Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Software Linux

Microsoft 'Shared Source' Attempts to Hijack FOSS 381

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thats-what-we-keep-saying dept.
aacc1313 writes "An article that details how Open Source is being hijacked by Microsoft and the sort via 'Shared Source' licenses and how Open Source licenses have become so much more confusing. From the article, "The confusion stems from the fact that Microsoft's 'shared source' program includes three proprietary licenses as well, whose names are similar in some ways to the open-source licenses. Thus, while the Microsoft Reciprocal License has been approved by OSI, the Microsoft Limited Reciprocal License (Ms-LRL) is not, because it allows users to modify and redistribute the software only on the Windows platform" and "The 'shared source' program was and is Microsoft's way of fighting the open source world, allowing customers to inspect Microsoft source code without giving those customers the right to modify or redistribute the code. In other words, "shared source" is not open source, and shouldn't be confused with it.""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft 'Shared Source' Attempts to Hijack FOSS

Comments Filter:
  • Auditable source (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davidwr (791652) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:18AM (#23377722) Homepage Journal
    Read-but-not-reuse source really should be called auditable source or, if you are allowed to change and recompile it for your own use, a traditional commercial source-code license except it's free-as-in-beer.

    Both have value and are better than closed-source software. Neither is free-as-in-freedom.
    • Re:Auditable source (Score:5, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @11:00AM (#23378284) Homepage Journal
      The OSI did not invent the term "Open Source". The phrase means only that you can get and use the source code, NOT that you can redistribute works based on it. We have a name for code with licenses like that already, it's called "Free Software". For more ranting on this subject, see this journal entry I wrote on the subject [slashdot.org]. Short form: The OSI should not be allowed to define what "Open Source" means any more than McDonalds should be allowed to define what "Hamburger" means.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Yenya (12004)

        Short form: The OSI should not be allowed to define what "Open Source" means any more than McDonalds should be allowed to define what "Hamburger" means.
        Remind me again since when McDonald's had a trademark on the word "Hamburger". OSI has a trademark on the term "Open Source", so naturally they are allowed to define what "Open Source" means.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          OSI has a trademark on the term "Open Source", so naturally they are allowed to define what "Open Source" means.

          No, they do not.

          Your confusion perhaps stems from the fact that their small logos make it look like they have a trademark on the term Open Source. Whether this is deliberate or not, it's hard to say; if assembled by a competent designer, then if it is not meant to indicate such, it is an error; otherwise, it is a sign of incompetence in design (which is OKAY - I mean, there's a reason why people with money spend lots of it on a logo.)

          The OSI originally submitted or intended to submit (I have not researc

          • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @08:15PM (#23386020) Homepage Journal
            Look, I'm sorry it annoys you. But the day I published the Open Source Definition, Open Source acquired a specific meaning which stands to this day. Eric Raymond and I took the authority to do that. What gave us the right? We chose to lead, and some Millions of people have followed. Today they use "Open Source" as in the definition.

            It's a trademark too. Just not a registered one, because that got botched.

            Can't you do something more constructive and work on hacker? The abuse of that to mean computer criminal is much more bothersome.

            Bruce

        • Re:Auditable source (Score:5, Informative)

          by Allador (537449) on Monday May 12, 2008 @03:36PM (#23382648)

          OSI has a trademark on the term "Open Source", so naturally they are allowed to define what "Open Source" means.
          The ignorance on /. is appalling.

          From the OSI website:

          http://www.opensource.org/docs/certification_mark.html [opensource.org]

          Unfortunately, the term "open source" itself is subject to misuse, and because it's considered descriptive, it can't currently be legally protected as a trademark (which would have been our first choice).
          From that same page, they DO have a trademark, but its not on 'open source':

          Since the community needs a reliable way of knowing whether a piece of software really is open source, OSI is registering a trademark, Open Source Initiative Approved, for this purpose. If you see this mark on a piece of software, either the software really is being distributed under a license that conforms to the Open Source Definition, or the distributor is misusing the mark and thereby breaking the law.
          Please make some sort of attempt to be at least remotely factually accurate in your postings.
          • Before you accuse other folks on Slashdot of being ignorant, it is a trademark. It is not a registered trademark. This is (IMO) due to a lawyer suggesting that they abandon the mark when they could have gone through with the registration. The lawyer blames me for the way I filed the initial registration, but OSI had no lawyers when it started, and no money, and the other two registrations I filed at that time went through ("Debian", and "Technocrat"). OSI also abandoned the application for "OSI Certified Op
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by _Sprocket_ (42527)

        The OSI did not invent the term "Open Source". The phrase means only that you can get and use the source code, NOT that you can redistribute works based on it. We have a name for code with licenses like that already, it's called "Free Software".

