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The great oepn source debate

I'm sitting here waiting for the MS vs. Open source panel debate to start (they're officially late starting, as of this point -- more than a few people have speculated that Microsoft hasn't showed up -- or "blue screened"). It's a big room and is slowly filling up (the center filled up immediately, of course). The Slashdot crew is sitting about 20 yards from me (Rob Malta, etc.), the Apache folks are right over there, Tim O'Reilly is strutting around the room. I'm sure that Miguel is around here somewhere, as well as various other open source luminaries. Quite a collection of people.

The amusing thing is that right before they opened up the doors to the room, RedHat passed out dozens of red plastic hats, and Sun passed out dozens of "OpenOffice.org" t-shirts.

So let's a lot of people wearing those hats, and at least a few wearing the openoffice t-shirts.

The panel should be interesting. Craig Mundie, the MS Veep who has been taking pot shots at the GPL and open source is the MS representative here today. He is countered by Michael Tiemann, CTO of RedHat. So Mundie is walking into an openly hostile audience. The first question that pops into my mind is "why would MS agree to this?" Do they really feel that they are right? Do they just want to show that they're not afraid?

I'm sure that news accounts of this debate will be all over .net... er... the net within a few hours. Might prove to be interesting.

I typed much through the speeches and panel. They're not guaranteed to be right (definitely abbreviated, and lots of typos), but I thought you might be interested. Some of the audience questions were pretty damn stupid, I have to say...

It's a day late, but you can deal.

26 July 2001
Shared Source vs. Open Source: Debate and Panel Discussion

Craig Mundie
Senier Vice President

Talk name: "Informed Choice"
- Our goal: creating an environment about informed choice
- My goal about speaking: not legistlate, create a dialogue, and inform others about long term ramifications of their choices

MS has no beef w/ open source. We think it's an integral part of ecosystem that has fueled tremendous success. But there are aspects of this movement -- free software and open source. And the press is certainly confused.

Mundie: open source isn't the issue.


Software ecosystem: industru -> customers -> govmt -> intellectual commons -> cycle


It's all about choice
- Develmnet choices: klang, community, source model, platform
- Distribution choices: open source, shareware, freeware, commercial and mixed
- Licensing choices: BSD, shared source licenses, traditional commerical licenses, GPL, public domains
- Business choices: services, packaged software, aggregate "distributions", appliances, hardware
- Each choice has policy implications


Software as a business
- MS choice: the commercial software model; built on a business model, licensing, investment in R&D, community and standards
- Software industry: an integral part of US economy, 148000 commercial companies, 2 million jobs, resulting in $28.2 billion in taxes paid, export revenues of $121B

--> He's driving that countries should be worried about this 'cause
free software doesn't provide jobs and income, and is therefore
unhealthy for


Learning from open source

- expanded community programs
- expanded source access: "shaored"source - range of licenses for different customers, partners and the intellectual commons, still provided under a commercial model


Summary: MS believes that the commercial model is good for the nationwide and global economy.

Michael Tiemann

"To be, rather than to seem" I claim: to build an arch of trust, it is better to be open, rather than to seem open. Same to be trustworthy, rather than to seem trustworthy.


He believes that the (?free/open?) source results in economic opprotunity. Cites fair/equitable competition.

Open source makes it much easier to be rather than to seem. Compares MS to alternatitive minimum tax -- which is neither alternative nor minimum.

Why would MS try this new high profile approach, when previous approach was working well?

Answer: Oct 31, 1998 -- the Haloween documents. There are a lot of smart people at MS. They see that OS model is a valid business model that can legitmately compete with MS.

GPL is the spine of OS. MS uses strong proprietary license. GPL is strong free license, like 1st ammendments. MS has benefitted (illegally -- his word) from application of its licenses. RH (and others) benefits from GPL protection. RH has always hit quarterly predictions, and went profitable a year early. Why is GPL bad?

Back to 1998. Revolution inside MS. Fueled by smart people in MS. Fueled by OS superiority. (cites purchase of Hotmail, tried to convert to windoze multiple times -- the light goes on and people realize "OS software is better"). "Do you think that the people who administrate those systems think 'Gosh, I wish that I could dump this BSD crud and replace it with windows?' I don't."

Shared source has nothing to do with building community outside of MS. It's not a licence, but a treaty, crafted by execs trying to buy time to quell the internal civil war.

MS has done much innovation. We are thankful for things like XML. etc. But "winner take all" attitude has to go.

