Yesterday Martin Fink, Hewlett Packard's Linux vice president issued a decree to the open source community, saying
"If there's one thing that you take home from my speech today it is: do not make more open source licenses."
Which he furthered when he also made the following statement:
"[HP has] never ever created an open source license. If we never had to, why do you?"
Oh that's right and HP is the standard bearer for open source development/innovation, so if they haven't done something lets engrave it on stone templates and set it as universal law. I don't have any problem with Mr. Fink, I don't even know him, never met him actually, but his statements came off the wrong way for more than one reason.
- There are bigger problems that need to be addressed in the open source community.
- HP could do more to become involved in assisting the efforts to consolidate licenses before Mr. Fink makes borderline arrogant comments informing the global community to "cease and desist" with license creation.
- The multitude of licenses is not going to slow down business adoption...that is akin to saying that the plethora of terms on a different number of personal bank loans would keep someone from taking one out.
- The only licenses that should matter when it comes to adoption of open source are those of the products that are being considered.
His approach to the issue was far too simplistic for it to carry any significant weight with me. Whenever someone criticizes something I always look for them, whenever appropriate, to make a suggestion about what can be done to make help. This was an appropriate time for Mr. Fink to provide some suggestions about what he/HP in general felt needs to be done. Shallow comments such as this one don't do anything but set off flame wars.
Also it is literally impossible to address the open source community as if it is a single block of people who are governed by a single centralized set of rules and restrictions. Different licenses exist for different reasons. To call out the entire "community" as being responsible for the actions of a multitude of individually acting parties isn't going to be very effective.
Only quantifiable numbers can prove that the number of licenses are preventing business and mainstream adoption of open source software, not a simple statement. What about the proprietary software world where each piece of software is distributed under its license. Does that keep businesses and people from buying it? Nope, so why would 59 or so licenses recognized by the Open Source Institute cause a difference? Maybe I'm missing something here...