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Junk CNet story from Matt Asay (MySQL, badgeware)

Rick Moen [rick at linuxmafia.com]

Tue, 14 Aug 2007 16:37:15 -0700

Lawyer, ex-badgware firm Alfresco executive, and OSI Board member Matt Asay writes a "NewsBlog" at CNet news.com, in which he comments on open source. A couple of days ago, that column published a compendium of whoppers[1], attempting to accuse open source users of hypocrisy.

Quoting key parts:

The open-source community's double standard on MySQL posted by Matt Asay [...]

Remember 2002? That's when Red Hat decided to split its code into Red Hat Advanced Server (now Red Hat Enterprise Linux) and Fedora. Howls of protest and endless hand-wringing [http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513-5102282.html] ensued:

Enter 2007. MySQL decides to comply with the GNU General Public License and only give its tested, certified Enterprise code to those who pay for the service underlying that code (gasp!). Immediately cries of protest are raised [http://www.linux.com/feature/118489], How dare MySQL not give everything away for free?

Ironically, in this same year of 2007, SugarCRM received universal plaudits (from me, as well) for opening up _part of its code base_ under GPLv3. Groklaw crowed [http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=20070725161131598], "SugarCRM Goes GPLv3!" People everywhere flooded the streets to wax fecund and celebrate by multiplying and replenishing the earth.

[...] I'm criticizing the open-source community for applying a hypocritical double-standard.

No, Matt. Sorry, you lose.

First, the ZDNet link you cited simply did not feature even one member of the Linux community being quoted as criticising Red Hat in any way, let alone failing to comply with GPLv2 or any other open source licence -- for the simple reason that Red Hat didn't violate any licence, and in fact has published full source code RPMs for the full software portions of RHEL, downloadable free of charge and fully accessible to the public (which is far more than the licences require).

(RHEL includes two non-software SRPMS that contain trademark-encumbered image files. People who wish to have non-trademark-encumbered RHEL can create same by using different image files in their place, or can rely on CentOS et alii's ongoing work in doing exactly that. I've previously pointed this set of facts out to Matt directly, on an occasion when he attempted to defend his own firm's then-usage of badgeware licensing through the tu-quoque fallacy of criticising Red Hat.)

Likewise, the linux.com story you cited concerning MySQL AB's cessation of offering source tarballs to the general public (though public access to the SCM repository will remain) does not feature even one cry of protest -- for the simple reason that MySQL AB is still offering a fully, genuinely open source product.

(Accordingly, Matt's assertion about whom MySQL AB will "give its tested, certified Enterprise code to" is simply false.)

Last, even Matt's third example, about SugarCRM, Inc., is crooked: Matt's phrase "part of its code base" refers to the entirety of SugarCRM Community Edition, which in its entirety was formerly under the deceptive, proprietary badgeware "SugarCRM Public Licence" (a licence Matt's firm Alfresco also used, and pushed hard but unsuccessfully for OSI to approve), and which in its entirety was recently converted to GPLv3.

Hypocrisy? I think Matt's heard of the concept, but seems to have misremembered where he saw it.

[1] http://news.com.com/8301-10784_3-9758671-7.html However, please don't go there and help drive up their advertising revenues by posting long analyses of why he's wrong, etc. Companies like CNet specialise in professional trolling, deliberately riling up tempting targets such as open source users, to drive up hit count. As a general rule, you want to avoid posting anything to such publications' "feedback forums" merely because some author has said something idiotic: That just rewards them for trolling. Instead, please post critiques to your own Web space, or maybe as _Linux Gazette_ articles.

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