back to article Linux Foundation is leading fight against fauxpen source

Since its founding, the Linux Foundation has been a vendor-neutral supporter of Linux and open source software. Now, though, it's actively promoting such open source projects as OpenTofu and Valkey. The Linux Foundation started in 2007 when the Open Source Development Lab joined forces with the Free Standards Group to support …

  1. ChoHag Silver badge
    Holmes

    > What does it say for the future of open source if foundations will just take it and give it a home?

    What does it say for the future of open source if someone puts their hand in their pocket and pays for it?

    Gee, I don't know...

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Paying who for what

      I like the idea of people paying and the money going to the original contributors. I also like the idea of people paying a contributor for a specific enhancement or bug fix especially if the added code is contributed back and available to all.

      A more troubling issue is a company changing the license to capture the revenue from previous contributions of others. The company may well be using a part of the revenue to fund bug fixes and improvements but without allowing distribution of software based on the improved source code.

      This has sometimes resulted in a fork from the last freely distributable version.

  2. karlkarl Silver badge

    > What does it say for the future of open source if foundations will just take it and give it a home?

    Open-source is free for everyone. Not just sleazy little startups. It is free for individuals, free for small businesses, free for the largest corporations. Free for governments, free from politicians/criminals. Its even free for sodding dolphins.

    > That is tragic for open source innovation. I will tell you, if that were to happen, there'll be no more open source companies in Silicon Valley.

    ... yeah but think outside your little Silicon Valley box. There will be a lot more open-source everywhere else.

    Stop whining and play ball basically.

  3. demon driver

    "tragic for open source innovation"

    Absolutely. Like those forks mentioned, LibreOffice and others, which are dead in the water, outdated and obsolete, while their original projects have vastly flourished under corporate control...

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: "tragic for open source innovation"

      The original OpenOffice is abandonware while LibreOffice is flourishing.

      1. upsidedowncreature

        Re: "tragic for open source innovation"

        I think demon driver was being sarcastic.

      2. karlkarl Silver badge

        Re: "tragic for open source innovation"

        Nothing open-source can ever be abandonware.

        In 500+ years, some random kid might take a liking to ancient office suites and use some magical future "AI" to bring it back up on modern platforms.

  4. corestore

    This may be relevant...

    "1/5 OpenTofu recently got a cease & desist letter from HashiCorp claiming copyright infringement. At the same time, an online publication made the same accusation.

    These claims have *zero* basis in fact. And because the code is open source, you can see this for yourself!"

    https://twitter.com/brikis98/status/1778460863285854635

  5. prh99

    They're parasites, projects that accept contributions from various developers under an open source license until they get to point where they can sell it then change the license in hopes of cashing in on a distributed effort.

  6. heyrick Silver badge

    FUD, glorious FUD

    "What does it say for the future of open source if foundations will just take it and give it a home? That is tragic for open source innovation."

    Translation: we're okay with pissing off individual developers as there's not much they can do, but foundations scare us because they have resources and sponsors and can hold our feet to the fire.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: "What does it say for the future of open source if foundations will just take it and give it a home?"

      They seemed to be doing great even before changing the license (being value at over $5 billion), they just decided they wanted a bigger piece of pie

      Funny they didn't expect consequences, though

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        "Valued at $5Bn" is as a result of there being revenue.

        If everybody just downloads the source, there's no revenue.

        The problem of making money out of the hosted solution, is that you'd better be much better at it than AWS, or AWS can simply download the source and host it themselves.

        Remember, the $5bn came from somewhere - ususally VCs. And they don't just give you money for nothing. Without the VC money, Terraform would still be a college project.

        1. klh

          Let's not pretend these companies didn't know how (F)OSS works. Nobody in their right mind would even consider using TF if it wasn't open source. It was a great marketing tool for them.

          As for Redis, look at the history of what is now calling itself Redis Ltd. I'm surprised they pulled that off.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Remember also that the ability to sell your hosted thing comes from people wanting to use it. A proprietary tool that does what Terraform does will get few if any customers. That is one of two reasons why it was released as open source in the first place. The other was that people wrote parts of it that Hashicorp didn't want to, and they could still sell services based on those things. Any company is free to try to make a proprietary program. I won't object, but it's very unlikely that they'll get users the way that open source projects do, especially when we're dealing with developer-oriented tools. I object when they start open then try to take everyone's contributions as their property.

          When you found a company, you have to make decisions about what you're going to give to your customers. You don't have to give out the source code. It is a choice. The choice comes with benefits (free work, more adoption) and consequences (you are no longer the only person who can sell something based off it). You can't have one without the other.

          1. bazza Silver badge

            >I object when they start open then try to take everyone's contributions as their property.

            It all depends on the license.

