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Open Source Initiative (OSI)

The Open Source Initiative is an organization dedicated to promoting open source software. The OSI's goal is to make the business-case for open source software. Instead of the "do it because it's right" case of the Free Software Foundation. The OSI maintains a list of licenses that qualify as being Open Source [1].


The OSI was founded by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond after the Netscape web browser was made open source. Netscape was opened in a attempt to regain market share taken by the proprietary Internet Explorer browser. [2]. Netscape was opened in part because of Eric S. Raymond's book "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" [3] [4] Raymond was president from its founding until February 2005; Russ Nelson replaced him a month, but after controversy he resigned and Michael Tiemann became interim president. [5]

Open Source

This section has been rewritten from's history:

The 'open source' label was invented at a strategy session held on February 3rd, 1998 in Palo Alto, California. The people present included Todd Anderson, Chris Peterson, John Hall and Larry Augustin, Sam Ockman, Michael Tiemann, and Eric Raymond.

The conferees decided it was time to dump the moralizing and confrontational attitude that had been associated with "free software" in the past and sell the idea strictly on the same pragmatic, business-case grounds that had motivated Netscape. They brainstormed about tactics and a new label. "Open source", contributed by Chris Peterson, was the best thing they came up with.


This section is taken from Wikipedia's Open Source article which is under the [GFDL]:

Critics of open source cite the need for direct compensation for the work of creation. Building a complex piece of software can take a substantial number of person-hours. Retaining intellectual property rights over such works greatly increases the feasibility of obtaining financial compensation which covers the labor costs. : Proponents argue that without this compensation, many socially desirable and useful works would never be created in the first place. Some critics draw distinctions between areas where open source collaborations have successfully created useful products, such as general-purpose software, and areas where they see compensation as more important and collaboration as less important, such as highly specialized complex software projects.

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) opposes the term "open source" and the professed pragmatism of the open source movement, as they fear that the free software ideals of freedom and community are threatened by compromising on the FSF's idealistic standards for software freedom

The Open Source Definition

The OSD has been taken from It is under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License:


Open source doesn't just mean access to the source code. The distribution terms of open-source software must comply with the following criteria:

1. Free Redistribution

The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.

2. Source Code

The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost preferably, downloading via the Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.

3. Derived Works

The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.

4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code

The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified form only if the license allows the distribution of "patch files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time. The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code. The license may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software.

5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

7. Distribution of License

The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.

8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product

The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program's being part of a particular software distribution. If the program is extracted from that distribution and used or distributed within the terms of the program's license, all parties to whom the program is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original software distribution.

9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software

The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.

10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral

No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface.


Software in the Public Interest
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Related Domains

External Links

AboutUs Featured Wiki Page

Featured on 2 April 2007

Featured Text -- The AboutUs community has a lot to celebrate in the open source movement. Not only is our content freely available under a couple of different open source licenses (GNU's GFDL and CreativeCommons' by-sa), but much of the software we use daily (including the MediaWiki software that AboutUs is built on, as well as Colloquy -- our favorite IRC chat-client) are distributed as open source. So it goes without saying that we appreciate the work of organizations like the Open Source Initiative/ which is the "steward" of the "Open Source Definition (OSD)" -- ten principles for distribution of open source software. The Open Source Initiative also is the community-recognized body for reviewing and approving licenses as being "OSD-conformant".

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