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Bringing Free Software Values Back: Please Welcome Equitable Open Source

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Google, GPL, Microsoft, SUN at 12:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The open source validity index

MilkingTheGnu.org (MTG) has just officially announced a new project/initiative. It is called Equitable Open Source (EOS).

EOS comes after a recent suggestion which was brought up and cited very broadly by anxious or curious members of the open source crowd. To give a rough idea of what it might be all about, here is part a comment that I left in MTG’s blog just over a week ago:

Over the past few years I’ve learned, based on very many articles and rants, which companies are open source/FS fakers and which ones are not. That’s one index we/you could set up.

Equitable Open SourceAnother one that comes to mind is vendors (software *and* hardware) that are Linux-hostile/friendly.

That first index [free software credibility index] has become quite a popular one for those who do not know who’s who. In the earlier days I used to just ask PJ, who knew the journalists’ history.

I add not based on single incident[s], but based on recurring patterns (like gauging speed to identify speedy drivers based only on a *sample* of incidents).

MTG, which seems to be looking into a Wiki to sort this out, explains the rationale for this.

…this also resulted in a situation where the balance of power has somewhat shifted from community-centric to commercial-induced interests.

And since commercial interests don’t always correspond (why would they?) to the spirit and the principles of free and open source software, there is a need to balance more equitably commercial and community interests through new initiatives.

There are many examples of the problem that MTG is aiming to address. To give 2 examples which were posted in Tux Machines a few hours ago (both related to Mozilla Firefox):

Are your Firefox extensions proprietary software?

In the last-post, I went through the most popular Firefox extensions and talked about whether they were good ideas or not. However, it seems that not a lot of people think about another side to this, i.e. what are your Firefox extensions licenced under?

It turns out that a lot of the extensions available through Firefox are not free/open source software at all.

One example is the StumbleUpon Extension.


For example, here are five popular extensions that are free software/open source:

* Firebug: Mozilla Public License 1.1
* Flashblock: Mozilla Triple Licence (MPL 1.1/GPL 2.0/LGPL 2.1)
* AdblockPlus: Mozilla Public License 1.1
* FireGPG: Mozilla Triple Licence (MPL 1.1/GPL 2.0/LGPL 2.1)
* NoScript: GPL

Eventually, after a bit of digging and Googling, I found their Toolbar-License and guess what? Yes you guessed it, it is proprietary software. So if you want to run free software/open source, then get it off your system now!

Firefox 3 RC1 forces you agree to EULA before usage

While Mozilla has had a EULA since Firefox 1.5 or so they have never brazenly shoved it into the end-user’s face until now. It immediately set me on edge because this behavior is indicative of proprietary software and not something you would expect to see when using something that is open source.

It seems likely, based on MTG’s previous and recent admission, that this Equitable Open Source push was inspired by an index that we have in this Web site.

It will be a pleasure to have a reference (and service) such as that which MTG tries to establish. It comes at a good time because only an hour ago one reader reminded us of Sun’s likely motives in entering “open source”.

Another reader has been repeatedly suggesting that we set up the IRC channel, #boycottnovell, now that the site attracts enough people to drive well over a gigabyte in traffic per day.

Related readings:

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