When MS is ready to accept the GPL, and ready to accept fair competition (and many other comparisons), then we will welcome you to this party as a first class citizen.

The Panel

Clay Sherkie - acceletor group
Michael Tiemann
Dave Stutz (minme) - program manager for shared source
Mitchell Baken - chief lizard wrangler at mozilla (she wrote the
mozilla license)
Ron Johnson - attorney at ...., chair of internet law institute
Craig Mundie
Brian Belendorf - apache foundation

Tim O'Reilly: moderator

Craig Mundie: to respond. It's hard to know what to think by looking inside a company from the outside. There are many different views. We're not embarassed that people come forward and ask questions, whether we do the right thing or not. We have a single focus, though. The leadership is single minded in going forward. We have consistent leadership, though. Those who disagree can go do something else. Many of the ways that Michael characterized MS as "civial war" does not exist (at the management level) in MS -- nor at the rank-n-file level.

Tim: Brian, you've coem from the GPL side -- clearly, you've thought a lot about licenses and why. What are your thoughts?

Brian: Likes cycle slide -- research, gvmnt, industry, and users. But he thinks its bidirectional. It was important to us that lots of people use it, but to get people to contribute back -- to build community. Even though the obligation is not there (for the companies who use apache) to contribute back, people do. They understand. The creation of licenses and regimes that are bidirectional is what is missing from this debate. I think we'll see different level of input in shared source vs. open source. But then again, there are millions of MS developers out there, so we'll see.

Craig:I agree (bi directional). Giving code back is only one way of giving back. Giving taxes is another way (institutionalized).

Tim: How much does MS give in taxes?

Craig: First three days of WinCE shared source -- 10,000 people downloaded the source tree. We had a commercial kit for those who wanted it for a year now, we sold about 400 of those. We're happy about this. We give back financially, we give back in the stds world (XML, etc.). We will continue to seek ways to give back.

Tim: Dave: you're closer to the hacker level at MS, your thoughts?

Dave: No real war in MS. We're trying to learn good things from OS. There's a lot of people who have payed attention to OS. Sharing source is a who different beast vs. sharing binaries (from a supprot perspective). We're trying ot internalize that now. People do ask for more and more access to source code; it's become more central to people who development on a dialy basis. So now we're starting to develop these shared licenses -- it's a response to user requests. The standard that he's working on CLI/CIL is the same spec that Miguel is working on w/ Mono. Shows how short and simple the license is. I'd like to hear feedback, actually.

Tim: don't wait. Panelists, jump in.

Michael: I'd like to move from the nuance to substance. The efforts sound good. The logging companies are really nice as long as to let them cut down trees. Oil companies are very env friendly as long as they can drill for oil. But what about patents that prevent interoperability? So the substantial important difference is whether it is acceptable to -- where it is convenient -- to allow small parts of access?

Tim: But if the customers like it, who cares?

Michael: It's unfair; like civil liberties and crights, diff between those who make the rules and those who live by the rules.

Tim: ...missed... (general devil's advocate, siding w/ MS)

Mi: everyone needs full access to everything -- everyone can drink from the same water fountain.

Mitchell: the equilibirum that we have in the software industry today is flawed. The choice that is missing is the choice of leadership. Data and workflow is controlled by one entitty. That is not healthy for society, and for development of software, and not for the future. There's lots of smart people at MS -- but they get filtered thought the business vision of one company. We don't get to choose that from the lots of good ideas. OS should promote free software, leadership, etc. Characterizing OS as bad for policy is not healty; let's not let it succeed.

Craig: There is nothing on our part to characterize OS as bad.
<laughter> The ecosystem that we're working on is not just for cmputers. Other things as well. MS has very little sway with telecommunications, electronics, etc. We've had little success there.
<applause and laughter> But think about long term ramifications -- evolution of computing and ramifications.

Clay: issues of src code alone is less important than was 5 years ago. Meta issue is interoperability, not just OS. I'm more conccerned w/ open interfaces vs. the source code behind it. To Craig/Dave: In the Hailstorm documents, it says that there wou.ld be a wa for linux/solaris for them to participate. Can I use a hailstorm schema to have a palm pilot contact a linux server w/o a MS component in the middle?

Dave: Interop is key. There are a number of industries that have not seen the light and use all MS software. <laughter>
If the customers want it, we will make it possible. There is no question.

Audience: "Answer the question!"

Clay: This is not tru where in classes MS does not have a monopoly. I'm gonna re-ask the question and try to get a yes or no. --same question--


Dave: So...
<laughter^gt; Yes, but a caveat. As you know, in distrib systems, interesting things are done when parts you need are brought to the table. So pilot will want to authenticate and then talk to linux server.

