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Open Source/Open Standards

A Brief History of Open Source Software, Part 3: The FOSS Environment Today

Open Source/Open Standards

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons/lewing@isc.tamu.edu and The GIMP if someone asksIn its simplest form, FOSS development requires almost no traditional economic, physical or management support. All that is needed is a place to host code in a manner that allows multiple developers to collaborate on its further development. As FOSS has become more commercially valuable and widely incorporated into vendor and customer strategic plans, however, additional layers of services and structures have evolved to allow FOSS development to become more efficient and robust and the user experience even more productive. These include training, a growing certification testing network, a variety of tools to assist in legal compliance matters, and a network of hosting entities providing a wide range of supporting services and frameworks.

The development of these tools has been an important factor in allowing the commercial marketplace to rapidly evolve from a closed, proprietary world to one heavily based on OSS.

A Brief History of Open Source Software, Part 2: OSS Licenses and Legalities

Open Source/Open Standards

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Jonnymccullagh [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]It would not be an exaggeration to say that the magic of open source software (OSS) is based as much on legal innovation as it is on collaboration. Indeed, the essential innovation that launched free and open source software was not Richard Stallmans GNU Project, but his announcement of a revolutionary new licensing philosophy, and the actual license agreements needed to put that philosophy into effect. Only later did global collaboration among developers explode, riding the wave of Stallman's licenses, Linus Torvald's pioneering work in creating the distributed development process, and rapidly increasing telecommunications bandwidth.

In this installment, we'll explore how Stallman's philosophy spread and forked, and where it has taken us to today.

A Brief History of Open Source Software

Open Source/Open Standards

半ー太郎 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]Everybody uses open source software (OSS) today. Millions of people contribute to the code itself. Indeed, a substantial percentage of the users and creators of OSS today are young enough to have never known a world that didn't rely on OSS. In other words, it's very easy to take this remarkable product of open collaboration for granted.

But that would be a mistake, especially given how unlikely it was that such a unique phenomenon could ever have taken hold. If you've never had reason to wonder how all this came about, this three part series is for you. In it, I'll review how remote developers began to collaborate to create OSS, how the legal tools to make its distribution possible evolved, and how the world came to embrace it.

RISC-V Foundation Says Goodbye to the United States

Open Source/Open Standards

RISC-V Foundation LogoFor over thirty years U.S. companies have enjoyed a home court advantage in developing information and communications technology (ICT) standards. Specifically, the overwhelming majority of the more than five hundred consortia founded over the last thirty-five years to develop ICT standards have been formed under U.S. laws and headquartered in the U.S. That’s hardly a surprise because the vast majority of the companies that founded these same consortia were also American companies. Now the times may be a-changing.

Some Concerns Open Source Should Worry About, Part 3: Distributed Ownership

Open Source/Open Standards

Network%20Diagram%20140.jpgThe vast majority of free and open source (FOSS) projects today operate on a license in/license out basis. In other words, each contributor to a code base continues to own her code while committing to provide a license to anyone that wants to download that code. Of course, no developer ever actually signs a downstream license. Instead, all contributors to a given project agree on the OSI (Open Source Initiative) approved license they want to use, and those terms stand as an open promise to all downstream users.

But is that really the best way to operate? What about the minority of projects that require contributors to assign ownership of their code to the project? They clearly think assignment is a better way to go. Are they right?

Some Concerns Open Source Should Worry About, Part 2: Antitrust

Open Source/Open Standards

US Dept. of Justice LogoFree and open source software (FOSS) development has for many years enjoyed an increasingly positive public image. Particularly in the last several years, it’s become recognized as the foundation upon which most of the modern computing world rests. FOSS proponents include many governments, too, including many in Europe and the European Commission itself.

That’s all good and quite appropriate, but it’s worth keeping in mind that FOSS involves the conscious agreement of head to head competitors to work towards a common result – something that would otherwise normally be a red flag to antitrust regulators in the US, competition authorities in Europe, and to many of their peers throughout the world. To date, those regulators do not seem to have expressed any concerns over FOSS development generally. But that can change.

OSI Board Pledges Allegiance to Open Source Definition, Now and Forever

Open Source/Open Standards

Illustration of the Cnut and the Waves episode by Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville, courtesy of the Wikimedia CommonsEverything changes over time, from the constitutions of nations to political theories. Should the Open Source Software Definition be any different?

Earlier this week the Board of Directors of the Open Source Initiative issued an Affirmation of the Open Source Definition, inviting others to endorse the same position. The stated purpose of the release was to underline the importance of maintaining the open source software (OSS) definition in response to what the directors see as efforts to “undermine the integrity of open source.” Certainly, that definition has stood the test of time, and OSI has ably served as the faithful custodian of the definition of what can and cannot be referred to as OSS.

That said, while well-intentioned, the statement goes too far. It also suggests that the directors would do well to reflect on what their true role as custodians of the OSS definition should be.

Guest Post: An Intro For Beginners - What is Kubernetes & How to Get Started With It

Open Source/Open Standards

By Ashley Lipman

Kubernetes%20130.pngMany people have heard of Kubernetes, but don’t know when or where to use it or even what it’s functionality is. Docker users may be more familiar with the program, but still unsure how to make that transition into using Kubernetes.

In this article, we’ll take a beginner’s approach to what Kubernetes is and how to start using it. This information will give you a high-level overview of the program and highlight some key considerations.

Major Vendors Commit to Healthcare Data Interoperability (So?)

Open Source/Open Standards

Courtesy Allan MacKinnon/Wikimedia Commons - Public DomainThe wire services lit up yesterday with news that six of the largest tech companies in the world had issued a statement in support of interoperability in healthcare at a developer conference. It’s a righteous goal, to be sure. In an interoperable healthcare world, anyone’s entire, life-long health record could be accessed anywhere, anytime, by anyone who was giving you care, from your primary physician to an emergency responder. Such a virtuous goal, in fact, that everyone, including the US government, has been trying to achieve it – without success – for over a decade. Will yesterday’s news bring us any closer to that goal?

The Data Transfer Project and the Hammer

Open Source/Open Standards

Hammer%20and%20Nail%20128.pngFirst, the good news: last week, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook announced the Data Transfer Project, inviting other data custodians to join as well. DTP is an initiative that will create the open source software necessary to allow your personal information, pictures, email, etc. to be transferred directly from one vendor’s platform to another, and in encrypted form at that. This would be a dramatic improvement from the current situation where, at best, a user can download data from one platform and then try and figure out how to upload it to another, assuming that’s possible at all.

 

So what’s the bad news, and what does a hammer have to do with it?

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