Open Source Software Up the Stack

Dennis Byron

European Union wants to make open source the law; wants own OSI license

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I must admit I cannot figure out the European Union bureacracy (euracracy) well enough to nail down all the details but clearly the EU, via its Competition Commission, adminstrative organization, funded projects, parliament and other arms is doing everything it can to legislate open source software (OSS) market success. The EU Competition Commission goes the farthest along this path, attempting to make its anti-competition findings apply worldwide. According to Bloomberg on March 6, adminstrators have come up with a new strategy document outlining how the euracracy will move to OSS (but I have yet to actually find the document anywhere).

The latest example comes from Patrice-E. Schmitz, who is the Director of EU Management Consulting for Unisys based in Belguim and represents a group called the R4eGov (Research for eGovernment) project. The project is funded by the EU and wants to have its European Union Public License (EUPL) approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) license-approval group. OSI is the same group that approved two Microsoft licenses as "open source compliant" last September, letting Microsoft into the club for the first time and thereby taking a lot of grief from the pure OSS community members.

A major issue that the OSI license-approval group has been working on recently is cutting down on the number of OSS licenses. There are dozens including the popular Apache, Berkeley and GPL licenses, many of which differ only in small ways only a lawyer can love. (Speaking of which, don't miss Larry Rosen's article in the features section of eqizQ explaining some of these issues and providing his OSL 3.0 license, which includes all the legal aspects of the GPL without the philosophical baggage.) It will be interesting to see if the OSI applies its growing concerns about too many OSS licenses to such an OSS benefactor as the EU.

As another sidelight, the commission, with about 32,000 employees, mainly in Brussels, recently made a large commitment to Sun but the products it bought were only open source in the weakest sense of the words. On January 31, Sun (JAVA) announced it has been awarded the Framework Contract to supply servers conforming to version 3 of the Single UNIX OS Specification (including their options, extensions, and associated services). Sun's UNIX product called Solaris was made open source only in the last few years and only after Sun failed to sell it the usual way in the marketplace. And some in the OSS blogosphere question Sun's true commitment to open sourcing Solaris.

In the euracracy, does the hand droite know what the hand gauche is doing?

(For anyone who noticed that this originally said "hand rive vs hand gauche," I never had any French training. The sum total of my knowledge of French is from driving around comparing street signs to what I knew the thing to be. In 1968 I drove around Montreal for a day asking my wife why every St. Lawrence River crossing was called the "Pont Bridge." The rive mistake comes from driving around Paris trying to decide if I was on the Rive Gauche or the Rive Droite. So now I know, its droite that means right, not rive.)

Dennis Byron’s blog on open source software: A longtime market research analyst follows what “the movement? means to business integration—in applications, infrastructure, as services, as architecture and as functionality.

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