The Open Source Definition (Annotated)

Mon, 2006-07-24 19:04 — Ken Coar

Version 1.9

The indented, italicized sections below appear as annotations to the Open Source Definition (OSD) and are not a part of the OSD. A plain version of the OSD without annotations can be found here.

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.

Rationale: By constraining the license to require free redistribution, we eliminate the temptation to throw away many long-term gains in order to make a few short-term sales dollars. If we didn’t do this, there would be lots of pressure for cooperators to defect.
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.

Rationale: We require access to un-obfuscated source code because you can’t evolve programs without modifying them. Since our purpose is to make evolution easy, we require that modification be made easy.
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.

Rationale: The mere ability to read source isn’t enough to support independent peer review and rapid evolutionary selection. For rapid evolution to happen, people need to be able to experiment with and redistribute modifications.
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.

Rationale: Encouraging lots of improvement is a good thing, but users have a right to know who is responsible for the software they are using. Authors and maintainers have reciprocal right to know what they’re being asked to support and protect their reputations.

Accordingly, an open-source license must guarantee that source be readily available, but may require that it be distributed as pristine base sources plus patches. In this way, “unofficial” changes can be made available but readily distinguished from the base source.
5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

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

Rationale: In order to get the maximum benefit from the process, the maximum diversity of persons and groups should be equally eligible to contribute to open sources. Therefore we forbid any open-source license from locking anybody out of the process.

Some countries, including the United States, have export restrictions for certain types of software. An OSD-conformant license may warn licensees of applicable restrictions and remind them that they are obliged to obey the law; however, it may not incorporate such restrictions itself.
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.

Rationale: The major intention of this clause is to prohibit license traps that prevent open source from being used commercially. We want commercial users to join our community, not feel excluded from it.
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.

Rationale: This clause is intended to forbid closing up software by indirect means such as requiring a non-disclosure agreement.
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.

Rationale: This clause forecloses yet another class of license traps.
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.

Rationale: Distributors of open-source software have the right to make their own choices about their own software.

Yes, the GPL is conformant with this requirement. Software linked with GPLed libraries only inherits the GPL if it forms a single work, not any software with which they are merely distributed.
10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral

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

Rationale: This provision is aimed specifically at licenses which require an explicit gesture of assent in order to establish a contract between licensor and licensee. Provisions mandating so-called “click-wrap” may conflict with important methods of software distribution such as FTP download, CD-ROM anthologies, and web mirroring; such provisions may also hinder code re-use. Conformant licenses must allow for the possibility that (a) redistribution of the software will take place over non-Web channels that do not support click-wrapping of the download, and that (b) the covered code (or re-used portions of covered code) may run in a non-GUI environment that cannot support popup dialogues.


Open Standards Requirement for Software

The Requirement

An “open standard” must not prohibit conforming implementations in open source software.
The Criteria

To comply with the Open Standards Requirement, an “open standard” must satisfy the following criteria. If an “open standard” does not meet these criteria, it will be discriminating against open source developers.

1. No Intentional Secrets: The standard MUST NOT withhold any detail necessary for interoperable implementation. As flaws are inevitable, the standard MUST define a process for fixing flaws identified during implementation and interoperability testing and to incorporate said changes into a revised version or superseding version of the standard to be released under terms that do not violate the OSR.
2. Availability: The standard MUST be freely and publicly available (e.g., from a stable web site) under royalty-free terms at reasonable and non-discriminatory cost.
3. Patents: All patents essential to implementation of the standard MUST:
* be licensed under royalty-free terms for unrestricted use, or
* be covered by a promise of non-assertion when practiced by open source software
4. No Agreements: There MUST NOT be any requirement for execution of a license agreement, NDA, grant, click-through, or any other form of paperwork to deploy conforming implementations of the standard.
5. No OSR-Incompatible Dependencies: Implementation of the standard MUST NOT require any other technology that fails to meet the criteria of this Requirement.

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Two National Universities Demonstrate Why Online Schools Are Today’s Educational Innovators

While traditional, campus-based colleges continue to see flat enrollments, online universities are seeing steady up-ticks in student numbers. The primary reason for that growth is due to the flexibility online programs offer. However, two recent innovations by two different national online schools also demonstrate why these institutions continue to be so popular; they are simply the trend setters for higher education.

Capella University Offers New Blog
The traditional image of a college student is that “of an 18- to 22-year-old who goes full time to college directly from high school and lives on an ivy-covered campus.” That image is fallacious in the extreme since only about 15% of college students fit that profile. The other 85% “are part-time students, or are over the age of 22, and increasingly participate in programs that don’t require being on a campus at all.”
IStock PhotoThat fact has lead to the creation of a blog devoted to improving education for the majority of college students, “The Other 85 Percent.” The blog’s editor is Michael J. Offerman, EdD, the former president of Capella University and now vice chairman of external university initiatives for the college. Offerman has an extensive background in both adult and distance learning, and he recently led the new Transparency by Design initiative.