Clay: Real question: is it a choice or a requirement? You're saying it's a choice.

Craig: It's historically been "the API". In a world we see coming, it's clear to us that you can't depend only within one machine. We don't believe convential stuff of RPC and whatnot. So in that world, protocols, schemas, and message packets are akin to API. MS has always published the API. The OS community has borrowed those APIs and made complete implementations. So when we publish the protocls and whatnot, anyone can do anything they want with them.

Tim: But we're worried about patents. Even though published, MS still has control. Even if not by knowledge/source/protocls, by law. Will there be patent protection?

Craig: We're a business. We license IP. If it turns out that this business says that we should license the patents, then we'll do that. But we are a business.

Tim: But Apple was a business when you copied their interfaces.

Brian : Still an issue of centralization. E.g., DNS. There's root servers. It's now privatized. The fact is right now, this is a critical point in the infrastructure. And we're concerned about it. Similarly, we're concerned that MS will control hailstorm, etc., etc. Worried that same type of centralization will occur in .net services. What draws people to OS is going away from centralization.

Craig: 2 things to think about. Right now, we're saying "This is what we're going to do". We've advertised what we're going to do. Downside: magic carpet/AOL. What is that? Hence, it isn't clear to me that we are granted automatic franciase in this area.

Tim: come back to point of health of overall ecosystem. Big concern about MS that you see yourselves as a small player in a big world. You think that you don't have power. But you do. In the ecosystem, finite resources. Makes it hard for new entrants to compete. OS says "we want in -- we want to have a chance". You guys have been so successful that its hard for others to succeed. So is proprietary vs. open "what's good for MS is good for the industry?"

Dave: Is it hard to enter to the market 'cause the expectations of users have been raised?

Tim: My exp is that it's easy to enter, but then MS comes in and takes over that part of the market.

Dave: I've seen repeated failures inside MS. We are not automatically granted the franciase.

Mitchell: But MS has plenty of money and backing to fail. But MS has efficient system to take $$$ out of the system (giving away browser, making it part of the OS, etc.). So ability for MS to extract $$$ is dangerous, OS allows people to collabotare together and joint together to be a larger whole.... missed...

Dave: We recognize that we are in a possition in which we have a lot of resources, and people are sensitive. We have started to try to be very clear about what we want to do. We can to carve out safe places
-- a standard. We need to continue to develop ways to make businesses in free markets. To continue to exist, but to foster trust and inniation.

Tim: So is it fair analogy to MS is switching from hunter/gatherer to agrarian?

Dave: I'd like to think yes, but can't say for sure.

Craig: MS would be nothing if millions of people didn't write apps for Windoze. And OS by itself is nothing.
Need a symbotic platform between apps and OS. Otherwise, OS won't sustain itself. So in a way, we were already a farming econ. In a way, we needed them. So people have diversified in number and type of platforms -- lots of diversity -- there's no direct transference, I can personally speak for our lack of ability to other non-computer systems.

Tim: Is this why the GPL bothers you?

Craig: No. Because the GPL makes it's own closed community.

Tim: So oes MS.

Cr: If the GPL wants to explain how to stand on their shoulders

Br: The GPL tells me under which terms I can use software (as a business). The WinCE license does not tell me anything as a businessman -- it says "contact us" for business terms. It's only for non-commercial stuff. Vast majority of people write software for some commercial purpose.

Cr: Just call us. We'll figure it out.

Br: But that's different.

Dave: Not only is there the noncommerical license, there is a community-based shared source license.

Ron: perspecive of a lawyer. The legal business has only recently entered this arena. Most of the commericla businesses have made licenses tailored to their best commercial business. This is not just an MS problem. Trouble w/ GPL to those doing commericla business is that expressed about 4 ways, none of which are very specific. Some are consistent w/ derrivitave copyright law, some are not. There is very little guidence from the courts as to definition of "derrivate work". There is no useful test to know. So there's a huge uncertainty w/ the GPL.

Br: Stallman is working on version 3. I'm sure that he'd welcome MS.

Crai: We've posted 20 questions on the web.

Michael: MS shared source, It has stipulations about IP. If I look at MS software, I'm infected.
It's the same language in both licensews (MS and GPL).

Ron: It's context sensitive. There are different language and different contexts.

Tim: Wrap up for audience. There are similarities between both licenses. Boths strong IP licenses, and probably both have ambiguities. So lets not go down the legal hole, 'cause we don't really know. Let's take a questions.