            For example, there's a lot of controversy about what the GPL2 actually says, arising from the tactic RedHat is employing. So far as I know, no one has sued them. Whether that's because of a fear of being out-lawyered or not I don't know. However, the way the GPL2 is written (pre-WWW) definitely does not oblige a binary distributor to put the source code up on a publicly accessible repo despite the expectations of many in the modern era.

            Ultimately, it's up to contributors to study and appreciate the full consequences of the license a project is using. There's no point hoping that a project will forever "do the right thing" if the license does not actually define that. The degree of study will depend on the degree to which the developer cares. And one has to be very wary of projects that encourage copyright assignment to the project. If one actually does go along with that, the project owns the code (not the developer). though some like GNU Radio do sublicense it straight back without restrictions (which seems fair enough).

            Why No Public Repo Mandate in OSI-Blessed Licenses?

            One of the things that I find very odd is that that the OSI definition of an open source license is that "the license must not depend on a specific distribution format, technology or presence of other works." (from the GitHub guide to open source licenses).

            Most people's expectations is that OSS is available on a public repository of some sort (git, svn, web, or at the very least a tar ball on an ftp site). I'm sure that most developers have that in mind when they contribute to a project. But, the OSI specifically bars a license from mandating such a thing.

            This seems to be a massive weakness in licenses, especially licenses like GPL. RedHat are currently enjoying exploiting that.

            1. CRConrad

              "Depends on what the meaning of 'is' is..."

              the GPL2 [...] definitely does not oblige a binary distributor to put the source code up on a publicly accessible repo despite the expectations of many in the modern era.

              Depends on what you mean by "binary distributor". If you mean "distributor of binary code", then yes, they're damn well obligated to distribut the source code too. Only if you mean "distributor of the output of that binary code", then they aren't obligated -- by the GPL 2 -- to distribute source code. That's why the GPL 3 was created.

              But yes, they're not obligated to put it on, specifically, a publicly accessible repo. Only to provide it to the recipients of their binaries (AIUI, in some reasonably convenient way).

              Most people's expectations is that OSS is available on a public repository of some sort (git, svn, web, or at the very least a tar ball on an ftp site). I'm sure that most developers have that in mind when they contribute to a project. But, the OSI specifically bars a license from mandating such a thing.
              Are you sure the OSI explicitly forbids that in a new [version of an] Open Source license, or is it just that none of the current ones (like the GPL 2) demands it, and the OSI doesn't require them to?

              1. bazza Silver badge

                Re: "Depends on what the meaning of 'is' is..."

                The media on which one can distribute source code has changed. GPL simply refers to "machine readable", which is a bit vague. It used to reasonably include punched paper tape, or floppy disk. I think that if one attempted to comply with a source distribution request by supply punched paper tape, you'd have to offer the machine you used to punch it to the recipient so that they can read it! Even something like floppy disk would be at the "cheeky" end of compliance, even though it's still just about an available technology.

                Clause 10 of the OSI's definition of an open source license runs as "No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface.". That's pretty explicit. I can see why one wouldn't necessarily want to tie a piece of software to be licensed for use on just Linux. But I think that, when it comes to source distribution it would be reasonable for a license to dictate by roughly what means it is made available (i.e. a publicly accessible Internet server).

                Of course, the OSI's view is not the very last word in what an OSS license can be. As the term is not reserved, anyone can come up with any definition of open source they like; getting others to take it seriously is the tricky part.

                1. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: "Depends on what the meaning of 'is' is..."

                  I think that clause was intended to prevent someone from writing some code, saying it's only licensed for use on their hardware, then claiming to be open source. I'm not convinced that that clause does forbid a license requiring public distribution, because it talks about the technology or interface, not the distribution. Even if mandating a web server counts as technological limitation, a license could state "you must distribute the work at no charge to anyone who wants it" and anyone trying to comply with that would use a web server or very similar technology to achieve that goal. That would be accepted by the definition.

                  No licenses currently do that, nor would I really want them to, because it kind of means that a server going down becomes a license violation, and it could cause some problems if a project is no longer supported by its original author. Still, people are free to write their licenses to require this and start using them.

        3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Open Source and Profits

          If everybody just downloads the source, there's no revenue.

          Then that commercial company's business model is broken, which is in no way the fault of open source, its contributors, or its users. It's the company's fault, and is the company's problem, no one else's. A profit-making company has to sell something which its customers think is worth paying for.

          1. bazza Silver badge

            Re: Open Source and Profits

            Agreed.

            And, it's somewhat unimaginative. RedHat got going largely by being a company that sold professional support to users of their Linux distribution. That's largely why RHEL became the go-to distro for people wanting to run serious workloads; for a fee, you could (if you ran into trouble) pick up the phone and ask, "what gives?". (Though my experiences of making such phone calls were somewhat mixed...)