According to Offerman, the intent of the blog is “to explore the current state of adult higher education delivered at a distance” with a focus on online schools. Offerman sees the adult focused, online option as a “tremendous opportunity for creativity and innovation.” In a nutshell, his interest is particular to learning outcomes or the specific knowledge that “a person will learn in college precisely what they need to know to succeed in their careers.”

In addition, Offerman seeks to provide a forum for discussion of the following critical questions:

Why do we need adult-serving colleges and universities?
Is online learning effective?
Is online education valued?
How can you convince people that it should be?
Why is it that colleges and universities serving adults
at a distance are leaders
in the reporting of real learning outcomes?

By being university-based, the blog has initial credibility. It also collects into one place the many key discussion points that must be addressed to further help the majority of college students continue their college education. Most importantly, it uses current technology yet does not rest on the fact that online education is the format already doing the moving and shaking.

A quick scan of page one reveals snippets and links to some of the very articles that should form the focus of the discussion. In particular, the site references the report on America’s falling degree attainment status that formed the basis of one our of recent posts, Real Economic Stimulus Needs a Long-Range, Educational Approach.

This blog concept is precisely why online colleges are currently setting the educational pace.

American InterContinental University Online (AIU Online) Launches AIU Mobile
Another online university taking critical steps towards innovations is the web-based campus of American InterContinental University. In recent days the school has announced the launch of an all new branch of the school, AIU Mobile.

The new concept is touted as “an easy-to-use mobile education delivery channel that truly defines the word ‘portability. While delivering many of the same elements that AIU online provides students, AIU Mobile takes the step of allowing students to access online educational programming as well as the necessary support systems in place for those program through web-enabled cell phones and other wireless devices.

AIU MobileWe wrote about the difference between e-learning and mobile learning in our post Mobile Learning vs. E-Learning, Is There a Difference? AIU Mobile is precisely the mobile learning format that brings the classroom to a mobile phones or PDA. The result is to potentially tailor the educational opportunities to an even greater extent, introducing the two concepts of “just-in-time” and “just-for-me.”

AIU Mobile appears to meet the critical components of this next generation of learning. It provides live access technology with the ability to access all critical school (class assignments, instructor directories, campus email, grades, and video technology). Simply stated, a lack of a computer is simply not a problem anymore.

It is great to see this continued push to the edge of technology by AIU, a school that has regained its footing with the recent elimination of its prior accreditation issues.

Software Freedom Day 2008

FOSS Day at Faculty University of Transport and Communications (FIT UCT) was held on March 29th 2008.

And Software Freedom Day will be organized on 20th September 2008

We have a website about it at


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Adobe SWF goes opensource

The SWF file format delivers vector graphics, text, video, and sound over the Internet and is supported by Adobe® Flash® Player and Adobe AIR™ software. Flash Player already reaches over 98% of Internet-enabled desktops and more than half a billion handsets and mobile devices.

The SWF file format is designed to be an efficient binary delivery format, not a format for exchanging graphics between graphics editors.

The SWF file format is available as an open specification to create products and technology that implement the specification. SWF 9 introduces the ActionScript™ 3.0 language and virtual machine.

Download the SWF file format specification (PDF, 1.9 MB)

HowTo: theme your desktop

HowTo: theme your desktop
In this HowTo I just want to collect the different ways you can personalize your desktop. It is divided in different sections; you don’t need to follow everything I say, just pick up what you like. There’s nothing new amongst the things I say, but I thought it would be handy to have a reference. Another useful reference is this. All I know, I’ve learned it on this forum, but I’m not able to trace back the authors of the original posts. If you think I’ve just reported something you explained first, then you’re probably right, and I thank you for this. Throughout the guide I assume you are using Gnome.

1: What can be skinned

A lot of things, actually. In this HowTo I will cover:
– Widgets: this are the little elements like buttons, loading bars, menus…, which are used in your applications
– Window borders: the part of the window containing the buttons to close, maximize and minimize
– Icons
– Mouse cursors
– Panels
– Splash screen: this appears when you login before the desktop os ready
– Login manager: the application which greets you after the boot
– Desklets: little apps which show useful information over your desktop
– Fonts
– Grub: the application which lets you choose what operating system you want to boot
– Usplash: what appears when the system is loading at boot

2: Where to find nice themes

The most common sites where you can find themes for Gnome are GnomeArt and Gnome-Look
Some other fancy stuff (for example wallpapers) can be found at Deviant Art
You may also want to have a look at Gnome Themes and Gnome Themes Forum.

If you know where to find themes, but want some advice on putting all together in a consistent way, have a look here. That thread is meant to show other people some screenshots and list the themes used to make it. If you get some nice theme, then share it on that thread.

