Using the term “permissive” as an antonym to “copyleft” – or “restrictive” as its synonym – are unhelpful framing. Describe license reciprocity instead.
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
Open Source and Public Domain are frequently confused. Here’s why it’s a mistake to treat the two terms as synonyms.
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 or indeed as globally free software. 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 project. Continue reading
Should you donate money to the open source projects you use? Or is there a better way to help?
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
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?
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
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.
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.
Including design and UX in a true community project is a challenging matter of balance because of the motivational model behind open source projects.
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
Starting a large-scale open source project? The Apache Software Foundation is the benchmark against which you will be measured.
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