Monday May 11, 2009

Are liberal licenses a better future proofing?

A couple of days after the Kable Open Source conference, I looked up Gianugo Rabellino's blog and read his then most recent blog article, "Of Oracle, Sun and Open Development" about the impact of M&A on open source investment protection.

The conclusion I draw from his article is that open source adopters need to make investment protection a selection criteria. Its well understood that the vibrancy of the product community is crucial, so its just obvious that taking a view on the future is as important. Gianugo also argues that liberal licences enhance the ability of a community to survive M&A activity. I think he's probably right, and this means that licence terms might become important even to end user sites who have no intention of distributing software. It may also be worth measuring how diverse an open source development community is before adopting the software.

Its an interesting spin on Alisdair Mangham's comment on licences, (see below) but they didn't debate. Alisdair's comment was that if you don't plan to distribute, you don't need to worry about viral licences, he might well agree on the need to evaluate to protect the development cost.

This is another article that's been hanging around on my machine for longer than is smart. This one I have not back dated.


Thursday Apr 23, 2009

A short URL for the "Third Wave" slides

I have created a short URL at for the slides I used on Wednesday; is the mediacaster web page that hosts my slides.


Wednesday Apr 22, 2009

You don't manufacture software

Gianugo Rabellino of Source Sense and the Apache Foundation and presented a demolition of the need or inexorability of charging for right to use, he finished this demoltion by quoting Eric Raymond from his paper, "The Magic Cauldron"

" is largely a service industry operating under the persistent but unfounded delusion that it is a manufacturing industry. "

Spot on in my opinion, creative workers need to get used to selling time and earning wages again.


Tuesday Apr 21, 2009

The Third Wave of Adoption

I spoke next, the slides I used, based on Simon Phipps, current pitch are posted on my page at Sun's mediacaster. (I say based, this is a derived work, and I was pleased to be able to use his presentation). I covered how we have got to where we are, the Pioneers, the four freedoms, the geek community and the arrival of the enterprise. We then look at the compelling value of peer production, and the role of licenses in the community, and how to defend against trolls and vultures. One slide, developed by Simon and articulated in Sun's Free and Open Source Licensing White Paper posted at, classes the open source licences into Open, file based and project based licences. The slide I used is posted below

Three Classes of License Slide

. It is clear there are some who think that only the GPL counts as Open Source, but despite its undoubted popularity, there are a number of people and organisations who think that its duty to publish is not always desirable, and the Apache licence. These are not restricted to organisations that pursue a rights based business model. The presentations and white paper talk about community roles and present a model of these roles. The presentation re-inforces the fact that Sun is the largest publisher of Open Source in the world and has a range of produicts and partners to allow open source adopters to what they want.

The slide above is available as a full size .jpg if you prefer it.


Implementing Opensource

Alisdair Mangham, the head of IS & Development for the LB of Camden argued from experience, as he presented a case study, that you need to own software development expertise to adopt open source and this became a theme for the rest of the day. Alisdair argied for an adoption led deployment, I was interested how yet again, he as do many others argue that Finance is a mission critical function. Its not always true, and becoming less so. Businesses compete on price or by differentiation. Its very hard, or illegal to innovate your finance processes, and price advantage is gained by efficient processes not innovative finance. Today, it should be at the front of the queue for outsourcing. Another GEM from Alisdair is that licence terms are not important to an End-User site and he knows, he's read a few. The point he makes is that unless you are looking to do business as a software house, the liabilities you incur through licence is not important. I wonder if he's considered aquiring indemnity.


The importance of Open Source

John Pugh MP opened the conference, with a review of the state of software procurement in the UK public sector. He suggested that ubiquity should be the trigger point at which charging for right to use becomes undesirable. I see no justification in this, although the behaviour of the drugs companies and their monopsony buyers is an interesting example of what might happen. I think his own references to Kant, and testing it as a natural law shows that its can't be done. When does something become so ubiquitous that it should be free to use. He also looked at a new tripartite demand for software, the civil servant, the consultant and the provider and wondered how open source providers and their ecosystem could get to the table. He also pointed out the lack of domain expertise often held by the civil servants, which is what causes the need for consultants. It reminds me of projects I have been on when assessing bid/no-bid decisions as to whether we had the expertise to manage the project's profitability. The project managers are easy to find, its people who understand what's going on that are harder.


Friday Mar 13, 2009

Open Source, the price is right

I shall be speaking tomorrow on "Open Source, Free the right price!" and shall be posting my slides here. I have been busy reading up my undergraduate economics to remind me of what I learned then and check that it hasn't changed. I borrowed Beggs, Fischer and Dornbusch's "Economics", since I got rid of my text books years ago and this seems to be the modern equivilent. I have also tagged it in my living social booklist.


Thursday Nov 06, 2008

What will the Cloud do?

I was pointed at the Eucalyptus project, an open-source software infrastructure for implementing "cloud computing" on clusters, by a colleague and decided I needed to check out Amazon first. Several colleagues have given me this advice but have the University really written an open source grid platform conforming to Amazon's EC2 APIs.

If so its a fascinating example of the speed of commoditisation. It raises the question of where's the value in building clouds? If you can't innovate above the system components where can you innovate? Its obviously pointless to copy what Google did 10 years ago and if the assembly is available in Open Source you should probably use it. The space left by Amazon for a competitive threat is that they major on Infrastructure as a Service, although of ocurse given the operating systems available you can quickly turn it into a platform. I have just checked Amazon's EC2 Page, and they now offer a database query interface to their storage solution. The space left is to offer higher levels of abstraction, specifically by offering Java, Python or Ruby space to customers, and this is what Sun's Project Caroline does. Sun also innovates at the system, silicon and software layers. IT Systems are not really commodities and sedimentation means they will continue to change, the industry still needs innovators. IT isn't done yet.


