Responding To Post Truth Politics

In his article Understanding Trump, George Lakoff offers a master class in the psychology of the Trump phenomenon. It is definitely worth your time to read it.

At the end, he outlines a game plan for responsing to Trump which I think is superb. But I think it applies to more than just US politics; it’s a way to respond to post-truth politics anywhere. Here is a quick edit of the final section of Lakoff’s essay that generalises it for use anywhere: 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 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]

Azure Loves Linux; What About Microsoft?

The news that Red Hat and Microsoft have reached an agreement about hosting Linux is very welcome. I am delighted for Red Hat here, and see this as a huge sign of the continuing power and growth of open source. It shows that the cloud market is one where and embrace of Linux is table stakes. It also shows that the enterprise market is one where Red Hat is a huge and powerful supplier.

All the same, let’s be clear that all the “Microsoft Loves Linux” hype I saw at SUSECon in Amsterdam yesterday and at other events earlier this year is just not true. Microsoft Azure loves Linux, there is no doubt; it is a basic requirement for them to become relevant on a cloud market dominated by AWS and Linux. They have been out in force at every commercially-oriented open source I have attended this year and have a full-scale charm offensive in place.

But the rest of the company still does not. They still seem to covertly spread open-source-related FUD about LibreOffice here in Europe. They haven’t foresworn making embedded Linux vendors pay for patent licenses of dubious necessity. The Azure business unit is certainly embracing the ecosystem the same as many before them have done so in their steps towards open source. But the Windows and Office business units show no signs of “loving” Linux and only modest signs of co-existing with open source.

It’s hard to change a company as large and profitable as Microsoft quickly. But a significant and binding gesture of goodwill would go a long way to convincing those of us with the scars of Microsoft’s decades of verbal and actual abuse of open source that they mean business.  It’s no secret what the necessary gesture is.

“We both know we have very different positions on software patents,” said Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president for products and technologies. “We weren’t expecting each other to compromise.”
(WSJ)

Red Hat, despite asserting they don’t believe Microsoft has any patents that read on their products, included a standstill agreement in the deal. Sources tell me it is carefully phrased to comply with the GPL. If Red Hat felt they had to do that with their new partner, there’s no doubt everyone else remains at risk.

If Microsoft truly want to signal the end of hostilities, step one is to sign the Mozilla Open Software Patent License Agreement or join OIN. Until one of those happens, I remain sceptical of Microsoft’s love for Linux.

[Please see my InfoWorld article for more]

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