        What makes "Free Software" and less ambiguous than "Open Source"? There's been plenty of discussion on that subject that covers the confusion of that phrase. Although I'd expect a fair amount of folks around these parts would associated "Free Software" with the Free Software Foundation and/or GNU project.

        And that's the core of the issue. Who gets to define what a phrase means? Some phrases gain special meaning - even when they consist of common words. If the meaning of a phrase has certain value, you

        • Because people are constantly having to remind people what Open Source means because the definition zealots like to throw around isn't at all reflected by the name.

          Open Source is the opposite of Closed Source. Its quite clear english as far as I'm concerned.

          However, the OSI and others step in and add conditions to an otherwise clear phrase. Open Source is open, but also you can do whatever you want with it, etc.
    • Re:Auditable source (Score:5, Informative)

      by harry666t (1062422) <harry666t@gmail. c o m> on Monday May 12, 2008 @11:17AM (#23378522)
      "Shared source" IS open source. The source is open. You can open it in a text editor and read it.

      But it is NOT free software.

      I'm with FSF about this one. The "open source" term made it all less clear what this whole movement is all about.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Yetihehe (971185)
        Most of this confusion is about difference in free=free as in beer || free as in speech. In polish we have separate words like "wolne" for free as in speech and "darmowe" for free as in beer. But we have other problem, because "wolne" also means "slow" so "wolne oprogramowanie" means "free programs" and "slow programs". This is not helping very much. I see only one solution: invent new word for free as in speech (both in english and polish).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Just Some Guy (3352)

        "Shared source" IS open source. The source is open. You can open it in a text editor and read it.

        Horse puckey. By that logic, my kitchen windows are open because you can see through them. And yet, they ain't.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mrsteveman1 (1010381)
          Yea if you are trying to throw stuff through them, true they aren't open. None of this has anything to do with software and the comparison is meaningless.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Russ Nelson (33911)
        yeah, yeah, yeah, and free software is zero-cost software, we all know that. There is no perfect term, but everybody except a few people living in Boston seem to have accepted Open Source as the standard name for software you can use, modify, and share freely.
    • This argument is tantamount to the fabled molehillian mountain.

      There are literally HUNDREDS of open source licenses, many of which are OSI approved. Claiming that users are too stupid to understand the terms of a license doesn't say much for their ability to understand any of those other licenses either, including the GPL.

      Also, those living in ambiguous houses, shouldn't throw definition arguments. The term "Free" is highly ambiguous, and the FSF knows it (what with all the Software Libre essays), yet the
  • by skulgnome (1114401)
    You wouldn't take a fox's vegetarian food recipes without a barrel of salt either, would you.

    Also in b4 blogspamwhoring is called, because I'm calling it first right here.
  • shared source... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gbrandt (113294)
    is not open source. Any english language speaker should be able to get that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Go to a general public computer store and count the number of people that ask for "Lin..ux" routers when they mean "Linksys", or who think Trend Micro Antivirus ("powered by the PC-Cillin engine") is "Penicillin". ...Then say people won't be confused by Shared Source, and won't prefer the Microsoft license because it says Windows.

      It's sad, but true. I think they are playing on that idea that a horrifying number of people are idiots and will read clear phrases as entirely different things, never to correct t
  • by Nursie (632944)
    Was there anyone that didn't know this?

  • License confusion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rxmd (205533) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:25AM (#23377800) Homepage

    Open Source licenses have become so much more confusing.

    To be honest they were pretty confusing already, with license proliferation leading to a large number of very similar free software licenses with minute, but potentially decisive differences. It didn't need Microsoft for that. Even the general overview at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] lists 54 different Open Source licenses, not counting superseded or volunarily retired ones.
    • by Tridus (79566)
      I was thinking the same thing. Microsoft's licenses are confusingly named, but open source licensing was confusing long before MS came to the party.

      They also don't call "shared source" open source, which to me seems more like they're trying to avoid confusion then creating it. (Calling it open source when its actually not would be more confusing then calling it something else.)
    • The FSF hasn't helped with the license confusion, since they seem to be unable to create licenses that are mutually compatible. It used to be that a GPL project could use LGPL'd code, but not vice versa. Now a GPLv2 project can't use an LGPLv3 library, which is causing a huge number of problems for projects which were previously linking against GPL and LGPL libraries. If the LGPL library moves to the new license and the GPL done doesn't (e.g. something like Poppler, based on xpdf, which was GPL'd and did
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by onefriedrice (1171917)
        Yeah, that's why I stick with BSD/MIT. I understand and respect what the GPL tries to accomplish, but if you can't even mix and match GPL licenses with themselves, how is trying to incorporate GPL code in a mixed-license environment not going to cause massive headaches. The truth is, it does. Furthermore, I like how the BSD/MIT license is understandable by mere mortals and is short enough to include completely within source code headers.