Wednesday Sep 17, 2008

Laptop Diaries,

Before I start to install Open Bravo, I notice/knew that there's no personal productivity tools on OpenSolaris, I need openoffice. Its easy enough, a quick google points me at Chris Gerard's article on installing Open Office, on Open Solaris. As he recommends,

    pfexec pkg install openoffice

does the trick, off it goes to and downloads the package and installs it.

screen shot

and it looks like this.


Monday Sep 15, 2008

Laptop Diaries, Open Solaris

So while at the Lintlithgow EBC launch last week, I saw a demo'd copy of an opensolaris VM which looked really cool, and then Jingesh Shah, published this blog article on an Open Source ERP package, called "openbravo" running on Open Solaris. This has to be done.

Open Solaris running on my Laptop

I have downloaded the Open Solaris .iso from, and this is how I did it.

Start a VM using the .iso as the boot device.

Follow these installation instructions to define the locale and users.

Shut down the VM

Using the Virtual Box control panel, point the CD/DVD drive at the VX additions .iso, which is in the installation folder and restart the VM, then as root,

    cd /media
    pkgadd -d ./VBoxSolarisAdditions.pkg

I was using V1.6.4 of Virtual Box and for some reason, the "Add Guest Additions" on the Virtual Box command bar didn't work. The above trick seems to work quite happily, I have full screen mode working. Now to upgrade to Virtual Box 2.0.2.


Friday Mar 14, 2008

MMORPG, making them massive

During the meeting, we considered the opportunities around Project Darkstar. This is a shardless gaming platform operating environment, written in Java, and inspired by Sun's extensive experience in building mission critical enterprise computing platforms.

MMORPGs seem to be even more popular in some of the far-eastern countries than in the west and its possible that by offering a programming platform Sun can create new conversations with game authors. Make no mistake, Darkstar is a game author's offering. One of the more interesting derivations of Darkstar is project wonderland, built on top of 'Looking Glass' an experimental three dimensional desktop, which has led to the creation of a business/collaboration orientated networked virtual world. This allows us to offer lessons from mission critical computing and its efficiency and predictability requirements, not to mention an understanding of the difference between a game world and business collaboration. It should be noted that networked virtual worlds are seen by both the EU Commission and Gartner as important computing platforms of the future.

The Darkstar code has been published under the GPL v2.0 and talking and thinking about the implications for developers with my colleagues led to my considering Bioware's experimentation with post royalty licenses. This interests me because together with the second life license which explicitly ensures that authors own their intellectual property, they both illustrate that the lawyers (or license designers) can ensure that licenses explicitly target both collaborative and and monetisation behaviour and reinforce the business models of the original license authors. The GPL uses sharing as a gatekeeper condition, while as noted above Second Life license protects author's intellectual property, hence encouraging the development of virtual property within the "world". The Bioware Aurora license ensures that purchaser's of the bioware games get the free right to use all community content. Bioware's Aurora license with which they licensed Neverwinter Nights and its kicker modules ensured that any user created content had to be distributed under the Aurora license. This ensured a no-commerce clause, for the binaries, and the requirement to run the modifications using a licensed version of the runtime. This both protected Bioware's license income and meant that external authors created additional demand for the original game, tools and runtime. N.B. These are not distributed separately.

There is a growing economic theory about the "optimum welfare price" of software and/or information, which I have promised Dominc Kay that I will write up. Copyright and monopoly ownership are legal distortions that inhibit this price occurring in a market. It is however generally the case that most inventors/authors intellectual property rights are fully asserted and freedom only licensed. However, the economic theory is for another day.


Thursday Jan 17, 2008

Hi MySQL, welcome to Sun

{short description of image}Wow, the MySQL announcement from Sun has certainly made a lot of noise in the blogosphere. The Register comments here..., and also post their interview with Rich Green & Marten Mikos. You've probably seen Jonatahan's Blog and Comments.

The Register Article has some interesting, and some wrong headed and tedious comments about the MySQL current licencsing policies, it'll be interesting to see how it moves forward. We all obviously have a lot to learn, it should be fun.


Tuesday Nov 20, 2007

Sun is the greatest and most generous Opensource Company on the planet!

Oddly, it is the 1st Aniversary of the EU's publication of their report, "Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU". In this report, they identified Sun as the single largest corporate doner of open source code in the world. [.pdf...] Sun had contributed over three times the man hours as the second place company, IBM. This finding was before Sun open sourced JAVA.


Corporate contribution to FLOSS


Source: Economic Impact of FLOSS on innovation and competitiveness of the EU ICT Sector. (2006), published by the EU Commission.

NB The full report is 287 pages long.


Tuesday Nov 14, 2006

Open Solaris User Group in London

The London open solaris user group is meeting in Sun's Customer Briefing Centre (Regis House) tonight (18:00) in the City. I'm just about to set off to it.


Java goes open source

Java went opensource over the weekend under the GPL. Its now free to read and change; its been free to use forever!

I wonder if it'll make "Duke" more popular. I wonder if it'll save me from having to install Java on my Linux systems when I go through my regular rebuilds. :)

Here's an affinity button:-


Get the Source


You can get them here....





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