            The entitlement fees / RHEL-specific kernel patches / playing hard ball with source licensing came later. That might be an indication as to how little money there actually is in being a support provider...

        4. Zolko Silver badge

          open-source ≠ free-software

          If everybody just downloads the source, there's no revenue

          Are you sure many clients paid to download the actual source-code ? And then compiled it locally in-house ?

          I think here lies the misunderstanding : open-source is not equal to free binaries. People pay for the executable binaries, very rarely for the source code itself.

  7. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    Good old American Greed.

    ISIS is an example of religious extremism, in the corporate world we have American Corporate culture as another example of extremism, more is never enough.

  8. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    Its funny how leadership of Redis or Hashicorp talk about bad open source forks, but they never mention that they themselves are parasites who contributed nothing to the Redis or Hashicorp themselves except sit at a desk talking bullshit every so often.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's complicated.

    However, as a mere user of Linux desktops, all I can say is there are some really big omissions due to the "no one owns it" nature of FOSS.

    The most painful case being when I was being interviewed for a job and was required to give a presentation.

    Sat down, and IT director said "Just Windows-K to the projector so we can all see".

    Oh dear. It was at this precise moment I discovered Linux hasn't supported miracast since whenever.

    Luckily it was my having a cable *and* USB stick with a PDF slide pack that impressed the boss.

    PDF slide pack ? Oh yes, because that was when I also had to show that LibreOffice can't be opened in PowerPoint.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: It's complicated.

      "It was at this precise moment I discovered Linux hasn't supported miracast since whenever."

      I'm not a Linux user so no experience, but five seconds of Googlage found me this: https://github.com/albfan/miraclecast

      "when I also had to show that LibreOffice can't be opened in PowerPoint"

      Can't it save as PowerPoint? That being said, it's not really a surprise that proprietary software uses its own formats and doesn't really want to play well with anything else. In the FOSS world you're playing games in dealing with the closed nature of the contemporaries.

      However, it's good to be prepared for such eventualities, as your post indicates (and I trust the IT director appreciated the foresight).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's complicated.

        LibreOffice presentations can be saved in PowerPoint file types; I do it often. This incompatibility is hardly new, either; years ago I discovered that Excel "could read" LO Calc files, but replaced all the formulas with the current result, totally destroying the workbook. In contrast, LO Calc could (and can) read and write Excel files just fine.

        I've always wondered if these incompatibilities are there so Microsoft can point at LibreOffice and claim it's not compatible... though it's really Microsoft's fault.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: It's complicated.

          What's to wonder? Of course it is.

          And the MS fanbois eat it up and ask for seconds.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: It's complicated.

          You could have problems moving either format between platforms if they don't have the same fonts available. PowerPoint isn't going to take much trouble over finding compatible fonts. If you want control over what the product looks like, save in PD|F.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: It's complicated.

            I haven't done it for a while, but I remember there being a problem with the drawing order of overlapping objects between LO/OO and PowerPoint. This quite often lead to seemingly partially blank slides in front of an audience!

    2. Orv Silver badge

      Re: It's complicated.

      FOSS also suffers from the problem of it being more fun to write your own code than to improve someone else's, so Linux has three or four sound systems, none of which work very well. Try changing the output from your headphone jack to an HDMI device and you'll be in for a long journey. (This is a couple clicks in most other OS's.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re Linux has three or four sound systems,

        and as far as I know the Bluetooth HF protocol still doesn't work.

        (Again, in Windows, it just does).

  10. vekkq
  11. Ace2 Silver badge

    “I see venture capitalists and private equity companies enriching themselves from the efforts of open source programmers.”

    If the programmers don’t like it, maybe they should have charged for their labor. Radical, I know.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Missing the point. Go back and read the paragraph again until you understand exactly what the programmers' response is. Did they intend to make anyone rich? Do they propose to do that now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not at all condescending. What a way to try to make a point

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Us and them

    It seems to me that computer languages are no different to ordinary human languages.

    Sometimes we want to openly communicate, whilst other times we want to talk amongst ourselves.

    It is innate for us to develop public (open) and secret (proprietary) variations to suit whatever purpose we have in hand.

    The connivances that took place at Bletchley Park would attest to this.

    Vast quantities of taxes were dedicated to achieving such aims, along with similar expenditure devoted to trying to decode the efforts of whoever were/are our enemies.

    Humans are nothing if not enigmatic.

  13. CRConrad

    Look in the mirror, bucko.

    What does it say for the future of open source if foundations will just take it and give it a home?

    And what does it say for the future of open source if companies will just take a common good provided by others and extract private profits from it?

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