        But the most important reason to prefer BSD/MIT over the GPL is f
  • by Simon (S2) (600188) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:27AM (#23377834) Homepage

    "shared source" is not open source, and shouldn't be confused with it."
    I think this is not true. Open Source means nothing more that the source is "open", that you can see it. I never interpreted the term "open source" whit the meaning that you are free to modify it and distribute it. That is GPLed code for me. A piece of code is Open Source when you can see the code. So, shared source *is* open source, because the code is there for you to see. What you can do with the code, is part of the licence agreement attached with the code. There is no "open source" license, but there is a GPL, BSD, Apache, MIT and so on license.
    Am I the only one seeing it like this? Am I wrong?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by realmolo (574068)
      Open source software doesn't mean you can just LOOK at the source. It means you can look at it AND modify it and use it (redistributing it is another matter, and depends on the specific license). That's what "open" MEANS. Microsoft is playing semantic games with the "shared source" license. It *sounds* like it's open source, but it's not. It's "shared".

      So, yeah, you're the only one who sees it that way. And you're wrong. That's not what open source means at all.
      • by AndGodSed (968378) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:49AM (#23378114) Homepage Journal
        And on another tack - I wonder if MS would incorporate any positive changes you would make to their source code.

        And if they incorporate it, would they automatically own it, hence not needing to pay you for it?

        Not only are we M$'s beta testers, we are now their bug fixers.

        Sounds fishy - but that is just me playing the paranoia card...
        • Another question is whether changes to 'shared source' code needs to be given back to Microsoft. IANALL, but that's one of those terms I like to publicly scoff at. Another good question is whether you have to give your SSC changes to customers. Again, much scoffing will ensue if it does.
      • Open source software doesn't mean you can just LOOK at the source. It means you can look at it AND modify it and use it (redistributing it is another matter, and depends on the specific license).

        What you are talking about is the OSI definition of Open Source [opensource.org]. There are a lot of definitions [google.com] for Open Source.
        I think we can say that there are OSI Approved Licenses [opensource.org], and Shared Source licenses [microsoft.com]. Both grant the user a right to *see* the source code, but the big difference is that an OSI license also gives the user additional rights, as explained here [opensource.org].

        Once this is clear, we can discuss about what the term "Open Source" means, and what rights it grans to the user. Personally I think that the "rights" part s

        • by Bert64 (520050)
          Really, non free software should be somewhere between the two...
          Kinda like the old BSDI licenses (if i remember correctly), you bought the software and it came with source code which you could modify for your own use.... However you couldn't redistribute this code yourself, except to submit fixes to the original vendor.
          I think it's utterly ridiculous not having the source code, and therefore having to resort to binary hacking to fix bugs or customise it.
      • by plague3106 (71849)
        No... open used to mean just that it was available to look at. Free meant you could do what you like. Stop with revisionist history.
    • Open Source means nothing more that the source is "open", that you can see it.

      The word you're looking for there is 'visible' or 'exposed.'

      Open implies that it is, to some extent, available for use. Simply being able to look at it does not constitute use, especially since that is double protected by the terms of the licence and copyright (and perhaps also patent law in the USA).

      As a post above says, 'auditable' would be a much more suitable name for this style of licence, as really that is all that is on offer.

    • I think you are confusing open source and Open Source.
  • by Otter (3800) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:32AM (#23377910) Journal
    In both of the examples I mentioned here, there was no attempt to shade or hide the truth. And in both cases, we were truly dealing with open source software.

    So, two companies, neither of which is Microsoft, released supposedly "open source" software that is, in fact, completely open source? I'm missing where the "hijack" and "confusion" come in.

  • by stonecypher (118140) <(stonecypher) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:34AM (#23377932) Homepage Journal
    How is this any different than what GPL did to BSD? Show up, act like you invented the term "free software", impose a bunch of draconian restrictions that didn't used to exist and loudly tell everyone that your choice of strictures does good for the community?

    Preparing for inappropriate troll and flamebait mods. It's still a legitimate question.
    • by adpsimpson (956630) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:44AM (#23378036)

      ...impose a bunch of draconian restrictions that didn't used to exist...

      Rising to the bait, GPL's restrictions act to restrict the current user in order to the benefit the community. They arguably don't necessarily benefit the original code developer, although the developer is free to the same benefits as the community receives.

