Open Software Side Effects

Frank LaMonica frankl at
Mon Apr 16 22:53:14 UTC 2001

That's correct.  There are many more factors that could exist, but I was
trying to narrow the focus to those which are necessary and sufficient. 

Many people are confused, and even distanced, by open source rhetoric.
The principal source of those reactions lie in our failure to understand
and promote the aspects of open source which will bring success to the
computer industry in OUR society.  Why, where, and how will business
benefit from open source more than it would from proprietary software? 
My contention is that open API's, data formats, and OS infrastructure
are the ONLY aspects of open source that are both necessary and
sufficient to generate the most possible benefit to business in our

Licensing issues come into play because that is the legal mechanism we
use to define and control the use of our open source resources.  The BSD
license does nothing to force PEOPLE to do anything.  It merely
maintains the open source availability of any piece of software which
anyone has chosen to license under its terms.  If people understand that
the true economic value of a piece of software inures from its open
source nature, then that software will continue to fulfill its role as
an open conduit of other IP that can be used to generate the profits a
business in OUR society requires in order to survive.  The better we
educate the industry on these issues, the more likely it will be to
reject any software that attempts to secure some competitive advantage
by closing up the API's, data formats, or OS infrastructure.   Companies
who are funding the development of critical open source software
understand the importance of freely accessible, royalty free avenues
which encourage innovation and competition.  

I believe that our challenge is to educate the industry in order to
thwart all attempts to secure a proprietary foothold into what must
remain an open pipeline.  I don't believe a license which attempts to
control the use of the software will do the job. People will do it once
they understand it is in their best business interest to do so.


David Johnson wrote:
> Switching topic titles...
> On Sunday April 15 2001 09:29 pm, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> > This goes beyond the legal issues of free software, but my own list of
> > factors is slightly more extensive:
> >
> >   1. Development methodology...
> >   2. A software architecture...
> >   4. An economic model...
> >   6. Open standards...
> Since Frank's post was trying to list the necessary and sufficient factors
> for Open Source, it seemed as if you were trying to do the same. I would not
> characterize the above points as necessary attributes of Open Source. Rather,
> they are common side effects of Open Source. You could certainly have
> projects that are open but which don't have the above attributes, and you
> could have closed source projects that do.
> Of course, projects that don't have the above factors would have a higher
> "forkability" attribute...
> --
> David Johnson
> ___________________

Frank LaMonica         VA Linux Systems Inc.      frankl at
(512) 378-3003                                    (512) 378-3004 fax
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