[PROPOSAL] Open Source certification

Anthony Towns aj at azure.humbug.org.au
Sun Apr 11 04:24:27 UTC 1999

On Sat, Apr 10, 1999 at 08:02:36PM -0000, Russell Nelson wrote:
> Anthony Towns writes:
>  > 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.
> I expect that you'll find we make mistakes.  Nobody's perfect.  But if
> you look at the track record of the board members, I think you'll find
> a long string of consistent support for libre software.  History matters.

*shrug* Having your heart in the right place just *is not enough*.

What you're saying here is: look, I'm sorry but we can't be anymore
open than we already are, so you can't help us. Oh, and we don't have
all that much time to work on this. But don't worry, everything'll be
fine. Trust me.

The whole point of having an open organisation is that anyone can
help. You only get to use the `So do it yourself' excuse if we *can*
do it ourselves, and the only way we can do that -- the only way we'd
*want* to do that -- is if you're an open organisation.
>  > Admitting your mistakes, your bugs, your design flaws, whatever is a key
>  > element of free software development.
> You are absolutely right.  That is how hackers do things.  It's
> completely lacking in a business environment.  If we were to be seen
> as hackers, we would get the same regard that hackers have always
> gotten: zero.

You keep repeating this assertion, and I keep being unimpressed by it.

Watch: ``You are absolutely right. Giving away the source code is how
hackers do things. It's completely lacking in a business environment. If
we were to be seen as hackers, we would get the same regard that hackers
have always gotten: zero.''

So gee, we'd better stop trying to convince companies to follow the OSD
with their products, hadn't we?

Or should I just go with the subtext here and make snide remarks about this
is what OSI are already doing?


You're already going against suits' preconceived notions. Sure, be gentle
with them an' all, but, well, spare the rod and spoil the child and all
the rest of it.

The idea here is to get suits to join the hacker culture, at least to some
extend. Giving up on important bits of it just because they might frown
a little at you isn't the way to go.

>  > 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.
> You don't see the duck's feet paddling, either.  OSI has *got* to look
> like a duck -- calm and unruffled on top, and paddling like crazy
> underneath.  It's the only way we can function.

Yeah, great, but you're not even getting your own analogy.

OSI has to look calm and unruffled to the people throwing it crumbs from
the shore. It ought to look like it's paddling like crazy to the fishies
underneath though.

It doesn't.

>  > 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".
> I'd rather have one person in the front line.  I don't want a
> gazillion people mailing the whole board.

Fine. So do what I just said. Or make the language clearer that people
should contact Eric first.

>  > 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.
> The way free software people respond to feature requests is "send code."

Then try getting into the habit where that's the *first* thing you say,
not "It's too hard".

So may we? Can I take this as a real offer, and forward it to the folks at
debian-legal so we can do this?


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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