      Microsoft's restrictions benefit, well, Microsoft. That is, the original developer. Not the community, not the current user. Nobody else.

      This seems like a pretty important distinction.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        Rising to the bait, GPL's restrictions act to restrict the current user in order to the benefit the community.

        So, can you explain to me how the community has benefited from the FSF having to rewrite a PDF framework from scratch because the existing ones (Poppler and friends) are all based on xpdf, which is GPLv2-only, which is incompatible with GPLv3 and, more importantly, LGPLv3, preventing any project from using Poppler and any LGPL'd libraries that upgraded to the latest version?

        • Which do you think would be more useful to you if you were starting that task - the original GPL2 framework, or the MS Windows framework, under a Microsoft 'Shared Source' licence?

          A rewrite due to incompatible open source licences is a waste of resources, certainly. Though I don't know about this case, my guess would be that there were other factors in the decision to; there normally are multiple factors in a complete codebase rewrite.

        • by Bert64 (520050)
          They haven't, and incompatible license fragmentation is bad...

          But at least GPLv2 projects can benefit from xpdf, Noone can benefit from or contribute towards a closed source PDF framework.
          So while clearly not ideal, the current situation is still by far and away not the worst possible.
      • by FreeUser (11483) on Monday May 12, 2008 @11:20AM (#23378560)
        Rising to the bait, GPL's restrictions act to restrict the current user in order to the benefit the community.

        Ahem. Just a little nit to pick: the GPL does not restrict users in any way. It "restricts" (if that's the term) distributors and developers, in that it requires them to make the source code available to anyone they distribute to, upon request. Like a constitution, it enshrines the rights of users, coders, and everyone else by defining their rights and prohibiting actions taken to infringe on those rights.

        Microsoft's restrictions benefit, well, Microsoft. That is, the original developer. Not the community, not the current user. Nobody else.

        This seems like a pretty important distinction.


        You're right, it's an extremely important distinction, not unlike the distinction between your run-of-the-mill business contract and the US Constitution or the British Magna Carta.
        • the GPL does not restrict users in any way. It "restricts" (if that's the term) distributors and developers, in that it requires them to make the source code available to anyone they distribute to, upon request.

          Fair point - I had meant 'users' as in the users of the source code, which includes both distributors and end users. And I believe 'restrict' is the correct term, in the same way that I am restricted by whatever law system I live under - without it life would be pretty miserable, but it still 'restricts' my immediate freedoms to do whatever the heck I like.

          Software end users are of course not restricted by the source code licencing at the point of using the software. They may be restricted at the point

      • Rising to the bait, GPL's restrictions act to restrict the current user in order to the benefit the community.

        I disagree. Any given person/group/company can be a user of software and/or a developer of software. The GPL does not restrict them as a user, only as a developer. It basically says that if you want to develop the code, you have to share with other developers as the price.

        Microsoft's restrictions benefit, well, Microsoft. That is, the original developer. Not the community, not the current user. Nobody else.

        Microsoft's shared source license is more restricted than the GPL, certainly, but it does bring some benefits to users. That is to say, users can view the code to say, find security holes, or understand how to interoperate more easil

        • Any given person/group/company can be a user of software and/or a developer of software. The GPL does not restrict them as a user, only as a developer. It basically says that if you want to develop the code, you have to share with other developers as the price.

          See my reply to the comment above - I had meant users of the source code, not users of the software.

          Microsoft's shared source license is more restricted than the GPL, certainly, but it does bring some benefits to users...

          Quoting my original post, 'Microsoft's restrictions benefit, well, Microsoft.' I was not arguing that the licence as a whole doesn't benefit the developers, but that the restrictions to what those developers can do benefit only Microsoft.

          Methinks we're arguing the same side here?

          • See my reply to the comment above - I had meant users of the source code, not users of the software.

            Yeah, this is just semantics. I was hoping to clarify the role a licensee as a developer or a user, but it is not to be, it seems.

            Methinks we're arguing the same side here?

            Methinks we're coming at this from different perspectives. You seem to have approached this from the perspective of an independent coder looking to license a new project and comparing MS's shared source license to the GPL for what restrictions should be added.

            I was looking at it from the perspective of Microsoft, trying to compete with OSS projects by licensing the source t

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Yes. The GPL adds restrictions that protect software freedom and innovation. They benefit the author and all licensees, not just the author. Shared Source only benefits the author -- i.e., it exists to keep people locked in to the Windows OS and the Office office suite. The GPL benefits everyone by keeping the source code open and preventing third parties from keeping their innovations secret from everyone else.

