Monday, October 23, 2006

MySql and dual licensing

A forward from Greg Whitescarver of Code and What-Not about MySql's dual licensing strategy. Check out the comments on the initial post.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Honest Public License

I only chanced upon the Honest Public License today. Sorry about the tardyness but there you have it. In any case, Capobianco's polemic is directed at webservices(yup, those things that Tim O'Reilly so charmingly described as "pockets of proprietary opportunity") and they are, no exaggeration intended, the one thing that could render lots of current licensing constraints irrelevant in a world moving towards web-centric computing. I quite like the reasoning in the piece but imagine that the exact wording of the HPL will take some working on before it works for everyone (especially those folks at Yahoo and Google).

Friday, October 13, 2006

RFP/FOSS and Red Tape

Conventional governmental purchases of software rely on the good ol' RFP scheme. Send out a tender, if you will, asking for proposals, and pick the most competitive. And that model doesn't work too well with FOSS, seeing as most FOSS is, er, free. But this article fails to join the dots and draw the obvious conclusion - that with price issues out of the way (not that they have to be, FOSS needn't be free-of-charge) RFPs can concentrate on the technical issues: who will support the source (if anyone), will enhancements be possible, who to contact for bug fixes and so on. Personally, I'm a little puzzled by the piece; it speaks of how much confusion the open source model introduces into procurement because of the fact that it displaces cost from the RFP process but what about all the other factors? Surely, those still figure in the RFP process?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fads can't last so long

There are certain inevitable cycles in the trade magazine writing business (perhaps they are not cycles, but just recurrent themes). Many of these are of the "is-not, is-too" variety and one persistent one with FOSS is the "FOSS is a fad, FOSS is not so hot, FOSS is not going anywhere" which is then met by the usual rejoinders about market shares, data on bugs per 1000 lines of code, or whatever stat it is that turns you on. Here is a rejoinder to a "FOSS is a fad" claim that accurately points out that FOSS can hardly be a fad as it has been around 40 years. But in a sense, the "FOSS is a fad" claim was inevitable given that "open source" was promoted as such a "innovation" and "departure" in the first place. In doing that, the rhetorical advantage, I suggest, was handed over to the proprietary camp, who were then able to paint themselves as the established model, and put themselves of being the pickers and choosers from the offerings of this upstart. The history of computing suggests that instead, proprietary software was the disruption, the new business model, the radical departure, the hijacking, the intrusion or whatever else you want to call it. Falling into the trap of donning the radical robe when it comes to FOSS ensures that you're always having to argue for your legitimacy. Or so I think.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Enough misunderstanding already!

A hilarious misunderstanding of the GPL V3 on display here. Zuck doesn't get it. NOBODY is going to be forced to use the GPL V3 - nobody. If you don't want to use it, don't. If people want to use it, they will. If it doesn't get widely used, it will go away or become a marginal player. GPL V2 is popular because people like it. None of the software covered by the GPL V2 will be affected by V3 - unless, of course, the developer in question decides to do so, and even then someone could fork the codebase before that and place that under the GPL V2. Wow. No wonder people complain about Stallman saying the same things again and again - its because no one listens!

Oh, and yes, the article also plays up the schism in the FOSS community. That always makes for good press.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Microcosmographia Licentia

David Berry recently offered this definition (with all due apologies to F.M Cornford) on the Libre-Society mailing list. Pretty priceless, I must say. Enjoy.

"Microcosmographia licentia:A talking shop of (mostly) non-lawyers discussing the number of DRM-angels sitting on invariant-pins all of whose deliberations are pre-framed within a particular 'objective' conception of law that they claim to dislike (copyright/patent/DRM), but which through the drafting process becomes increasingly reliant upon as a legal support for the very licences they endlessly discuss. Heavily influenced by libertarian conceptions of the state or government in which politics can be 'circumvented' by the individualistic use of technical hacks and clever tweaks instantiated through copyright licences (known as copyleft). Particularly known for its theological belief in the redeeming power of the Trinity of Richard M. Stallman, Eben Moglen, and Lawrence Lessig and the eschatological promise of a utopian GNU land of milk and honey where information is free. With its own version of Judas Iscariot (Eric S. Raymond), the Anti-Christ (Bill Gates/Microsoft) and the Devil (the RIAA), it rallies its members to fight the 'closing' down of human freedom through the use of online mailing lists, wiki, blogs and social-networking software. Discussions in microcosmographia licentia are bought to a swift close whenever anyone mentions belling the cat. The underlying principles are all deducible from the fundamental maxim, that the first necessity for a body of people engaged in the pursuit of free culture is the freedom from the burden of political cares. It is impossible to enjoy the contemplation of free culture if one is vexed and distracted by the sense of responsibility. The microcosmographia licentia is also superior to liberal democracy in having no organised parties. Thus avoiding all the responsibilities of party leadership (there are leaders, but no one
follows them), and the degradations of party compromise. It is clear, moreover, that twenty independent persons, each of whom has a different reason for not doing a certain thing, and no one of whom will compromise with any other, constitute a most effective check upon the rashness of individuals. See also Free Culture and Creative Commons."

Friday, October 06, 2006

That 'ol debate

Whoee - a little sacrilege over at Business Week (or so the author seems to think ) with the suggestion that for some domains, closed-source might be better. Read the article, and then read the very perceptive comments that follow - only two so far, but they've already nailed the issue!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Google's Code Search

Google releases Code Search. From Google:

"Google Code Search helps you find function definitions and sample code by giving you one place to search publicly accessible source code hosted on the Internet. With Google Code Search, you can: Use regular expressions to search more precisely; restrict your search by language, license or filename; view the source file with links back to the entire package and the webpage where it came from"

Hours of fun ahead.