FSF president Q: MS stated that GPL is unamerican cancer. Yet this ctry was founded on freedom. GPL is founded on freedom. This has inspired free software movement. We'd like to challenge Mundie/MS to a second debate w/ the authors of the GPL to debate the philsophy of the GPL.

Cr: I'm willing to discuss it.

FSF: Oct 10 conference in DC. Will you be there?

Cr: Call Rick Miller, we'll talk.

Tim: This would be an interesting debate.

Cr: Richard wouldn't join our conversation. Why? Never mind. Next question.

..somedude...Q: To Craig: Ecosystems and choices. Then subject ofp atents came up and then dropped. There's little doubt that many patents are silly. But MS holds a lot of them. Do you think it's right when an OS infringes on a "silly" patent that they are persecured?

Cr: Absolutely.

Q: Even if it's a stupid patent? IT takes money to challenge a patent.

Cr: Fine. Get your money. Patents are one form of protection. Been debated intellectually, legally, etc. Should we have patents? Our society has said yes. Some are stupid. But they have legal weight. At the end of the day, if you have a ptent, you enforce it, it has value. So MS and others who have patents will decide to enforce them.

Br: Are there any for .net?

Cr: I expect that there will be.

Dave: I think that patents will benefit OS as a structural thing. You want large corps involved, ...

Michael: We want our turn.

Dave: To keep clear relationships, we need clear language and protection and way of litegation. Patent is outside of source. You need to help us to let us know what to exist.

Craig: Look in academia. Lots of them have patents and made $$$ off them.

Q: Steve Balmer said Linux is the biggest danger. I've been member of MS community since DOS 3.x and MSDN when it first began. Been a member of OS since win95. I understand OS "open" and "free". We beleive in open dialgue and open markets (and free beer!). When MS recently started using "community". CIA is part of "intelligence community". What does MS mean by "community"? You said earlier that there was freedom in the MS community by those who disagree they can leave. What does MS mean by "community"?

Cr: MS has lots of communitys. Employees. Developers. Customers. My comment (BTW -- we've used "Community" for a long time) earlier was that we can address needs better this way.

Q: Software ecosystem. As Tim and Mitchel pointed out, in traditional market of cash cow, you have an overwhelming position. It's difficult to make an annual growth revenue of 10-20%. Exp growth has limits. Is it time for MS to declare 0 revenue growth.

Cr: I don't think so. We have shareholders. Our job is to provide return to shareholders.

Q: Do you also have responsibility to ecosystem?

Cr: Of course. We try to be good corporate citizen. We try to provide good infrastruct for this country. We try to step up and deal w/ corporate responsibilities.

Mark Brickell EFF Q: I'm just a sysadmin.
<cheers and laughing>
One of the issues that concerns me is that we're in a monolthic society. Oil, media, power, etc. Only thing that seems free anymore is software. In that battle, you community has taken one of us hostage -- Dimity. How does MS feel about enforcement of DMCA? Are you going to keep taking hostages for free expression and free speech?

Cr: I suggest you address your question to Adobe.

Q: Did MS lobby for the DMCA?

Cr: We talk to people to all the time. The DMCA is what it is. It's the law of the land. Go change it if you want.

Tim: Does MS like it?

Cr: There's some we like and some we don't, like you.

Tim: There's very little that I like about it.
It goes too far.

Q: Ecosystems. As a biologist, the width has to do with its health. Narrow ecosystems (monocultures), you have to do things to keep them viable. Pesticides, etc. We've got a forest of all the same type of tree -- one parasite can destroy it. What's the vision of MS and other firms -- how do you protect them from this one parasite?

Dave: It's imp to our business to have a healthy eco.

Michael: Buy RH Linux.

Q: I interest of brokening peace between parties. michael said, "MS shouldn't be winner take all". But GPL is a "winner take all" strategy. Stallman says "eliminate competition". But GPL has potential to destroy (weaken?) ecosystem by creating a monocoluture. Why not offer something to both camps rather than either extreme?

Tim: This is a loaded hot potato. I think that the univ licenses are the best balance between freedom and making $$$. At the same time, I respect and support the right of MS to put out and make $$$ under thier liencese, and I respect GPL. It's "what works for you". If their customers don't like it, there will be choices. We are entering time of more choice -- because of new technology and OS. We can make the future what we want it to be.

Tim: We're out of time. If you want to ask Craig more questions, go to the Oct free software event. Thanks.

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