      OTOH, BSD people typically argue that their license is more "open" because it adds no restrict
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by maxume (22995)
        Without arguing about your point, how many people that are willing to take and close BSD are going to end up willing to use and contribute back to GPL?

        There is probably some intersection, but the existence of BSD options is going to keep that intersection pretty small. So in the end, the GPL probably does more to limit lock-in use of the code (which is fine, I think an author has every right to do such a thing) than in does to encourage flow-back of innovation from selfish borrowers.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          how many people that are willing to take and close BSD are going to end up willing to use and contribute back to GPL?

          That's the whole point. We don't want those people. If you're not willing to share and share alike, you just need to go away and bother somebody else because we don't want to even deal with you.

          That being said, when I use the term 'we', understand that I'm a realist and I realize that some kinds of software are best released under either an LGPL or BSD-like lioense. Mostly this is when yo

    • by Bert64 (520050) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @11:22AM (#23378584) Homepage
      The GPL may have more restrictions than BSD, but the GPL itself doesn't take anything away, it actually grants you rights you wouldn't normally have under copyright law while placing some restrictions on those rights.

      If you look at most commercial licenses, they are far more "draconian" as you put it, since not only do they usually not grant you any rights you wouldn't already have, they often seek to take away the rights you would have had through copyright law.

      GPL is good for the community because it insures that future users have the same rights, and that a third party cannot take the code and re-release it under draconian restrictions (as often happens to BSD code). Obviously it's far from ideal, and i'm sure Richard Stallman would be the first person to agree, but so long as there are people out there seeking to take free code and rerelease it under draconian restrictions there will be a need to do something to stop that happening. I would say that the restrictions of the GPL are more than livable, given the alternative of completely closed source.

      Additionally, the extra restrictions imposed by the GPL compared to BSD don't really affect people who just want to use the sofware, or who want to modify it and contribute the changes back to the community. They only have an impact on those who want to leech by taking existing code, packaging it up and selling a closed source derivative.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday May 12, 2008 @11:43AM (#23378902)

      How is this any different than what GPL did to BSD? Show up, act like you invented the term "free software", impose a bunch of draconian restrictions that didn't used to exist and loudly tell everyone that your choice of strictures does good for the community?

      The GPL and BSD are different licenses, each ideal for different uses. In many cases the same developers will develop both BSD and GPL licensed code depending upon what they want to do with their creation. Sure there are idiots who claim everything should be GPL or BSD and that the other is not "real OSS" but those people are mostly uninformed twats. Seriously, very rarely are those opinions expressed by anyone here or in knowledgeable forums. The development community as a whole accepts and utilizes both; GPL for projects that are larger and need a lot of ongoing input from different players and the BSD license for core technologies where adoption of that technology is more important than keeping contributions to a reference implementation available to all.

      For example, if I (or my employer) is investing in writing a userspace application like a page layout program, the GPL is most likely to garner contributions from others in a way that benefits me and the other developers as well as the user base. If I (or my employer) invests in writing code for a new auto-discovery over IP daemon the BSD license allows that code to be integrated into more devices and OS's more easily and both users and developers benefit only if adoption is widespread. The same developer or company will often find itself contributing under both these licenses. Very few developers consider it some sort of competition between the two or advocate only one license for all things... and most of those people are not industry insiders and probably have not contributed significant code in any case.

      The shared source license is somewhat different in that the specific use case it is designed to solve is a marketing one, rather than a functional one. It is simply a way to provide a license that benefits the one and only developer at the expense of the user, by providing a very small subset of the benefits of other OSS licenses, while intentionally castrating the most important (but less understood) benefits. MS's problem is not that developers or users need more freedom to make the code better, it is that developers and users are demanding OSS because OSS code is helping others in ways they don't really understand and those developers and users need to be convinced that MS is giving them those same benefits, in a vague and not specifically explained way.

      Preparing for inappropriate troll and flamebait mods. It's still a legitimate question.

      If you're preparing for troll and flamebait mods, then you probably at least have an inkling that your view is both inflammatory and reflects a poor understanding of those licenses as they are commonly used by the OSS community. In future, if you think you're going to be modded down as a flame and troll, maybe you should assert less and instead ask people to inform you as to why the opinion would be so large of a misunderstanding that it would potentially result in such a moderation. You obviously have doubts about the legitimacy of your question, otherwise you would not phrase it the way you did.

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:44AM (#23378040)

    Microsoft and Open Source are antithetical. Nobody with an ounce of common sense can have anything to do with them and not understand that there are going to be strings attached.

    Tune out what they say. Focus on what they are and what they do. Structure your involvement with them accordingly. End of story.

