Feeds

Perens: 'Badgeware' threat to open source's next decade

Je ne regrette rien - kinda

Top three mobile application threats

10th birthday interview Bruce Perens doesn't regret the fact that, since officially co-birthing open source with The Cathedral and the Bazaar author and hacker Eric Raymond ten years ago, Linux and open source have moved from the sandal-wearing fringes to acceptance by Wall Street and big, closed-source industry giants.

Nor does he feel remorse at the fact that Linux and open source established a pervasive presence on servers and handhelds such as Motorola's RAZR, and that they are now proving popular in browsers, languages and developer frameworks.

In fact, Perens is so convinced that open source culture - such as collaborative working in a community - has proven so adept at creating high quality products like Firefox for lower costs and reduced risk to individuals, he believes the open source philosophy will spill over into non-IT areas like education materials and manufacture of business and consumer goods in the next ten years.

No. If Bruce Perens could change anything from that day in February 1998 when he announced the Open Source Definition and the Open Source Initiative he'd alter the very way open source licenses are ratified, to halt what he regards as the chief threat to the next ten years of open source: license proliferation.

Perens said the growth in licenses, especially the emergence of "badgeware", or attribution licenses used by numerous open source companies, such as last year's Common Public Attribution License (CPAL), is dangerous. Today, we have 68 licenses ranging from the well-known GNU General Public License(GPL) to the, well... the OCLC Research Public License 2.0 recognized by the OSI.

Badgeware puts open source on a slippery slope to the approval of ever-more restrictive licenses. The OSI - the body that ratifies all open source and Linux licenses - has failed to establish a clear guideline for approving badgeware, and apparently acted arbitrarily, leaving left us potentially open to even more badgeware. "It was not clear to me that by granting this license [Socialtext] that the OSI can hold the line. They have to come up with a rationale," Perens told Reg Dev in an interview.

While Perens supports recognition of developers' work, he believes badgeware licenses threaten the very essence of open source and Linux - their creativity - because such licenses put arbitrary terms and conditions on developers. Badgeware makes the software's use ever more restrictive and leaves individual developers open to attack from America's biggest single export: litigious attorneys.

"I wasn't prepared for [license proliferation]- I might have structured it differently had I known," Perens conceded. "I'd have suggested putting a non-proliferation clause in the Open Source Initiative and designed the licence approval process, so it was a bad idea to submit a licence that does the same as another licence."

Perens believes he can't now insert such a clause and - in lieu of that fact - believes the best hope for the next ten years is for open source and Linux projects and technologies to be licensed under GPL3 or LGPL3, successors to GPL2 and LGPL2. "Because of the legal scrutiny those licenses have had," said.

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.