Speaker Simon Phipps
Time 2009-01-23 09:30
Conference LCA2009


Brief history of open source movement.

Traditionally business have central purchasing model for software. Suppliers interested in selling latest software, may not be interested in seeing sale go all the way through to deployment.

Changed to adoption-led market. Open source not to save money. It is to put themselves back into control. Sell value, rather then promises. Not: “Here is the license, best of luck!”

Open source business model.

Sell a subscription. Contains everthing license use to contain except right to use software.

  • Support: Phone support. Or onsite via helicopter support?
  • Defect resolution/Warranty: Need to speak to people with commit access.
  • Upgradeability
  • Indemnity
  • Production support tools
  • never right to use, this comes with license.

Specific Issues

Open Source licenses. TNG.

  • Old view: License describes boundary that allows two parties to have a relationship.
  • FOSS view: A License is the constitution of a community.
  • role of license is not to setup somebody so they can’t sue you.

Software patents

  • broken
  • patents come from parallel filing by community members.
  • worry less about trolls (which can’t be controlled), need to worry about community members.


  • file patents yourself, so you can exchange with another company if you are breaching their patents. Doesn’t help against trolls.
  • convenants: If you are working in field X we promise not to sue you even if you are breaching our patents.
  • licenses: put agreement to use patents in the license. eg. Apache License and GPLv3.
    • Apache creates little islands of software.
    • GPL creates big islands of software.
  • strong patron to take bullet for you.


Sydney Opera House claims ownership of all photos of Sydney Opera House. They claim it is a trademark. You cannot sell photos without their permission. Brave person to take this up in law to prove they have no premises behind this argument.

Firefox logo. Rules about what you can call Firefox. They were forced to do this. Otherwise Malware writers could write Trojan horses and call it Firefox.

All of the good names are already taken.

What is a friend? We have a good sense of who are our friends. We aren’t always able to work this out in the case of free software.

Who are your friends? People who contribute.

Who are your enemies?

Microsoft has been using open source software for the past 30 years. This doesn’t make then friends. Friends are people who contribute.


Freedoms do matter.

Always start with freedom. Customers don’t want free licenses. They want ability to modify software, etc.

Richard Stallman was right.

Problem with patents is not that they are a bad idea. Good idea, allow innovation. Badly implemented. Patents shouldn’t be only way to assert intellectual property rights.

The greatest enemy of freedom is a happy slave

I want to put some kind of Linux of this computer, that works, and doesn’t become my hobby.

Solaris no different to many Linux distributions. Need to become cousins. Solaris has contributed features to Linux community.