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      Tune out what they say. Focus on what they are and what they do. Structure your involvement with them accordingly. End of story.
      If you aren't a part of the conversation, you get no say. People do listen to Microsoft even if you don't want to.
  • Flight Simulator; Windows; Office; Visual [anything]; Word; Internet Information Server; SQL Server; Works; Point Of Sale; Small Business Financials;
    Oh heck, go check yerself. I just stopped cuz I got tired of typing.
    MS has taken deliberate name confusion to a whole new logarithm level...
    • You forget PlaysForSure, squirting, Hotmail, MSN, Live Search. If you combine those: Live squirting MSN Hotmail Search PlaysForSure. Sounds like a kinky dating website to me. :P
  • I'm sorry, but I'm a "Free Software" with "Free" meaning "Freedom" advocate. The "Open Source" advocates like ESR are idiots. "Open Source" is a trap. Just ask anyone about the IBM BIOS and "contamination," the tricks phoenix had to play to take an API set embodied in published source code (IBMs BIOS in the tech manual) and create an independent implementation of it.

    Having access to the source is "open" by any use of the english language, so Microsoft is correct when they say their "shared source" license i
  • Yes, using the word source makes it sound the same, but the options for other words are rather limited. Shared Code? MS LBDTL (look but don't touch license)... really, pretty limited. Think about it, MS has not been all that inventive when it comes to product names.

    On the other hand how is anyone supposed to feel empathy for a Gorilla who has been throwing (chairs) excrement through the bars at customers for years?

    Can you say Lindow? http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&output=googleabout&btnG=Search+ [google.com]
  • MS can call their licenses anything they want.

    I wouldn't touch their code with a 10 meter pole.
    Don't wanna see it. Don't wanna run it. Don't care what license it has.

    It is already tainted. I am not about to do the work of testing, cleaning and documenting MS code so they can turn around and charge me for my efforts.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Monday May 12, 2008 @11:04AM (#23378322) Homepage Journal
    It's very easy to see why the GPL is the very best license to choose for a FOSS project. Quite simply, it is the license that Microsoft abhors the most. The very mention of its name sends Microsoft people into foaming fits of anger.

    From this, we may safely draw the conclusion that Microsoft has done a lot of research, with a lot of lawyers, and they've determined that the GPL represents the biggest threat to their revenue model. And what's bad for Microsoft is generally good for everyone else. So if you're going to develop FOSS, the GPL is the obvious safe choice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Who would choose a licence based on how much Microsoft dislikes it? I prefer to choose a licence based on the contents of the licence and how they fit the project. Just ignore Mirosoft and write/use the best open source software you can.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nuzak (959558)
      > The very mention of its name sends Microsoft people into foaming fits of anger.

      The only frothing I see here is from those driven to apoplexy at the term "Open Source" instead of "Free Software".

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday May 12, 2008 @11:14AM (#23378474)

    No really, they were very clever in both creating and naming these licenses. You see most people who have heard of open source software don't understand why it is beneficial. They have, at this point, some vague idea that it is beneficial, but do not understand the mechanism. If you sit down with someone and explain the benefits of open source code the normal topics to discuss are: security and cost. The most easily explained reasons for why open source is cheaper is that people can look at the code and donate improvements, lowering the cost. The most easily explained reason why it is more secure is that people can look at the code and find security holes themselves, thus providing a more extensive security audit. You'll note I said those were the most easily explained mechanisms, that by no means makes them the most potent mechanisms.

    So when someone is making a purchasing decision, MS an trot out shared source (which the purchaser does not understand) in comparison to open source (which the purchaser does not understand). They can explain how both those two, most common talking points from the OSS crowd are taken care of, and thus get a sale. They don't explain the more important aspects of OSS or how those benefits are not the same, but not even all OSS advocates understand them either and they certainly aren't going to try to explain them to a PHB. So when you tell the boss OSS will save them money; they ask how. You tell them there is no up front license fee and a lot of the code is donated for free. MS tells them the same thing about shared source (which sounds oh so similar). You probably don't bother explaining to them how the GPL works to insure contributions from everyone are available to all nor how it allows you to take avoid vendor lock-in and take competitive bids on improvements, resulting in lower ongoing costs... because those things take significant understanding and most people don't want to put that much effort in.

    Basically, "Shared source" is just MS's way of providing something that looks like OSS enough to fool people who don't really understand how OSS works and they have named it in such a way that is does, sort of, describe what it is and what most people think OSS is. It is just MS removing the most beneficial features for the actual user (but which would cost MS money) and trying to pass it of as the genuine article to anyone gullible enough. And there are a lot of people gullible enough.

