[PROPOSAL] Open Source certification

Anthony Towns aj at azure.humbug.org.au
Sat Apr 10 09:07:20 UTC 1999

On Sat, Apr 10, 1999 at 05:08:20AM -0000, Russell Nelson wrote:
> Anthony Towns writes:
>  > How will comments from that list be taken into account?
> I have no idea.  The board is comprised of six individuals.  I expect
> that they will all have their own method of taking it into account
> when board decisions are made.

...which leaves the door wide open for the OSI board to completely
ignore comments, or even filter the entire list to /dev/null with a
handy procmail script.

I hope I'm just being paranoid and all, but it'd be nice if there was
some way of making sure some concerns could be met, rather than drowned
out in other noise or conveniently forgotten.

I'd highly recommend, at least initially, having some formal procedure
for lodging complaints, and making sure they're all addressed (by pointing
out other free licenses that have similar "problems"; or by changing the
license; or something similar) before the license is declared open source.

It's just a little bit difficult to take it on good faith that the OSI
board are essentially great blokes and will just do everything right,
so don't you worry about that now. I apologise for being untrusting.

>  > >  >      * This should read ``The Open Source Initiative is
>  > >  > 	  currently working with Apple to fix the few remaining flaws in
>  > >  > 	  the license'', or something similar.
>  > > One doesn't admit to a mistake without having a solution in place.
>  > > It's simply not done.
>  > It is too done.
> You're confusing what hackers do amongst themselves with what suits do.
> OSI doesn't exist to talk to hackers.  It talks to suits, and has to
> talk their language.

And you're forgetting that OSI is an interface between suits and hackers,
not just suits and suits. OSI exists to get hackers and suits to agree on
good licenses for software.

And in any case. Releasing your source code just isn't done either.

Admitting your mistakes, your bugs, your design flaws, whatever is a key
element of free software development.

Why isn't OSI doing it? Because you're not willing to buck the trends of
the mainstream? Right.

>  > Further, not doing it makes you look like you're not interested in
>  > correcting those mistakes.
> There will be an APSL 1.1.

Hurrah. So, everytime I find I don't like a license you've claimed is
open source, I should flood board at opensource.org with mail asking for
a personal reassurance that you're working on the problems?

Look. I'm convinced, you do care. But from the opensource pages, from
public response posted to slashdot, and from the rumour mill you just
don't look like you're doing anything about it.

>  > >  > 	* OSI publically consult before granting any license OS status.
>  > > Will be done.  Any other demands?
>  > Put a link to board at opensource.org on the `Roster of the Board' page
>  > at www.opensource.org. Replace the <a href="mailto:esr">mail us</a>
>  > links with links to board at opensource.org.
> I'd really, really rather *not* get a ton of mail sent to that address 
> thankyouverymuch.

Then add a rider "Please mail the President concerning most matters at
president at opensource.org. If you need to contact the whole board, mail
board at opensource.org", and change "mail us" to "mail the OSI President".

As it stands, it still looks like Eric is the guy to talk to, and
everyone else is just standing around trying to give him a little bit
of credibility.

And, again, what of reconciling the OSI/SPI debacle? Would OSI consent
to telling people to put "Open Source is a trademark of Software in
the Public Interest", and leaving SPI with final control of the OSD,
and the OS trademark? If not, why not, and what would you rather? 

(if you'd rather take this up privately with the SPI board, that's fine,
but it'd be nice to have a note that you're doing this rather than just
trimming the issue from your reply)

>  > Those would be my demands. I'd also like to see OSI keep a record of
>  > licenses that are open source, and ones that aren't on the opensource.org
>  > pages; ideally with some discussion of what's good about them and what's
>  > not.
> The OSD 1.3 has the ones that are.  There are too many others to list
> them.

The OSD lists the GPL, LGPL, BSD, X, Artistic, MPL and QPL licenses. Yay.
Woo. What about the APSL, Sun's Community License, IBM's Jikes license,
and all the other weird licenses that may or may not be open source?

I'm sure you've thought about all of these, is it really that much more
effort to pen a note saying "Yes, this is open source", or "No, it's not
because of such-n-such" ?

Beyond that, it would be a useful community resource to have some public
summary of the good/bad/arguable points of each of the licenses. Why the
GPL is viral, why you can mix BSD and GPL'd code, why you can't mix QPL'd
and GPL'd code and so forth.

I can understand that you, personally, might have better things to work
on. I can't understand why you're willing to just palm it off with a
"there's too many to list; go away kid, you bother me". That's not the
way free software people respond to feature requests.

Why is it the way OSI does?


Anthony Towns <aj at humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. PGP encrypted mail preferred.

``Like the ski resort of girls looking for husbands and husbands looking
  for girls, the situation is not as symmetrical as it might seem.''
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