As a kind of pint-sized free software fidei defensor I feel obliged to counter some of the misconceptions that are put about on the subject around the Web.
But I find myself in a slightly embarrassing situation here, in that I need to comment on some statements that have appeared in the virtual pages of Computerworld UK.
The piece is entitle “Open Sauce”, but it ought really be called “”Open Source””, since its author, Richard Steel, the CIO of Newham, seems to have such distaste for the concept that he can't bring himself even to write the words without sanitising them between the quotation marks.
He is reacting to the UK Government's Action Plan on open source, and I'd like to react to those reactions.
Mr Steel writes:
I don’t like the term “Open Source”. It’s misleading; what many people mean is “anything but Microsoft”; few businesses actually use open source directly – they buy software derived from open source that has been commercially packaged and sold with support, which, in practice, is little different to licensed software.
Well, no: there's nothing misleading in the term. It's tightly defined by the rigorous and well-understood Open Source Definition, which has nothing whatsoever to do with “anything but Microsoft”; indeed, Microsoft actually has some OSD-approved licences – the Microsoft Public License and Microsoft Reciprocal License: so does this mean that Microsoft is pushing “anything but Microsoft” too?
And what on earth does it mean to say “few businesses actually use open source directly – they buy software derived from open source that has been commercially packaged and sold with support, which, in practice, is little different to licensed software”?