  • by Bootarn (970788) on Monday May 12, 2008 @11:18AM (#23378528) Homepage
    Linux is Open Source, but Open Source isn't Linux.
  • I don't think Microsoft is providing access to source code as a way to combat FOSS, but as a way to attempt to comply with an EU antitrust ruling [bloomberg.com].

    Truly "Open Source" licenses may be part of the plan, but the real reason they are exposing source is so that developers of products that compete with MS products like Word or Excel aren't at a competitive disadvantage that could result in expensive lawsuits.

    I don't think MS is trying to be confusing (this time). I think the confusion is a side effect of a la
    • Microsoft was doing this long before the ruling you're pointing to: the history of their "shared source" initiative is full of explicit statements by Microsoft that indicate this is their response to "open source", and that "shared source" is a "better" model because people "really" don't want to modify the code, they just want to read it.

      More recently Bill Gates was quoted as saying that giving away demo copies was "free software" and that "open source" meant you HAD to give away the source (ie, the GPL),
  • by malevolentjelly (1057140) on Monday May 12, 2008 @11:53AM (#23379056) Journal
    I've always heard the FOSS debate having something to do with the technical merits of being able to modify and view your source code for security or customization purposes. Even if it's platform-locked, this still applies to that general principle.

    But there are shades of madness in the open source community- once Microsoft fulfills the realistic argument for why you need the source code, suddenly it's not about actually having the source code. No- it's about porting it to linux and refusing to maintain it for windows, nay- FREEDOM. It's about some sort of weird ideal defined by Stallman, whose primary argument seems to remain that he doesn't like that things cost money or that there's a software industry hustling and bustling out there that he's not qualified to participate in.

    Suddenly it's no longer "you need the source code to make use of the product" but it's evolved into "I deleted the wifi firmware on my laptop because it wasn't free. Now I use a wire."

    Since the slashdot zealot crowd has so many shades of open source mania, it doesn't matter what microsoft will do. Here is my slashdot zeitgeist by MS license-use prediction:

    MS LRL: It's bad because it forces you to use code written FOR windows on windows.

    Ms-RL: It's bad because it's not abstractly free in Stallman's imagination.

    GPL: It's bad because it's Microsoft, and they're planning something.

    BSD: They're just going to make us so we're dependent on it then they're going to sue everybody and everything will far apart. I was abused as a child and have trust issues.

    MIT: The world is going to end and we need to resort to cannibalism immediately.

    My personal thought about this is that the Shared Source license is a way for Microsoft to make use of open source in some applicable categories without having their code licensed under something that is controlled by an organization of wingnuts, like the FSF. Thus, they could release their code under the GPL, but then Stallman will just draft a GPLv4 that says whoever uses the license needs to release the source code to Windows if they are called "Microsoft", which is basically like what the GPLv3 did to Novell. Stallman and his nimrods will cook licenses that include bitter little addendums to address contemporary issues that put his panties in a knot, because suddenly Stallman has the say in how people use Linux.

    This is the same reason that Monsanto doesn't use Earth First! to handle their marketing and to distribute their products to grociers. If Microsoft goes open source, they need to have the assurance that the license is under their terms otherwise their shareholders might get nervous that they're putting some maniac activist organization in control of their distribution rights. There's no reason to do that unless Windows is squarely defeated in the market by open source alternatives.

    Could you imagine how many windows clones would show up overnight? It would be a disaster for their platform and company. They're currently in a state where they can sell their platform for large amounts of money. They won't give that up because it angers a fringe of developers whose religion is FOSS-- they'll only do it if there's no other way to make money.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:00PM (#23380052)

      I've always heard the FOSS debate having something to do with the technical merits of being able to modify and view your source code for security or customization purposes. Even if it's platform-locked, this still applies to that general principle.

      OSS is a series of development methodologies and business strategies. They result in both real technical benefits and financial and flexibility benefits. Removing the ability of the developer to lock you into a format or platform or product is one of the main benefits. A license that removes that ability has removed one of the main benefits.

      But there are shades of madness in the open source community- once Microsoft fulfills the realistic argument for why you need the source code, suddenly it's not about actually having the source code.

      People with a very superficial understanding of the benefits of OSS would think MS's shared source license provide those same benefits. This is not a coincidence. That is what MS's licenses were designed to do, provide not the most important benefits of OSS, but the benefits most understood by purchasers. It is basically marketing.

      No- it's about porting it to linux and refusing to maintain it for windows, nay- FREEDOM. It's about some sort of weird ideal defined by Stallman, whose primary argument seems to remain that he doesn't like that things cost money or that there's a software industry hustling and bustling out there that he's not qualified to participate in. Suddenly it's no longer "you need the source code to make use of the product" but it's evolved into "I deleted the wifi firmware on my laptop because it wasn't free. Now I use a wire."

