Wednesday, August 22, 2007


On Aug. 10, Redmond submitted the Microsoft Permissive License to the Open Source Initiative (OSI). Should the license be approved, Microsoft would receive the "open source" seal of approval that only the OSI – by self-proclamation – can okay

Many open source watchers have applauded Microsoft's OSI approach. You'll remember that Microsoft has dubbed some open source software the work of cancer-ridden communists. So, seeking "open source" approval shows the software maker has come a long way.Of course, one could argue that Microsoft – once blessed with the open source label – will only abuse its status.

I think it would be near impossible for an outside observer not to take Microsoft's side here.

For one, Microsoft has done all the OSI asks by submitting its license in the proper fashion for review. If the license meets the OSI's open source definition, does it really matter who submitted it? Is this Russia? This isn't Russia, Danny.

Beyond that, Google hardly stands as a model open source company – a point noted by Hilf. Google has become the poster child for the software as a service (SaaS) abuse of open source software. The ad broker uses copious amounts of open code but gets around returning changes to "the community" by claiming it does not redistribute the code. Instead, Google simply places the software on servers and ships a service to consumers.

The Free Software Foundation avoided closing the SaaS hole – a problem caused by an archaic notion of distribution as being tied to a diskette or CD – with GPL v3. Google couldn't care less about that though, since it will avoid any problematic license

"We have enough engineering resources that, if the license has obligations we are not interested in, we can just not use it," DiBona said, at the recent OSCON conference.

Google's secretive nature leaves us in the dark as to how much code it has turned back to "the community." The best statement I've seen thus far has a Google official claiming to have put back 1 million lines of code.

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