compatibility and the OSD

Rick Moen rick at
Wed Sep 29 00:29:31 UTC 2004

Quoting Chuck Swiger (chuck at

> Wait a second-- this couldn't possibly be an attack because you don't feel 
> that what you said to Alex is insulting, right?

I'm sorry, but if you're trying to maintain with a straight face that
you weren't engaging in attack the critic, you've managed to
self-parody, entirely by yourself.  In any event, sorry, we're just not
playing that game.

> Do your own searches, then.

OK, good idea.  DejaNews (Google Groups) returns 16 results on the
following search:

  Exact phrase "open source" plus the word "software" over the period
  January 1, 1981 (earliest date searchable) through December 31, 1990
  (your choice of year).  Going backwards in date order:

1, 1990-12-10:

    BSD's open source policy meant that user developed software could
    be ported among platforms, which meant their customers saw a much more
    cost effective, leading edge capability combined hardware and software

So very, very close.  Maybe even a hit.  The intended reference seems to
be to the visibility of CSRG's source code, not specifically to the
right to use it for any purpose and further develop it independently.

By the way, that's Thad P. Floryan on alt.religion.computers arguing
with Dan Bernstein.  Amusing.

2, 1990-07-25:

   error("cannot open source file for input");

3.  1990-07-12:

   } else /* Cannot open source file. Should not happen. */
       error = "Huh?? Cannot open source??";

4.  1990-05-12:

   Actually, NSA makes a recommendation for each commodity jurisdiction
   determination which is required under category 13B of ITAR.  It took me
   "only" 16 months to obtain the following paragraph (under the
   Freedom of Information Act) to learn that NSA's position (considerably
   more recent than a decade ago) as of February 1987 was:

      "Although software was developed from open source material,
      the application of that information into the subject software
      program contains cryptographic capabilities that are controlled
      under category 13B."

   The Commerce Department took the completely opposite position:

       "There is no military application identified.  The software is
      also written without a military application in mind."

   I therefore agree that "the US Government is not a single monolithic
   organism with completely coordinated, coherent policies."  My primary
   concern is that those policies must comply with the U.S. Constitution
   and thereby allow the free dissemination of open-source/published
   material -- including software (ESPECIALLY FREE SOFTWARE) which is
   developed directly from published algorithms. 

This (Tony S. Patti on sci.crypt) _seems_ to be the aforementioned,
long-established _espionage_ sense of the term, (open sources.  Very
close, though:  It does address specifically software.

5.  1990-03-01:

     fputs ("can't open source file ",stderr);

6.  1989-11-19:

    error("Can't open source file %s",srcfilename);

7.  1989-10-03:

     I am struck by the lack of any reference to Virus-L, RISKS Forum
     and other INTERNET services which have for years provided we users
     the best available, open source information on the subject of computer

8.   1989-08-01:

    write sys$error "Can't open ""''source'"""

9.   1989-07-25:

    XtError("Cannot open source file in XtDiskSourceCreate");

10.   1989-06-30:

   if ((from = open(source, 0)) < 0) {

11.  1989-01-21:

   error("Unable to open source file.");

12.  1988-12-01:

   } else /* Cannot open source file. Should not happen. */
            error = "Huh?? Cannot open source??";

13.  1988-11-27:

    as_perror ("Can't open source file for input", file_name);

14.  1988-01-09:

    write sys$error "Can't open ""''source'"""

15.  1985-12-15:

    Z    if (-1 == (s = open(source,O_RDONLY)))

16.  1984-12-17:

    * Open source file as standard input

Well, that was almost fun.  It allowed me to pretend for a few minutes
that I'm a typically computerist unable to see the larger point because
of obsession with basically insignificant, distracting details.

You see, if we spot Thad Floryan and Tony Patti pride of first place
with their one-time mentions of the term in 1990, all that really means
in the end is that I'd gladly buy each of them a beer in gratitude for
their helping launch the concept, even though they went nowhere with it
-- and nobody did until OSI.  Bringing us back to the point:

The fact that OSI established the term (in the software sense) remains

> I also see the existence of shades of grey in terms of "open source",
> such as Sun making Java "mostly open but require a compatibility
> suite", or licenses like NetHack and Moria/Angband, which have (or at
> one time had) a "no commercial use/resale" term.

You can certainly call those open source.  And I'll politely ask you to
correct the error if you go around, say, putting them on the front page
of a Web site for "open source developers".  For reasons already

We're done.

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