What Is An API? The Clue Is In The Name…

At the end of my testimony in the recent Oracle v Google trial in San Francisco, Judge Alsup asked me to explain what an API is. My answer aimed to simplify the answer for a general listener while remaining recognizable to most programmers. Here’s what I said. Continue reading

Get A Discount & Help Me Get To OSCON!

My first OSCON was in 2000 in Monterey, CA. It was the one where Sun released OpenOffice.org as open source (and pledged to hand it over to a Foundation, something they forgot later despite many reminders) and I had only been a Sun employee for a very short time. I have attended most of them since then as a speaker, and have delivered “keynotes” (OSCON has a chat-show format for plenaries so talks are short) several times as well. I’m still on the Program Committee. Continue reading

Joining A Community Means Accepting Its Norms

The progress of Microsoft towards acceptance into the open source community continues. The Azure team is definitely a force for good in the company, constantly pushing Microsoft’s developer teams to understand how important the Linux platform and open source developer components and tools are to the success of Microsoft’s cloud business. After the partnership with Red Hat, the news they will release SQL Server for Linux, while not surprising to me, was very interesting, as was the news they are joining Eclipse. Continue reading

Joining The Document Foundation Board

At the end of 2015 I was honoured to be elected to serve as a director of The Document Foundation — the charity that develops LibreOffice — for two years. The new Board commenced yesterday, February 18 and immediately started conducting business by selecting a Chair – Marina Latini from the LibreItalia community – and a vice-chair, the redoubtable Michael Meeks of Collabora. Continue reading

Meshed Again In 2016

As of January 1st 2016, my main work focus is once again Meshed Insights Ltd., which we’ve kept ticking over during 2015.  Working at Wipro was an interesting experiment, but frankly I did not enjoy it at all. I could have probably have lingered there indefinitely if I’d wanted, but leaving on December 31st was entirely my own decision. The company is simply not ready to speak up for software freedom or encourage its clients to set themselves free from the proprietary vendors Wipro loves and from which it profits. Screenshot 2014-12-27 at 18.06.02

Fortunately there are better things to do lining up at our door; I’m ready to dive straight in to client activities for Meshed.  We’ve been retained by Mozilla to compile a report describing the entities that could host the Thunderbird Project, and have two other (currently non-public) clients ready to go. We would welcome further engagements for 2016 and I would be thrilled if demand allowed me to hire more staff.

In addition to those client engagements we have ideas relating to the thinking we’ve been doing around Community Interest Companies and open source communities, and I hope to have news about that after FOSDEM. I was also surprised and honoured to be elected to the Board of The Document Foundation, effective mid February, and hope to understand more about that at FOSDEM as well.

As you can tell I’m excited about 2016!  I wish you the very best for the new year.

Winter Music

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If you’d like some music for the dark nights (& days) that’s not so “traditional”, try these albums:

More album recommendations welcome!

Answer to a Frequently Asked Question

Q: Which open source license is best?

A: Unlike bilateral copyright licenses, which are negotiated between two parties and embody a truce between them for business purposes, multilateral copyright licenses — of which open source licenses are a kind — are “constitutions of communities”, as Eben Moglen and others have observed. They express the consensus of how a community chooses to collaborate. They also embody its ethical assumptions, even if they are not explicitly enumerated.

When that consensus includes giving permission to all to use, study improve and share the code without prejudice, the license is an open source license. The Open Source Definition provides an objective test of evaluating that such a license is indeed an open source license and delivers the software freedom we all expect.

Since licenses are the consensus of communities, it is natural that different communities will have different licenses, that communities with different norms will find fault with the licenses used by others, and that all will regard their way as optimum. The arguments over this will be as deep as the gulf between the philosophical positions of the communities involved.

Ultimately, there is no license that is right for every community. Use the one that best aligns with your community’s objectives and ethos.

[Now part of OSI’s official FAQ]

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