing issue [though it seems all the projects I find that do Outlook support always seem to charge for it and I can't imagine all of them use some 3rd party library they can't open source.] so I'll let it slide but to be used for almost any serious business there is a base requirement to restrict what certain sales-people can and cannot see within a CRM like that. By removing that functionality they are almost completely making the open source version useful for any business.

This of course is within their rights and if desired anyone could branch SugarCRM and include this stuff. At the same time I wonder what's the point, why not just keep it closed and make your sales? Does open sourcing an intentionally crippled version of the software really help them at all other than the marketing aspect of them having an open source version?

For example Zimbra has no intention of ever releasing an open source version of their Outlook adapter for their product. This smacks of wanting business to pay for the software. My question then is why not just make the bloody license "not free for commercial purposes" like plenty of other software, why make a big deal about it being open-source but then intentionally cripple the open source version?

To me in a way it just seems manipulative.

And SugarCRM has been forked and Freed... (1)

DG (989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541504)

Have a look at vTiger CRM - a truely Free and open fork of the SugarCRM codebase.

DG

Re:Semi-Open Source (2, Informative)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15542058)

Actually although I do strongly believe in the "pure GPL" model, I also think that Outlook users and actually any Microsoft "freebe" user DESERVES to pay.
There is no acceptable reason to use outlook or outlook express, and by using them people do help making the internet a less nice place.
Making them pay is good.

Has anyone actually used HQ ? (1)

dgorman (980052) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541384)

Has anyone actually used HQ before bashing their move to open their source. I am continually annoyed about how people will slam a product becasuse they are trying to do something good for the community. Hyperic at the end of the day has to make money, however, they believe in the community that it is built around and are trying to meet the best of both worlds. So before one slams their product, try it. As I have had experience on monitoring software from large installations to very small installations HQ is the best bang for the buck AND is open-sourcing it's code. No other *enterprise* monitoring software currently does that, so my hats off to them on being able to achieve that.

The Debate Ended Ages Ago (2, Informative)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 8 years ago | (#15541532)

It is starting the debate on whether or not just releasing some code qualifies an application as 'open source.'"

I haven't seen anyone else mention this so far, but wasn't that debate ended some time ago? I thought Bruce Perens' Open Source Definitition [opensource.org] was the final word on the matter.

If it conforms to the definition, it's open source. By definition.

If it doesn't, it's something else.

This is not complicated.

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