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In certain parts of this town, it's de rigeur for shopkeepers to display the sign: "OUR COMMUNITY IS A HATE FREE ZONE!"

What a relief! I think, when I'm out buying my tomatoes.

I'd much rather shop at a grocer that displayed one of these signs, than one that posted a sign saying "GENOCIDE PRACTICED HERE WEEKLY: 3.30PM EACH WED, BRING CLEAVER"

Wouldn't you?

You've got to shop with the good guys.

But the IT community isn't above mouthing equally cheap and meaningless gestures of good will. We've seen so many hate-free zones launched by well intentioned parties over the years, we've lost count, and yesterday we got another one. Another campaign to cure the world of evilness, and still get everyone home in time for tea.

This one is co-founded by four monopolists: Microsoft (desktop operating systems), Cisco (routers), Oracle (relational databases) and NASA (first-class space travel). It's called the Sustainable Computing Initiative, and it has a website here. Or at least it should have: the website itself doesn't appear to have been able to sustain itself throughout its first twenty four hours of life, and was down when we checked a moment ago.

From our investigations, it transpires that the SCI is a wheeze engineered by Carnegie Mellon University, backed by $30 million of US federal money.

Leading lights from the software libre community were sounded out about support for the project, but discovered that any innovations would be owned by CMU. Which meant that the University owned the code, leaving it in prime position to exploit it commercially

Er, no - this is isn't how we work exactly, was the rejoinder from the community. Which prompted the University to offer a twin-track license late last week.

So far, the Hate Free Zone has amassed a legion of defense contractors in support of the Sustainable Computing Initiative, but as far as we can tell, not a single open source company. If we're mistaken, please send enlightenment - and fatuous gestures of world peace, etc etc - to your humble scribe. ®

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