3: Icons, windows, widgets and wallpaper

The most basic things which characterize the look of your desktop are widgets, window borders and icons. These elements can be managed under
System->Preferences->Themes or equivalently launching


in a terminal. You can install here the icons etc. that you have downloaded. Then you choose the elements you will actually use under Theme Details. When you are happy with your settings, you can save your theme, to be able to recall it with a click if you change it.

It may be useful to know where things actually go: icons are stores under ~/.icons, while other elements can be found under ~/.themes.

If you want to install themes system-wide, then you can just invoke the application as root, with

sudo gnome-theme-manager

Be sure to do this only to install things, and make your choices as a regular user.

Sometimes you may want to change a single icon. You can do this by right-clicking your file and choosing properties. Then click over the icon image and choose a new one. This is useful for special folders, also. Under the Symbols tab you can choose some little emblems and add it to the icon.

================================================== ========

Finally, the last element which characterizes your desktop is of course the wallpaper. You can change it using System->Preferences->Wallpaper or equivalently right-clicking on the current wallpaper and choosing “Set wallpaper”.

Just an advice here. It is tempting to choose a very beautiful picture or a photo of your family or whatever else, and to change wallpaper frequently. I discourage this, because it will easily lead to an inconsistent theme. Choose your wallpaper as the last thing while themeing, and be sure to use a simple image with few colors, which match your widgets or your window borders. The result will be much more satisfying.

4: Some applications still look bad.

You’re right. There are three kind of applications which will use different widgets and icons.

Root. The simplest to settle are applications which you run as root. These simply use the root theme. If you want the root theme to match the current user theme, you can just create some symbolic links

sudo ln -s /home//.themes /root/.themes
sudo ln -s /home//.icons /root/.icons
sudo ln -s /home//.fonts /root/.fonts

================================================== ========

Qt Then there are KDE applications. These apps use a different set of widgets, based on the QT graphic libraries, rather than the GTK (GIMP ToolKit) based, which are common on Gnome. The first thing to do is to find a matching QT theme; for this you can have a look here. Some themes are also available in the repos, but they may require you to install KDE as well. If you just want to make the apps look nice, but don’t want much hassle with theme installation, and you don’t care about theme matching, you can find here a deb to install Polymer theme, which is quite nice.

After you have installed the theme (the way to do this depends on the theme, and is usually indicated on the site) you have to set it as default. If you have KDE installed you can do this under the K Control Center. Otherwise you can install qtconfig

sudo apt-get install qt3-qtconfig qt4-qtconfig

You will find two entries under System->Preferences->Qt3 Configuration (or Qt4 of course). You just have to select the right theme (both under Qt3 and Qt4) and the right font. If you use the standard font, then you can choose Bitstream Vera Sans, normal, 10 under the font tab.

================================================== ========

Gtk1 Finally there applications which use the old version of the Gtk libraries. You will hardly be able to make them look good, because there are no nice themes for Gtk1. Anyway have a look here.

5: Panels

You can play with panels to achieve a more comfortable setting, or just to make your box look like OSX. I will first explain how to customize the standard panels. If you want a OSX-like launcher, you find it in the next paragraph.

By default you should have two panels, one at the top, the other at the bottom. To create a new panel or delete one, you can just right-click on the panel. Under the properties you can also set the position of your panel and its height. If you plan to make a panel with a lot of launchers you may want to make it about 48 high.

Under Properties you can also choose some other things: you may set it to hide automatically your panel or to make it a bit transparent. If your panel doesn’t hide correctly, then you have to edit the panel configuration. To do this run


or equivalently Applications->Administration->Configuration Editor. Navigate to /apps/panel/toplevels/top_panel_screen0 and there modify the value of auto_hide_size to 0. Replace top_panel_screen0 with another panel, according to which panel you want to minimize.

Now you can add things to your panels or take them off, again by right-clicking. You can move things on the panel by right-clicking on them; if you are not able to move something past an object, probably that object is locked to the panel (again you can lock or unlock things on the panel with the right-click menu).

At this point you should be able to move things on the panel. For some settings you may like to move the area where your open windows show to the upper panel. You can do this by right-clicking on the upper panel, selecting Add to panel, and then choosing Window List. Be sure to stretch its sides until you feel it is big enough for your needs. If you have some windows open, but still the whole space you reserved is not filled, just don’t care, it is a bug in the gnome panel. However the whole area should be filled if you have enough windows open. Now you can delete the Window List on the lower panel. The same can be done with the Notification Area, which is the area with the little icons like the network status.

Many people will want to put the window list and the notification area on the upper panel and launchers for the most common applications on the lower (maybe 48 high and with autohide). If you want a panel which does not extend to the borders then you just need to uncheck the expand button in the panel Properties. However it can be nice to have smooth corners in that case (see this mockup). For this you can use a trick: under Properties choose a Background image, and put a fake image of a centered panel (you can find one in the gentle theme on Gnome Themes).

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