Public Domain Is Not Open Source

Open Source and Public Domain are frequently confused. Here’s why it’s a mistake to treat the two terms as synonyms.

Coade Stone lion in London

Plenty of people assume that public domain software must be open source. While it may be free software within your specific context, it is incorrect to treat public domain software as open source. That’s not a legal opinion (I’m not a lawyer so only entitled to layman’s opinions) but rather an observation that an open source user or developer cannot safely include public domain source code in a projectContinue reading

Give Generously! Seven Ways To Help Open Source

Should you donate money to the open source projects you use? Or is there a better way to help?

heavy-load_8081048699_o

Your business most likely depends on open source software. But are you playing your part to make sure it will still be there in the future? For that to happen, the projects where it is both maintained and improved need to flourish. Continue reading

4 Lessons From Watching Governance Games

Even near-perfect governance like Apache’s can get gamed by a determined and well-resourced player. What lessons can we learn from their experience? 

snake-warning_9391539040_o

 

I’ve previously written about the fact the Apache Software Foundation offers an exemplar of large-scale open source governance. Even with those supreme qualities, things can still go wrong. Apache offers some of the best protections for open source contributors but its mature rules can be manipulated by skilled politicians and/or determined agendas. What can we learn from their experience? Continue reading

Wix and WordPress Explainer

When you breach the terms of the GPL, the best plan is to put things right straight away, not misdirect away from the problem and condescend to the authors.

gpl-sign

Many were surprised when one of the pioneers of the open web accused a competitor of theft1. Matt Mullenweg complained on October 28 that the new mobile app Wix has released uses a big chunk of code from WordPress, namely the WordPress Mobile Editor Component. Matt is the original creator of WordPress and now CEO of the company successfully monetising it, Automattic, Inc.

Continue reading

How Can Open Source Become User-Centric?

Including design and UX in a true community project is a challenging matter of balance because of the motivational model behind open source projects.

Mexican Hat rock

According to The Cathedral and the Bazaar, the key motivation for participants in open source projects is “scratching their own itch.” One consequence of this is co-ordination of contributions to support user-centric design is inherently an optional extra in a true open source project with multiple independent participants.  We all wish there was a way to get genuine user experience quality as a key dynamic of open source projects. But there are two big reasons that is challenging. Continue reading

Large-Scale Governance – 10 Apache Lessons

Starting a large-scale open source project? The Apache Software Foundation is the benchmark against which you will be measured.

Santa Cruz surfer

We’re now well beyond the point where open source has “won”. We’re seeing the open source idea starting to mature beyond even adolescence into adulthood. As it does so, our understanding and expectations of open source communities need to expand. Continue reading

The Cost Of Open Sourcing Your Project

Accusing a company of “dumping” their project as open source is probably misplaced – it’s an expensive business no-one would do frivolously.

swan-m

If you see an active move to change software licensing or governance, it’s likely someone is paying for it and thus could justify the expense to an executive. Continue reading