29 March 2007

Open Source Licencing

The debate about the GNU General Public License (GPL) Version 3 rolls on. A third draft of GPLv3 was released yesterday (28th March 2007) for discussion.

This article has a nice summary with onward links to further articles on related topics Controversy Swirls Around Changes in GPLv3.

It seems that many people in the open source community (including Linus Torvalds) are planning to stick with version 2 of the license (dating back to June 1991), but also that the strange deal between Microsoft and Novell on Windows and SUSE (see also the announcement) has stirred up deep resentment in the open source community that the spirit of the original license was being subverted, and that the new version 3 license tries to make this illegal in future. The version 3 license also tries to outlaw certain Digital Rights Management (DRM) issues. All quite confusing, but I'll track these developments with interest.

I have been a big fan of open source in general, ever since downloading GNU utilities for Unix in the mid 1980s as an undergraduate student in the University of Keele in Staffordshire, UK - the final year students were allowed to use Unix! Even then I marveled at the achievements of the collaborative communities involved. Since then, like many others, I've been impressed by Richard Stallman's continuing commitment to free software (open source) in the FSF (Free Software Foundation), and by the interesting analysis of the benefits of open source from Eric Raymond's "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", bust most of all I have also been impressed by the huge success of individual open source efforts including:

  • GNU "unix" utilities and GNU CC;
  • the Linux kernel;
  • web servers like CERN httpd and then Apache and other projects in the Apache Foundation;
  • email programs like sendmail/postfix;
  • web browsers like Netscape and then Mozilla Firefox;
  • email clients like Mozilla Thunderbird;
  • dynamic languages like Perl, Tcl/Tk, PHP, Python, and Ruby;
  • the opening up of IBM's approach through software development IDE Eclipse;
  • the opening up of Sun Systems' activities in terms of both Solaris and Java (c.f. earlier blog post on Sun's coming out as a major contributor to open source according to an EU sponsored survey).

And for an interesting discussion of the most important open source activities see this earlier blog post on bloggers nominating their candidates as the three most influential open source projects.

Posted by mofoghlu at March 29, 2007 11:16 AM | TrackBack
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