      Strawman. Quote people who have actually made those arguments here and been modded up if you want this to be taken seriously.

      Since the slashdot zealot crowd has so many shades of open source mania, it doesn't matter what microsoft will do.

      In terms of licensing, MS can adopt GPLv3 for a significant amount of the code they release and then abide by the terms of that license long enough to develop a history of good behavior. That would satisfy most Slashdotters in terms of licensing and if their shared source licenses really bring the same benefits to users, why wouldn't they do this? [Note: the last comment was rhetorical.]

      At this point in your rant, you seem to go into a lot of hypothetical and inflammatory ranting. I'll address a few points deserving of it, but I'm not going to try to address your random speculation about what you assume people here on Slashdot would say in some hypothetical situation.

      My personal thought about this is that the Shared Source license is a way for Microsoft to make use of open source in some applicable categories without having their code licensed under something that is controlled by an organization of wingnuts, like the FSF.

      The Free software foundation doesn't somehow magically have any more rights to or control of GPL'd code than anyone else. The point of the GPL is to release some of the rights to users and other developers in order to provide them with benefit. MS's shared source licenses do that, just in a very, very, very limited way designed to capitalize on misunderstandings of those users. It's like motorcycle manufacturer realizing that most people think CC of displacement necessarily indicates the power of a bike and so creating a bike engine that displaces a lot of area to capitalize on that misunderstanding without bringing many of the real benefits users want.

      Thus, they could release their code under the GPL, but then Stallman will just draft a GPLv4 that says whoever uses the license needs to release the source code to Windows if they are called "Microsoft", which is basically like what the GPLv3 did to Novell.

      That is complete bullshit. First, just because Stallman writes a GPL4, doesn't mean MS would have to switch to it. Second

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        That would satisfy most Slashdotters in terms of licensing
        To be honest, there's always a (very vocal) minority that's not going to be satisfied by anything other than auto-da-fe involving heaps of Windows CDs, and Gates and Ballmer themselves at the stake.
  • Back in the 1980s, when Richard Stallman was the only one talking about the need for "free software," no one quite knew what he was talking about.

    Back in the 1970s lots of people were talking about he need for free software, under all kinds of names. More than that, we were doing it. The movement that RMS is given credit for starting was already well under way, all across the spectrum. You had compilers (and not just on big computers, in the 8-bit worls Small-C, Tiny-Pascal and -Basic, and Forth were published in Dr Dobbs Journal), editors, shells, UNIX emulation (the Software Tools VOS on minis and mainframes, and more modest tools on micros), the free/open/whatever-you-call-it community was already huge when he published the Gnu Manifesto in 1984.

    Before the late '70s commercial closed-source software was really the exception. It wasn't even clear how much of a future there was for proprietary code, because a software package that didn't include source meant you were locked in to the operating system you got it for. A friend of mine came up with he name "Tangible Software" to describe software that wasn't proprietary and locked down to a single OS by being distributed only in compiled format, and we even used that name for our company (don't bother googling for it, it lasted less than a year and never shipped any product... we were both undergrads at Berkeley and had no time for classes AND starting up a business). Of course what happened was that this turned into a benefit for the vendors of proprietary software... they could sell you the white album over and over again.

    The point is that what actually happened is that RMS provided a focus for what a lot of people were already doing, and tried to redirect the energy of the community his way. He succeeded, in both, to a point... but the people who didn't want to be redirected found they needed a better name. "Free Software" already meant too many things to too many people, from freeware (mostly binary (not "tangible") and some of which was crippled, and soon became 'shareware') to things like BSD- and MIT- licensed code to purely public domain stuff, even before Stallman, but he sure didn't help things.

    Now we have RMS arguing that "open source" should refer to the development model (the bazaar) rather than the license, though the OSI's definition of open source is all about the license... and Microsoft trying to hijack the mindspace with "look but don't touch" licenses (also nothing new... you used to be able to get VMS source code... on microfiche). The term's under attack from both sides, and the history of the past 30 years is being rewritten (with the best of intentions, no doubt) by all sides.
  • by PPH (736903) on Monday May 12, 2008 @02:09PM (#23381186)

    ... is to receive the benefits of open source (having many eyes on the code to ensure quality and lure developers) without incurring the costs (having to pay back those eyes by sharing rights to the code).


    Or, its just an attempt to satisfy some IT checklist item promoting the use of 'Open Source' within an enterprise that the PHBs will buy.

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

Working...