It seems that more and more these days I find articles cropping up in publications like the Economist or WSJ about open source projects, and it occurred to me how ‘normal’ it had now become for such business-oriented publications to recognise what a driver open source has become in the modern world. It’s expected now, but it made me think back to my personal journey with open source, and how much resistance I’ve encountered to it over the years.
The trouble with developing a project which is not only cross-platform, but is old mature & wizened enough to have users dotted across a whole history of incompatible versions of the same tool, is that you end up having to maintain a ton of project files. Linux makefiles, 3+ versions of Visual Studio, Code::Blocks, XCode, Eclipse - it all gets a little unmanageable. I’ve been meaning to look at cross-environment build managers like CMake for a long time, but the time investment required to port & test, let alone learning how to do it, was daunting enough that it never seemed to make it to the top of my TODO.
I’ve always been a fan of staying flexible as regards to platform, but it’s especially true these days, since my desktop environment is heterogeneous - I still tend to use Windows most for work, but for personal use I’m most comfy in Mac OS X now. I do have Ubuntu around too although I generally only use it when I have to on the desktop (although I love it to death as a server OS since it takes everything that is great about Debian and updates it a bit).
Important: the subject matter and parties involved with this legal issue are deliberately not mentioned here; if you are aware of their identities, I ask you not to mention them publicly here in comments, or anywhere else. As some of you are already aware, over the last few months there has been an ongoing legal issue with a 3rd party having allegedly used OGRE code without respecting the license conditions. I hate getting involved in legal disputes, there are so many more useful things to do with time, money, and emotional energy, but nevertheless as custodian of OGRE it falls to me and my company to take charge of situations like this, however reluctantly.
I live on an island that often gets bad press for being a ‘tax haven’. Those in the local financial services industry don’t like that term of course, pointing out how standards-compliant the finance industry is, and how many information exchange agreements we have with other countries (the line ‘the lady doth protest too much’ bubbles to the surface in some people’s minds I’m sure at this stage). So, we’re not technically a tax haven according to the OECD definition, but we’re certainly a place for people to stash their money and avoid paying tax on the income they derive from it in the juristictions in which they live.
I’m on the Qt (owned by Nokia now) mailing list since I have a commercial license for a client project, and I got a very interesting email today, telling me that on its release in March 2009, Qt 4.5 will be available under the LGPL. This is really big news. Up until the current Qt 4.4, your only licensing options are a per-seat and per-platform commercial license (which adds up if you have multiple developers and multiple target platforms, which you will do if you’re using Qt anyway), or alternatively the free option which means you use it under the GPL - meaning all your own code has to also be GPL, with an exception that allows you to publish / use software under other open source licenses too, but nevertheless it all has to be public.
Note: I’m going to pick the way I discuss this carefully, since I have a good friend on the LINQ to SQL team (yes, we Guernseymen do get around) and I feel bad to criticise too much in this area; nevertheless I think there are lessons to be learned and I have a definite angle on this, being an ex-business coder and open source enthusiast. My thoughts here reflect pretty much what I’ve already suggested on his blog, but in more detail, so hopefully this won’t offend him!
I read with some interest Matt Asay’s blog on TWiki, and what has happened over there as the company associated with the open-source project has basically decided to ‘reorganise’ everything, it appears in order to make itself more attractive to venture capitalists. To be honest, I really don’t understand the motivation at all. All open source projects live or die by the strength of their community, and to suddenly break from it in the interests of attracting investment is crazy.
Like most people I’ve been following the current economic news with a mixture of morbid entertainment and mild trepidation. I’m not likely to be out of a job soon (my employer and I are on very good terms), but inevitably my work is part of the global economy, so I can’t expect to be completely unaffected. There are a few interesting lines of thought in the blogosphere that I thought I’d share with you.
There was an interesting article last week on the Guardian site where Richard Stallman took a pop at the rising use of ‘cloud computing’ - where computing resources and applications are delivered on demand to your devices via the magic of the interweb. Now, I don’t find myself particularly aligned with Mr Stallman a lot of the time, but he definitely has a very good point in this instance; although I do think the argument was too highly generalised (which probably came from the journalist rather than Stallman).