Growing The Community

How can you grow an open source community? Two blog posts from The Document Foundation (TDF) illustrate a proven double-ended strategy to sustain an existing community.                                                                                                            Spanish

Fern Fiddlehead

Since it was established in 2010, the LibreOffice project has steadily grown under the guidance of The Document Foundation (TDF) where I’ve been a volunteer — most lately as a member of its Board. Starting from a complex political situation with a legacy codebase suffering extensive technical debt, TDF has been able to cultivate both individual contributors and company-sponsored contributors and move beyond the issues to stability and effectiveness. Continue reading

Keyloggers: An Interview With HP

Simon spent time on Friday with Mike Nash, HP’s vice president of consumer PCs, to discuss the keylogger that was found in one of their device drivers. Nash was open, honest, accepted responsibility and demonstrated that HP already had the problem addressed despite the researchers who found the issue being less than effective.

The whole incident shows how vulnerable our Windows-dominated approach to IT is however. Stateful desktops delivered in a cut-throat-competitive market are beyond the oversight of any individual and as the Wanacry worm shows malware can spread rapidly using a defect just like this one.

Simon ends by suggesting “Maybe we need to break that problem apart — stateless desktops, open source code, cloud-hosted statefulness — if we’re to avoid disaster.”

Read more over on InfoWorld.

Is The GPL Really Declining?

Is the GNU GPL “dying” or is that just the prejudice of those whose open source exploitation would be hampered by its use?                                                       Italian version 

gpl-phobia_6243461518_o

At the huge FOSDEM developer meetup in Brussels in early February, I attended a panel where speakers discussed whether the use of “permissive” open source licenses like the Apache License is now outstripping use of “viral” licenses, such as the GPL. The discussion was spirited, with advocates associated with the Free Software Foundation pushing back on the assertion the GPL is “dying”.

Continue reading

Permissive and Copyleft Are Not Antonyms

Using the term “permissive” as an antonym to “copyleft” – or “restrictive” as its synonym – are unhelpful framing. Describe license reciprocity instead.

Assorted Empty Frames On A Wall

Some open source licenses implement a clever hack invented by Richard Stallman where, as a condition of the copyright license, anyone creating derived versions has to agree they will license the new version the same way as the original. In a play on words, this concept is called “copyleft” and many open source licenses implement this hack. Continue reading

Assume Good Faith

You feel slighted by a comment on a mailing list, or a forum post has failed to be moderated live. How should you react?

Wolf

A recent exchange on a user forum caught my eye, one that’s typical of many user interactions with open source communities. Someone with a technical question had apparently had the answer they needed and to help others in the same situation had posted a summary of the resolution, complete with sample code. When they came back later, the summary was gone. Continue reading