[Viscom-dev] Re: [52N Security] 52°North posts new FAQs!

Arnulf Christl arnulf.christl at wheregroup.com
Fri Mar 30 15:38:19 EDT 2007

On Fri, March 30, 2007 12:18, "Jörg Thomsen (MapMedia GmbH)" wrote:
> hi Arnulf,
> thanks for your long cunstructiv mail! Just one question to complete :-)
> my FOSS-education:

Hey Jörg,
if I wouldn't know you better I'd suspect that you want to show me up. :-)
So this will be my weekend tutorial.

> Arnulf Christl wrote:
>> And you are talking of "products" instead of
>> "software projets". This mixing of Open Source projects with the
>> corresponding governance and openness do not go together well with the
>> interests of a commercial undertaking.
> Aren't the results of OS-projects products?

Good question. I will try to answer without ranting and in less than 2kb.

> I'm often talking about the
> products MapServer, Mapbender etc., because for poeple thinking in
> product-boxes it is easier to understand, that we offer working software
>   and not blabla.
> Am I wrong?
> Jörg

You are right. When we sell things to ignorant people we have to talk of
products (only). But then we don't sell them the product but the services
around it. Isn't this the greatest irony?

I would therefore always want to differentiate between the "project" and
the "product", especially if talking with FOSS-enlightened people ((I
posted the question of what the definition/scope of a "project" is to
incubation several years back but they still owe us an answer)).

In my definition the "project" comprises the code, the community, the
mailing lists, governance, bug tracker, how decisions are taken, who is
allowed to submit code, the "vibe" of the community, etc. A "project" can
appear at an OSGeo booth at a trade fair or produce flyers for
conferences. People can join projects and might get kicked out of it. It
is a living thing run by people with no centralized, proprietary,
commercial interest overhead. People are not supposed to take things into
possession in a project (although in reality they oftentimes do and
struggle is required to resolve that). The Open Source "project" is
described in several books, an English language one is
http://producingoss.com/ by Carl Fogel. A more legally comprehensive and
less technical one in German language about Freie Weichware is
http://freie-software.bpb.de/ by Grassmuck (the Wizards of OS' bible).

In my definition the "product" is the code and binaries resulting from the
project, maybe with documentation. The "product" can be installed and put
to use by people. And you can copy binaries to a DVD, print docs out,
stuff both in a box and sell them. Try that with a project. :-)

Please bear in mind that this is only my humble definition and thank you
for putting me back down on the floor where I belong. I am by no means
entitled to police people how to run their Open Source projects but but
but yes I would like to nudge and kick them into doing it in ways that
much larger minds than mine have found out to be the right ones long ago.
Educate yourself, I can only rant.

Asbestos regardos,

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