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How Open Source Is Your Open Source?

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Michael DeHaan has an excellent post entitled "How Open Source Is Your Open Source?". I dare say it is his best post despite getting in a few (Linux) distro biased comments. He proposes a set of community standards that determine the real health and openness of Open Source. In my opinion, a major problem with OSI at the moment is that it perpetuates (mainly indeliberately) that a mere license makes something Open Source.

Fundamentally, the license provides the "right to fork" in the event that the people running the "Open Source In License Only" ignore the community. However, forking is a pretty wasteful process. It does damage. In the best case scenario, most people vote with their feet. In a worst case, you end up with 2-3 insufficiently resourced projects. Forking is the evolutionary and revolutionary alternative to cooperation.

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Open Source is not about freedom, nor is it about licenses

Open Source is not about freedom, nor is it about licenses. It's about community. Of course everyone knows about Richard Stallman's concern about having the freedom to modify all software on his machine. Tim O'Reilly has had a concern for many years that Open Source licenses do not keep software Open Source when it is not being distributed but instead performed as in Web 2.0 applications. Yet, after ten years of Open Source, I've come to think that both these concerns are misplaced.


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